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.
I'm honored by your accolades, but unfortunately I'm not quite as good as you suspect. I understand where you are coming from. HP takes quite a lot of time and I struggle with the time requirements to get to the matches I attend.
The M16 & A1 had 1/12 twist barrels and the USMC use to shoot...
The NRA published some pictures a number of years ago of a southern NAACP chapter that had become an affiliated NRA Shooting Club. This is back in the 20s or 30s and the local chapters were trying to protect themselves from the Klan.
If you are just shooting out to 300 yards, a 1/12 is fine. If you are competing against others or shooting much further you might want a faster twist and heavier bullets. Honestly a 9 twist is not that great. It's hit or miss with 77s.
If you want to be competitive in F-TR or F-Open I would build a new rifle. You could probably build what you have into a significantly better rifle for F-TR, but I'm thinking the 700 action isn't quite up to the task for an F-Open gun.
The action is ok if you true it up. But other than that...