Book Review: Prone and Long-Range Rifle Shooting By Nancy Tompkins

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posted on October 15, 2016
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During the 1970s, a popular television ad was staged in a crowded and noisy cocktail party. A young professional would casually mention that E.F. Hutton was his broker, whereupon all talking would cease. At that point a rich, baritone voice intoned, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” The same can be said for Nancy Tompkins’ Prone and Long-Range Rifle Shooting, for when a member of the first family of U.S. long-range shooting speaks, everyone should listen.

Tompkins has taken her three-plus decades of extraordinarily successful shooting experience, organized it into a logical framework, illustrated it with numerous pictures and diagrams and explained it in an easily understandable and straightforward manner. It has been said that reading a book is like having a private dialog with the author. With her friendly and personal writing style, that is certainly the case here.

The book is broken into three sections. The first three chapters deal with the heart of the book: the prone position, shooting fundamentals and adjusting the rifle for shooting prone. They combine to give one of the best lessons in establishing and executing the most basic of shooting positions. Tompkins gives a meticulously detailed and illustrated step-by-step course in creating a stable position from the ground up, while emphasizing the most important aspect of shooting success—consistency.

The book’s first subtitle, “Explaining the Mental and Physical Techniques of Competition for Enhanced Match Performance” covers the second third of the work, beginning with a brief and insightful look into basic equipment, followed by a chapter on issues concerning the eye. Tompkins’ medical training (she is a nurse by profession) allows her to transform what can be a difficult subject into a readily understandable discussion of eye health.

The well-traveled subjects of physical and mental training are covered, as are goal setting and relaxation techniques, but with her personal training aids and methods presented as examples. An introduction to long-range targets is used to set the stage for an extensive chapter on wind of some 55 pages, which are chock full of photos and sage advice on how to deal with, and shoot successfully, in various wind conditions. For many readers this may be the singular most important reason to purchase the book. This chapter also provides a nice segue into a discussion of how to deal with adverse weather conditions such as rain and heat.

The last third roughly covers the final subtitle, “With Reloading, Equipment, and Building a Palma Rifle” and is technical in nature with husband Mid Tompkins serving as advisor. Various chapters discuss trouble shooting rifle performance, loading for long-range, building a Palma rifle and rifle maintenance.

In her introduction Tompkins states, “Whatever you do in shooting—have fun.” The closing section is entitled “Having Fun.” Sandwiched between those references to her basic philosophy of shooting is a veritable Fort Knox of shooting wealth. This work belongs on every serious shooter’s bookshelf. The book is available at Tompkins’ website for $34.95 along with the option of having the book signed.

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