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Shooting Groups

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by davef, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. davef

    davef S.E. pdx Active Member

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    Hello,

    So I guess I understand what shooting groups is, although when Im at the range all I try to do is blast the bullseye as much as I can. Id like to start evaluating different ammo in a more scientific way and understand that grouping is one factor in working up a load. As Ive never tried to shoot groups, Im wondering how to do it. Im assuming you shoot from a rest or at least some sandbags. As far as sighting goes, assuming ive got my front blade at the 6:00 position on my target circle and fire, I hit a few inches to the left of my point of aim. Do I now use that hole as my new point of aim or do I still use my my original point of aim?

    Any other pointers would be greatly appreciated
     
  2. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    You pretty much have it there .You use the same point of aim every time.
    You are only worried about how tight the group is at this point
    You don't adjust the point of aim until you are satisfied that one recipe is the best.Then center the sites for that recipe.
    So use whatever rest works best for you.I like to rest front and back of the gun,not just the fore grip.

    Good luck
     
  3. Otter

    Otter Oregon - mid Willamette Valley Active Member

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    Group shooting has to be very controlled. You have to do it off a very stable rest, and you need to hold/aim the rifle the exact same way each time. Just by changing the amount of shoulder pressure or stock pressure can change your point of impact. Ideally you want a light trigger (benchrest rifles use 2oz triggers) cause a heavy trigger can cause you to pull shots. You really need to use wind flags too, otherwise you can't evaluate if a large group is the result of your rifle, load, flinch, or the wind. Ribbons on a dowl will do to read the wind. Your group should form away from your aiming point. You need a very precise aiming point to reference and it does you no good if you shoot out your aiming point.

    I've never done serious group shooting with iron sights. For me that would be very hard. For me the higher power of scope usually results in smaller groups. I have scopes that go to 32x and for 200 and 300 yards often want more maginfication. Shooting small groups is addictive, so make sure you have deep pockets if you get serious.
     
  4. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    "I've never done serious group shooting with iron sights. For me that would be very hard. For me the higher power of scope usually results in smaller groups. I have scopes that go to 32x and for 200 and 300 yards often want more maginfication. Shooting small groups is addictive, so make sure you have deep pockets if you get serious."

    Since this statement was admirably qualified with disclaimers of personal experience and preference, I cannot disagree with it.

    But I will disagree with the premise, based on my own personal experience and preferences:

    I am of the firm belief that AS LONG AS THE TARGET CAN BE SEEN, AND A CONSISTENT SIGHT PICTURE ATTAINED, iron sights are AT LEAST as accurate as telescopic sights, and perhaps even more so.

    This concept was stumbled upon early in my precision shooting efforts, when in smallbore competition as a teenager. I simply KNEW that if I put a scope on my Anschutz (for squirrel shooting in the field), it would shoot more accurately than it did with its globe and peep irons. It is rather funny that we think we have the whole world figured out at that age, and we know all the answers. I was soundly corrected upon discovery that a very fine scope on my target rifle actually IMPAIRED its accuracy as compared to what it was capable of with the globe and peep (as long as I could see the intended target). The only advantage the scope offered was the ability to see the target at longer range.

    More recently, messing around quite a bit with Sharps and Winchester High Wall single shots, I find once again that a long iron sight radius (globe and peep) can be every bit as accurate (perhaps even more so) than the same rifle equipped with optics AS LONG AS THE TARGET CAN BE SEEN, AND A CONSISTENT SIGHT PICTURE ATTAINED.
     
    Natty Bumpo and (deleted member) like this.
  5. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    I support this. I too shoot Winchesters regularly with 'Open Irons' and the above is very true. The biggest problem with a scope is losing reference to the surroundings around the target and concentrating on the crosshairs only. There is no overcoming this as the eye will naturally focus on the sharpest and most acute item and the crosshairs of the scope are it. Also how many times have we heard of (or experienced it ourselves) 'losing' game (or other target) after a miss because we were looking for it with the scope and couldn't find it because of the reduced field of view. Hey, no doubt 'scopes dominate the rifle shooting world and are probably the best choice for most but there are three rifles in my collection that will never see glass.
     
  6. Otter

    Otter Oregon - mid Willamette Valley Active Member

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    Interesting comments about open sights. I would never imagine trying to shoot small groups with open sights beyond 50 yards. When I test ammo on a big game rifle, I will remove the 3-9x scope and replace it with a 5-20x or 6-24x because I can shoot far more consistently with the higher power. The finer the aiming point the smaller my groups. Even a fat reticle scope in the same power will yield larger groups than the same power scope with a fine crosshair or target dot reticle.

    I do admit I've never tried the more sophisticated open sights you see on long distance high power rifles. I would think those are far more accurate than the "blade" type open sights the original poster indicated he would be using. You guys talking about small groups with open sights, what type of sights are you using?
     
  7. Medic!

    Medic! What just happened? Has eagle eyes. But cant remember what he saw. Bronze Supporter

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    You guys are nuts. If you can't see it then how can you hit it?
     
  8. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    One of my Winchesters (heavy octagon barrel model 94 in 30-30) has a high profile silver bead front with an early G22 rear which is a the standard step - elevated rear with an adjustable semi-buckhorn blade for fine tuning. This setup is already clover leafing at 50 yards. Once I get it dialed in I believe 2" 100 yard groups are possible.
     
  9. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Davef, another important aspect of shooting groups is learning to "call your shots!" Basically this means that at the precise moment that the trigger breaks you know exactaly where your rifle is pointed. In other words you are learning how to miss, or why you missed. If you shoot a dime sized group and have one hole 1/2 inch farther out from center you need to be able to determine why it's out there. It's called a flyer by the way. Only by analyzing each and every round as it happens and "calling" a flyer and what you did to cause it can you tell the true group size. If you can't figure or didn't notice a cause then the flyer is part of the group. If you, say, flinched or jerked the trigger a little and noticed that it pulled your site or crosshairs off of the point of aim then the group is the dime sized portion of your shot string. Basically you are trying to prove that a flyer was caused by you and not the load or the firearm. Hope I made this clear enough, it was harder than I anticipated!
     
  10. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    For Otter, and Medic!, and with apologies to the OP (and due credit to Sgt Nambu for trying to keep this thread out of the hands of DB Cooper: "hijacked" for those of you post 1971):

    Iron sights that can deliver precision need not be expensive or technical. For young eyes, VERY good precision can be obtained with buckhorns that are machined well (such as supplied on a garden-variety Winchester 94), and a front bead that is compatible with the rear: this means that the bead when viewed fits precisely in the appropriate groove in the buckhorn. From this achievement, one only needs a bullseye that allows CONSISTENT placement of the bead in relation to the target (most usually a "6 o'clock hold" is employed, with the top of the bead just brushing the bottom of the black).

    However: buckhorns and beads would not be my preference for extreme accuracy, and may often NOT equal what can be achieved with a scope (especially with older eyes). For that work, what is required is a fine aperture peep for the rear sight, and a front sight (preferably shrouded globe, eliminating glare) that is compatible with precise repetition of sight picture. To achieve this, once again the target choice is a round bull, with the front sight being a round bold circle that fits the circumference of the chosen bull (viewed at chosen range of shooting) perfectly.

    From a gun that is 101 years old (A Winchester 1885 High Wall Single shot that left the factory in 1911), caliber .25-20 Single Shot (not your .25-20 Winchester cartridge) with a 32" octagon barrel, and a very simple Lyman tang sight (no fancy Vernier "Quigley" stuff) , and BEAD FRONT sight, the gun averaged .78" groups at 100 yards. This means the gun shot a very lot of half-inch groups. But I am not of the questionable species that appears on websites proclaiming "half inch all day" to any of my guns. (When that phrase erupts, I discount all information forthcoming from the same source.)

    Now, with a nice globe front sight with interchangeable reticles that I can mix and match to intended targets, certainly allowing more precision toward sight picture on a round bull, it averages .62" groups. Sorry. Still not "half inch all day" (but this means it shot a lot more half-inch and better groups).

    Before I could afford the nice front globe, I decided to take it hunting after the very most singular species in North America that everyone believes you need a long-range cartridge and telescopic sight to harvest. I had neither:

    PA080026.jpg
     
  11. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Throw a tang on it, RV. Increase your sight radius by 15" or so. I'd just about guarantee your 2" expectation will be ancient history. That gun deserves the best.
     
  12. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Read the bold print. AS LONG AS THE TARGET CAN BE SEEN. A 6" bull can be seen by the naked eye (even mine) at 100 yards. If I can see that target, and have sights that allow for precise repeatable sight picture (fine peep rear, globe aperture front to fit that bull as viewed from 100 yards), I KNOW I can shoot groups AT LEAST as small (PROBABLY BETTER) than with a scope.

    Indeed, you make a good observation that a 6" bull is merely a blur (even to young eyes) at 100 yards. BUT: it is a specific "blur", definitively circular, and can be precisely centered in an aperture globe sight. That is all that is required for absolute precision that will convince all experiencing it, that groups shot with such equipment can very well EXCEED the possibilities available with optics.

    With the "blurry" six-inch bull centered in the aperture of the globe front sight, bullets arrive (from an accurate gun, sighted in properly) right in the center of the bull every single time (group size will rival and very often exceed what might have been possible with a scope). It seems like magic, but it is not. The human eye has few contenders on the planet. Some animals (raptors, for example) may enjoy better definition, many enjoy better night vision, etc.: but the human eye is a large part of what makes (and made) us human: versatility delivered with color and depth perception, and focus on one point is simply amazing and nearly unparallelled. It is not the arm that makes a Major League pitcher. It is the eye. It is not the hands that make a world-class engraver. It is the eye. A brain surgeon may be credited with a steady hand. He would credit his eye.

    The pitcher, engraver, and surgeon know: If you can see it and you have equipment to line everything up the same everytime, you will hit the target. Allow your eyes to do what fourteen million years of development did for you. Scopes only define targets we cannot see.
     
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  13. Medic!

    Medic! What just happened? Has eagle eyes. But cant remember what he saw. Bronze Supporter

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    OH I get it now. This must be why the worlds best snipers have all gone to iron sights.
     
  14. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps they haven't. But to revisit the central premise again, if all sniper's targets were visible with the naked eye, and a consistent sight picture could always be attained, no knowledgeable fighting man in the world would drag a convoluted optical device onto the battlefield.
     
  15. ogre

    ogre Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Nice rifle and nice posts! :thumbup:
     
  16. Simonpie

    Simonpie Portland Active Member

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    I regularly shoot with an aperture setup, but recently was allowed to shoot a true bench rest rifle with a scope. At 200 yards, I could easily see sighting resolutions of about .030 inch. I would estimate my resolution with the globe sights at about .5".

    For those with poor results from a scope, I'd look at parallax problems. That bench rest gun had zero discernable parallax.
     
  17. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

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    RE: The OP’s inquiry: the OP asked for advice on how to shoot more accurately and unconsciously doesn’t realize he needs two things – one is a real human being coach to assist him with the mechanical/kinesthetic manual of arms and the critical “Rifle Triad” in order to get the most out of his rifle and sighting system. Secondly the OP needs someone to help him cognitively calculate and input a firing solution using either irons or optics. I can assure you – trust me on this one – if you’ll invest the time to work with a competent coach you’ll substantially accelerate in your mastery of this discipline.

    All I can offer is it is next to impossible to learn Defensive Karate from a book (ask Danielson from the Karate Kid movie series) as it is to learn how to mechanically and cognitively improve one's marksmanship from reading posts on a forum. Forums are great resources and awesome places to camoflage one's true idenity behind a fictious handle in order to fellowship, embellish one’s resume’ and accomplishments without data or an effective warrant (to use Stephan Toulin’s model) and to pick up tips/tricks. It is not a great resource for really mastering new skills which is what the OP desperately needs.

    Bottom line is the most effective way to help you master your rifle is to find a competent coach. It doesn’t have to be a paid professional but at least get someone who is effective in mentoring and coaching. Having someone who is a good shooter is a place to start but that doesn’t always translate into being an effective coach. I have a dental friend whom I’ve been begging to train me in field /ditch dentistry. He said to me the other day; “Dan, I’m darn good with dentistry and I can fix anything in the field but I’m a lousy teacher.” At least he admitted it!

    Regarding iron sights vs optics…a basic principle. First magnified optics do not make you shoot any better they only help you see better. You’ll notice military and LEO sniper teams are not running super high mag scopes unless it is a special purpose platform. Optics are designed with this principle in mind:

    If you can see a deer (for example) with your naked eye at 100 yards and you can shoot and hit a deer with your naked eye at 100 yards at 1x power using an optic or with iron sights then you will be able to hit the same deer at 400 yards by upping the power on the optic to 4x. At 4x power it is the same optically as the deer at 100 yards with your naked eye.

    Now a few years ago OFA delivered an Intermediate range Precision Rifle course at COSSA in Bend. Guys showed up with thousands of dollars in rifles and optics. Several had guns/optics worth more than my truck I drive. One guy had a $3500 S/Bender scope that was 24x. Bottom line one guy with a STOCK Rem 700 in .308 and a FIXED 4x Leupold blew everyone away on all stages of fire including the shots taken out to 800 yards!
    Skill is what makes the difference! Good or better gear only takes you to the last 10% in terms of mastery. Too many people try to compensate the lack of skill by buying better gear. Look at the Sale portion of this forum…people buy/sell guns because they cannot hit squat…they blame it on the gun/gear and start selling/trading/buying to find the “perfect” gun.

    Iron sights no good for long distance? Ask Gabe or Dave the next time you’re at PSTC about Gabe shooting OFA’s ¼ to scale steel buffalo at 330 yards with his G17 two handed, right handed only and left handed only. I’m not talking about a fluke hit then a bunch of misses – I’m talking about consistently hitting 4-5 times in a row. He even put a NY trigger in the GLOCK and did it! He has done it on several occasions and he has plenty of witnesses to back this claim. Just because someone is unfamiliar with how to use a certain technology (antiquated or not) doesn’t mean it won’t do the job!
     
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  18. Otter

    Otter Oregon - mid Willamette Valley Active Member

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    Spitpatch, nice kill on the antelope. I would never think to go antelope hunting with open sights. Your comment about young eyes is a factor...mine are not young any more.

    Getting back to the original post, OFADAN's suggestion of getting a shooting mentor is spot on. Having someone watch you shoot that knows what they are doing, and are able to coach you through your mistakes, will make a huge difference, whether you use a scope or open sights. You can get lots of good advice off these forums (along with bad advice), but having someone observe you in person is best.

    The orignal post asked for other suggestions, and my biggest suggestion if you are interested in tiny groups is to reload your own ammo. A rifle that shoots okay with factory loads can be capable of much smaller groups if you tune the load for the rifle. This means trying different bullets, powders, powder charge, primers, seating depth and a few other tricks. As with shooting, if you can get a mentor to teach you to reload, you will be that much more ahead of the game.
     
  19. Rem725

    Rem725 Tracktown, OR Member

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    This OP really does not indicate subject weapon is pistol or rifle. Some parts point to rifle, some to pistol. For pistol, Slowfire Bullseye shooting will tell you tons about sighting and trigger control. A good gripping, sighting and triggering marksman does not need a Ransom Rest to group a load. Back to rifle, I used to shoot NRA smallbore outdoor prone. Metallic and scope shooting at 50 and 100 was always about the same group wise. But like one poster says, being able to see the target is going to come into play at greater distances. But then again look at the Service Rifle guys shooting 600 with post and aperture. First thing is to decide what you want to expect from your game and your equipment. It's all relative. There are parameters that certain equipment can not reach.
     
  20. davef

    davef S.E. pdx Active Member

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    Yea, im talking about a pistol.