I'll have my first reloads ready in a week or so. In the meantime I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to measure any improvements in accuracy. As you can see in the attached photo I can sometimes almost stack one shot on top of another. Other times they're all over the map. I'm pretty sure the rifle shoots fine. I'm questioning my technique and ability to shoot worth a darn. Based on the photos can you guys tell?
I'm using a Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Sporter in 7mm-08. About 350 rounds have been put through this rifle since new. Redfield Revenge 3-9x42mm scope. Talley 1 piece mounts. Ammo is Federal Fusion, 140 grain. 100 yards from a bench. Wind was negligible. I shot 4 rounds at each of the 10 targets in the order shown by the red numbers.
Group 1 wasn't too bad, I know I launched the flyer to the left as soon as a pulled the trigger. Group 2 was excellent. Then things went bad.
After Group 6 I adjusted the scope a few clicks to the right. After Group 8 I adjusted the scope up a few clicks.
For those folks who understand this much better them me, can you determine anything useful from the info or are there just too many unknown variables involved?
I'm fairly new to reloading myself, and no expert shooter by any means. So take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Once you find a good load for your rifle, and you get to the point where you can make every round just like the last one, your groups should tighten up. Don't expect this to happen quickly either. It takes time and a lot of patience to find a great load. Shooting ability is always a factor, lol. The more time behind the rifle the better. Also there are a lot of things that could be a contributing factor as far as the rifle goes. Is your trigger still factory? Is the action pillar bedded? Is the barrel free floating? A little more info on your setup would be helpful. It's hard making a diagnosis by just looking at a few groups on a target.
Savage 111 7mm Rem Mag
Vortex Viper HS-T 4-16x44 VMR-1 MRAD
BlackHawk 0 Moa Picatinny Rail & 30mm Rings
Rifle Basix Sav-2 Trigger
168gr Berger VLD Hunting, Win Brass, WLRM Primers, H1000 69 grains, .010" off the lands
Boyd's Pro Varmint w/ Pillars and Bed job
Howa 1500 .243
Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10x44 EBR-1 MOA
BlackHawk 30mm Rings
95gr Berger Classic Hunter .010" off lands
Norma Brass, WLR Primer, 42gr H4350
Hogue Full Bed Block Stock, and ATI 5 Round Detachable Mag Kit
So I would look at your shooting tech first, just to help rule out a few things. IMO, you might have scope eye issues. You are not aligning exactly the same each time behind the scope and the cross hairs are up, left, down, left, etc. Then for some reason you get in a groove and settle in. This actually very common and I am fighting it with my 16 yr old. He shoots dead on, then way RIGHT, then left, it drives me nuts. My wife pushes the rifle and tends to shoot left. UGH. All of this with a super crisp and light trigger, off of bags, behind a night force scope.
You might look into this. There is a great video series from a master sniper that address rifle set up and scope alignment. NSSF video. One tech I use from his vid is to close my eyes, line up behind the scope in my normal position, then open my eyes. If the scope to eye alignment is off then I need to change something. For me, I built a cheek riser to help line me up behind a 56mm scope.
Here is a test. Set the rifle in the bench and settle in on the rifle. Move your head back until you get a black circle in the scope, just around the edges. Now center that black/shadow in the scope and shoot a group. This shadow centering technique is used to help you with repeated alignment for shooting groups and identifying where faults might be.
Yes, lots off issues could be, and probably are, in play here. Great video on NSSF. I'm going to pull the scope off and go through the mounting process again with this new information. There's no doubt in my mind now that if my scope is mounted correctly it was purely by chance. And how likely is that?
I think all of the above is good advice. My experience is that when you are chasing groups with scope adjustments, something is out of whack. Either your action screws are loose or torqued weird, your scope is goofy, your mounts are loose, etc.
Something you might try: shoot a whole box of ammo at the same point of aim. Work on being consistent with your form. Use it as an excuse to burn some handloads (practice, right?). Just line up with good, repeatable form and shoot. If you notice a trend in one direction or another as you shoot, something is probably wonky. If you get a consistent distribution but within a large area, you need to take some steps to make your rifle/loads more accurate. If there is no rhyme or reason to where your bullets impact, you'll have to find another rifle that is known to shoot to rule out "operator error".