How Canting Your Rifle Affects Long Range Accuracy
Once the bullet has impacted, and if you donít have someone to spot the rounds for you, the round is now lost and your confidence in not only the weapon system but also your ability to shoot accurately is diminishing rapidly. This leads to the more inexperienced shooter (and some experienced shooters too) to second-guess what they are doing. If the shooter can see any results of an impact at all (post impact markings) they generally adjust the dope on the weapon. If that is done and the shooter now takes up a proper position without cant, the bullet will not impact where the shooter thinks it should be.
Now we are engaged in what is commonly known as chasing the bull. Many improper factors have been evident but not picked up by the shooter. This in turn causes a chain reaction of events that all lead to loss of confidence in all aspects of the weapon and the shooter's ability. Slow down and analyze what may be happening before you start to chase the bull.
I know, I knowÖ Of course it could not have been the shooter, it has to be the weapon that is not performing like it should due to some mechanical error. Of course this is the first time that we have experienced this type of error but it canít be ME! As in many cases, it is a direct result of the dope behind the weapon, not the dope on the weapon.
Those are some of the more basic things that most often go wrong due to the weapon being canted. The other things that contribute to weapon's canting can also be attributed to improper fundamentals of shooting.
As aforementioned, the weapon being canted can be the cause of and chain reaction of other improper marksmanship skills that will directly affect the shot. If the shooter is observing the seven fundamentals common to all shooting positions, then that shooter will have a leg up in the game right off the bat. Not just for battling weapons' cant but other marksmanship issues as well.
There are some tools out there to aid the shooter in not canting the weapon. For example, swiveling bipods, leveling devices and others. However, these devices are only as good as they have been attached to the weapon system. So be sure that the shooting aid is properly attached!!
Even with the aid of a leveling device on the weapon, it is not always checked just before a shot due to the excitement of the hunt (a.k.a. BUCK FEVER) or just plain forgetfulness.
The best way to combat canting the weapon is proper placement of a level on the weapon system. Once that has been done you are now ready to practice. The nice thing about practicing to overcome canting is that you donít have to go to the range and fire. Set up your weapon safely. Did I mention safely? Once you have set up your weapon safely and ensure that you donít have any rounds in or around it, you can begin training to get the weapon set up level every time you deploy it.
Here is the process. While aiming in and once you are satisfied youíre on target, slowly change your focus from your optics to your leveling device, back to the optics, (continue this process until satisfied) and adjust accordingly. If youíre in the bubble then youíre in the ballgame. Continue the process many times. In fact, you may want to practice this a few times a week a couple of months out before you go on your next hunting adventure.
Earlier I mentioned consistency. Consistency is accuracy in the game of long range shooting. You see, shooting is much like a house. One of the most important things in building a house is a good square foundation. Once that foundation is set, square and solid, the rest of the process comes together more rapidly and accurately. Accuracy is the key in both the foundation of a house as well as the foundation for a solid shooting platform.
Having said that, I know that you as a shooter in the field are not always able to have the most stable of positions when having to get a snap shot off on an animal due to the terrain or a chance contact. However, practicing the fundamentals of marksmanship in a controlled environment will enable the shooter to adapt more rapidly to a more undesired shooting position. Once the training is in place and the shooter has mastered the seven fundamentals of marksmanship, that shooter can adjust his shooting platform to the environment from which the shot has to be taken.
Take a hard look at past experiences in the field and what positions you have had to adopt to make the shot. Unfortunately, the field is never as level as the range or the floor of our living room where we may practice. Try and adopt as many positions as you can think of while practicing. The consistency of training your body to do the same thing over and over will enable you as a shooter to become more accurate while employing a level weapon system. All this training to maintain good fundamentals will pay big dividends in terms of future success.
Canting can be a problem even with a flat shooting cartridge such as the 7mm Dakota that I use. I fire a Cauterucio 176 grain VLD bullet (BC = .750) at 3,150 fps. In Montana next month at 2,000 feet and 40 degrees, this bullet will reach 1,000 yards in 19 minutes of adjustment. That's pretty flat.
Now picture a 6 degree canting error. That is one minute on a clock. Stand in front of a clock and place a long straight edge up against the face of the clock. Place one end of the stick at the clock's center and rotate the other end until it rests on the "14 minutes after the hour" position on the clock. That is all the cant error it takes to be 6 degrees.
Carl currently lives in Northeast Washington with his wife and sons. Carl was raised in the big game hunting industry in the Blue Mountains of Southeastern WA. Carl joined the USMC and was qualified in several MOSís as well as being a Scout Sniper. Active memberships include: Founder of the USMC Scout Sniper Association, Member of the VFW, NRA, and USMC Together We Served organization. Carl also volunteers his time to Camp Patriot, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to meeting the outdoor adventure needs of combat-related disabled veterans. Currently Carl works as a contractor on DOD and DHS contracts both operationally and in an instructor capacity.
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