Two of the three rifle and pistol clubs in easy driving distance from me have published their High Power match schedules. To get prepped I took out the circular front sights on my Daisy 953 and CMP refurbed 853 air rifles and replaced them with post inserts. Shooting with a front sight post felt like coming home.
I also got in some practice with the shooting jacket. It is amazing how much that coat helps me stay steady. And it is amazing how much that even without the coat I shoot better on what seems like everything else because of daily practice session in the basement.
Last November I had a chance to catch a quick trip to the Army popup qual range, and I decided that I would do it. I ended up using an M16A4 with back up irons. It is a bit different than shooting an A2 model. The NCO in my section that I was shooting with that day is B4 qualified (Army Sniper) and we ended up shooting the same lane.
The lane sucked, rolling hills made the 50 meter targets a significant dip, and the 300 meter targets a significant elevation. I shot a 34, the sniper qualified NCO shot a 32. And that made me realize that a lot of the time when I have shot 40 out of 40 it has been on an "ideal" range, where shifts between targets are small and easily done.
It also brought back the lesson that being good on the range is not the same as being good in combat, and the other way around either. Being good in combat isn't about tight groups, it is often about being aggressive enough and accurate enough to dominate the situation. Being good on the target line is often about ritual perfection.
Now, that is not to say that I think competition should be abandoned, by all means it should be your primary avenue of judging your skill level. If you are good on the target line that can only help your accuracy in combat. However marksmanship cannot replace ruthless aggression combined with cunning wisdom.
For the last three years of my life military school or deployment has prevented me from competing in EIC matches, and this year looks to be no different. No matter. One thing I learned about myself from earning the Ranger tab is that it didn't fundamentally change me in any way. A marksmanship badge is no different. The skills needed to earn the Ranger tab, or an marksmanship medal, are much more important than the proof you earned it.