Why should I care about groups for a hunting rifle????

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by DennisPA, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. DennisPA

    DennisPA Well-Known Member

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    Ever since I started shooting I’ve had drilled into me that I want the smallest group possible. 3 shot, 5 shot, 10 shot whatever. People throwing out stats like 1/2 MOA, 1/3 MOA, I can cover X shots with X coin. For a hunting rifle why should I care where the 3,4,5.... shot goes. I only care about my first shot and maybe may second shot.
    I'm as guilty of this as anyone else I have stacks of targets with center to center distances measured and documented. Then used this data to make my component choices powder, brass, primer ect.
    I was looking at said stack of targets and started thinking how cool would it be to be able to lay a stack of the same targets on top of each other and see all my first shots line up and second shots line up. In other words a grouping of just cold bore shots and follow up second shots. Then that got me thinking that powder, bullet ect. that I thought “I’ll never use that again it’s junk” or “I just can’t get that whatever to group in my gun”. What if all the first shots were smack on top of each other and the second was a predicable upper right or whatever. Now the 3,4,5 shots could look like they came out of a 12ga and I wouldn’t care.
    Here’s my thought I have a stack of 100 new targets. Shoot one recipe in say the upper left of three targets. A second recipe in the upper right and so on. All fouled cold bore shots with a semi-quick second shot. Then overlay the three targets and compare the first shots of each group. Keep in mind I am only talking about hunting not competition that’s a whole other process. Thoughts???????
     
  2. redgun

    redgun Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you have the luxury of shooting very close to home.

    I like your basic idea of testing cold bore shots (only), but I have to drive 1 1/2 hours to get to where I shoot.

    Another way of basically doing the same thing is a "dedicated" cold bore target. Put it up, with your other targets each time you go to the range, but only fire the very first shot at it. Then take it down and save it till your next range trip & do it all over again. After a couple of trips to the range, this will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from your rifle.

    P.S. On my hunting rifles, while working up loads, I will shoot a series of two shot groups (rather than 1-2 five shot groups).
     

  3. highridge1

    highridge1 Well-Known Member

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    1 word answers your question. Confidence
     
  4. Joe King

    Joe King Well-Known Member

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    Thats why i take my dog with me to the range. Take today for instance, I'mm in the middle of working up a load for my 7mag using 168gr Matrix VLD. I shot all loads round robin. I would shoot one and go throw a ball for my dog for a while and then shoot another 5, 10, 15min later. Didn't worry about the time or what ever. I'll say this though it took the whole morning (5hrs) to go through 25rnds. The mutt thought it was neat s^%t too!
     
  5. DennisPA

    DennisPA Well-Known Member

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    Yes I do most of my load development at my home but I am also a member of a club that I can go to if I need to shoot longer distances. But I’m also the guy that will show up with a hand full of rifles to shoot and a .22 to practice technique between loads with my center fire rifles. I’m not debating that this would be a very time consuming type of load development because it would.
    I am more so questioning the usefulness of shooting the 3,4,5 shots if I don’t see how I would ever get myself in that type of hunting situation. How does shooting those additional shots add to my confidence? My confidence in taking game is going to be in my first cold bore shot and if need be what point of impact change there will be for a second shot.
    If recipe “A” gets me a .5” 5 shot group but my cold bore shoot can be anywhere in that .5”. Or recipe “B” gets me a 1” group but my cold bore shot is consistently is that same spot. Why would I choose “A” over “B” for hunting?
     
  6. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what kind of hunting you do or have done but I can't count the bucks I've taken on the third or fourth shot. So it's really a plus to have the 4,5 shot sitting right next to the first cold bore shot. Having a good smith usually solves the problem and with the proper load the group is nice and tight even when fired consecutively as in a hunting situation.

    When you jump the largest buck you have ever seen and he's bouncing down through the timber 200 yards below you and you have missed your first two shots because of brush you did not see or a bad angle you gonna let him go because your 3,4 and 5th shot are scattered like the shot out of a 12ga shotgun? I don't understand your thinking.
     
  7. Joe King

    Joe King Well-Known Member

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    Dennis I think the same way, follow up shots are needed because the 1st did not do it's intended job. Bad shot, bullet failure, ect. but I also agree that the 1st is the most important shot period. My personal opinion is that 99.999999% of the time that first shot is missed the fault lies with the nut pullin the trigger.

    kcebcj I've let the buck and 2 bulls of a lifetime go because I didn't feel that I could make the shot for 3 different reasons, I did that because I learned that lesson the hard way, and all three where well in my theoretical range. To be fair though I do strive for a load that will put the first and subsequent shot in the same place.
     
  8. Mike 338

    Mike 338 Well-Known Member

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    kcebej stated it well. In the real world there's misses or something other than what you wanted. I sat next to a guy that took 5 steady shots at a standing deer because he thought it was over 400 yds instead of something over 200. This was before range finders and quick adjust turrets. After the first or second miss, we would determine if it was low or high and and change the point of aim incrementally if the animal was calm. You can't figure it out if the bullets are spraying. You might also not hit an animal well enough and need to thread the needle for follow up shots. Dang trees are suicidal that way. Everyone wants those perfect broadside shots on a standing animal but my experience is that you make the most of whatever your given or pass up the impossible. The last elk I killed ran right past me and I shot him from the hip. I hit a tree first. The entry wound was about 4 inches. I couldn't figure out why the big hole was on the near side! That's long range hunting with tree bark. Anyway, one shot, one kill is something to strive for but actual circumstances are not predetermined. Besides, many times, your laying down the money for something that should perform better than a slingshot even if you don't think you'll need that kind of consistency.
     
  9. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

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    Hey Joe..... I agree with you 100% If you feel the shot is just crappie don't take it. I was referring to a animal that is within ones skill range and confident with the shot and for unknown reasons the first two shots went astray.

    The largest bull I have taken was put down on the forth shot. I had two shots at him standing uphill broadside about 200 yards. After the second he took off through the timber. Have no idea where the third shot went maybe a limb don't know but he hit a small opening and I nailed him. Went and looked where he was standing at the start and there was a large patch of a kind of willow type brush that is common here about a 1/4 inch in diameter with the leaves off and about 3 feet high just below where he was. I concluded that the first two shots were deflected by the brush that at that range I could not see.

    So in my simple world the rifle wants to be just as accurate on the 4th shot as it was on the first
     
  10. CliffM

    CliffM Well-Known Member

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  11. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

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    Great points.

    Most of the time, it's the first shot that counts for hunting.

    Hence, knowing your cold bore POI is important.

    There are times when multiple shots are required. e.g. varmints, hogs, etc

    We often spend too much time in search of a tiny 100yd group from a bench rest position. It's a good idea to practice hunting conditions. i.e. various ranges, improvised positions, cold bore, wind, temp, etc...

    The bottom line is that neither one shot nor one group is sufficient to have confidence in the rifle, load, or shooter. The more cold bore samples, follow ups, groups, distances, and conditions you have, the better.

    The same is true for practicing with your range finder if you're really into LRH. I work at it with my 1200 CRF and ranging whitetails in hunting conditions past 600 yds gets increasingly difficult.

    -- richard
     
  12. Sully2

    Sully2 Well-Known Member

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    I dont worry about shots 4 and 5. Three is enough for me.....if I havent "kilt" it in 3....I dont deserve it. Dont shoot beyond the equipment ability ( the guy pressing the trigger is included) and if in doubt...work for a better , cleaner shot.

    I'll never shoot 3 into one single hole...but do like to see a 3 leafed clover with the 3 shots touching.....:D
     
  13. DennisPA

    DennisPA Well-Known Member

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    Sully you have hit on my point. Are we choosing components based on that sweet clover leaf. Where the first shot could be any of those three shots. Now take that out to long range and we could be talking the difference in a clean kill, a wounding shot or a complete miss. My thought is that instead of working for that clover leaf. Working for consistent first shot placement with a predictable second shot.
    A question came up about my hunting experience. Large game next to nothing other than a couple fun but unproductive white tale hunts. Most of my hunting is varmint and small predator. At least in my area I very rarely get a second shot. Thanks to all that have contributed this thought experiment, great discussion.
     
  14. Caleb

    Caleb Well-Known Member

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    I've spent a lot of time trying to analyze my groups, and learn my rifles at various ranges. I don't have as much time to practice anymore, but when I do, I always leave a clean target at 200yds and before I pack up and go home I let the gun cool down to ambient and take the best shot I can at a 6" marker. If I hit it dead center, I'm very happy and I go home and sleep well.

    I have friends that are concerned with nothing but grouping. They show me their targets with marvelous groups 3" high and 4" to the right, are extremely proud and have made no adjustments. In my small world that's 3 misses.