Ammo or Technique?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by DarrellA, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. DarrellA

    DarrellA Member

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    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?
     

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  2. PowellSixO

    PowellSixO Well-Known Member

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    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.
     

  3. DarrellA

    DarrellA Member

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    Factory trigger & not a free floating barrel. Not sure about the action, I'll have to look into that.

    Thanks
     
  4. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    Definitely have the trigger adjusted or replaced. Definitely free-float the barrel. And while the smith is in there, I'd have him go ahead and glass-bed the action while he's got the rifle.

    Just to cover all your bases.
     
  5. BrentM

    BrentM Well-Known Member

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    Lots could be going on right?

    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.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  6. DarrellA

    DarrellA Member

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    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?

    Thanks!
     
  7. varmintH8R

    varmintH8R Well-Known Member

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    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".

    Good luck!!!
     
  8. Greyfox

    Greyfox Well-Known Member

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    There can be lots of different thing going on, but the larger center targets look pretty good. The smaller targets disperse. If the first groups shot are at the center targets and the subsequent groups at the smaller targets are follow ons, maybe it's POI shifting from the heated, non floating barrel on your Weatherby, which they are famous for. I've had a few, and they all did this prior to free floating. If I saw these targets shot by an experienced shooter that would be my guess. With an inexperienced shooter, and a good shooting rifle, it could be caused by inconsistent trigger control, focusing on the target dot instead of the ctrosshair in the sight picture, or just plain flinching. Just a few thoughts.
     
  9. DarrellA

    DarrellA Member

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    I was hoping someone would say - "based on the targets, it's definitely the factory ammo." But I know that is wishful thinking. Most likely I'm the weak link in the chain: Shooter- rifle - scope - ammo. After reading through some of the great info on this site, especially about flinching, I'm thinking that may be my problem. Notice the 1st eight shots aren't too bad. After that maybe I'm starting to get sore and anticipating the recoil. Or, it's the warmed up barrel.

    Looking back through my target sets of the past 4-5 sessions I notice a pattern - my first shots of the day are pretty good. Very similar to the targets I posted here. I think I'll try giving the barrel a good, long cool down period between 4-shot groups and see what sort of results I get.

    Shooting well and consistently is turning out to be more difficult than I anticipated!
     
  10. HighCountryMulies

    HighCountryMulies Active Member

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    When i was younger and had just started hunting, my older cousin would take me out to the range to practice. He would help me get my gun sighted in then i would take over, he would always load the next shell without me looking and every once in a while he would just throw a empty chamber. I would get down on the gun the first couple emptys and click... Wow i was really pulling them ( flinching ). The point of this story is it really showed me how bad and why i was pulling shots, i would recommend getting someone to go shooting with you that can switch it up and give you a empty every now and then without you knowing. It worked for me...
     
  11. DarrellA

    DarrellA Member

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    I may be making some progress, but I'm not sure. Ignore the small targets at the corners. I was playing with factory ammo and shooting some off a bipod instead of the Caldwell rest, some freehand shots, etc.

    I got my first ever hand loads together and ... they shoot and didn't blow my face off. So I'm counting that as incremental progress. One step at a time.

    I shot 10 rounds at the upper center target with the minimal/starting load. The bottom center target got 10 rounds with 1 grain above the starting load. On the upper target I jerked the rifle on one shot and placed the round lower and to the right - which actually looks like an aimed shot at that little target. I count 8 holes near the upper center target - I have no idea where #9 went. I can usually tell when I jerk or slap the trigger. So, I going to claim that I put one shot right through an existing hole. At least that makes me feel better.

    Bullet seating depth was set to match the HSM factory loads I have on hand with the same Berger bullet. I have tried all the home brew methods to locate where my bullets hit the rifle lands (smoke, Sharpie, floppy bolt with no firing pin) but just can't get a decent read. I have a pair of cleaning rod stops on the way and I'll try that technique next.

    In the meantime I'm working up another batch just to go practice my technique loading and shooting. I'll have to admit, I was pretty full of myself when the first batch worked!
     

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  12. DarrellA

    DarrellA Member

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    Well, how 'bout that?! I followed Eric Stecker's procedure on "Getting the Best Precision and Accuracy from Berger VLD bullets in Your Rifle" And, sure enough, one group stood out. The group that's .090" off the lands. Now it's time for the fine tuning. Although, I'm not sure that it's going to get much better than these results. But, who knows?
     

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  13. RTK

    RTK Well-Known Member

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    You are in for it now, the addictions has just begun:)
    Try improving your techniques along with dry firing. Many would not believe how much a few minutes a day of dry firing will help and it costs nothing
     
  14. DarrellA

    DarrellA Member

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    Improving my technique is definitely the hurdle now. There was an older gent at the range yesterday watching what I was doing. It took him all of about 30 seconds to walk over and tell me, "you're jerking your trigger finger." I paid more attention to that and, sure enough, I immediately saw an improvement.