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Author Topic: The Quest for 250 By Scott Quarles  (Read 1808 times)

Offline DrRichP

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The Quest for 250 By Scott Quarles
« on: September 10, 2015, 10:42:55 PM »
The Quest for 250
By Scott Quarles

ďGentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.Ē Ė Vince Lombardi

At the dawn of 2013, I did not own a rifle.  I had never owned a rifle.  In fact, I had not fired a rifle in over 30 years, since I was a kid at camp.  As Iím sure many recall, the country was going nuts in early 2013 about guns.  The Newtown shooting was fresh in everyoneís minds, and there was a lot of serious sounding talk about banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines and such. It wasnít at all clear whether or new gun legislation would pass, but I wasnít taking any chances.

At the time I was shooting a lot of USPSA, and had always thought I would enjoy 3 Gun competitions, so I decided I wanted to get an AR15 while they could still be had.  It was not a very good time to be wanting an AR15, but I found a fellow competitive shooter who had a couple of rifles to sell at what was in those days a very reasonable price, so the next thing you know Iím the proud new owner of two 3 Gun style AR15ís, one for me and one for my wife.

Didnít have the first clue what to do with them.  Even had to ask the guy I bought them from how to break them down to clean them.  The difference between .223 Remington and 5.56mm NATO was completely over my head.  I knew nothing of what I was about to get into, but I dove in headfirst and started learning. 

The first thing I decided I needed to do was learn how to shoot the darn thing.  That was actually how I got into USPSA in the first place, from the desire to learn to shoot a pistol, and shoot it well.  I started poking around on the Internet, reading everything I could get my hands on about AR15ís and 3 Gun shooting, and while I no longer remember exactly where I stumbled across it, it wasnít real long before I came across a program that promised to teach traditional marksmanship skills with a rifle.

That program of course was Project Appleseed, and little did I know how much the decision to attend an Appleseed would change my life.

I was able to absorb enough instruction to shoot a Rifleman score at my first Appleseed, and I absolutely loved it.  I learned many things at that first Appleseed.  I learned a whole lot more about how to shoot than I knew before, and even to this day Iím continually amazed how a small strap of canvas can turn a personís arm into a stable shooting platform.  I learned I had some skill at shooting rifles Ė far more than I ever had shooting pistols Ė and I wanted to do more.  I also learned what a great group of folks Appleseed was, and I wanted to stay involved with the program.

At that time, though, I chose not to follow the Appleseed instructor path, but instead chose to focus more on my marksmanship skills. I set a goal to shoot a 250 on the AQT.  Iím still not really sure why I set that goal Ė there really isnít any good reason other than I knew I wanted to learn to shoot better, and that seemed like a good goal.  I gave myself a number of other goals as well Ė to shoot a Rifleman score with iron sights (thatís another story), to shoot a Rifleman score with a bolt gun, and to shoot a Rifleman score at a KD Appleseed.

August of 2013 found me at Ramseur for a Rifleman boot camp, which was a great follow-up to my first Appleseed.  My skills improved further, and I was able to shoot a Rifleman score with my iron sighted rifle for the first time.  A Riflemanís boot camp is a great experience for those who have a chance to attend, and I highly recommend it.  Unfortunately the challenges of shooting at known distance got the better of me on that trip, and a KD patch eluded me.

Along the way I also started shooting some local reduced range Highpower style matches, and this proved to be very beneficial as well.  The old saying ďaim small, miss smallĒ is as true today as itís always been, and learning to shoot NRA Highpower targets will definitely challenge shooters to improve their skills.  They are significantly smaller than Appleseed targets, and the Highpower shooters Iíve met are a uniformly friendly bunch who are always willing to offer ideas and tips on ways to improve your marksmanship.

One thing that was still missing was getting my family involved, which I began to rectify in 2014.  I was able to bring two of my daughters to Appleseeds in March and July of 2014, and my entire family (ask me sometime about getting seven rifles ready for an Appleseed) went to the Patriot Day Appleseed event this year.  I think itís even more important for our sons and daughters to begin to understand the traditions and values that were important to our founding fathers, and I know no better place for them to experience that.

My shooting skills were progressing along as well, and in 2014 I started shooting full distance NRA Highpower and CMP matches.  My AQT scores were slowly going up as well, shooting some scores in the low 240ís early in 2014 and some mid 240ís later in 2014.  One thing you learn quickly as you work on your marksmanship skills is those last few points are much harder to get as you start closing in on 250.  Everything has to be right on every single shot, every time.

At the Patriot Day Appleseed this year I thought I could pull together a 250 AQT, but my first AQT scored a 248, and we werenít able to make it back for the second day.  Finally a few weeks ago I was able to put it all together and shoot a nice 250 AQT score.  It was nice to accomplish that goal, and now I can start on the next part of my journey as an Appleseed instructor.  Iím looking forward to passing along what Iíve learned so far on my journey to other shooters, and I hope I can prove myself to be worthy of the hat.

Some are surely wondering what it takes to be able to shoot a 250 on the AQT, so Iíll share a few thoughts on that.  First and foremost, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work.  I would estimate Iíve ďfiredĒ countless thousands of rounds of dry fire, and my data books tell me Iíve fired over 5,000 rounds in live fire over the past 2 years or so.  You have to train your subconscious mind to be able to execute a good shot every single time.  Donít be afraid to change your positions as your skills improve.  Your body will change, and as your skills improve your positions may need to improve as well.  Iíve totally rebuilt my positions several times along the way, always refining them to eliminate errors.  This is a constant process.

Your equipment must work flawlessly.  It must become an extension of you, and you must practice with it until your rifle feels like its part of you.  Naturally the rifle and the ammo you choose have got to shoot well.  There isnít enough margin for error to allow for random fliers to come out of your barrel.  The rifle I used to shoot at 250 is what I call my Ultimate LTR, and it will shoot sub-MOA groups all day long.  It absolutely hammers. The confidence to KNOW beyond any shadow of a doubt that any wayward shots were YOU, and not your rifle, cannot be overstated.  Once you have a rifle that will really shoot, the pace of improvement will increase rapidly.

The last piece, and perhaps the most important is one that is perhaps beyond what Appleseed teaches.  Once you reach a certain point in your shooting, if you want to improve the challenges you have to overcome are all mental.  To quote a friend of mine and shooter on the All Guard Gold Shooting Team:

Shooting is 90% mental, and the other 10% is in your head.

This is absolutely true.  Mastering the basics of sight alignment, trigger control, and NPA will go a long way toward great shooting.  From that point itís all mental.  You know how to execute a good shot, the hard part is training your subconscious mind to do it flawlessly every single time.  Mastering the mental aspects of shooting is where the last 10 points or so will come from.

Safe shooting, Agrivere

« Last Edit: September 12, 2015, 07:20:32 AM by DrRichP »

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The Quest for 250 By Scott Quarles
« on: September 10, 2015, 10:42:55 PM »
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Offline DieselDude

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Re: The Quest for 250 By Scott Quarles
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2015, 11:33:04 PM »
Great shootin!

Offline LivingDeadGirl

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Re: The Quest for 250 By Scott Quarles
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2015, 08:08:47 PM »
Ive yet to break the 200 barrier. I'm going to attempt again this weekend.

I'm told I focus too much and I miss a "good" shot in search of a "perfect" shot

Offline DrRichP

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Re: The Quest for 250 By Scott Quarles
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2015, 10:36:57 PM »
Good luck LivingDeadGirl . I know you can do it!

Offline LivingDeadGirl

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Re: The Quest for 250 By Scott Quarles
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2015, 10:23:19 AM »
Good luck LivingDeadGirl . I know you can do it!
Didnt happen. Had a great time though. No brass tattoos just raw knees and elbows and a lot of bruising. I like a very snug sling.

A little disappointed we only had three attempts all weekend at the AQT but i managed to get my standing position nailed down. I got 8 into the 5 score. If it wasnt for DonD, i dont think i would have come up with that particular standing stance on my own.

Maybe next time. Now ill focus on my kneeling position a little more. I know kneeling is the least stable but its the only one i get the elevation needed.  And Living Hand pointed out that i sometimes blink so thats another working point.

Learn something new every time.

 

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