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Discussion Starter #1
Okay guys, after many years of doing "pseudo-bullseye" as a State Trooper (we shot all 25 yard, on the rapid fire targets), I'm now (retired, and) ready to try the real thing. And having learned from years of frugal (cop budget) shopping that cheaper isn't always "cheaper" in the long run, I want to get some opinions from real experts before I spend a penny. Then I'll spend what it takes (but not the bank!).

My eyes are declining, so I'll use an Ultra dot. I've got one now on my Ruger Mark II, which I'll use this season, to start getting "tuned up".

When I go for the 1911, I need advice. (I always carried a Beretta, or recently, a Springfield XD.)

Which gun, which ammo? (I think I'm pretty set on the sight...)

Why do so many guys shoot lead ammo, when jacketed isn't that much more expensive? Seems like jacketed would be cleaner... Again, I'm really new at the "real" bullseye stuff, so any info is welcomed. I'm an experienced shooter, with competition success in various combat, silhouette, and PPC formats, so I recognize that each sport is different, and it's better to ask questions than be proud and flounder like a goofbag! I'm reading everything I can at http://www.bullseyepistol.com/, which is a great site, but they seem to stay away from product endorsements. I'd like to end up with a solid, accurate, reliable 1911 that's not delicate and finicky. I'm not a guy who has to have the "latest, best-est". I'll do my work; I just need a gun that is capable, won't hold me back, and won't make me want to upgrade after the first season.

I'm set up to reload, although I sure don't mind buying ammo by the crate if it's accurate enough. (Seems like I have more money than time and energy these days.... )

Thanks for all your input!
 

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Brock:

I hope you like bullseye as much as I do. It's a good game, and it's not too expensive to engage in. As long as you've got a good trigger pull on the 22, it's fine. Most guys who shoot Rugers in bullseye will have a trigger job done to improve the quality of the pull.

For the 45, you need to trust me on one point. Buy a dedicated bullseye gun from a company like Clark, Rock River, or Les Baer, or a custom maker of good repute. You will save money in the long run. Whatever you do, don't try to use a factory Kimber or Springfield with iron sights. You will end up disliking it and will end up buying the dedicated gun eventually. I made this mistake when I got started and hope you don't make it too. I have never found a way of putting a bullseye gun together so that it doesn't cost at least as much as buying a dedicated bullseye gun in the first place.

If I were just buying one gun, I'd buy it from Clark because they have the philosophy of making the gun shootable with mixed brass. I have a Clark and a Rock River. The Rock River is very finicky about the brand of brass it will function with. The Clark is reliable with all brass I've tried it with.

As for ammo, you're probably comparing finished ammo and not hand loads. I find that cast 200 grain SWC ammo made suitable for bullseye is much less expensive than ammo based on jacketed bullets. A major difference between finished ammo and handloads suitable for bullseye is velocity. You don't want full power 230 grain ammo going through your dedicated bullseye gun because it will damage it (unless you replace the spring). You will need 800fps ammo for the quick recovery time in the rapid fire event. With the lead bullets in a dedicated "wad" gun, as the 45s are called, you can expect a 500,000 round service life for your gun.

Ultradot sights are excellent for the 45. I had to have one repaired once and the turnaround time was quick.

Hand loading is a necessity and I found it to be too tedious with a single stage press, so I got a Dillon 550 progressive press and that made it much more enjoyable. Of course if you're retired and don't mind spending a few hours a week handloading on a single stage press, you can get into hand loading cheaper. But I'll bet you eventually get a progressive press. If I were doing it again, I'd get the Square Deal from Dillon instead of the 550 because all I need is a loader for 45ACP and the Square Deal is set up just to do one caliber. That makes it less expensive than the 550.

I check this forum pretty regularly, so feel free to ask any other questions. Also try the L-forum at www.bullseyepistol.com The only problem with asking questions there is that the answers might be overly passionate and technical, so be careful about how you ask the question so you get the answer you need.
 

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Brock:

Another thing about ammo: Try CCI Standard Velocity in your gun. If it shoots good, then buy a case of it. It's the best domestic bullseye ammo I know of. It's also one of the least expensive. It's the most reliable feeding 22 domestic ammo there is.
 

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Fantastic!

Exactly the type of information I was looking for; thanks so much!

Your comments about the Kimbers, etc., is exactly what I needed. With so much advertising, and so many people pleased with various guns, for what THEY do with them, it's hard to sort out which might be a good gun for actual competition. Obviously Kimber makes some great guns, but I'm looking for a purpose-built tool here, and I'm exactly on track with what you're saying about doing it right the first time. For too many years, I always thought I could do better with less. Often I could do better than 90% of the field, even with inferior equipment, but now I ask myself, "Was it worth saving $200 to come in 2nd?"

I want a gun that's 10-ring consistent from 50, so that I can work on making ME better. If a shot's out, I want to know it was me, and not random chance. Knowing what you're doing wrong is the only way to improve. (Have to say the red dot was a big education for me. It sure LOOKED like my iron sights were rock steady!)

I have a converted Dillon 450, from my days of IPSC/IDPA, so I'm good to go on reloading. Any pet loads to recommend? Is particular brass critical?

Again, I really appreciate the help.

When I came to the State Police in 1991, and my Post sent me to the annual Bullseye competition held by the Department in Putnamville, I thought "Bullseye!!? What the heck does this have to do with police work?? What do you MEAN we've gotta shoot with one hand??" Without any practice or understanding of the rules, I shot in what they call the "Hi-20", which amounts to the top 1% of Department shooters. Turns out it was a very big deal. Naturally, competitive instincts took over, and I started learning a little bit about it, and practicing. I only dropped out of the "High-20" one year that I shot. Over the years, I realized that Bullseye shooting had improved all of my shooting skills dramatically. Only handgun silhouette (and to some degree, PPC shooting) had improved my accuracy as much. Combat was fun, but knocking targets over at 100 yards was REALLY fun, and Bullseye improved those hits dramatically. Now, as I'm finishing writing a book which extensively covers how the mind deals with stress, I'm tempted to put my own advice to use in one of the most mentally challenging events I've experienced; Bullseye.
 

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One more thing,.. there are a fair number of used Bullseye wadcutter guns out there, and some are good buys and some are not. I have had both good and bad luck. I bought a used George Madore for $800 and couldn't understand why I was shooting so badly. I ended up spending another $800 to get it shooting the way it needs to for a Bullseye gun. Of course even with the extra expense it came in pretty close the price of a new Rock River.

I bought a second George Madore for $1200 that wasn't even broken in yet. It came with test targets and shot great. You really need to get a recent test target to know if the gun is worth the money. With Bullseye guns you are buying performance, not the name or the outward appearance. Just because it was put together by a famous pistol smith and the bluing is good doesn't mean it shoots 2 inches at 50 yards.

You will have to fine tune the the load for the gun, but with a 200 grain semi-wadcutter, you will probably end up somewhere in the range of 3.9 to 4.2 grains of Bullseye. I think I'm at 4.1 grains right now.

Oh, and sort your brass. I don't think it makes much difference which one you use, but I found mixed brass gives larger group sizes. I went with Federal because I had a lot of it.
 

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Brock:

My pet load for the 200 grain cast SWC is 4 grains of bullseye, a Winchester WLP primer, and either mixed brass (for the Clark) or R-P headstamp Remington brass (for the Rock River). I can't remember the OAL, but it's consistent with the OALs you'll find in published data for that kind of bullet. My Rock River likes a shorter than standard OAL or it becomes unreliable. So before you make a bajillion rounds up, be sure you've proven the reliability of the load with smaller batches.


rbwillnj makes a good point about used competition guns in general. They might be in really good shape, or they may have a gazillion rounds through them and are ready for a rebuild. Another option is to buy a used gun from a company that won't cheat you, like www.larrysguns.com or www.pilkguns.com Sometimes they have used wad guns, but they dont' typically cost that much less than buying a new one. If there's only a difference of a couple of hundred dollars, I think it's worth it to get the new one built to your specs.


When you do order a 1911, have some basic information figured out:
1) If you have large hands, get the long trigger and the arched mainspring housing.

2) If you have smaller hands, get the flat mainspring housing, but you may still want the long trigger. If you've got small hands, tell them that and ask what they recommend for a trigger length. Grips come in different thicknesses, and some makers give the option of thicker or thinner depending on your hand size.

3) It's worth it to get a good finish. Ask for one that's durable. My guns are blued and they show wear from where I handle them.

4) I prefer the scope mount that is screwed into the top of the slide. I think it makes cleaning and other maintenance a bit easier. The high masters (i.e., top shooters) seem to universally prefer this configuration to the frame mounted scope mount.

5) Get the front strap checkered, if its an option

6) Get a high beavertail instead of the old government style grip safety. I have one of each and the old style puts a callous on the back of my hand and allows oil to drip on my hand more readily.

7) Demand to know who makes the frame. It needs to be a quality model from Springfield, Caspian, or some other top maker. Metal should be carbon steel instead of stainless because bullseye gunsmiths have found carbon more workable. You can get stainless, but a lot of time they require the slide and frame to be modified. After experiencing the "galling" that occurred on my Kimber, I was turned off from using stainless in a 1911. The slide seemed to wear much faster than my carbon steel guns, which are still like new.

8) Some 1911 shooters have changed their grips to use anatomical grips by Nil or similar makers. These can be fine, but I believe they are a "crutch" typically used by people who are having difficulty in using the 1911. I don't believe that anatomical grips help with the 1911 so long as your fundamentals are good. And if your fundamentals are bad, then the anatomical grips won't help. I believe this is so because the 1911 requires a firm grip. In the case of match 22s and airguns, the shooter can use a lighter grip, and I belive this is where it the anatomical grips are most useful.

Use FP10 oil to oil the gun. It's a great oil that is well suited to use in autos. Don't use the old style "red lube". The new lubes are just better.

Cull your brass to eliminate Amerc brass. It is terrible. S&B brass is marginal. Both can be difficult to resize. There are so many economy ammo options now from abroad that I've eliminated all but PMC and the major American maker brass from my inventory. Starline is considered excellent by all who use it.

Another couple of tips: You'll need a decent low-magnification spotting scope that's compact. I prefer the two-gun "shortie" boxes to the big sewing machine box sized shooting boxes.
 

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Questor and rbwillnj, Thanks a million! What an education.

So, are there any particular smiths in the midwest you'd recommend? Personally, I'd like to be able to buy one new, in a box, but if I ran into a deal on a trustworthy used one, I guess I'd consider it.

I do have long, slender hands, so getting the textbook finger position on the trigger has never been an option for me. Even with a big, fat Beretta, I'm almost at my middle knuckle on the trigger if I take a comfortable grip on the firearm... Nice to think there might be a way around that challenge.

I DO like durable. Are the various matte finishes fairly equal, in your opinion?

Talk to me about cleaning, if you can. Crazy religious scrubbing, or blast out the crud with Gunscrubber, swab the barrel, and be done with it? I've done benchrest rifle shooting, so I'm familiar with the crazy cleaning routine.... That's why I asked about lead vs. jacketed. I like a clean barrel, with of course, a few fouling shots before matches.

I appreciate the red dot mounting advice; I'd meant to ask, but forgotten. Is there any messing with springs or anything to allow the gun to cycle with the extra weight on the slide and low-power loads being fired? Having shot factory guns with factory ammo so much, the idea of messing with the internals is kind of new to me. (I do drag and road racing, as a hobby, so "tinkering" is built in, but I've always been under the scrutiny of lawyers and others of their ilk when it comes to handguns, so left them strictly alone....)
 

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Brock:

There are only between 10 and 20 gunsmiths in the United States that really know how to build a good bullseye gun. It's probably closer to 10. Sam May of Bismarck, ND is one of them. His phone number is 701-258-2360.

My hands are long and slender too and the configuration I like is long trigger and arched mainspring housing.

Cleaning and lubrication are very important to reliability and longevity of the gun. But you don't have to be a fanatic about it. Here's my drill:
1) Every 200 to 250 rounds, clean the top end of the gun as follows
2) You will need two rags. One with a little solvent on it, and one with oil on it. Wear vinyl disposable gloves.
3) Remove the slide and magazine
4) Run the solvent rag through the magazine well from the bottom to the top. Use a toothbrush to push the rag up and through. Wipe the crud off the frame with the solvent rag. Then run the oily rag through the magazine well..
5) Run a solvent patch through the bore and let it soak while you're doing the rest of the cleaning.
6) Dab any crud with solvent soaked toothbrush. Wear an apron for this kind of work or you end up with solvent on your clothes. Use a toothpick to break up any tough globs of crud that typically form in the vicinity of the firing pin hole.
7) Take the slide outside to the garbage can and spray it with whatever gun scrubbing spray is cheapest. The spray lands in the garbage can. Walmart has good deals on it. Some use brake cleaner to save money. You don't need to soak it down. Just spray the nooks and crannies that are hard to clean. One can lasts perhaps 20 cleanings. Maybe more.
8) Use dry Q-tips to clean the slide and frame rails, and any nooks that still have crud in them.
9) Clean the bore. There will probably be some leading. Two things that work are to stroke a .480 pistol size bronze brush back and forth near the chamber about 50 times. Alternatively, a 38 caliber bronze brush wrapped in fine bronze wool (several years supply is available from Brownells for about $10) can be used to stroke the bore. Do not waste your time or money on lead removing chemicals or cloths or gizmos.
10) The rest is conventional pistol cleaning and won't do the details here.

11) Once a year, clean the firing pin and extractor by removing them. Q-tips are handy for this. Disassemble and clean the frame. To learn to do this, I strongly recommend a good video instead of a book. I used the video from Wilson Combat and watched a few times while taking notes. It's easy and doesn't take much for tools. I did modify a punch by rounding it. I strongly recommend getting the Brownells aluminum bushing wrench. I went through many plastic bushing wrenches before I wised up. The video shows proper lubrication procedure for gun reassembly.
12) Before shooting, and every 30 to 50 shots lubricate the gun according to the diagram at www.bullseyepistol.com. Use a gun oil that you like the smell of because it will get on your hands. Bullseye shooters are notorious for practically bathing in gun oil. I keep a handy oiler in my gun box to touch up the lube a couple of times during each match.
13) The routine maintenance described above for every 200 to 250 rounds takes about 1/2 hour if you work slowly. I typically get it done in 15 minutes. The vinyl gloves are a time saver because you don't dirty your hands (or soak up any undesirable chemicals).
14) With a Q-tip dipped in lens cleaner, periodically remove the drops of oil that inevitably get on the lenses of your red dot sight. Use a dry Q-tip to get the excess cleaner off.
15) If I get home from shooting and haven't shot 200 to 250 rounds yet, then I just wipe the gun's exterior with an oily rag and store the gun.
16) Periodically spray the inside of the magazine with gun scrubber. You don't need to disassemble the magazine. Speaking of magazines, you'll want 2 magazines.

The above cleaning is just for the 45. The 22 is much easier to clean. I only disassemble mine for a bore cleaning once a year. Other cleaning is just wth a Q tip and a bit of oil, and a cloth.

Can't help you much with finishes. LIke I said, mine are blued and bluing wears off. But it does so gracefully. I've seen some shotguns with other finishes and the finish wears off in blotches.

Your gunsmith is responsible for building a gun that will work with a red dot sight mounted. You do not need to worry about it. But keep in mind that a new bullseye gun will need a break in period of perhaps 500 to 1000 rounds before it is worn in enough to cycle reliably. Don't freak out if it seems stiff at first. You may need to go to 4.1 or 4.2 grains of bullseye powder initially before backing down to the normal load of 4 grains. It is assumed that you are going to use standard bullseye loads only. Nothing heavier. You don't need to learn to tinker. You just need to know how to clean and lubricate the gun.

I have not found fouling shots to be necessary so long as the bore is dry.


Trigger finger positioning is critical and you need to approach it seriously and thoughtfully and systematically. There are individual differences. For example, I shoot better with the trigger about one third of the way from the pad to the first joint of my right index finger. This works for me. It is pretty unlikely that you will be able to shoot your best with the trigger in the first joint of the finger. You will need to work on this as it is of fundamental importance to good shooting. Bullseye is a game of stamina and you need to work out systems that will allow you to shoot your best for the duration of a match.

One little piece of cryptic wisdom that you may want to remember is that you'll soon learn to shoot 10s, but mastering the game is determined more by what you do between shots.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Great info; this is all being printed out and filed... I'm sure by others on the board, too.

Yes, I completely blew a match one time because I couldn't get my "mantra" to hold between shots. My mind wandered everywhere, and practically took wings on the rapid fire relay. That was the year of my most fervent practice, and the only year I didn't shoot "Hi-20". I can only guess I got on that loop of "Hey! I might actually WIN this thing!" that is just as detrimental as the "Oh, I could never win this thing!" loop.

I AM excited about shooting with quality weapons with nice trigger pulls. Even after tens of thousands of rounds, the old Berettas have a slacky, grating trigger. Dead reliable, though; gotta love that.
 

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p.s.

By the way; I'm big on dry firing. Got any preferences on "snap caps", or is there any difference?\

Heck, while I'm thinking of it; how do you arrive at your stance? From Fulford's (and others') advice, it seems pretty important, but I don't feel like I have a stone-reliable stance-attainment method, or that it even affects me that much. I'm probably just not at a high enough level to notice this difference unless it's so bad that I'm exhausted or shooting the neighbor's target!

18 years with gunbelts, ballistic vests, gear and car crashes have left me with a back that's a bit "hinky", so find myself just trying to "get comfortable", then shoot. Seems to work most of the time, but I have a great chiropractor now, and if I can find the "perfect" stance, I'll have him tell me how to tune my muscles to stay comfortable in that exact stance. I'm in pretty good physical shape, other than the busted knee and hinky back, so my endurance, strength, etc., is good. And I'm a scuba diver, so I'm pretty dialed in on my breathing and oxygen usage. (And new progressive bifocals this week. Sweeeet. Nice to get old. Look forward to wearing them without having to take Dramamine....)
 

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Brock: I second the advice on using CCI Standard Velocity ammo. Far too many people forget the standard velocity ammo is the original accuracy load for the 22lr. My Ruger Gov't Model with a 6 & 7/8 bull barrel shoots very well with Remington SubSonics. But, my targets are squirrels in trees out to 50 yds. and smaller vermin at closer ranges

As for the bullseye 45: When I shot bullseye I used a Colt Gold Cup. I preferred cast bullets due to the expense and the improved accuracy I experienced. You will need to work on your stance and there is lots of good advice but the stance is an individual 'thing' that you will have to work out over time. Chiropractors may help but few shoot so just have him work the kinks out when your back 'hinkys' up on ya.

Stance, breathing and trigger pull are all tricky but not insurmountable. I hate to admit to this over the public airways but I just used to change the recoil system in my Gold Cup and throw in a custom caliber barrel and shoot metallic silhouette with the same pistol I shot bullseye with - it is good practice for breathing and trigger pull; stance comes into play in that sport when you get too good laying prone and they make ya stand and shoot the steel at 2 hunnert yard.

And before the shock and awe ebbs from the dedicated bullseye shooters (and the 'how couldya dodat' comments come in) I only did this to demonstrate the versatility of the 1911 system, but I also hunted with it, soooo I am really not your best source on which dedicated name brand systems to use for bullseye. I wuz jus havin' fun yer onner.......... Mikey.

ps: glad you retired safely.
 

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Brock:

Yes, there is a huge difference in snap caps. For 22 the only good one is
http://www.champchoice.com/shop.php?pline=SAFACC
from Walther.

For 45, all top shooters say they aren't necessary because if they don't ruin their guns dry firing, then you probably won't either. However, I do use snap caps anyway and the only good and durable ones I know of are made by A-Zoom.

For the other questions, try the books "Successful pistol shooting", but Leatherdale. And "The Pistol Shooters Treasury" edited by Gil Hebard. The Hebard book should be available from Champions Choice, at the above link.
 

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Brock; I took Brian Zins seminar this summer, and the grip and trigger finger placement he teaches is anything but classic. He places the bone of the first joint on the trigger. I have short fingers, and even with a flat mainspring housing and a short trigger, I can't get my finger that far in and still have a good hold of the gun. I did change my grip though and now I put the first joint of my trigger finger right at the edge of the trigger. The result is a grip that is close to what you get when you draw a 1911 from a holster, and that is the grip that Brian Zins taught. It takes some getting used to, but it has helped me a lot.

George Carrel in eastern PA is a respected 1911 smith in these parts. He has built guns for a number of top shooters, and he rebuilt my George Madore wadcutter gun into a real tack dirver. His Phone number is 610-588-0199 (Goerge Madore was a top 1911 smith in the east, but is gone now)

Oh, in addition to Questors comments, A custom Bullseye gun has a very tight bushing to slide and bushing to barrel fit. Before turning the bushing to disassemble the gun, retract the slide about an inch so that the bushing is positioned at a narrower part of the barrel. Otherwise you will ruin the barrel to bushing fit.
 

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HA!

Mikey, I now feel at home. I have company. My local range buddies always shake their heads when they see me shooting silhouettes, "bullseye style", but like you, I see heavy carryover in skill sets. Also, it's just plain fun to watch the targets fall when it looks like you just "whipped it up there and shot", compared to laying on the ground, twisting the legs around, taking 5 minutes, etc. Here are a couple brief clips, the first one with a stock Beretta at 100 yards, the second with my Ruger .22, before I went to the red-dot. I made the Ruger clip as part of an online article I'm writing about handgun sports. The "evil laugh" you hear after I clean the 25 yard targets is my big brother in the background.

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=21142161 (Beretta @ 100 yards)

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=20072779 (Ruger @ 25)

Questor & RB, keep it coming, I'm drinking it all in... ; ) Any "target scores" I should be looking for to think I'll be competitive? Since I've figured out which targets to actually use for scoring, I've shot a couple 25 yard, 30 round practice matches, with scores in the mid 270's. When I first started bullseye, the practice match and real match scores would vary by 15-20 points. Over the years, that gap narrowed dramatically, but it's still there, to some degree.
 

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Brock:

I'm about out of ideas unless you've got specific questions. Those books I recommended should help you develop a good bullseye technique. The only thing I can add is that, since the books don't address red dot sights, you focus on the dot as you would the front iron sight. I.e., intently and totally.
 

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Thanks, Questor, I appreciate it. If you think of anything, consider this your "teaching pulpit". I'll always be in the pew....

As I've practiced with the red dot, I've noticed something interesting. If I focus strongly enough on the target to see the X (which I usually can, if lighting is adequate) with my LEFT eye, I can use the "Binden" aiming (or "occluded eye") method to put the red dot on the X. If I try to look THROUGH the red dot scope, letting the right eye dominate, it dims the light enough, and obscures the X enough, that I have a greater wobble area. If you have a red dot scope with the polarizer, like the ultra dot, you can turn the polarizer to completely black, but if you look at the target with both eyes open, your brain will superimpose the red dot on the target. I first experienced this when looking at an Armson "OEG" sight, which was at the time the smallest "optical" you could mount on a pistol.

I look forward to comparing accuracy with various techniques.
 

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Brock, Don't worry about attaining a particular level of proficiency before competing. Just get out there and start shooting 2700s. You will have to shoot essentially two 2700 to get your classification. It's probably better that you start at a marksman or sharpshooter level and work your way up.

Your average of 270 is sharpshooter/expert territory.
 
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