So yesterday was range day. On a whim, I grabbed an M1 Garand off the rack and broke a chunk of belted ammo off of what remains of the linked .30-06 that I still have around. The rifle that I took has a lot of history with me in that, back when I shot Hi-Power regularly, it gave me a silver medal in the National Matches at Camp Perry. (Read it's story here.)
Unfortunately, I don't shoot Hi-Power much any more because there's only one range anywhere around here that offers matches and even it's a long ways away. So I haven't shot that M1 in a long time. In fact, it's been so long that I forgot it's particular unique quirk--an unusually low-set zero.
Typically, an M1 with service ammo will be dead on at 100M at around 8 clicks up from parked (bottomed out) on the rear sight. another 2 clicks up should have it spang on at 200M. But this particular rifle's 100M zero is actually in the parked position--as low as the sight aperture will go. Naturally, I forgot this when I grabbed that rifle, and of course I didn't take it's log book with me or even read through it--after all, I was just going out for some casual target shooting.
So I got out to the range, set up my scope, hung a 200M target, and settled down behind my sandbags to shoot. It was a beautiful day, and there's just something about the feel of a Garand's stock in your shoulder and the smooth creep of the two-stage trigger...So nice.
As I set up, I checked the rifle: Bore unobstructed, all components present and tight, sling adjusted, sights...WTF? My rear sight was almost parked. WHO THE HELL WAS MESSING WITH THIS RIFLE?!
Of course I'd forgotten that this was a normal setting for THIS rifle; I figured that someone had twisted the knob and messed my zero up. So I sighed, ran the sight back up to ten clicks, and inserted a clip. I fired on the 200M target, expecting to see impacts somewhere on the paper plate I was using for a center bull, but the first round struck well high and blew the number marker right off the top of the target stand. Little wood pieces flew into the air in all directions, announcing my faux pas to anyone looking.
But hey--at least the windage was right--that was a dead-center hit exactly above the center of the plate. Gotta take some pride away.
It was at that time that it dawned on me what rifle I had. No one had "messed with" the sight setting--it had been set exactly where it was supposed to have been set.
Once the sights were readjusted properly--and an apology made to the range keeper--the rest of the session was unremarkable. The old M1 still holds the plate without a miss at 200M, and if the group size is a bit larger than it used to be, well that's me and my lack of practice, not the rifle.
Next time, though, just to prevent any more surprises, I WILL grab the logbook when I take one of my old service rifles out.