Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Riflechair Articles

Everyonce in a while I like to write a review paper on rifles that perk my fancy. In the last number of years most of the reviews I've entertained have been on military surplus service rifles. I'm particularly fond of enfields and mausers and thus, so far, I've restricted myself to them.

The truth of the matter is (for me) that I haven't seen any real practicality, reliability nor accuracy surge of any significance out of today's modern manufacturers compared to what was available 50 years ago. The only real saving has been in weight.

These old rifles are getting harder and harder to find in good condition.

The first article (The Mystery Mauser) is an attempt at recreating an original Bosnian K98k Sniper. I was relatively new to this hobby and thus did not fully appreciate how an original specimen might be depreciated as a result of my fiddling. Many in the field of surplus firearm interests would refer to this kind of activity as 'Bubba' sporterizing another milsurp. This was never my intention but I certainly would not do this again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2009 Canadian Forces Small Arms Concentration

2009 Canadian Forces Small Arms Concentration

The Canadian Forces Small Arms Concentration (CFSAC) for 2009 was conducted at the Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre (CRPTC), Ottawa, during the period 31 August to 19 September 2009.

The aim of CFSAC is to improve marksmanship and small arms proficiency, thereby, increasing the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Forces. This is achieved by providing a training platform (national level competitions) that enables development of a cadre of credible marksmanship experts who, upon returning to their units, can use their expertise to develop other individuals thereby increasing the unit's overall proficiency and operational readiness.

In order to be eligible to compete at CFSAC one must be:

· Members serving in any element of the Canadian Forces and RCMP who have been selected to compete;
· Members of military forces from ABCA, NATO or other countries who have been invited to compete at CFSAC;
· Members of domestic police and security agencies

I competed as a member of Land Forces Western Area (LFWA) which is Canada’s Western Army. LFWA is one of four Canadian Army commands in charge of all regular and reserve army units from Vancouver Island to Thunder Bay, Ontario and is also home to the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG) which covers British Columbia, northern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. 4 CRPG headquarters are located in Victoria, B.C.

Canadian Rangers from 4 CRPG trained to compete in CFSAC separate from LFWA troops in 2009 however Commander LFWA Brigadier-General Mike Jorgensen has informed us that will change next year.

The experience of shooting CFSAC was a bit of an eye opener for me. I’ve wanted to shoot at Connaught range since I was a teenager. Connaught is the home of the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association (DCRA) which has been an icon of Canadian sporting arms history since 1868. The facility at Connaught was originally established in the early 1920's but today is very modern and capable of hosting an impressive volume of people. Shooters from around the world come to Ottawa to shoot the matches hosted at this range. The ‘All-Ranks Mess’ displays pictures of shooting teams that have shot service rifle competitions at Connaught Ranges going back as far as Confederation. Connaught is a window into the history of Canadian and Commonwealth marksmen and a home to some of the most proficient shooters the world has ever seen.

Service rifle shooting of this magnitude requires good physical fitness and sharp mental fortitude. There are numerous rifle matches that take place in CFSAC requiring different shooting positions and methods of fire at ranges spanning 25 metres out to 500 metres. The matches require personal mastery of three different shooting methodologies (Deliberate, Snap and Rapid Fire) while utilizing the prone, sitting, kneeling and standing positions (or a combination of) and run-down components.

It only stands to reason that if a target is difficult to see it is more difficult to hit. Add into the formula wind, mirage, rain, humidity, ammo lot, light conditions, rifle condition, your mental and physical state then suddenly scoring successfully at 500 metres starts to become more complicated. At 500 metres we are shooting at a Figure 12/59 (Type "A" face) target pasted onto a 4 foot (1.2m) frame. The target resembles a tiny blurry dot at 500 metres and is very difficult to make out with the open eye. Having said all of the above we were well prepped by our coach Tom Nickel whom made sure all team members understood match specifications and how it applied to shooting the CNo4Mk1* Lee Enfield rifle. The team really started to pull together once we reached Ottawa. We critiqued one another, offered peer reviews, suggested techniques and tips and mutually raised our proficiency levels. I received coaching from my team-mates and I also coached others, offered positive feedback and complimented and congratulated others that were improving – it’s how a team is supposed to work.

In the flurry of information overload typical of a competition of this type one needed to focus on what was directly important at the time and let go of the worries that were not immediately prevalent. The mental discipline of preparing to shoot and then carrying it out successfully seemed to be 90% of the challenge. It can become confusing if you are not completely focused on what you need to be paying attention to, especially when there are 100 other military members on the firing point. Incorrectly following a procedure or range command can have you disqualified from the match very quickly. The time to mentally prepare and build up for these matches is extremely important.

Canadian Rangers received numerous compliments from members of the Range Staff, Primary Reserve, Regular Forces and the British Shooting Team (which included the legendary Ghurkas). The difficulties of seeing the target at 500 metres let alone actually hitting Bullseyes and V-Bulls turned a lot of heads during the competition. There were several Canadian Rangers that scored very well beating out many Primary Reservists and Regular Forces utilizing a 60-year old service rifle with open sights. All other Canadian service men and women were shooting with C7A1’s, C7A2’s and the British contingent was competing with the popular SA80 (aka L85-A2), all of which are equipped with an optical sight.

I was fortunate to come home with the highest scoring ‘Tyro’ trophy and scored 4th over-all for all Canadian Rangers in the Competition. At the end of the competition I managed to achieve 4 CRPG’s highest over-all score for matches 1 to 12. Although this is considered an individual achievement I would not have fared as well as I did if it were not for the coaching and inspiration of my team mates. To them I owe a debt of gratitude.

Whether you bring home a medal or not each Ranger will bring back to their home Patrol the lessons and skills sets they have learned. The aim of CFSAC really rings home for me and it is my intention to make attempts to increase the individual proficiency of the Rangers interested in marksmanship principles in my home Patrol. I will achieve this through the various competitions and championships I host in Terrace. I speak namely of the annual Vintage Military Service Rifle Championship hosted by the Terrace Rod & Gun Club. The year 2010 will represent our tenth annual competition which closely follows the match conditions and specifications enjoyed at CFSAC. 2010 will be the first time we shoot match 18 - FIBUA. Now all I need are some figure 14's!


Match 1 - 200 Meter Deliberate (Precision Engagement)
Match 2 - 200 Meter Snap (Defensive Fire)
Match 3 - 200 Meter Rapid (Final Protective Fire)
Match 4 - 200 to 100 Run Down (The Assault)
Match 5 - 300 Meter Deliberate (Precision Engagement)
Match 6 - 300 Meter Snap (Targets of Opportunity)
Match 7 - 300 Meter Rapid (Final Protective Fire)
Match 8 - 300 to 200 Run Down (Sudden Engagement)
Match 9 - 500 Meter Deliberate (Precision Engagement)
Match 10 - 500 Meter Snap (Return Fire)
Match 11 - 500 Meter Rapid Fire (Suppressing Fire)
Match 12 - 500 to 100 Run Down (The Assault)
Match 18 - FIBUA/OBUA Match (100m to 25m)
Match 19 – Queen’s Medal for Champion Shot in Canada – (Matches 9, 12, 7 & 8)
Match 51 - Falling Plates (Team shoot – 4 persons / team) 300-200m rundown (prone)
Match 58 – Filling the Gap in the Line – Assault Group Match