(Part nine of a nine part series, courtesy of Fred’s M14 Stocks)
Besides learning how to firing a shot ‘by the numbers’, there are two other basic sets of facts you need to memorize as you continue to grow into a Rifleman. The first issue is ‘minutes of angle’ – MOA, and the second topic is your rifle’s basic trajectory.
We covered MOA in our last discussion. To recap, this is what you need to know: 1 MOA = ¼” at 25 meters (where you’ll be doing a lot of practice shooting, until you acquire rifleman skills), 1” at 100 yards, 2” at 200, 3” at 300, 5” at 500, and so forth. Basically, just remember an inch for each hundred yards. Memorize that, and you’ll start thinking in MOA whenever you need to adjust your rear sight or scope.
Today, we are going to talk about trajectory, a key that will unlock many doors.
Central fact — military .30 caliber rounds are pretty much the same out to 500 yards. Learn the trajectory for one, and you can do pretty well – good enough for government work – with any military .30 caliber.
For those of you using either a Garand or an M1A, your trajectory studies are pretty simple. Just memorize the following numerical combination: 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 8, 8.
Those are your rear sight’s “come-ups” out to 1000 yards using standard M2 150 grain FMJ ammo for your .30-06 Garand and the standard M80 147 grain FMJ in 7.62×51/.308. Learn those come-ups cold, and you’ll be on target all the way out to 1000 yards, as long as you know (1) your rifle’s initial sight settings and (2) the range to your target.
Simplicity itself. Assume you have a 300 yard zero on your rifle and you know your target is at 400 yards. Just rotate the left dial on your rear sights four clicks up (rotating the dial back towards you, or, in other words, clockwise), and fire your shot by the numbers.
Bang, hit, next target. Easy as pie.
Note from Cabinboy: It helped me to memorize the come-ups with the associated ranges, like this:
See bottom of page 4 of the Guide; order at http://www.fredsm14stocks.com/catalog/acc.asp.
If you just wanna walk, before you learn to run, here’s all you need to really know: 3, 3, 4, 4. Those four digits give you the come-ups from 100 yards out to 500 yards. Thus, to shoot at 200 yards instead of 100, you raise your sights 3 MOA/3clicks; from 200 to 300, another 3 MOA/3 clicks, etc.
Those of you using scopes will have to read your documentation. Some scopes may have quarter-minute (4 clicks = one MOA) or eighth-minute (8 clicks = one MOA) adjustment. Regardless, as long as you know the come-up in MOA, just apply the necessary clicks to move that amount in MOA.
Let’s say you zero at 100 yards, like most guys do. To put your 200 zero on, you simply raise your rear M1/M1A sight 3 clicks, or 3 MOA – the first ‘3’ on the list you just memorized. To shoot 300 yards, you raise your sight another 3 clicks – the second ‘3’ on the list. To shoot 400, raise it 4 more, and 500, another 4. Hence, the ‘3, 3, 4, 4’. If you forget, count the clicks on your M1/M1A’s rear sight between the marked distances.
Sound too easy? Don’t worry about that. Remember, when we talk about Rifleman standards, we are talking a group size of 4 MOA from field positions, using rack-grade rifle and ammo. That’s good enough to hit a man-sized target out at 500 yards (or 1″ at 25 m), which is good enough if you ever have to defend freedom. And it’s good enough to put you in the elite down at your local gun club. These come-ups are the key to that kind of performance, once you are a Rifleman.
But first you’ll have to become a Rifleman. You’ll have to get to the place where you can fire a good shot. If you can’t shoot 4 MOA from prone or sitting, you aren’t going to benefit a lot from knowing your trajectory – or any other knowledge, such as techniques for target detection and range estimation. While those last two tasks come before firing the shot, they are useless if you can’t fire a good shot. So if you can’t shoot 1” groups at 25 m – 82 ft – or 4” groups at 100 yards, with a rack-grade rifle and surplus ammo, from prone or sitting, get our AQT targets and Guide to Becoming a Rifleman – now!
One other point we have to get out of the way. The rear sight on the M1 Garand is marked in yards; the sights on the M14/M1A are marked in meters. It’s not a real big difference – meters are about 10% more in distance than yards, so 100 meters = 110 yards [actually 109, but close enough], 200 = 220, etc. Where it comes into play is your Battlesight Zero [BSZ], which is your friend under pressure, ‘cuz if you are within your BSZ setting, you just aim at center mass and let fly without worrying about elevation.
BSZ on the Garand is 275 yards, and on the M14/M1A, it’s 250 meters. Now that you know the meter/yard relationship, you know 250 meters = 275 yards, so the BSZs are the same. In other words, both rifles are sighted to shoot pointblank out to 300 yards. At 300 yards, they will both impact 1 MOA low on the target. Since you now know moa, you know that’s 3 inches low at 300 yards, meaning you aim at center mass, and your bullet will strike above the navel. Your target is not gonna know or appreciate the difference, nor will the folks who’ll dispose of what’s left.
The rear elevation knob of the M1 and M14 being interchangeable, you need to check your rifle and see which you have. The M1 is marked out to ‘12’, and the M14 goes out to ‘11’ and, in addition, is marked ‘M’ for meters.
In each case, BSZ is your 200 zero, plus 2 clicks – or your 300 zero, less one.
Here’s how all this come together, on the range or in the field:
Example 1: Your 3-shot sighter group at 25 meters is 1” low and ¾” left. What sight adjustment do you need to make? Use the formula from last time – “inches, minutes, clicks”. You already have the “inches”, and at 25 meters each minute equals ¼”, so the clicks on your M1/M1A will be 4 UP and 3 RIGHT. (On your scope, you’ll have to multiply by the number of clicks per MOA – usually either 4 or 8.) Now when you go back to the firing line, while the guys around you are guessing their sight changes – usually wrong – you’ll know that your changes are right.
Example 2: Your sighter group at 300 is 1” low and 3” right. Change? Well, at 300 each MOA = 3 inches, so make no vertical change for iron sights, since you don’t have 1/3 of a click, and put 1 LEFT on. For a scope, you’d go UP 1 or 2 clicks, depending on how your scope is calibrated.
Example 3: You confirm your 200 zero is 11 clicks UP and 1 LEFT on your M1/M1A sights. How? Once you have verified your groups at your sight-in distance, you count the elevation and windage clicks back to zero for each element, then record your results in your shooter’s notebook. You are keeping a shooter’s notebook, aren’t you?
In this situation, what is your BSZ?
13 clicks up, as related above (BSZ = 200 zero + 2 MOA, or 2 clicks with M1/M1A sights).
Example 4: Your SKS with iron sights set at 200 yards shoots 6” high at 200. You don’t have your front sight tool with you, and you want to do well in the competition. What to do? The solution: 6” high at 200 is 3 MOA, which is the same 3 MOA you would raise the sight to go from 100 yards to 200 yards (remember – all .30 caliber/7.62 mm military ammo shoots similarly, at least out to 300 yards). So, simply lower your rear sight to “100”, taking those 3 moa back out, and you’ll take out those 6” high at 200 yards and be right on!
Example 5: Your best zero is a 200 yard confirmed zero of 11 UP and 1 LEFT. The target is 500 yards away. Can you hit it? Yes, if you adjust your sights per your trajectory. Simply raise them 3 + 3 + 4 clicks to go to 300, thru 400, then to 500 yards, and you¹ll hit a man-sized target. (You¹ll be alert when firing at an unconfirmed zero to spot the first shot if there is a miss, and adjust accordingly. In all cases of calculated sight adjustment, the careful shooter – the rifleman – will confirm the zero at the actual distance at the first opportunity.)
Example 6: You fire a sighter group at 100 yards. The group prints 2” high. How do you adjust to get your BSZ on your sights? Your BSZ will print 5” above POA at 100 yards. How do you know that. Your BSZ is your 100 zero + 3 MOA to get to 200 yards plus 2 more MOA to get to 275 yards. This 5 MOA total translates to 5” high at 100 yards. So to get your isgher group up where it should be, you raise your sights 3 clicks/3 MOA/3 inches at your 100 yard range.
Example 7: Your friend brings his new Romanian Dragonov in 7.62x54R down to the range and is trying to sight it in. It shot high at 25 meters, so he thought he would try it at 200. Bad idea – if it shoots high at 25, it will shoot proportionately high at 200. Sure enough, down at 200, his sighter group was 18” high.
“What do I do?” he says. “The sights are all the way down at 0.” So I said, “Inches, minutes, clicks! Your shot group on the target is in inches; your sights are in clicks; and the bridge across is minutes of angle [MOA].”
We went back up to the firing line and looked at the rear sights. An elevation drum marked in meters, with an even 2 clicks from one yardage to the next, indicating a 50-yard graduation.
I said, “Here’s what we’ll do. The rifle sights are at zero, and it shoots 18” high at 200 – that’s 9 MOA – remember, an MOA is one inch at 100, 2 inches at 200, etc. So the rifle is shooting 9 MOA high at 200. Since the trajectory is about +3 MOA to 300, and +4 MOA to 400, and +4 MOA to 500 – a total of 11 MOA – you could say the rifle is zeroed at a little less than 500 yards. All we have to do is index the elevation knob to 500, and then bring the sight back to 200.”
Loosening the elevation drum, I held the elevation knob steady while I rotated the elevation drum so the sight was set for 500 yards, tightened the lock screws, rotated the knob to ‘200’, and then said, “Fire a group at 200 yards.”
That group was 3 inches [1.5 MOA] high and 3 inches [1.5 MOA] right. DOWN one and LEFT one would put him right on!
As a Rifleman, you’ll soon start thinking in terms of hundred yard increments, and minutes. To you, a hundred yards (out to rifleman max 500 range) is 3 MOA. Likewise, 3 MOA equals a hundred yards. So if your buddy is trying to sight in his British Enfield at 25 yards, and his group is ¾” low, you immediately can tell him, “Add a hundred yards on the sight”, since his rear sight is graduated in yards. How do you know to tell him this? Because each quarter-inch at 25 yards is one MOA, so he is 3 MOA low, so – since 3 MOA = a hundred yards – all he needs is another hundred on his rear sight.
For practical use out to 500, this information’ll get you started. If you want to be effective at longer ranges, learn your trajectory out to 700 or 900 or 1000 yards, and understand that you’ll be juggling a lot more balls in the air in order to make a hit. If you’re planning to go this route, take the time to find a 1000 yard range and get some long-distance zeroes. Take your time, fire each shot by the numbers, and write down EVERYTHING. The knowledge you gain may save your life.
Trajectory is your friend. It’ll work for you, if you let it. All you need to do is remember MOA, “3, 3, 4, 4” – and use them before the first shot!
If you ever have to show up, show up ready!
· Have your bore and chamber clean and bone dry.
· Your M1A gas piston and cylinder should be bone dry, from the last time you cleaned it.
· Check the tightness of the gas plug, and with the bolt locked back, rotate the muzzle up-and-down, listening to ensure the piston moves freely.
· Have your action properly lubed with the correct grease.
· Front sight should be blackened with a flat black paint or other blackening.
· Sights should be checked for looseness, front and rear.
· Carry the complete cleaning kit in butt, along with spare parts & rod guide
· Sling should be adjusted to hold the weight of the rifle when you are in your position. A check: the rifle should stay in your shoulder without having to grasp the wrist of the stock with your trigger hand. · Mark the sling so you can always adjust back to the right place.
· Have your BSZ on your sight, or the zero for actual estimated distance, like 400 or 500.
· Mags should be cleaned and dry, springs lightly oiled.
· Other items on your list — earplugs, cap with bill for shade/rain, clean eyeglasses/eye protection, loaded mags in pouches, at least one canteen of water, a high-energy snack, poncho, extra ammo.
Now, fire each shot “by the numbers’, and you’ll do fine. Just remember: double your hit rate and you double your supply of ammo, without spending a penny – or carrying any more weight.
USMC Rules For Gunfighting [with a few additions by Fred]
1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns. [Rule 1.5: Try to make them a TEAM. And make the ‘guns’ rifles – see Rules 5 & 6]
2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive. [Rule 2.5: When targets get plentiful, have a rifle which requires only one shot to take out a target, and fire only one shot per target. Running out of ammo in a target-rich environment can ruin your life.]
3. Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss. [Rule 3.5: A fast hit is better than a slow hit. Rule 3.6: A fast miss is trumped by a slower hit. Rule 3.7: Firing too fast can turn a sure hit into a fast miss.]
4. If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly.
5. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.) [5.5 Engage beyond 300 yards.]
6. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a rifle and a friend with a rifle.
7. In ten years, nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived. [Rule 7.5: But caliber, stance, skill and tactics may determine who lives – and who dies – today.]
8. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, or running. [Rule 8.5: As long as you have targets, and rounds in your mag, you should be shooting.]
9. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the gun. [Rule 9.2: Shoot to Rifleman standard. Rule 9.3: A ‘kill’ hit is better than a ‘wound’ hit, but a ‘wound’ hit beats a miss – every time.]
9.5. Use a gun that works EVERY TIME. [Rule 9.9 Bring a rifle you can easily clear when it malfunctions.]
10. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.
11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose. [Rule 11.5. You have to win every time. They only have to win once.]
12. Have a plan.
13. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won’t work. [Rule 13.5 Plan B – accurate rifle fire will save your ass!]
14. Use cover or concealment as much as possible. [Rule 14.5 Camo clothing, skin, rifle.]
15. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours. [Rule 15.5 Be part of a team!]
16. Don’t drop your guard.
17. Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees. [Rule 17.5 Target Detection is #1!]
18. Watch their hands. Hands kill. (In God we trust. Everyone else, keep your hands where I can see them) [Rule 18.5 Simplify! Keep them them 300+ yards away and once ID’d as enemy, shoot them – fast and well!]
19. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.
20. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.
21. Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet. [Rule 21.5 Plan consists of SOP and immediate action drills.]
22. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
23. Your number one Option for Personal Security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation. [Rule 23.5 Win the soft war now, and you avoid the hard war, later. Rule 23.7 Learn to shoot like a Rifleman now; it’s your number one Option for Personal Security when avoidance, deterrence, or de-escalation is not an option.]
24. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a “4.” [Rule 24.5 Do not get close enough to use a pistol -or even a carbine. Distance is your friend. See Rule 5.]
25. It is not a movie. If you catch a round, save the dramatics, ignore the hit, and keep shooting. You have nothing to lose, and you might even survive.