How much accuracy is required?

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by phillietimothy, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. phillietimothy

    phillietimothy Well-Known Member

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    Gentlemen,

    Hello, I have an accuracy requirement question. I have never hunted, I currently target shoot with a 22LR. I hope to hunt in the future, I realize that is my responsibility to shoot at distances that I can reliably hit with the proper caliber. The maximum point blank range for the 7mm-08 for an 8 inch vital zone is approximately 308 yards. I am considering a deer size animal, I know the kill zone is larger; I am being conservative because I assume that I will not be as proficient in the field as compared to the range. If I can reliably hold 3 MOA at 300 yards, my potential error would be +/- 4.5" in both directions vertically. Can I shoot at deer size game? I believe being conservative with the vital zone size gives me some margin for error. I know this is a subjective question, but most of you have a demonstrated level of proficiency. Who better to ask than people who shoot long distances? If I am not on the right track, how does one determine the level of accuracy necessary for given vital zone sizes and distances? I suspect many people will benefit from this question, none of the shows address this to my satisfaction. Thank you, looking forward to your response.

    Tim
     
  2. The Surgeon

    The Surgeon Well-Known Member

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    Nothing can take the place of time in the field. I will tell you from experience, 4" up or down goes right out the window when your first deer walks in and you are able to take a shot. I have seen hunters, on a calm day, have a good deer walk in and the only thing moving in the woods is the tree that hunter is in, veteran or not. You seem to understand what it takes to hit the vitals but understanding and actually doing are two very different things when it comes to a live animal.

    The one and probably most important piece of advice I could give to anyone wanting to get into hunting is this. Get into the field with another experienced hunter who you trust and like, and learn from them. Let them help you as much as possible, because there are so many things to consider, before the shot and after. I and every hunter out there have made our mistakes when it comes to making a clean kill on an animal. We all have done it, weather we want to admit it or not, and we all have lost animals.

    Adrenalin has a way of changing the game.

    Coming into this with the idea of making a clean kill is good, but realize that it is not reality. Sadly, it will happen. The more experience you get in the field and behind the gun on live animals is the only real way you will overcome this.

    I have seen veterans have a nice 160B&C walk in and it wouldn't have mattered if the side of that deer was the size of a barn, they miss.

    You are on the right track. I wish you the best of luck!
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011

  3. Dr. Vette

    Dr. Vette Well-Known Member

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    Tim,

    Your rifle can never be "too accurate." Any centerfire rifle I own that only holds to 3 MOA doesn't go into the field; I hold the rifle to about 1 MOA or better if it's going to be used, and that's measured at 200 yards or more. 100 yard groups are a suggestion of accuracy but 200 or 300 are much better. I do have a rifle that's probably a 2-3 MOA shooter despite several types of ammo and it's either going to be my first handload project or it will be sold. Thankfully it's hard to find a rifle that won't shoot 1 MOA or better nowadays.

    As the Surgeon said, go hunting and I'll also add go shooting. Once you're used to 200 or 300 or 400 yard shots then anything shorter is suddenly much easier. And, you'll know exactly what your rifle will do when asked.

    FYI, I suspect that in an accurate rifle you could go to 500 yards on a deer with a 7mm-08 but would not suggest that until you're further along in your learning and practicing.
     
  4. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

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    If at 300 yards you missed your point of aim by 3 MOA that is a error of 9.42 inches. That would work with a 19 inch kill zone. For long range hunting you really need 1 MOA of accuracy or better. With an error of 1 MOA at 300 you would be off 3.14 from point of aim but inside the 8 inch kill zone. When you get beyond 500 yards a 1/2 MOA rifle is necessary.

    Many people can shoot 1/2 MOA at 300 yards but the group is from a few too many inches away from the point of aim. What's optimum in my world is 1/2 MOA at 300 yards. This equates to an approximate group size of 1 1/2 inches centered at the point of aim at 300 yards.
     
  5. bowhunthard

    bowhunthard Well-Known Member

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    As far as a minimum group size, 1 MOA is the absolute minimum in my opinion. On the other hand I think you meant to say 3" @ 300 yds., rather than 3 MOA (MOA is a set number, 1 MOA @ 100 yds. is 1 MOA @ 300 yds.).

    You also have many variables, especially the wind, and that's only one factor. Then throw in adrenalin, shooting angle, comfortability, steadiness, control (or lack thereof) of the firearm, etc. Your group size is only a very small part of the equation (or hopefully very small :D).

    I think that one of the best things you can do for yourself is practice, practice a lot. And also try to shoot some tactical based rifle matches, if you're not used to it, it will get your adrenalin flowing and throw some unknown factors in for you. The idea is to push yourself in order to see where your personal limitations are, and then hopefully on an animal you get to take your time, or it's well within your comfortable range. The farther you shoot during practice, the better you will be on game within your "reasonable" range.

    Good luck, and enjoy. It's an awesome sport/hobby (even if it may be a little expensive at times :D).
     
  6. ken snyder

    ken snyder Well-Known Member

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    This is a good question! You have defined your concerns about accuracy in a manner that is relevant and even stated with proper cartridge/caliber choice. I use the easy to remember gambling term (7-11) a seven inch circular area for deer and an 11 inch for ELK. 7-11 Does not consider yardages at all whether it is 50 feet or 500 yds. Those two circles are totally independent of yardages that they are shot from and should be considered the only gospel of determining what accuracy is when it comes to harvesting an animal. Somewhere around 600 - 700 yds. my circles start shrinking about 1 inch per hundred yards. Can I make a clean cold shot and even more important to me is the likely hood of being able to back my self up with a second shot that will be more difficult. I dont give much consideration to what I am capable of doing and prefer to consider the poorest shot placement that could could occur.. ( yes some folks have different sized circles as a std. and I wont argue with them)
     
  7. The Surgeon

    The Surgeon Well-Known Member

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    One thing that can help you out is to learn how to cut the distance between you and the game. Rifle hunters are going to get a title bent from me saying this. Bowhunters, or any bow hunter worth his salt, are very good at this. Why? Because they have to be up close and personal. Rifle hunters do it to, they just have more play when it comes to the wind.

    That is, learn how to read a game trail. Learn how to read the wind as it applies to the game and not necessarily the shot. Learn those bedding areas and when they are being used. Find the travel coridores. A deer will never travel in the wide open unless circumstances dictate it. That would be under the cover of darkness or rut. During the rut you can throw the rule book out. Deer use fences, tree lines, ditches, ridges, or any terrain to help keep the concealed and to help provide them a quick escape from danger. Find the food and water, they have to have it.

    Put yourself in the deers, so called shoes. Think about it as if your life depended on it and you had to get from point "A" to point "B" undetected. When you can do that, you can close the distance. It takes time, sometimes years to be good a woodsman/hunter.

    The trick is putting this all together to determine an ambush point. With a rifle you are allowed a bit of grace as it applies to the game winding you. Don't be afraid to close that distances for your set up. In your set up, give yourself a way out, if you have to move to get a better shot, so not to alert the game of your presence.

    Long range shooting is an art, no doubt. But, so is being on that deer's front porch when he gets out of bed to stretch his legs and that deer not even realize you are in the woods.

    One other item. Get you some baby powder and keep it in a zip-lok bag in your pocket. Use this to check the wind in your area and potential set up. On those days when it is dead calm, that powder can mean the difference in a successful hunt and you going back to the truck with your tail tucked between your legs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011
  8. Colorado Cowboy

    Colorado Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    I have been big game hunting for over 58 years (I am 70 now), shot my first deer at 12 years old. Built my first custom rifle when I was about 20. I have always had a baseline accuracy requirement of minute of angle groups or better. If I can't get that, then something is wrong with my loads (I always have reloaded), my rifle or me! I learned everything by trial/error, reading early books/magazines and from my Dad. I just finished rebarreling my custom .300 WBY (comm. mauser action, B&C composite stock, Shilen SS match bbl) because it had gotten to the point that it would only do 2+ min groups. It now does <min gps out to 500 yds...my go to elk rifle. Topped with a 4x14 Leupold VXIII with a custom ballistic turret from Leupold.

    Just set a goal of getting to min of angle groups and work towards it. If you buy a factory rifle, get one that is capable of that goal to start with. Learn the basics of good marksmanship (especially trigger control) and then get setup to reload. IMHO a reloader can always do better than factory loads. Every rifle will "like" one load better than another. Find it and use it. Practice, practice, practice! Muscle memory builds shooting profiency, along with the practice.

    Good luck...and good shooting!
     
  9. Greyfox

    Greyfox Well-Known Member

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    Lots of great advise in the prior posts. I would add a suggestion that helped develop the skills of my son in law who wanted to get into long range hunting. He had never hunted, but also did some 22 target shooting. Looks like you live in the Northeast. Since you have never hunted begin now using that 22, and doing some squirrel hunting. It is your scaled down long range rig. Using the same techniques and principles found on this site, your goal should be to put together a set- up that you can hit a 1" circle from 20 yards out to 100 yards. Head shots only. It isn't the same as big game hunting at long range, but it will definitely give you excellent basic training on the principles of both hunting, and precision shooting at extended ranges. A head shot on a squirrel with a 22LR in a 5 mph full value wind at 80 yards could be as tough as a lot of the long range shots on big game with a high power rifle.
     
  10. RDM416

    RDM416 Well-Known Member

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    I often have buddies who are not long range shooters and have a variety of rifles from the old 30-06 passed down from dad, to modern utra mags ask me to help them shoot long range. The question at some point always ends up being "how far can I shoot with this set up?"

    A simple test I use is to put an 8" target dot on my target stand. Using positions that they would use in the field we start shooting at 100 yards, move to 200, 300...... etc. The longest for that shooter is the last range he can keep ALL his shots in the 8" dot.

    The only variable is what is considered a field shooting position. For someone who is shooting from a stationary box blind that may be off a bench with a sandbag for a rest. For someone doing a spot and stalk western hunt that may be a bipod and a bean bag.

    You still have the variable of excitement in the equation, but if you know that you and your equipment are capable of putting ALL your shots into 8", you just have to work through the rest by making sure you are solid and steady or you don't take the shot.

    Obviously, at very long ranges things can get a little more complicated, but I have found this to be a good method to bring some reality to someone's expectations. I often have guys come out that think they are going to be able to shoot 500 or 600 yards, but the holes in the paper tell the real story and they leave knowing 300 yards is their longest range without work on their skill level or an upgrade in equipment.
     
  11. phillietimothy

    phillietimothy Well-Known Member

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    Gentlemen,

    I want to thank all of you who responded. I fully realize that long range hunting requires a great deal of skill. I don't know if I will ever hunt at truly long range. That is why I framed my question in terms of MPBR for the 7mm-08 round. I appreciate all of the answers and advice. The 8" target dot at increasing yardages is a simple and excellent suggestion. I would absolutely use a rest of some sort or pass on the shot. I was thinking of shooting sticks, and if in a blind - a shooting bag. I have read a great deal of Chuck Hawks work and I agree with staying within the MPBR of the cartridge. Obviously you more experienced shooters/hunters are not limited by MPBR. I did mean to say 3MOA, not 3" because I want to be conservative. I am certainly working towards 1MOA accuracy. With the 22LR I can reliably shoot 2MOA at 100 yards, when my finances improve I will buy a centerfire rifle in .308 or 7mm-08. I assure all of you I will excercise sound judgement before shooting at any animal. Once I get my centerfire rifle, I will be ecsatic to try 300 yard any rifle/any sight matches. I might even try mid range prone at 600 yards. After many changes, I have settled on a Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 for about $500 and a fixed power Bushnell Elite 3200 for about $200. I think this will be a quality target shooting set up for $700. Need some 8" shoot-n-see targets. Thanks again fellas.

    Tim