Took the re-stocked M-1 Garand to the range yesterday. The gun does indeed like being in it's new wood. Fired about 30 rounds and got four clusters of hits once the gun was sighted in. The best group was a sequence of four rounds that all went into the upper quadrant of the X ring at 100 yards fired from prone. This confirms that the gun has probably improved from the 10-ring cannon it was in it's old stock to one capable of producing higher X counts at matches. The X's don't really matter. The tighter group is what matters because that generates another 1/2 to 3/4 MOA of leeway for wind and elevation errors without going outside the 10 ring. That's the true reason for woking on tightening the gun up.
Now a note about four clusters. There should have been two clusters because I was only experimenting with two prone holding variations. When contact lenses dry you get a double vision effect when looking at small objects like bullseyes 100-yards away. For awhile I was alternately centering up on the two images and getting two clusters about 4 clicks apart vertically. Aside from making sure to re-wet the contacts before it's my turn to fire, there's a trick to remember to control this optical effect. The best thing to do seems to be to take advantage of breathing as the final elevation control. Take a deeper breath in. This drops the nose of the gun well below the bull so one can look at the bull image without interference from the front sight. Then by letting air out slowly it's possible to walk the sight back into the sight picture hold image for the same optical target each time. It works. Need to make it second nature instead of rediscovering it mid string every time.
I've been doing the breath walk with my match tuned AR-15 with good effect for 600-yard prone stages. The "as-issued" M-1 Garand seems to require about double the eye muscle concentration versus the AR-15 to produce the same aiming point consistency. Makes perfect sense. The AR has a Bob Jones helper lens in the rear aperture and the M-1 does not. That change is worth about double the eye strain energy to focus on the front sight.
And just for the record so I don't forget. The M-1 Garand liked a lower prone position than the one I had developed for AR-15. Something more akin to the being on one's side with the arm further outstrethed as in the classic photos of the genre. Part of this is because the 100-yard targets are higher off the ground at BRRC and the roll enables the gun to come up higher. Every gun, target, ground situation still needs to be built specific to the circumstances. The best indicator for optimizing seems to be to wiggle to locate the combination that gives you good head position. But the gun also seems to be more settled in these lower positions because they consume less muscle energy. I noticed the AR-15 seemed to like it lower for slow prone as well when I was at Pendleton shooting in dimming light. I feel a rethink of my slow prone position for this stage across the all the rifles I use for competing coming up for 2007.
I continue to be mesmerized by how tiny changes have such dramatic effects on the exercise.