The normal bolt stop on an M14 is just that, a bolt stop. It was never designed to allow the operator to release the bolt. This one provides more leverage to allow you to use it like a modern rifle.
The modern technique of using a rifle typically implies that the firing hand stays on the...
I'd just go to the matches. You can sign up for a clinic and meet people. Most HP shooters don't charge for advice and if you ask will likely invite you along if they are going to a practice day at the range. It's always nice to have a buddy along to pull at 600.
Two options I would suggest:
Gunsmithing school - 2 year associate degree
Machinist school - 2 year associate degree
I think the machinist track is a little more reasonable for most people and you can actually get a job when you graduate.