February 11th, 2016

Three National Champions Reveal How to Read the Wind

Blast from the Past: As we get set up in Phoenix for the 2016 Berger Southwest Nationals, we thought we’d revisit one of our more interesting features from a few years back. At the 2010 SHOT Show, we had the unique opportunity to corner three “superstars” of High Power shooting, and solicit their wind-reading secrets. Carl Bernosky, David Tubb, and John Whidden all shared some championship-caliber wind wisdom in video interviews. If you shoot competitively, you’ll want to watch these videos. David’s video is worth watching twice because some of the key points he makes go by pretty quickly.

In the three videos below (in alphabetical order), Carl Bernosky (10-Time Nat’l High Power Champion), David Tubb (11-time Nat’l High Power Champion and 7-time Nat’l Long-Range Champion), and John Whidden (2-Time Nat’l High Power Long-Range Champion) shared some of the wind-doping strategies that have carried them to victory in the nation’s most competitive shooting matches. This is GOLD folks… no matter what your discipline — be it short-range Benchrest or Long-Range High Power — watch these videos for valuable insights that can help you shoot more accurately, and post higher scores, in all wind conditions.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

We were very fortunate to have these three extraordinarily gifted champions reveal their “winning ways”. These guys REALLY know their stuff. I thought to myself: “Wow, this is how a baseball fan might feel if he could assemble Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams in the same room, and have them each reveal their hitting secrets.” Editor’s Note: These interviews were conducted before Bernosky and Tubb won their most recent National Championships.

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February 9th, 2016

Mental Game — Thinking Your Way to Success

praslick emil usamu mental training game marksmanship

SFC Emil Praslick III is now retired from the U.S. Army, but he left a great legacy as one of the USAMU’s greatest coaches and team leaders. A highly-respected wind expert, Praslick also was known for his ability to help his shooters master the “mental game”, which is so important at the highest levels of competition. Here is an article from the CMP Archives in which Praslick explains how to focus your mind to achieve greater success.

Thinking Your Way to Success by SFC Emil Praslick III (Ret.)
Why does it seem that the same small group of shooters wins the majority of the matches? Within the Army Marksmanship Unit’s Service Rifle Team, the same effect applies. On a team filled with uncommonly talented shooters, the same two or three are consistently at the top of the final results bulletin. What is the difference among shooters who are technically equal? Confidence. A confident shooter is free to execute his shots without the fear of failure, i.e. shooting a poor shot.

Negative thoughts (can’t, won’t be able to, etc.) will destroy a skilled performance. The mind’s focus will not be on executing the task, but on projecting fear and self-doubt. Fear is the enemy, confidence is the cure.

How does a shooter on the eve of an important match (the President’s or NTI, for example) attain the confidence needed to perform up to his potential? A pre-competition mental plan can assist in acquiring that positive mental state. The plan can be broken down into a few phases.

Build a feeling of preparedness. Developing and executing a plan to organize your equipment and pre-match routine will aid you in feeling prepared on match day.

Avoid negative and stressful thoughts. Focusing on “winning” the match or shooting for a specific score (like making the “cut” or making the President’s 100) can cause undue stress. Good shooters focus on aspects that are within their control: their sight picture, their sight alignment, their position. Each shot should be treated as an individual event.

Train stage-specific tasks during your practice sessions. Instead of shooting matches or practice matches only, include some drills that focus on your problem areas. Training in this manner will assist your level of confidence.

As part of your pre-match routine, imagine yourself shooting perfect shots. Visualize getting into the perfect position, acquiring a perfect sight picture, and perfect trigger control.

Let a feeling of calm and well-being wash over you. Spend a few minutes alone thinking positive thoughts. Many shooters use their favorite music to help build the mood.

Once you develop your pre-competition mental plan, stick with it. Through your training you will develop the physical skills to shoot higher scores. The confidence you will need to apply them in match conditions will grow as you develop into a complete shooter; both physically and mentally.

The USAMU’s article archives are a great resource for competitive shooters. Click HERE for more excellent instructional articles by Emil Praslick and other USAMU Coaches and shooters. You’ll find articles on Wind-Reading, Fitness, Equipment, Shooting Positions, Shooting Techniques, Match Strategies and much more.

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February 5th, 2016

FREE Printable Super-Sized Playing Card Targets

NRA Playing Card targets

The NRA Blog has published a nice set of super-sized playing card targets. These boast a variety of aiming points (large and small) so they work well for rifles as well as pistols. On the Queen of Diamonds, aim for the large bull-style designs in the “red zone” or aim for the smaller dots on the periphery. For a real challenge, try to shoot each one of the 26 small red diamonds in the curved, central white stripes.

On the Five of Clubs target, you can aim for the smaller club symbols, or shoot for the orange, purple, and green “dripping paint” bulls in the large, central club. The Ace of Spades target offers a colored bullseye in the center, plus a very small bullseye in the letter “C”. Last but not least, the Eight of Hearts is a perfect choice for a trip to the range on February 14th, Valentine’s Day.

Click Any Image to Download Printable PDF Target:

NRA Playing Card target NRA Playing Card target
NRA Playing Card target NRA Playing Card target
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February 4th, 2016

Rimfire Training Can Benefit F-Class Competitors

rimfire practice Berger SWN

The 2016 Berger Southwest Nationals event is less than a week away. If you need some last-minute practice before this match and you don’t have the time (or money) to load a couple hundred rounds of centerfire ammo, consider rimfire practice. Past F-TR National Champion James Crofts attributes much of his success to plenty of trigger time with his rimfire training rifle.

Rimfire Training for F-Classers

2014 and 2012 U.S. National F-TR Champion James Crofts is one of America’s top F-Class shooters. A member of the 2013 World Championship-winning F-TR Team USA squad, James knows a thing or two about long-range shooting, that’s for sure. But you may be surprised to learn how James sharpens his shooting skills at relatively short distances. You see, James often practices with a .22 LR rimfire rifle at distances from 50 to 200 yards. James tells us: “Shooting my F-Class rimfire trainer saves me money and improves my shot process and wind-reading abilities.”

Remington rimfire 40X barreled action in PR&T LowBoy stock with PT&G bolt.
James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

Rimfire Training Teaches Wind-Reading Skills by James Crofts
Training with the rimfire is extremely useful and can be done from 25 yards out to 200 yards. I am lucky and can shoot 50 yards right off my back deck. That is far enough that any miscue on rifle handling will show up on the target. I use a two dry-fire to one actual shot routine for my practices. This gives me much more positive reinforcement without any negative reinforcement.

Wind reading is extremely important with a .22 LR rifle. I use a set of smallbore flags to aid my wind calls. The smallbore flags are a must and force you to look at the flags and mirage on each and every shot. If you think the flags at Camp Butner move a lot, try smallbore flags around tall pine trees.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR
James Crofts — Photo by Kent Reeve.

Rimfire Training Is Cost-Effective
Rimfire ammunition is much less costly than centerfire ammo. Though .22 LR prices have risen in recent years (and rimfire ammo is harder to find), even now I can get a 500-round brick of .22 LR ammo for less than $75.00. That works out to fifteen cents a round. That’s a fraction of the cost of handloading .308 Win match ammo. Heck, you can pay 40 cents a piece for match-grade .308-cal centerfire bullets. Then you have to figure in brass, primers, and powder.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

My CMP 40X Rimfire F-TR LowBoy Clone
My quest into the .22 LLR rimfire field started with an email from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) announcing Rem 40X stripped barreled actions for sale. I thought, “Hmmm… Could one of those little 40X barreled actions be turned into a F-Class training rifle?” My gunsmith Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool was brought in at this point.

After conferring with Ray, it was decided that he could indeed turn this into a F-Class training rifle. Ray contacted Dave Kiff of PT&G and ordered a new bolt for the Remington 40X rimfire action. Next was the stock decision. I decided to go with a PR&T Low Boy F-Class stock — this is an exact clone of the stock for my .308 Win F-TR competition rifle. Then a Jewell trigger was acquired to complete the components. Ray built this just like he would any custom rifle, other than using the stock barrel. The project turned out awesome. The rifle was a hammer from the beginning even with the stock barrel.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

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February 3rd, 2016

Leupold Optics Academy Video

Leupold Optics Academy

If you like long-range shooting, you’ll love this video…

This well-made HD video showcases the operations of the Leupold Optics Academy. The Academy is a combined classroom and field training program focusing on advanced marksmanship skills for tactical shooters and long-range hunters. The field segment includes technical briefings, practice with mildot ranging, shooting from a variety of positions, and extreme-long-range sessions. At a private, backcountry range contracted by Leupold, Academy participants can engage targets out to 2200 meters. We think you’ll enjoy the video. We’d love to get a chance to shoot at that range.

Leupold Optics Academy Vimeo Video

Leupold Optics Academy Vimeo Video

Leupold Optics Academy Vimeo Video

Leupold Optics Academy Vimeo Video

Video find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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January 30th, 2016

Wind Reading Resources from JarHeadTop’s M.Sgt. Jim Owens

Readers often ask for a good, authoritative resource on doping the wind and reading mirage. Many Forum members recommended M.Sgt. Jim Owens’ Wind-Reading Guide. With 22 sets of wind charts, this is offered for $14.95 as a printed book or $12.95 in CD format. Owens’ Reading the Wind and Coaching Techniques clearly explains how to gauge wind speeds and angles. Owens, a well-known High Power coach and creator of Jarheadtop.com, offers a simple system for ascertaining wind value based on speed and angle. The CD also explains how to read mirage — a vital skill for long-range shooters. In many situations, reading the mirage may be just as important as watching the wind flags. Owens’ $12.95 CD provides wind-reading strategies that can be applied by coaches as well as individual shooters.

As a separate product, Owens offers a Reading the Wind DVD for $29.95. This is different than the $12.95 CD. It is more like an interactive class.

Played straight through, the DVD offers about 75 minutes of instruction. M.Sgt. Owens says “You will learn more in an hour and fifteen minutes than the host learned in fifteen years in the Marine Corps shooting program. This is a wind class you can attend again and again. [It provides] a simple system for judging the speed, direction and value of the wind.” The DVD also covers mirage reading, wind strategies, bullet BC and more.

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January 26th, 2016

Punching a Quarter at 800 Yards

t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee Junebug

If you were challenged to hit a quarter (i.e. a 25-cent piece) at 800 yards, how would you respond? Well here’s the story of a man who did take that challenge, and proceeded to put a bullet right through the quarter. Forum member Randy D., aka “Birdog”, provides this entertaining account of how his friend Junebug drilled a quarter at 800 yards one Tennessee evening….

t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee JunebugHitting a Quarter at 800 Yards

Story and photos by Birdog
A friend from Indy visited the DOME last summer and returned home telling stories of eggs at 800 yards. He called me back and said his friends did not believe it and wanted to know if I could hit a quarter out at 800 and mail it to him.

Well, I had finally got the time for that challenge last Sunday. My friend Junebug came over and I told him about a new challenge. Junebug is sort of like Voldoc and does not like to be told it can’t be done and set his sights on the quarter. George Clay had his sleeved 700 6XC with 115gr DTACs and Bug had his Diamondback 6 BRDX and 103gr Vapor Trail bullets.

Junebug and Shayne. The quarter was at back fence row on left of photo, 80 yards short of a half-mile
t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee Junebug

Early to mid-afternoon is not the time for precision 800-yard shooting as the mirage was terrible and the wind was gusting in the high humidity and 95 temps. We took a few shots and got close but no HIT.

I told Junebug to go home and load some shells and come back at 7:00 and I believed we could make it happen. After 7:00 pm is the best time to shoot as the mirage disappears and the wind goes to zero. We met again at 7:00 and had Shayne Halliburton as witness. I took a few shots then Junebug took a few zeroing shots on metal. He was not satisfied with the grouping so he switched brass.

He had some new Hydro-formed brass that had never been fired. He took three sighters on the metal plate and the first two made two little black spots that were touching. Followed with a third shot that almost touched the first two. Darkness was setting in and I told Bug he better try the quarter now. Through my March scope I could barely see the bright quarter and my 1/16th dot completely covered the quarter.

Junebug moved the Diamondback to the quarter and touched her off. A half second later the bright spot on the black paper was gone. I jumped up and did a dance and war hoop and the Bug jumped up for a high five. Now we hoped we could find the quarter. Luckily it jumped out in front of the backer less than five feet and Bug found it immediately.

Junebug’s Rifle Specifications
Stock: Zebra-painted stock (Shehane ST1000 we believe)
Action: Stiller Diamondback
Scope: March 10-60x52mm with 1/8 MOA clicks
Cartridge: 6mm BRDX (6mmBR Norma 40° Improved similar to Dasher)
Bullet: 103-grain Vapor Trail
Gunsmith: Barrel smithed by Tim Claunch, Memphis, Tennessee

t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee Junebug

For more information (including history of the Zebra rifle), view this Shooters’ Forum Thread. Credit Boyd Allen for finding this story in our 6mmBR and 6BR Improved Sub-Forum. T-DOME photo by Forum member George.

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January 24th, 2016

Dennis Santiago Shoots the Mad Minute with a Lee-Enfield

Dennis Santiago mad minute
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

This past week, at SHOT Show, we met up with our friend Dennis Santiago. We chatted about Dennis’s experiences as a technical advisor for History Channel’s Top SHOT TV show. One of the notable Top Shot episodes involved the “Mad Minute”, a marksmanship drill practiced by the British Army in the decades preceding World War I. Dennis observed that the Top Shot competitors didn’t fare too well in their “Mad Minute” attempts, not scoring many hits in the alloted one-minute time period. That prompted Dennis to give it a try himself — seeing how many hits he could score in one minute with an authentic Lee-Enfield rifle. So, a while back, Dennis ran the drill at a range in California.

Dennis Does the Mad Minute:

Dennis, an active high power rifle competitor and instructor, enjoyed his “Mad Minute” exercise, though he assures us that this takes practice to perfect. Dennis tells us: “Here is a ‘Mad Minute’ drill, done using a period correct Lee-Enfield (SMLE) No.1 Mk III rifle and Mk VII ammo. I got to the Queen’s Regulations (15 hits in one minute) on the second run and put a good group on the target at 200 yards. This is ‘jolly good fun’ to do every once in a while. This is ‘living history’ — experiencing a skill from a time when the sun never set on the British Empire.”

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IVLee-Enfield No. 4 Rifle (1943), courtesy Arundel Militaria.

“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits onto a 12″ round target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits. (From WikiPedia.)

History of the Mad Minute
Commentary by Laurie Holland
The original military requirement of the “Mad Minute” saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, nine in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated “Mad Minute” competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it is very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

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January 23rd, 2016

Kirsten Joy Weiss on NRA All Access

Kirsten Weiss trick shot Annie Oakley NRA All access

Our friend, trick-shot ace Kirsten Joy Weiss, will be featured on the NRA All-Access TV show next week. As a performance shooter (and modern-day Annie Oakley) Weiss has focused her efforts to “bring the fun, challenge, and joy of shooting to a mainstream audience” via social media.

Watch Preview of NRA All Access with Kirsten Joy Weiss

Kirsten wants to be a good ambassador for the shooting sports, “spreading the positive reality of shooting”. Kirsten explains: “The fun challenge and joy of shooting is important to me because I really wanted to be a positive example. So when the media says the ‘guns are a bad thing and nobody does anything good with guns’, they can say ‘Well, what about her [Kirsten]’?”

Kirsten Joy Weiss

Kirsten Joy WeissA gifted “natural” shooter, Kirsten started shooting fairly late — at age 16. Despite her relatively late start, she learned very quickly, and managed to earn a place on the University of Nebraska shooting team. That literally opened up a new world for Kirsten: “During the course of my career, I’ve had a lot of success. I’ve gone to World Cups… in Zagreb, Croatia, in Munich, Germany. I’ve won National Championships, and got on to the U.S. Olympic short list, so it’s been a good career.”

In 2012, Kirsten was the top USA athlete-shooter at the Munich World Cup. She won the 2012 NRA Three-Position Women’s Smallbore Championship and also won the Standing Position, while finishing as the National Overall Woman Champion.

Kirsten tells us: “A lot of people don’t think of shooting as a sport, but it absolutely is, and I would even go so far as to say that it is an art form.” We don’t know if this is art, sport, or magic, but very few shooters have the skill or flexibility to make this upside-down shot…

Kirsten Weiss trick shot Annie Oakley NRA All access

This animated GIF shows Kirsten cutting a card in half with a .22 LR bullet. Impressive!
Kirsten Joy Weiss cut cutting trick shot

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January 6th, 2016

Click No Bang — Dry-Fire Training with Kirsten

kirsten weiss dry fire anschutz smallbore

Kirsten Joy Weiss has created a useful video about Dry-Fire practice. Dry-Fire is a method of training without a live round in the chamber. Dry-Firing is effective, Kirsten explains, because “it eliminates all the extra noise and messages that you get when you fire a live round. Without recoil, without the sound of a shot going off etc., all you hear is the click of the trigger. This allows you to focus on your sight picture and your trigger press.” This the lastest installment in Kirsten’s ‘How to Shoot Awesomely’ series. Kisten says: “I hope it helps you, and keep on aiming true!”

kirsten weiss dry fire anschutz smallbore

Dennis DeMille High PowerThe Benefits of Dry-Fire Training
If you are not doing Dry-Fire practice yet, then it’s time to start. Dry-Fire training is essential to the sling disciplines, and very useful for F-Class. Dennis DeMille, a national Service Rifle Champion, told us that, for every minute he spent in actual competition, he would spend hours practicing without ammunition. While in the USMC, Dennis would practice in the barracks, working on his hold and dry-firing:

“The most important thing is to spend time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition — just spending time dry firing and doing holding exercises. Holding exercises will really identify the weak parts of your position. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then eventually you will become a High Master.”

Dry-Fire Training Can Benefit Benchrest Shooters
What about benchrest? Well, we’ve found that Dry-Fire sessions can even benefit benchresters — it can help reveal flaws in your trigger technique, or inconsistencies in the way you address the rifle from shot to shot. With the gun set up with your front rest and rear bag, if you see the scope’s cross-hairs wiggle a lot when you pull the trigger, you need to work on your technique. Also, dry-fire practice can help you learn to work the bolt more smoothly so you don’t disturb the gun on the bags.

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January 1st, 2016

New Year’s Trick Shot — Kirsten Opens a Champagne Bottle

Kirsten Weiss Champagne Trick ShotSharpshooter (and competitive smallbore shooter) Kirsten Joy Weiss tried a special New Year’s trick shot for 2015. In keeping with the festive New Year’s spirit, Kirsten attempted to shoot the cork off a champagne bottle. After a few unsuccessful tries, she managed to hit the cork with at least two shots. But alas the cork did not fly. She actually hit the cork, but it did not release. That was surprising…

Undaunted, Kirsten changed her strategy, aiming for the neck of the bottle. This duplicates the process of “sabering” a champagne bottle — a method of liberating the bubbly by slashing off the end of the neck with a blade. Aiming for the neck of the bottle, Kirsten successfully blew off the top of the bottle. (Apparently, when “sabering” it is actually the pressure within the champagne bottle which does most of the work).

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December 29th, 2015

How Disabled Shooters Can Participate in NRA Competitions


Photo courtesy USA Shooting.

disabled shooting services NRACompetitive shooting is one of the few sports where people with physical disabilities and handicaps can compete side-by-side with their able-bodied counterparts. The NRA’s Disabled Shooting Services Program helps disabled shooters participate in NRA rifle and pistol competitions. The NRA’s Special Authorization Card allows disabled competitors to shoot from a modified position or wheelchair based on the type of disability or handicap.

Jessi McClain, NRA Disabled Shooting Services Coordinator explains how allowances are made: “Physical limitations may prevent a shooter from getting into a certain position to compete. For example, a paraplegic person can’t shoot from the standing position, so [he] would use an adaptive shooting position to compete”.

To obtain a Special Authorization Card, competitors can download two forms online. The first is to be completed by the shooter, and the second by his/her doctor. Forms can then be sent to NRA Headquarters along with pictures of the modified shooting position and/or adaptive device being used to compete. The Manager of the specific shooting discipline (rifle, pistol, air gun, etc.) then reviews the request. If approved, a temporary card good for one year is issued. For juniors, Special Authorization Cards are issued for several years at a time so that re-evaluations can be completed as children’s bodies change.

The medical waiver application is fairly simple and consists of two documents. The first form, the Competitor Application, should be filled out by the shooter. The second document is a Medical Form that must be completed by the competitor’s physician.

Once received, the applications are reviewed by the NRA. After approving the application, the competitor will receive a card authorizing him/her to use the adapted position or equipment. The Authorization Card must be shown to the Match Director prior to the start of any competition.

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December 27th, 2015

Marksmanship Fundamentals: Finger Placement on Trigger

kirsten joy weiss trigger placement shooting skills

You can spend thousands on a fancy new rifle, but all that expensive hardware won’t perform at its best if you have poor trigger technique. One key element of precision shooting is trigger control. Our friend Kirsten Joy Weiss has produced a good video that shows how to refine your trigger technique for better accuracy. In this video, Kirsten talks about the actual placement of a shooter’s index finger on the trigger. It is important to have the finger positioned optimally. Otherwise you can pull the shot slightly left or slightly right.

Kirsten tells us: “Finger placement on the trigger might not seem like a big deal, but it actually is. The reason for this is because, depending on where your index finger is placed on the trigger, [this] translates to different muscle interactions with the gun.” Watch this video to see Kirsten demonstrate proper finger placement (and explain problems caused by improper finger positioning).

When you pull the trigger, you only want to engage the last section of your finger, in order to avoid unwanted muscle engagement and to achieve a smooth shot. Remember there is a “sweet spot” between the crease (first joint) and the tip of the finger. If you position the trigger in that “sweet spot”, you should see an increase in your accuracy. Don’t make the mistake of putting the trigger in the crease of your finger, as shown below.

kirsten joy weiss trigger placement shooting skills

Effects of Incorrect Finger Placements
You want to place the trigger shoe between the end of your finger and the first joint. If you place the trigger on the very tip of you finger you’ll tend to push the rear of the rifle to the left when engaging the trigger, causing shots to go right (for a right-handed shooter). On the other hand, if you put the trigger in the crease (first joint), you’ll tend to bring the rear of the rifle to the right, causing shots to fall left. This is illustrated below for a right-handed shooter.

kirsten joy weiss trigger placement shooting skills

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December 26th, 2015

Spots Still Available for Texas Youth Marksmanship Camps

Dustin Ellerman Marksmanship Camp Shooting Zavalla Texas Christian

You may not know it, but Top Shot Champion Dustin Ellerman is not just a great shooter. He’s also a youth camp director. Dustin runs a Christian-oriented camp in Texas. This spring, the camp will be offering weekend marksmanship camps for youngsters and teens. Dustin tells us that there are still a few spots available for the popular Kids’ Camp which offers a “Top Shot” type experience: “We have openings for the Kids’ Camps on February 20-21 and February 27-28. These are for kids ages 9-13. Sorry but the March 5-6 Teen/Parent Camp is full.” For more information, visit Marksmancamp.com.

Dustin Ellerman Marksmanship Camp Shooting Zavalla Texas Christian

At Camp His Way in Zavalla, Texas, Ellermann hosts weekend Marksmanship Camps for kids aged 9-13 and teens 14-18. The Christian-oriented camps focus on safety, marksmanship skills, and team building. Campers enjoy a host of fun skill-oriented activities: Airgun Shooting, Archery, Blowguns, Knife Throwing, Paintball Games, Slingshots, Tomahawk Throwing, and of course Rimfire Rifle Marksmanship with a variety of rifles.

Dustin Ellerman Marksmanship Camp Shooting Zavalla Texas Christian

The Kids’ (ages 9-13) Marksmanship Weekends cost $270. That fee includes all ammo, equipment, meals, lodging, team t-shirt, and one adult guest spectator. Parents are welcome to attend and spectate, but participation in marksmanship activities is limited to the kids at this time. CLICK HERE to reserve a spot — a few openings are still available.

Dustin Ellerman Camp His Way

Notice the young campers always wear ear and eye protection when shooting firearms. That’s as it should be. We wish adult shooters, including benchrest, smallbore, High Power, and F-Class competitors, followed this important safety practice.

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December 25th, 2015

Shooting Science: The Coriolis Effect Explained

Whittington Coriolis Effect
The Coriolis Effect comes into play with extreme long-range shots like this. The rotation of the earth actually moves the target a small distance (in space) during the course of the bullet’s flight. Photo by Dustin Ellermann at Whittington Center Range.

Coriolis Effect Bryan Litz Applied BallisticsWhen you’re out at the range, the Earth seems very stable. But it is actually a big sphere zooming through space while spinning around its axis, one complete turn every 24 hours. The rotation of the earth can create problems for extreme long-range shooters. During extended bullet flight times, the rotation of the planet causes an apparent deflection of the bullet path over very long distances. This is the ballistics manifestation of the Coriolis Effect.

Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics has produced a short video that explains the Coriolis Effect. Bryan notes that Coriolis is “a very subtle effect. People like to make more of it than it is because it seems mysterious.” In most common shooting situations inside 1K, Coriolis is not important. At 1000 yards, the Effect represents less than one click (for most cartridge types). Even well past 1000 yards, in windy conditions, the Coriolis Effect may well be “lost in the noise”. But in very calm conditions, when shooting at extreme ranges, Bryan says you can benefit from adjusting your ballistics solution for Coriolis.

Bryan explains: “The Coriolis Effect… has to do with the spin of the earth. You are basically shooting from one point to another on a rotating sphere, in an inertial reference frame. The consequence of that is that, if the flight time of the bullet gets significantly long, the bullet can have an apparent drift from its intended target. The amount [of apparent drift] is very small — it depends on your latitude and azimuth of fire on the planet.”

Coriolis Effect Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

Coriolis is a very subtle effect. With typical bullet BCs and velocities, you must get to at least 1000 yards before Coriolis amounts to even one click. Accordingly, Bryan advises: “Coriolis Effect is NOT something to think about on moving targets, it is NOT something to think about in high, uncertain wind environments because there are variables that are dominating your uncertainty picture, and the Coriolis will distract you more than the correction is worth.”

“Where you could think about Coriolis, and have it be a major impact on your hit percentage, is if you are shooting at extended range, at relatively small targets, in low-wind conditions. Where you know your muzzle velocity and BC very well, [and there are] pristine conditions, that’s where you’re going to see Coriolis creep in. You’ll receive more refinement and accuracy in your ballistics solutions if you account for Coriolis on those types of shots. But in most practical long-range shooting situations, Coriolis is NOT important. What IS important is to understand is when you should think about it and when you shouldn’t, i.e. when applying it will matter and when it won’t.”

The Coriolis Effect — General Physics
The Coriolis Effect is the apparent deflection of moving objects when the motion is described relative to a rotating reference frame. The Coriolis force acts in a direction perpendicular to the rotation axis and to the velocity of the body in the rotating frame and is proportional to the object’s speed in the rotating frame.

A commonly encountered rotating reference frame is the Earth. The Coriolis effect is caused by the rotation of the Earth and the inertia of the mass experiencing the effect. Because the Earth completes only one rotation per day, the Coriolis force is quite small, and its effects generally become noticeable only for motions occurring over large distances and long periods of time. This force causes moving objects on the surface of the Earth to be deflected to the right (with respect to the direction of travel) in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. The horizontal deflection effect is greater near the poles and smallest at the equator, since the rate of change in the diameter of the circles of latitude when travelling north or south, increases the closer the object is to the poles. (Source: Wikipedia)

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December 21st, 2015

Intro to F-Class Shooting — How to Get Started

Intro to F-Class Shooting

Have Fun with Rifles and Equipment You Probably Already Have….
Forum member Rod Vigstol (aka Nodak7mm) has written a great Introduction to F-Class for shooters getting started in this rewarding discipline. Rod’s article, which originally appeared in the Rifleman’s Journal Blog, covers F-Class basics and addresses concerns that “newbies” may have when trying a new shooting sport. Rod stresses that most guys who own a varmint-hunting or tactical rig likely have nearly all the gear they need to give F-Class competition a try.

Rod explains: “If you’re reading this, you have more than just a general interest in the shooting sports and in the awesome rifles that shoot tiny groups at insane distances. You probably even have friends that enjoy shooting as much as you do. The quandary you may find yourself in is your friends haven’t quite jumped into it head-first like you have and they haven’t spent a lot of money and time obtaining the equipment you have to go shoot these matches. But you know what? Your prairie-dog shooting buddy or coyote-hunter friend can attend these matches and shoot alongside with you. He or she more than likely already has the basic equipment needed to shoot a match.” Most varmint shooters already have a suitable, accurate rifle and the following equipment:

• A variable-power scope in the 4.5-14x range or higher.
• A front bipod like the trusty old Harris 9″-13″, or maybe even a basic pedestal front rest.
• A rear sand-bag or similar sand-sock to rest the butt stock.
• A basic shooting mat from Midway or at least a piece of carpet or canvas to lay on.

Intro to F-Class Shooting

Rod also provides a handy checklist of items to bring to the range. These include: Canvas or carpet strip (to set under bipod), Notebook, Kitchen Timer, Cleaning Rod, Camp Chair, Elbow Pads, Shooting Hat, and Open Bolt Indicator (OBI). Along with rifle, bipod (or front rest), rear bag, and ammo, that’s pretty much all you need.

Intro to F-Class Shooting

Rod encourages all shooters to give F-Class a try — even novices. Rod explains: “We have all been rookies, newbies, new kids on the block or whatever. So we all have a good idea of what may be going on in your mind, the questions and concerns you may have. I’m telling you this sport is full of fantastic people who deep down find it far more fulfilling to help a new shooter get started than running a clean target. You just have to take the first step to get involved.”

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December 21st, 2015

Shooting Skills: Reading the Wind When Hunting

Norway Hunting Snow

Thomas Haugland, a Shooters’ Forum member from Norway, is a long-range target shooter and hunter. He has created an interesting video showing how to gauge wind velocities by watching trees, grass, and other natural vegetation. The video commentary is in English, but the units of wind speed (and distance) are metric. Haugland explains: “This is not a full tutorial, but rather a short heads-up to make you draw the lines between the dots yourself”. Here are some conversions that will help when watching the video:

.5 m/s = 1.1 mph | 1 m/s = 2.2 mph | 2 m/s = 4.5 mph
3 m/s = 6.7 mph | 4 m/s = 8.9 mph | 5 m/s =11.2 mph

More Interesting Videos from Norway
There are many other interesting videos on Haugland’s YouTube Channel, including Game Stalking, Precision Reloading, and Tips on how to use a Mildot Reticle on a scope with MOA-based clicks.

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December 18th, 2015

Three Champs — Bernosky, Tubb, Whidden — Talk Wind Reading

wind reading John Whidden, David Tubb, Carl Bernosky

In this article, three great champions reveal their wind-calling secrets in video interviews. We first published this “Three Champions” story a few years ago. If you are a competitive shooter, and you want to learn more about reading the wind, you should watch all three of these interviews. These guys are among the best shooters to ever shoulder a rifle, and they have much wisdom to share.

At the 2010 SHOT Show, we had the unique opportunity to corner three “superstars” of High Power shooting, and solicit their wind-reading secrets. In the three videos below (in alphabetical order), Carl Bernosky (10-Time Nat’l High Power Champion), David Tubb (11-time Nat’l High Power Champion and 7-time Nat’l Long-Range Champion), and John Whidden (2-Time Nat’l High Power Long-Range Champion) shared some of the wind-doping strategies that have carried them to victory in the nation’s most competitive shooting matches. This is GOLD folks… no matter what your discipline — be it short-range Benchrest or Long-Range High Power — watch these videos for valuable insights that can help you shoot more accurately, and post higher scores, in all wind conditions.

We were very fortunate to have these three extraordinarily gifted champions reveal their “winning ways”. These guys REALLY know their stuff. I thought to myself: “Wow, this is how a baseball fan might feel if he could assemble Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams in the same room, and have them each reveal their hitting secrets.” Editor’s Note: These interviews were conducted before Bernosky and Tubb won their most recent National Championships so the introductions may list a lower number of titles won.

Top photo courtesy Rifleman’s Journal.

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December 17th, 2015

Top Ten Holiday Gift Books for Precision Shooters

AccurateShooter Christmas Book List recommended shooting books

Christmas Day is just a week away. Books have always been popular holiday gifts. If you haven’t completed your holiday shopping, here are some recommended titles that should please the serious shooters and firearms enthusiasts on your shopping list. For shooting clubs, books also make great end-of-season member awards. Most of us would rather have a useful book than one more piece of wood to toss in a box in the closet.

Here Are TEN TITLES Recommended for Serious Shooters:

Modern Advancements in LR Shooting
by Bryan Litz, $27.99 (Kindle), $43.95 (Hardcover)

If you’re a serious long-range shooter, consider adding this book to your library. Relying on extensive ballistics testing, Modern Advancements contains some fascinating research results, including the effects of twist rate on muzzle velocity, BC, and precision. Other sections detail the evolution of modern rifle, bullet, and optics designs. And there is an important comparison test of chronographs. Laser rangefinders and wind measurement devices are explained in detail by contributing author Nick Vitalbo. This book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand the current “state of the art” in today’s shooting world. There is a ton of “hard science” in this book — not just opinions.

mike ratigan book Extreme Rifle Accuracy
by Mike Ratigan, $35.65 (Softcover)

This book should be on the shelf of every short-range benchrest shooter. (Shooters in other disciplines will find the book helpful as well.) Butch Lambert says Mike’s book is “far and away the best Benchrest book written. Very comprehensive, it touches on every aspect of our game.” Mike’s 368-page book is dedicated to getting the most from modern rifle accuracy equipment with an emphasis on shooting 100-200-300 yard group benchrest tournaments. This book covers the most popular hardware plus new equipment offerings are covered, including external mount scopes, actions, triggers, stocks, wind flags, and more. Also covered are rifle handling techniques, note taking, tuning, bullet selection, goals, and match strategies. Mike provides many tips that will help active competitors update their own competitive program.

Nancy Tompkins Long Range book Prone and Long-Range Rifle Shooting
by Nancy Tompkins, $45.00, (Hardcover, 2d Edition).

Nancy Tompkins is one of the greatest long-range shooters in American history. She has won five National Long-range Championships. Tompkins’ treatise is a must-read for serious Palma, F-Class, and High Power shooters. The revised Second edition includes F-Class equipment and techniques, and newly updated information. Color pictures. Topics include Mental & Physical training, Reading Wind & Mirage Shooting Fundamentals, International Competition, and Loading for Long Range. Nancy Tompkins is a 4-time winner of the National Long Range Championships, and has won countless other major events. Nancy has been on six Palma Teams (as both a shooter and a coach).

Tony Boyer Book rifle accuracy benchrest The Book of Rifle Accuracy
by Tony Boyer, $34.50 (Softcover); $42.50 (Hardcover).

Tony Boyer, the most successful shooter in the history of short-range benchrest competition, shares many of his match-winning tips in this 323-page book. The book covers all aspect of the benchrest discipline: loading, windflags, rest set-up, addressing the rifle, and match strategies. This is a high-quality publication, filled with valuable insights. Every serious benchrest shooter should read Tony’s book. Boyer has dominated registered benchrest in a fashion that will never be duplicated, having amassed 142 U.S. Benchrest Hall of Fame points. The next closest shooter, Allie Euber, has 47 Hall of Fame points. This handsome, full-color book is 323 pages long, with color photos or color illustrations on nearly every page.

David Tubb High Power Rifle The Rifle Shooter
by G. David Tubb, $34.95 (Softcover)

This book by 11-time National High Power Champion David Tubb focuses on position shooting and High Power disciplines. Section One covers fundamentals: position points, natural point of aim, breathing, triggering mechanics and follow-through, sling selection and use, getting started, getting better, avoiding obstacles. Section Two covers mechanics of offhand, sitting, and prone positions. Section Three covers shooting skills, including wind reading and mental preparation. Section Four covers the technical side of shooting, with extensive disuctions of rifle design, load development, reloading barrel maintenance, and rifle fitting. We consider this book a “must-read” for any sling shooter, and there is plenty of good advice for F-Class shooters too.

Miller Cunningham Wind Book The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters
by Linda Miller and Keith Cunningham, $21.58 (Softcover).

Many of our Forum members have recommended The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters by Linda Miller and Keith Cunningham. This 146-page book, published in 2007, is a very informative resource. But you don’t have to take our word for it. If you click this link, you can read book excerpts on Amazon.com. This lets you preview the first few chapters, and see some illustrations. Other books cover wind reading in a broader discussion of ballistics or long-range shooting. But the Miller & Cunningham book is ALL about wind reading from cover to cover, and that is its strength. The book focuses on real world skills that can help you accurately gauge wind angle, wind velocity, and wind cycles.

Harold Vaughn Accuracy Book Rifle Accuracy Facts
by Harold R. Vaughn, (Softcover and Hardcover, Used Price Varies)

Decades after it was written, Vaughn’s work remains a seminal treatise on accuracy. Vaughn was a serious scientist, working for the Sandia National Laboratories. Many “gun writers” toss out hunches about rifle accuracy. Vaughn, by contrast, did serious empirical testing and statistical analysis. Vaughn wondered why some guns shot well while seemingly identical rifles did not. Rifle Accuracy Facts covers a wide variety of topics, including internal ballistics, chamber design, barrel vibration, bullet imbalance, external ballistics, scope design and more. Writer Boyd Allen notes: “If you are serious about precision shooting, Vaughn’s book belongs in your library.”

Warren Page Book the AccurateRifle The Accurate Rifle
by Warren Page, $14.95 (Softcover), $20.99 (Hardcover)

We include this book in our list because it is an older classic that has been out of print for a while. Warren Page was the shooting Editor of Field & Stream magazine for 24 years. Long out of print, this seminal work on rifle accuracy was republished in 1996 with an updating chapter by Dave Brennan, long-time Editor of Precision Shooting magazine. If you are interested in the progress of rifle accuracy, it is worth reading this book to see how technology has developed over time (and what older methods still work today). This would make a great gift for an older shooter who grew up reading Warren Page articles in Field & Stream.

Boelter Book Rimfire Rifleman’s Guide to Rimfire Ammunition
by Steven Boelter, $29.95 (Softcover)

Steven Boelter’s 352-page book is a comprehensive study of all types of rimfire ammunition (including 17s and 22 mags), with over 600 photos. In a remarkable undertaking, Steven Boelter fired every brand and sample of rimfire ammo he could acquire (including .22 LR, 17 Mach 2, 17 HMR and .22 WMR), and recorded all the results. In all, Steven tested 11 brands and 137 different rimfire rounds, firing over 32,000 test rounds.

The Art of Rimfire Accuracy
by Bill Calfee, $9.99 (Kindle), $41.82 (Softcover)

Always controversial, Bill Calfee is nonetheless a major player in the world of rimfire accuracy. Calfee-built rimfire rifles have set many records and won many titles. He harbors strong opinions about what works and what doesn’t, but if you are involved in rimfire competition you should read this book. This work covers all aspects of rimfire gunsmithing and accurizing: barrels, tuners, chambering, triggers, stock design, bedding, action design and much more. He examines each aspect of rimfire accuracy discussing all of the components and their contribution to the improved accuracy. We don’t agree with all of Calfee’s theories about accuracy, but this book still remains a “must-read” for those serious about precision rimfire shooting.

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December 11th, 2015

Specialty Targets Help You “Aim Small, Miss Small”

Right Click and “Save as” to download printable PDF versions of target.

In the hit Hollywood movie “The Patriot”, the hero Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson), tells his sons: “Aim small, miss small”. That advice was given to help his sons survive encounters with the British redcoats, but the “aim small, miss small” mantra can benefit target shooters as well.

We have found that novice and intermediate shooters can often improve their accuracy simply by using targets with smaller, more precise aiming points. Inexperienced shooters can benefit by starting with a large-size aiming circle, and then progressing to smaller and smaller target dots. This lets the shooter increase the challenge as his gun-handling becomes more steady and his aim improves.

Here are two rimfire training targets with “big to small” target circles. Start with the largest circles, then move to the smaller ones in sequence. This systematic drill provides increasing challenge shot-by-shot. Novices often are quite surprised to see their accuracy improve as they move from bigger to smaller aiming points. That provides positive feedback — always a good thing.

Right Click and “Save as” to download printable PDF versions of target.

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