Shooters capability vs variation in rifle/load

Discussion in 'Long Range Competition' started by mtang45, Sep 12, 2009.

  1. mtang45

    mtang45 Well-Known Member

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    I have a question that has arisen out of my quest for ultimate accuracy and tighter and tighter groups by tweeking my handloads. At what point do I stop looking at variation in the load process and/or components and start to consider that perhaps I have reached the limit of my personal ability?

    I guess I'm approaching that point where I have to consider that I already have a load and equipment that surpass my ability and to improve group size I need to work on improving my personal skills.

    I'm in my 50's and have worn glasses all of my adult life. At the urging of my children I had Lasik surgery performed on my eyes and noticed an immediate 20% (or better) reduction in group size, across the board on three rifles that have had no change in load or components. The improvement can only be explained by the change in my eyes. So this observation has got me thinking on other aspects of my personal abilities.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2009
  2. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

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    Excellent train of thought. I think a lot of us are guilty of continuing to tweak our rifles, scopes and loads looking for the ultimate combination - without worrying so much about training ourselves to actually shoot better...

    In the bit of NRA Highpower and Tactical competitions I've done, I've found that equipment and loads can provide an advantage, but the shooter who reads the wind and holds hard takes the prize... Everybody on the line has an accurate rifle & ammo combo - only one guy is going to win.

    Personally, I'm very satisfied when my comp rifle is shooting 1/2 MOA. I don't worry about trying to get it down under that at all. Funny how some days, when nothing has changed with my rifle or ammo, it just doesn't shoot as well.... I've seen that danged rifle go from a half moa shooter to producing some pretty wide shots in a match... Hmmm... Am thinking those days reveal the true weak link in the chain - the shooter.

    Regards, Guy
     

  3. Boss Hoss

    Boss Hoss Well-Known Member

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    Ahhhhhh------now you are progressing to a level that most never get to!!! I shoot 1k BR and am pretty successful but some of my friends who I have been shooting and hunting with (not competitive shooters) still cannot see the need for a proper rest, bench technique which includes set up and leveling of the rest etc, when firing a string only chambering the round for no more than a couple of seconds, and then the big ones---learning to judge condition and cleaning the bore to a known condition. I have been fortunate and been taught by some of the best but it involved un-learning a portion if not most of what I have been doing for 30 years!!

    They always just scratch their heads when I can take their ammunition and rifles and out shoot them---I hate it when that happens..
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2009
  4. Varmint Hunter

    Varmint Hunter Well-Known Member

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    This imay be a dumb idea but.............

    how about letting a shooter with known capabilities shoot your rifle & accuracy load to see if he can shoot measurably smaller groups? If so; you know what to work on. :)
     
  5. mtang45

    mtang45 Well-Known Member

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    I think your suggestion is right on. That will probably be my next step. However I don't really know any long distance shooters that have a proven track record. I live in the Kansas City area so if there are any members out there that know of a club, informal group or just a single person into long distance shooting, then let me know who and how to contact them.
     
  6. rdsii64

    rdsii64 Well-Known Member

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    More range time less bench time

    I know this is an old thread but if your load is shooting tight groups already, its time to tweak the nut behind the tirgger. When the shooter can out shoot the load, then its time to tweak the load. Until then tweak the shooter.

    I have loads for both my guns that will shoot an inch at 100 yards. Thats good accuracy enough to hold the ten ring. Until I can consistantly hold the ten ring, messing with that load doesn't get me anything. Now when my skill gets to the point that that one inch load becomes a hindrance, then its time to develop a half inch load.
     
  7. Tang

    Tang Well-Known Member

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    That is a very good point. A lot of folks spend so much time tweaking loads, bullet seating depths, scopes and bases, but most forget to work on the nut behind the trigger.
     
  8. TargetTerror

    TargetTerror Member

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    You mention that it seems to group well but then opens up during matches. Just to get obvious things out of the way, could it be opening up due to heat build up in the barrel? Some guns can go several matches back to back without groups opening up, other guns open up almost immediately.

    I've been playing around with a Stevens 200 in 7mm-08 and it literally opens up on me after about 5 rounds. Dunno if this is whats going on, but food for thought.
     
  9. mtang45

    mtang45 Well-Known Member

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    Just an update to the original post, because I have a better appreciation for my abilities and can go back to examining equipment and loads. I have a Cooper Phoenix in 6.5x55 that has always been a "good" shooter and I recently picked up some Lapua Scenar 139 gr projectiles to go with my Lapua brass (seemed like a logical combination). I had never tried the Lapua Scenar and thought they would be interesting to experiment with.

    A short time later, a buddy called and invited me out to a friends place for some casual 500 yard competition the next weekend. Now this event has traditionally been a casual get together, but none the less very competitive. The winner gets bragging and ribbing rights until the next outting, so shortly after hanging up the phone I'm already mulling over how to get prepared. I head down to the "man cave" and set up the press with the 6.5x55 dies, grabbed a box of new Lapua brass, Federal Gold Medal Match primers and the newly acquired Scenar projectiles. I used my Hornady comparator to set the die to seat the bullet .010" off the lands. Now for the powder; I have a significant array of powders that I have tried for various projectiles and calibers, some successful some not. So I opened the reloading manual looked up the listed options for a 139 gr projectile in 6.5x55 and there in the list was H1000. It just happened that I had a can of H1000 on the shelf that I had used in a load development for my 7mm STW and didn't like the results with it as well as with Retumbo; so it was available. The manual stated a max load of 52 gr, so being a conservative kind of guy I arbitrarily picked 48 gr as a safe starting load and proceded to load up several rounds.

    So the day came of the shoot and in my mind the first order of business is to test the new load at 100 yds. I set up on the bench; rifle rest, sandbags, spotting scope, box of newly loaded ammo and last but not least my Cooper Phoenix with a Bushnell Elite 6500 Tactical scope. I got in position, loaded the first round, took aim at the "sight-in" target at 100 yards and squeezed off the first round. I could see the hole through the scope, it was just slightly left but perfect on elevation. I loaded and fired the second round and to my surprise could not see a hole. I checked through the spotting scope for a closer view, and... no hole, what the heck?? I fired the third shot and again I am shocked and extremely disappointed that I don't see a hole on the target. Now being the victim of something going very wrong with a new load much more often than actually having something "magical" occur, you know where my mind is going...obviously something is wrong, load, equipment...something! I did the cursory check of the scope, nope not loose. Looked through the scope and reticle seemed intact, centered and horizontal. So, I loaded round 4 and squeezed it off. This time when I looked through the spotting scope the original hole looks a little elongated....WHAT!! No it couldn't be! My mind is racing about where exactly shots 2 and 3 went. Now believe me, I have NEVER put 5 shots through one hole in my life and just to make sure no one misunderstands, that record is still intact. I was a little pumped and excited for round 5 and after firing immediately saw another hole on the target with about a quarter inch of paper between it and the first hole. I ran down and retrieved the target and even though a lttle disappointed in shot 5, I was absolutely ecstatic about the previous 4 shots all in the same hole.

    I had a brand new load, first time out that was a serious winner via sheer luck. I also had a new appreciation for my personal skills. And to top all that off I recorded the most kills on 2 litre bottles at 500 yards and I definately won the day. It was great fun and I had to share the experience with all of you. Thanks for letting me make this long post!

    Happy Hunting!
     
  10. Southwind

    Southwind Well-Known Member

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    There are shooters at Desoto and CKGC (Hutchinson) that would be happy to work with you.
     
  11. mtang45

    mtang45 Well-Known Member

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    Can you PM me contact information? Thanks!
     
  12. RMulhern

    RMulhern Well-Known Member

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    As for your eye surgery....if you were shooting aperture sights......I'd say vision is MOST IMPORTANT!! With a scope....not so important because the scope can be adjusted to your vision!!
     
  13. mtang45

    mtang45 Well-Known Member

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    Normally yes this is true if you are just talking about correction for near or far sightedness. However in my case and is the case with many other folks, astigmatism causes double or triple vision, distortion of the reticle and just really poor fine vision capability at small objects regardless of the scope adjustment. PRK vision correction has fixed all that for me and I can see like I was 18.

    This is not an advertisement and I certainly don't get paid for saying it, but going through the process of Lasik/PRK vision correction was the best thing I have ever done for my eyes. Glasses/Contacts cannot even compete.
     
  14. RMulhern

    RMulhern Well-Known Member

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    There is ONE very important GROUP TIGHTENER that quite a few people over-look or either they're ignorant about! If a shooter is L@@king at the target that just had a hole punched in it.......INSTEAD OF THE APEX of the reticule...you WILL NOT shoot tight groups regardless of your set-up or your rifle/ammo combo!! At shot break....vision must be totally upon the crosshair and the target is seen in the secondary vision!!

    MARKSMANSHIP consist basically of 5 things:

    POSITION
    SIGHT ALIGNMENT
    TRIGGER CONTROL
    FOLLOW THROUGH
    MENTAL ATTITUDE

    :D:)