Props and Practicality

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Last Saturday found me at my usual place – Strongpoint Shooting Complex – in an attempt to brush off the cobwebs of my annual trip to Hawaii to see my son. As I chatted with some of the regulars during the Mosin-mandated pause for shoulder comfort, I noticed it sitting there, occupying a sizeable space of the firing line. A rooftop prop.

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I’ve had some time to consider this addition to their growing range a bit, but I feel that the benefits of this latest addition are interestingly subtle, yet noteworthy. To clarify, a rooftop prop is exactly what it sounds like – a raised and sloped wooden platform capable of supporting one or possibly two individuals.

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Rooftop props are almost as difficult to justify as they are to find. Most ranges I have visited have been the average run-of-the-mill types where a table or counter offers very little in terms of varying firing positions. Stand, shoot, reload. However, Strongpoint – formerly known as S.O.W.W. Tactical – provides not just the standard benches at all of their different bays and lanes, but they offer something that very few ranges don’t: an ear for the ideas of customers.

In passing and routine conversation with the guys running the range, I had floated the idea of a “milsurp range day” where fellow owners and collectors can meet and converse while enjoying a day of firing these vintage weapons. During the course of the conversation, I mentioned the idea of a milsurp 3-gun and mused along the lines of how such an event would be organized and run – to include semi-realistic firing positions. Little did I know that a within a month, they would have constructed the wooden behemoth as a result of their attention and reception to new ideas.

Common barricade props aside, the rationalization of such an odd structure in terms of marksmanship and training can be found through some discussion as to the merits of precision rifle shooting in terms of practicality of convenient supports. In terms of 3-Gun competitions, it would seem that realism might be the new trend in drawing more competitors by providing the oddities of fast stabilization found in everyday life. Perhaps, even, the future of these matches lies in the fundamental issue of making competition more challenging. Regardless, it is clear that the management of Strongpoint are not merely listening, but anticipating further growth based off of the needs and potential of their customers.

Moving away from “why a rooftop?” to the actual firing from such an… interesting… position, I would have to classify the experience as “educational”. My accuracy in the prone unsupported had suffered as a result of my travels, and being on an angled wooden platform really did not improve my odds of hitting the 100yd steel plates at all. I succeeded in landing several hits short, left, right, far, and all points in between, but out of the 10 rounds fired from the 91/30 only three resulted in any distinct “ping”. For starters, being elevated changed the perspective of the range area – I’m not sure if this was a big factor, but I thought I’d mention it.

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Secondly, I remember thinking “I don’t know what to do with my hand” when it came to the position of the supporting grip. Ultimately, I rested the rifle on the sling at the apex of the “roof” to keep from adding more “character” to the stock, but working the bolt in such a different manner added a semi-noteworthy challenge when chambering the subsequent rounds. Finally, finding a reasonable purchase with the 2×4’s they fixed to the sides of the slope was a point of observation and not contention, once the right combination was found.

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In the end, I could assign blame to my own sight picture, comfort (or lack thereof), or the balky 30+ year old Bulgarian surplus I was firing, but the biggest takeaway I had from the “rooftop” was that more time and practice was at hand. Yet another good reason why I am thankful for this addition to their range…  Regardless, Strongpoint may be on to something.

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