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  1. #11
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  2. #12
    Gun Wizard
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    One thing that was not mentioned is be careful with drinking coffee, sodas and other drinks with caffeine before shooting.Drinking a lot of alcohol the night before and smoking can also give you the jitters while you are trying to hold your rifle steady.I am sure there are other stimulants to avoid also but I will refrain from mentioning them.
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  3. #13
    Deadeye
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    Another thing I might add about beverages is that I recently read that when you are dehydrated, your eyes don't work as well. I've definitely noticed that at the end of a long day where I haven't stayed well hydrated, which is most days, my eyes are tired and not as sharp. This whole getting old thing kind of sucks like that...

  4. #14
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    None of us can control the weather and while atmospheric conditions like gusty, variable winds and mirage can play havoc with group sizes, there are ways to minimize their effect. Obviously, avoiding windy days when testing loads is the easiest answer, but if you're anything like me, our schedules seldom allow total versatility. We often have to take what we get on those days we can get to the range.

    When I was serious about wringing every last bit of accuracy from my rifles, I would make it a point to get to the range as early as possible and be set up and ready to shoot as soon as club hours allowed. By doing so, I was able to take advantage of the often still morning conditions, before the heat of the day caused the wind and mirage to pick up. Mirage is seldom an issue at 100 yards, but can become a real problem at longer distances, as the heat waves cause the image of the target to shimmy and move like a hula dancer. A quiet, slightly overcast weekday morning was about as perfect as could be, and not surprisingly, I often had the entire range to myself. I miss those years when I worked nights.

    More likely, our schedules force us to accept less than ideal conditions in which to test our firearms and loads. Being aware of the wind, if not actually "doping it", becomes critical to achieving accurate test results. Fancy wind gauges and meters are not necessary...we really aren't concerned about the numeric velocity or compass heading of the wind...just that we fire each shot in a group in as close to the same conditions as we possibly can. Visual aids in the form of wind flags, that can give us some feedback as to what those wind currents are doing, can be extremely helpful.

    Again, fancy wind flags are not necessary...a bit of trail tape on a stick or wood dowel is really all that's necessary. Two or three, placed at intervals between the bench and the target downrange, will give you a good read on wind direction and velocity. I try to place them where they are in the periphery of my scope as I aim at the target, but as long as they are visible as you sit at the bench, they will be useful. The key, as always, is consistency. Strive to fire each shot when the flags indicate similar conditions, at the very least, the same direction for each shot...if possible, the same, or similar velocity.

    By studying the flags at bit, you may notice a pattern with the winds...a lull between gusts on a windy day, or a light steady breeze from the west overidden by intermittent stronger gusts from the east, for example. I would often wait for that lull, then fire all three shots (of a three shot group) as quickly as I could while maintaining a perfect sight picture and trigger control...allowing conditions to alter my normal rhythm to take advantage of any brief consistency.

    While it's great fun, and a wonderful learning tool, to go out on a windy, gusty day and shoot to see what effect those devil winds have on the bullets we fire (and will pay big dividends in the hunting and varmint fields) testing loads, or the accuracy of a particular rifle, on days like these is seldom wise. If the winds are such it's physically rocking you at the bench, save your carefully assembled test loads for another day. Pack a handgun or two, switch to a shorter range, and practice your defensive skills instead. After all, a day at the range is better'n a day working...no matter what the conditions are.

    Roe
    Last edited by Barenjager; 02-19-2013 at 10:15 AM.
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  5. #15
    Deadeye
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    One thing I found was that the beat of my heart would move the crosshairs in my scoped rifle. If I timed my shot to my heartbeat I could tighten up my groups a bit.
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  6. #16
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    Wow! How can I add anything to all that has been said? I'll try, though.

    Psychologically, it is important to clear the mind and calm the nerves. Slow down. Get everything just right before you fire the first shot. I find that dry firing a few shots, once I'm set, helps me to calm down and also to focus. All this is easier said than done, at least for some of us. You would think that after shooting for forty years, I would be all cool, calm and collected when I get to the range. Not so. I really have to work at slowing done the pulse and breathing, normally. Guess that's the down side of loving shooting so much.

    And then there are the fundamentals that we sometimes overlook. I think follow through is one of these. We get in such a rush to see where we shot, we pull our head up way too quick. I like to tick off a good three seconds after the shot without moving the head and mentally follow the bullet through the target.

    As for the trigger, every gun is a bit different. Learn the trigger on the gun you are shooting. No two are exactly the same. If you switch to another gun in a range session, do some dry firing, once again, to get in tune with the gun. For instance, there is a world of difference between shooting one of my tuned Contenders and a typical lever gun and I often shoot both in a session.

    Limit the length of any shooting session to shooting while you are at your best. Fatigue can often slip in, unannounced. Shooting when you are tired is counterproductive and a quick way to develop some bad habits. Ay my age, even shooting with a scope, the old eyes give out all too soon.

    These days, we all too often find ourselves crowded shoulder to shoulder at the range. I try to shoot early in the morning during the week and only rarely on weekends. Of course, if you are practicing self-defense shooting, the pressure of having a crowd around you is a good thing. On the other hand, if you are shooting for group size, having someone at the next bench trying to impress everyone with his latest ported magnum or how fast he can create a mountain of brass around his feet (and yours) is not fun.

  7. #17
    Tenderfoot
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgcollins View Post
    what's your technique off a bench? What do you use for a rest? How many shot groups do you fire? How often, and how, do you clean your barrel? How long do you wait between shots? Do you put your rifles away with dirty or clean barres? What other things do you do to shrink your groups?
    Use sand bags for rifles that don't have a bipod. I usually shoot 5 shot groups from standard calibers. Then wait till the barrel cools, depending on the caliber and thickness of the barrel. Thin "mountain" barrels no more than 3 shots. Heavier barrels take longer to heat up. When the next shots widen the group, I stop.

    One of my rifles shoots best with 3 shots then the 4th & 5th climb widening the group. Stop at 3 and wait to cool. Cleaning depends on the caliber. Magnums get cleaned sooner because more powder is used, I clean about every 20 shots for them. Standard calibers about 40. All my rifles are cleaned after I shoot them.

    How I shrink groups: shoot with both eyes open. With the sight's on the target, hold it there and close my eyes for a couple seconds. If the sights are off readjust my position, not the rifle. Repeat until sights are centered on target. I seat the bullets just off the lands for best accuracy. Using spire point boat-tail bullets also gives me best results. I stay away from any bullet with an exposed lead tip. The tip is soft and tends to deform in the magazine when fired, especially in my magnum caliber rifles. Not good for accuracy. Nosler ballistic tip and Accubond bullets have a hard plastic tip which cures the problem for me. These bullets are quite accurate in all rifles I've tried them in.

    When not out shooting sometimes I post a target on the far wall and load a few dummy rounds to practice. Works well for offhand shooting.
    Last edited by Westbound; 12-09-2014 at 10:22 PM.
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