May 2011 Cover Page

  May 1940
The Rifleman's Journal
A Collection of Articles Dealing with Rifle Accuracy Topics

This Month:
Hap Rocketto - Hap's Corner
John Lowther - Resurrection of a South Bend Lathe
Germán Salazar - Rifles and Reloading

15 Cents 

Basics: Prone Position - The Trigger Hand

Basics: Prone Position - The Trigger Hand
by Germán A. Salazar


Could you shed some light on the task, actions, forces, position etc.... of the trigger hand in prone, sling supported, shooting? I can't find anything on this anywhere


Hello Maarten,

In prone, the trigger hand should do very little. To begin, the position should be perfectly stable with the trigger hand removed from the rifle. If the trigger hand is being used to stabilize or otherwise to position or aim the rifle, the position needs work. The trigger hand should have no role in the stability or aim of the rifle. You should be able to imagine yourself shooting perfect shots with a remote control button in your trigger hand (removed from the rifle).

Once the position is solid without the trigger hand, bring it in. The best hold is one that is sufficiently firm to counter the action of the trigger pull at a minimum, but also hand pressure tends to act as a slight vibration damper when the rifle fires. By this I do not mean that the hand should try to stop or slow the recoil force - it should not be used in this manner at all. What I mean is that as the rifle fires, there are immediate, high frequency vibrations and one of the effects of the hand is that due to its soft, gelatinous nature, it will absorb and damp some of those vibrations. For this reason, the use of gloves on the trigger hand should be avoided and the grip should be fairly firm; except for a Smallbore (.22 LR) which can be handled with lower grip force if desired.

Click here for an earlier article with additional information on building a good prone position.

Your question is an excellent one and rarely asked!


Equipment: Resurrecting a South Bend Lathe

Resurrecting a South Bend Lathe
by Germán A. Salazar

THis is hardly a "how-to" article, not only do I not know how to operate a lathe, I sure don't know how to rebuild one. However, our good friend John Lowther called a few months ago with the news that he'd bought a nice South Bend lathe that "needs a bit of work". I didn't see it at all until it was finished and looking brand new. Then John gave me a disc full of pictures of the process - wow!

John gave me many more pictures than I'm able to post here, but I think these should give you a good sense of the scale of the project as well as the perfection of the finished product. Thanks, John and congratulations on a beautiful lathe! It's ready for another lifetime of use.

Hap's Corner: Barret Browning - A Story of a Gun and a Poem

Barret Browning - A Story of a Gun and a Poem
by Hap Rocketto

As a pair of retired gentlemen my brother and I occasionally enjoy a convivial day together in which we spend the morning shooting, enjoy a good lunch, and then spend the balance of the afternoon enveloped in comfortable chairs reading. Imagine, if you will, peeking into a London men’s club of the late Victorian or Edwardian Era, overstuffed chairs, portly middle aged men, and snifters of brandy-minus the cigar smoke-and you will have a good mental picture of the scene. At the end of the day he will remain in his bachelor digs, wrapped up in whatever tome he has pulled from his voluminous book shelves, while I toddle on home to wife and hearth.

One such day he was idly examining the shelves when he suddenly exclaimed, “Hap, I can’t find my Browning.” My heart immediately jumped up into my throat, for Steve has a history of having his firearms go missing. He once offered his National Match M1 to an acquaintance who was in the hunt for Distinguished and, forgetting to make a note of who had the rifle, he can no longer remember who has it. One would think that the borrower might notice the rifle in his gun safe and return it but that day has yet to arrive.

On another occasion, when he was running the Connecticut High Power Team, one of the shooters had an M14 break. Steve quickly made a swap to keep the young gunner in the game and, you guessed it, forgetting to record the name of the shooter quickly lost track of the rifle. It wasn’t until the end of the season when the rifles were being inventoried, that it was discovered that a rifle was missing. In this case the custodian was still shooting the rifle and it was quickly accounted for.

I am not without sin as I had a similar happening. Upon retiring from the Connecticut National Guard I made it a point to see that all of my shooting gear was turned in and I collected all of my hand receipts, which I kept-just in case. Several years later my phone rang and Bill Lange, now the NCOIC of the team, was on the other end asking me about returning a certain M14 signed out in my name. I said it was impossible but he produced a hand receipt with my signature. Just like Steve I had swapped off a good rifle for a bad one and in the excitement had forgotten to adjust the paperwork. In a flash I remembered the incident. I called the Guardsman, who dug the rifle out of his safe, and returned to me so I might return it to Bill.

Although Steve is comfortable financially he has a personal parsimonious streak. While generous with his friends and relatives he has great internal battles when it comes to spending on himself. For a long time he wanted a Browning High Power pistol and it took him several years to convince himself that he should indulge himself and then an equal amount of time to find one he liked. It has grown to be his favorite pistol and I was the last one to use it that morning when we were shooting pins. It was my responsibility to put it back into the case and I had apparently failed in my duties.

He continued to intently scan the bookshelves seeming unconcerned about the possible loss of yet another gun. Perhaps he was oblivious to the situation; after all he is the model of the stereotypical absent minded professor. However, I was very aware. Quickly I ran from the house and searched both of our cars and turned up nothing. Fortunately he lives but a mile or so from our gun club so I screeched off down the road. Arriving at the range in a cloud of tire smoke I scoured the place and came up empty. Approaching panic I called Tony Goulart, who was shooting with us that morning, and asked if he picked up the pistol in error and had it tucked in his case. After what seemed like an hour’s wait, but was probably just a minute or two, Tony reported that he did not have the gun.

My stomach was turning flip flops and I felt the wonderful lunch we had shared rising acidly in my gorge. How was I to tell Steve that I had lost his pride and joy? I pulled into the driveway hoping against hope that some club Good Samaritan had come by, picked up the Browning, and was holding it safely while attempting to find the owner. Never the less I still had to break the bad news to Steve and was dreading it.

I trudged back into the house, head bent low in shame, and accidently kicked over the Pachmayer gun case sitting by the corner of the coach. It fell on its side and the cover sprang open. I bent down to close it and saw the Browning clamped tightly in the rack! My jaw dropped and my relief was palpable.

Calmed I looked up to see Steve contentedly folded up in his recliner reading as if nothing had happened. Now I was miffed. “Steve!” I snapped out. I had to do it again because he was so wrapped up in his reading that he didn’t hear me the first time.

“Huh! What’s up?” he languorously replied.

“I thought you said that you couldn’t find your Browning? I have been going crazy running all over the place looking for it and here you sit reading, all calm as a summer’s morning!” I vented.

Not at all upset over my rant he held aloft a well-thumbed volume, “Oh, but I did find it after you ran out. It was next to my Kipling and Conan Doyle anthologies. You can’t imagine how disconcerted I was for I really wanted to re-read How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix. “By the way,” he added, “do you know that Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s most famous poem is Sonnets from the Portuguese and my Browning High Power was manufactured in Portugal?”

Robert Browning wrote that “…a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” That mine didn’t was all that saved my brother from being throttled.

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