Sigh. So some of this comes from reflection on the "art of learning" thread nearby.
I often go on and on about what competition shooter can do, and we hear a lot of what military shooters can do, and snipers of all types, but when it comes right down to it, the average person with a little gumption can raise themselves to a very high level of marksmanship with nothing more than a simple .22 and several pounds of ammo.
Long rifle marksmanship is about learning to shoot a rifle--any rifle--well. As long as it is safe, the rifle type and caliber is irrelevant, but let me tell you what a Remington 514 can accomplish.
The rifle is an early 1950's model 514 .22 S-L-LR single-shot bolt-action with a trigger that moves about 3/8" before breaking and wiggles in the action, unbedded sporter walnut stock, 24" light contour barrel that (oh HORRORS!) is not at all floated, and is currently on her second refinishing. The only modifications were a new bolt about 10 years ago when the original gave out (sheer # of rounds), and a sight elevator timing with hand file in the 50's by my grandfather. Though the action has been routinely cleaned, I'm guessing the barrel has been fully cleaned of wax less than 10 times. Don't take me wrong, it is in beautiful shape, and has not been abused, but it is not "match grade" in any sense of the cliche. It's mostly eaten .22LR, but I've fed it lots of shorts, CB caps, shot shells, and CB Long ammo as well. Many of you have a rifle sitting in the corner just like it, having not shot it since you were a kid.
As did my dad, I grew up on that rifle from age 7 on (when dad would only give me 3 shells for the day), and never missed a beat feeding it through my teenage years. My favorite past time (other than sparrow/starling/squirrel hunting) was shooting steel fence posts as far as I could see them. For those not familiar, these posts are a "T" cross section, and approximately 1.5" across at the top of the "T". I missed a lot for awhile, then began to hit them, and now if I take my time, I don't often miss out to 50 or 75 yards. I've hit posts as far as 200 yards, and just shot my range's wind flag post yesterday to make sure I still could.
The smallest group I ever shot with it was right at 3/8" at 50 yards on a paper plate, but that doesn't tell the story, because the longest kill with it was a groundhog at just over 200 yards by my old man in high school. He is, of course, the same person who taught me how to drive a rifle.
The point of all this is that basic marksmanship is not about the equipment, it's mostly about YOU, and PRACTICE.
If you want to learn how to really shoot, my best advice is to buy a $100 dollar single-shot .22 with iron sights, and about 10,000 rounds of Winchester Wildcat. Take your spouse, kids, friends, and learn how to shoot a rifle on your own two feet holding it with your hands. At first, prone need not apply. When you can learn to steer a rifle into groups the size of your fist at 100 yards, then you have learned to be a Shooter. At this point, just about every other shooting position and type becomes gravy. I am still personally in pursuit of this level, but I am beginning to see some big light at the end of the tunnel, and it is a very bright light indeed.
.22LR...Practice. Wax on, wax off. :wink: