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Compound Errors Missed Target

 
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  #1  
Old 11-26-2013, 01:36 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 9
Compound Errors Missed Target

Hi, first post, and it's a question. First, some background.

So, on a whim (and because of wind), I set up on a long trail that is crossed half a dozen well used deer paths. I get out just a bit after it's light enough to see. I hadn't prepped my spot at all, but I was generally familiar with the area. Before I can even get my rang finder out, a large doe comes into view. She's well away from me and I can see her through some brush at differing ranges. It's barely light. I figure she's at about 85 yards. I'm shooting a borrowed older 870 rifled slug gun that I've already taken a buck at 65 yards this season (I did not sight the gun in, but rather my host did--this will not happen again). I'm shooting 3" Federal Foster-type rifled slugs.

I think, "I can make this shot, especially off shooting sticks." So I line it up. Double check her and the branches around. I hold the barrel down and squeeze off the shot, I'm aiming just about where I want to hit her as the buck was hit about 10" above where I was aiming. I'm dead on her. No flinch. No shake. She turns and runs. I expected more of a reaction.

So, I figure I'd better ease up the trail and see what the blood trail looks like. About half way up, I realize that I've grossly misjudged the length of the shot. I get my range finder out and I have to measure the distance in 3 segments as I can't get a clear unobstructed read otherwise. This is not an 85 yd shot. Rather it's 126 yards.

I'm concerned immediately. I hustle up to where she was standing, only to spook her. She was only about 15 yds off in the brush. I scan the ground all around where I shot at her and where she was standing (probably trying to figure out what that effing noise was). No blood. No fur. I'm cursing myself for misjudging that one, figuring I must have shot under her. No matter what, I missed her cleanly, I'm pretty confident.

But as I think on it, I hit the buck high at 65 yds, off my sticks. That's why I held the gun down with my left hand. I'm thinking that was my mistake. I should have just set the gun on my hand, not held it down.

Is it possible that, despite the excessive range (for a non-sabotted slug and older slug , I was HIGH, not low?

I did a bit of trig and if my shooting sticks were bouncing the gun up on recoil say 10" at 65 yds at 126 yds, I might be hitting 18"-20" high, less a couple inches of drop.

Thoughts?

I'm done with gun season for the year and I'll be doing much more prep next year, whether I borrow that gun again or buy my own, so I'll know the absolute range I'm comfortable to as well as how the slug will behave. I'll also get the gun off the sticks and practice that way as well. Still, I'd like to see if my reasoning is sound and perhaps help another newer deer hunter avoid my mistake.

Mebits
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  #2  
Old 11-26-2013, 06:41 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Spring Lake Michigan
Posts: 299
Re: Compound Errors Missed Target

I don't think holding it down was the problem. 125 yards is a decent shot for an 870 depending on how it likes the slugs you are shooting. My 870 with buckhammers throws a decent pattern at 100 but that is where it really starts to get wild and open up. I say this because I have shot many deer and hogs with and without my hand holding the gun.I have a feeling your gun was not sighted in correctly. Or you had a flyer. This stuff happens. I think you have it figured out already next year make sure you are comfortable with your gun. Make sure you shoot whatever slug you sighted in with and good luck.
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  #3  
Old 11-26-2013, 07:17 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Near Napoleon,MI
Posts: 997
Re: Compound Errors Missed Target

You not only need to sight in the gun, but verify the drop at any range you want to shoot at !!!

I last year had a shot at any of 4 bucks in a field when we reached legal shooting light on Nov 15. I ranged the biggest buck at 200 yards with my Nikon Monarch rangefinder.. Big mistake, because it was a bad range, the buck was in fact at 125 yards. I then proceeded to shoot over its back - 3 times... Slid a 4th shell into the chamber by hand and held dead on (I was zeroed at 100 yards) on the only buck left in the field (he wanted to fight !!) and scored a head shot, right where I aimed.

Of course that POS rangefinder got immediately retired and I want back to my much cheaper Rifleman rangefinder that has always ranged correctly.

I was shooting a Savage 20ga bolt action slug gun. I had sighted it in myself (at fairly considerable expense, since I couldn't get more than 2 boxes of ammo of any given type so I had several to test.) I ended up with the Hornady SST load. But with this type of weapon, if it is more than 75 yards, it is essential to get a good range. Otherwise it is better to not take the shot. The same rules apply to muzzle loaders and I would even say that the edge may go to the muzzle loader, since the bullet is already engaged in the rifling after loading.

Never go out in the field with a rifle you have not sighted in... Its immoral.
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  #4  
Old 11-28-2013, 12:39 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 9
Re: Compound Errors Missed Target

Quote:
Originally Posted by westcliffe01 View Post
Never go out in the field with a rifle you have not sighted in... Its immoral.
That seems like a very confident statement. Can you derive that morality?

:/

Seriously, you presume much. I'd never have taken the shot, had I realized how long it was. Sighting in the gun myself would have given me confidence to consciously decide or not to take that shot. It would have been far better in my opinion too. Still, I'm ethical enough to not CONSCIOUSLY take a shot at the outside edge of the effective range on a gun that I've not sighted myself.

OTOH, at 65 yds, I took a buck quite handily. I felt comfortable out to that range as I trust my host's work and the size of the target. A little farther seemed reasonable. A lot farther, not. Alas, I misjudged the length of the shot. That won't happen again either but that's not an ethical failing so much as an error that I now know how to avoid.

M
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  #5  
Old 11-28-2013, 08:44 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Near Napoleon,MI
Posts: 997
Re: Compound Errors Missed Target

Your first post on a forum and you admit that your prep for the hunt consisted of slinging a slug gun someone else gave you with the assurance that it was sighted in ?

I don't see how you were not expecting to be chastised for that kind of "work ethic".

A varmint rifle with lightweight high speed bullet like a 223 will show minimal point of impact shift from one shooter to another. But that does not hold true for low speed, high recoil weapons like muzzle loaders and slug guns.

"Sighted in" for one person is meaningless for another person who has not spent time at the range and developed the proper hold and shouldering technique to get consistent results from the weapon. Also, to many people, taking the weapon out the safe after last season, is all the "sighting in" that they do...

All of us have missed a shot at some point or another. This can happen regardless of all the prep in the world. But not spending a half hour to set up a target and shoot 3 rounds to verify that you are "on" at a single distance, is going to set you up for a lot of disappointment and potentially produce a lot of wounded animals.

If you didn't want this kind of feedback, you should probably not have posted on a public forum. The anti shooter/hunter/self defense people love stories like yours to illustrate how irresponsible "we" are.
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  #6  
Old 11-30-2013, 03:09 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Near Napoleon,MI
Posts: 997
Re: Compound Errors Missed Target

To provide some constructive criticism instead of just bashing, I suggest you take a look at the ballistics calculator hosted right on this site (G7 Ballistics Calculator) about in the middle of the menu bar near the top of this page. You have to register/create a login.

Then you have to figure out the details for the load you were shooting. Muzzle velocity, weight of the slug, G1 or G7 BC for the slug, weight in grain etc. Plug in environmental conditions for the day. You can then save the load info (give it a name that makes sense) as well as the environmental conditions.

I do not know the load you were shooting, so I ran the numbers for my 50 cal muzzle loader shooting a 250gr Hornady SST bullet that is a 45 cal in a sabot. I put in that it was sighted in 10" high at 75 yards. Then I ran the ballistic calculation and after it is run, I changed the range increment to 25 yards and total range = 300 yards. That is good enough for a case like this.

If you look at the attached calculation (valid for my load and typical Southern MI hunting conditions) you will see that 10" high at 75 = 14.3" high at 125, 15.3" high at 150 (apogee, more or less) then starting to drop, but only reaching the point of aim at 280-290 yards.

By comparison, if the same weapon is sighted in 3" high at 75 yards, it is 3.2" at 100 yards, 2.7 at 125, 1.3 at 150, -1.1 at 175 and -4.6" at 200 yards.

Sighted in 2.5" high and you will have a point blank range (+2.5 - -2.5") of 175 yards.

So, ignoring technique, a slug gun that is sighted in 10" high at 75 yards, is not sighted in worth a damn. Not for practical purposes.
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  #7  
Old 12-01-2013, 06:04 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 9
Re: Compound Errors Missed Target

Quote:
Originally Posted by westcliffe01 View Post
Your first post on a forum and you admit that your prep for the hunt consisted of slinging a slug gun someone else gave you with the assurance that it was sighted in ?

I don't see how you were not expecting to be chastised for that kind of "work ethic".

A varmint rifle with lightweight high speed bullet like a 223 will show minimal point of impact shift from one shooter to another. But that does not hold true for low speed, high recoil weapons like muzzle loaders and slug guns.

"Sighted in" for one person is meaningless for another person who has not spent time at the range and developed the proper hold and shouldering technique to get consistent results from the weapon. Also, to many people, taking the weapon out the safe after last season, is all the "sighting in" that they do...

All of us have missed a shot at some point or another. This can happen regardless of all the prep in the world. But not spending a half hour to set up a target and shoot 3 rounds to verify that you are "on" at a single distance, is going to set you up for a lot of disappointment and potentially produce a lot of wounded animals.

If you didn't want this kind of feedback, you should probably not have posted on a public forum. The anti shooter/hunter/self defense people love stories like yours to illustrate how irresponsible "we" are.
Ok, you don't get to change the facts as given. I was and am assured that the weapon was accurately sighted in. And, I defy you to show me that at 80 yards, the difference in the way a slug gun shoots between two men of similar builds and experience, is going to be measurable given other variables or measurable enough to make a difference on a well-aimed shot.

I agree that it was an error to not sight in the gun but not because I had any concern at the shorter range shots, nor that the gun wasn't accurately sighted, but that I didn't shoot out to longer distances and different holds. I'm an active shooter and very comfortable with range, but only if I've experienced the gun at range. That won't happen again, as I said. More importantly, had I been out at the range running 20 or more shots through the gun (not 3 as you so sagely suggest :/ ), I would have realized the effect of shooting off sticks (I shoot a pcp off sticks at substantial range and can group the shots on top of each other if there is no wind, but recoil isn't a problem).

To be clear, I am not in the least worried about hitting my target within a couple inches at 60 yards with a gun sighted in by my host. To pretend that such isn't reliable or that trusting his sighting is "irresponsible", is just silly and self-aggrandizing. The issue for me is that I can make a gun do a lot more than my host can and I should have known that I would have wanted to and would want to test my equipment combinations more fully to allow more challenging shots with confidence.

That latter should be the take away. I would have learned some key information had I taken the time to give the gun extensive testing and shooting. Had I done so, I wouldn't have been wondering about the effects of a slug gun being shot off shooting sticks. I would have known. Oddly, there was surprisingly little on this on the web, hence my presumption of value to the comments. So, the principle is that if you're going to shoot a gun in the field differently than it was sighted in, you should make sure that it won't result in different results.

I regret that I didn't, I feel fortunate that I didn't wound a deer, and I don't want anyone to make that mistake.

OTOH, despite somewhat hysterical protestations to the contrary, I'm confident that I can take a slug gun sighted in by ANY competent shooter of similar build, shoot it the same way out to 80 yards and get very similar groups, certainly similar enough to responsibly take deer sized game at that range. But if somebody has some peer reviewed data to suggest that I've just experienced some rare fluke, well, I'll be happy to offer my humble retraction.

I'll patiently await. :/

I'm not of the opinion that any practice I might have put in would have kept me from misjudging the range in those conditions, save more time doing field target competitions. Does my critic do those? Would one consider the failure to do THAT immoral? Irresponsible? I wouldn't be so bold.

Though upon review, I think I WILL spend some time doing more of that type of shooting (low and or mottled light through tree branches, etc.) and I WILL spend more time ranging any long shooting lane I select, so I don't get surprised by a shot. That said, I'm now thinking that range wasn't the big issue. The sticks were. Had I shot off my hand (on top of the sticks), I suspect that would have been a very dead deer.
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