So, you want to put five shots through one hole at 100 yards? That may be asking a bit much, but with the right rifle, the right technique, and the right load, you might just be able to shoot “in the ones” (i.e. a group measuring 0.1 to 0.199 MOA). You could consume a lot of time and money trying to achieve this level of precision. Or you could learn from “the man”, Tony Boyer, unquestionably the most successful shooter in the history of short-range benchrest competition.
You can literally “go inside Boyer’s brain” by reading his 323-page treatise, The Book of Rifle Accuracy. First published in 2010, this is a beautiful book, full of color photos from cover to cover. Every serious benchrest shooter should read Tony’s book. He has dominated registered benchrest in a fashion that will never be duplicated. Tony Boyer has 164 U.S. Benchrest Hall of Fame points. The next closest shooter, Lester Bruno, has 48 Hall of Fame points. (Totals current 9/21/13).
The full-color book is 323 pages long, with color photos or color illustrations on nearly every page. The hard-cover edition costs $42.50, while the soft cover version is $34.50. Purchase from Amazon.com, or you can buy directly the publisher by visiting www.RifleAccuracyBook.com. The Boyer books are also available from Bruno Shooters Supply, 1-800-455-0350.
The Book Of Rifle Accuracy, By Tony Boyer
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When shooting at long range, two heads (and two sets of eyes) can be better than one. Teaming up with a buddy who acts as a spotter can speed up your long-range learning process. You can focus 100% on the shot, while your buddy calls the wind and spots your hits and misses.
The NSSF has created a short video that shows how shooter and spotter can work as a team. In the video, the NSSF’s Dave Miles works with Rod Ryan, owner of Storm Mountain Training Center in Elk Garden, WV. As the video shows, team-work can pay off — both during target training sessions and when you’re attempting a long shot on a hunt. Working as a two-person team divides the responsibilities, allowing the shooter to concentrate fully on breaking the perfect shot.
The spotter’s job is to watch the conditions and inform the shooter of needed wind corrections. The shooter can dial windage into his scope, or hold off if he has a suitable reticle. As Rod Ryan explains: “The most important part is for the shooter to be relaxed and… pay attention to nothing more than the shot itself.” The spotter calls the wind, gives the information to the shooter, thus allowing the shooter to concentrate on proper aim, gun handling, and trigger squeeze. Rod says: “The concept is that the spotter does all the looking, seeing and the calculations for [the shooter].”
Spotter Can Call Corrections After Missed Shots
The spotter’s ability to see misses can be as important as his role as a wind-caller. Rod explains: “If you shoot and hit, that’s great. But if you shoot and miss, since the recoil pulse of the firearm is hitting your shoulder pretty good, you’re not going to be able to see where you missed the target. The spotter [can] see exactly where you missed, so I’ll have exactly an idea of how many [inches/mils it takes] to give you a quick secondary call so you can get [back on target].”
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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. Many of our readers have asked about these interviews, so we are re-releasing them today. If you are a competitive shooter, and you want to learn more about reading the wind, you should watch all three of these video 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.
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Olympic shooter Matt Emmons will be competing at the ISSF world Championships this month in Spain. Matt is one of the USA’s top hopes in smallbore rifle competition. Emmons has competed on the U.S. National Team since 1997, medaling in three Olympic games: Gold in 2004 in Men’s 50m Prone; Silver in 2008 in Men’s 50m Prone; and Bronze in 2012 in Men’s 50m 3X40. Although his specialty is Men’s 3-Position rifle, Emmons’ World Championship and Olympic Gold are in Men’s 50m Prone. He usually shoots an Anschütz or Bleiker .22LR rifle, with Eley Tenex ammo.
Here are shooting tips from Matt, courtesy Anschütz. Click image below to launch a large PDF file. Right-click the image and “save as” to download the poster-sized PDF.
CLICK Photo to Load Large PDF File
Three Sets of Hardware for Three Positions
You may be surprised to find that Matt often totes three complete sets of rifle parts to important matches — three buttplates, three cheekpieces, and three Centra sights with adjustable irises. Matt told Shooting Sports USA that he travels with “three sets for three positions. Our final is so fast that I need three sets of everything to allow a fast change-over between positions.” Matt carries his gear in an an Anschütz sport bag: “It’s similar to the big Ogio duffels with wheels, but lighter. I’ve worked with AHG/Anschütz for many years and I like their bag because all of my junk fits in it.”
Emmons, who is competing at the ISSF World Championships this month, also carries something for good luck: “My wife Katy gave me a little figurine of a Czech fairytale character a long time ago for good luck and I always have it with me when I shoot.”
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Forum member Thomas Haugland from Norway has produced an excellent video that covers practical field shooting skills for hunters. In his video, Thomas (aka ‘Roe’ on Forum and Sierra645 on YouTube) shows how to verify his zeros from bipod and he demonstrates improvised field rests from the prone, kneeling, and sitting positions.
Thomas explains: “In this video I focus on basic marksmanship techniques and making ready for this year’s hunt. As a last check before my hunting season, I got to verify everything for one last time. My trajectory is verified again, the practical precision of the rifle is verified. I also practice making do with the best [improvised] rest possible when an opportunity presents itself. After getting knocked in the face by a 338LM rifle during a previous filming session, I had to go back to basics to stop [flinching]. I include some details from bipod shooting that hopefully some hunters will find useful. Fingers crossed for this years season, good luck!”
Thomas has produced many other quality videos for his Sierra645 YouTube Channel. On his “Langholdsskyting” YouTube Channel, you’ll find 30 more nicely-made videos (in both English and Norwegian) about hunting and precision shooting.
Below you’ll find a great video by Thomas that demonstrates up/down angle (incline) shooting. This video features some amazing scenery from Norway along with angle estimation sequences and use of the ACI (Angle-Cosine Indicator). Even without the technical tips, this video is well worth watching just to see the jaw-dropping Norwegian scenery! Yes that’s Thomas standing on the top of the peak in the photo (above right).
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Ernie Bishop, USA dealer for SEB Coaxial, offered this story about teaching a young boy how to shoot — passing on the heritage of marksmanship to the next generation. Ernie was working with an 8-year-old novice. With Ernie showing him the ropes, the young man was able to make hits at 1440 yards!
Teaching a Young Man about Long-Range Shooting, by Ernie Bishop
I was able to do some coaching with an eight-year-old boy shooting distance with a Savage 6.5-284 rifle (factory 1:9″-twist barrel), 3-12X Huskemaw scope, and MAC brake. Chuck McIntosh was helping as well. I can’t wait to see how this young man develops as a shooter. It was a real pleasure coaching him.
Click for Full-screen Photo
We ended the day’s shooting session with the young man making multiple connections at 1440 yards with the Savage rifle (top photo). We were very proud of this young man. During our session, the young shooter also fired a suppressed 300 Remington Ultra Magnum. The boy made managed a first-shot connection at 500 yards on a 5″ square target.
Click for Full-screen Photo
The next day I brought a couple of Specialty Pistols for our young marksman to play with. The photo shows a rear grip XP-100 with McRee chassis, chambered in .284 Winchester for 168gr SMKs. The young man went out to 850 yards with this after he got bored with 10″ targets at 400 and 500 yards (he never missed at 400 and 500!).
Click for Full-screen Photo
We ended up having switchy winds, which made things more difficult, but still fun. We also shot at 750 yards with the 6.5-284 bench pistol.
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In today’s economy, Free is good. Here’s a list of older shooting books that can be downloaded for FREE from Google Books. This list, created by German Salazar, includes many classic treatises on marksmanship that still have value for today’s competitive shooters. In addition, we’ve included illustrated firearm histories, such as Townsend Whelen’s fascinating book, The American Rifle, and The Gun and its Development (9th Ed.), by William Wellington Greener.
In the list below, the title link will take you to the Google Books page for each book. You can read the entire book online, or you can download it to your computer as a PDF file* and save it (or print it). You can also create your own Google Library and save the books there for access from any computer.
*To download a book, first click the title from the list above. Then, once you’re at the Google book site, look for the icon that looks like a gear in the upper right-hand corner. Click that and a pull-down menu will appear. Select “Download PDF” from the menu — this will bring up a security question to make sure you are a human. Respond to the security question correctly and your normal download prompt will appear. Choose a location to hold your new e-book, and click “save”.
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When a rifle isn’t shooting up to it’s potential, we need to ask: “Is it the gun or the shooter?” Having multiple shooters test the same rifle in the same conditions with the same load can be very revealing…
When developing a load for a new rifle, one can easily get consumed by all the potential variables — charge weight, seating depth, neck tension, primer options, neck lube, and so on. When you’re fully focused on loading variables, and the results on the target are disappointing, you may quickly assume you need to change your load. But we learned that sometimes the load is just fine — the problem is the trigger puller, or the set-up on the bench.
Here’s an example. A while back we tested two new Savage F-Class rifles, both chambered in 6mmBR. Initial results were promising, but not great — one gun’s owner was getting round groups with shots distributed at 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 8 o’clock, and none were touching. We could have concluded that the load was no good. But then another shooter sat down behind the rifle and put the next two shots, identical load, through the same hole. Shooter #2 eventually produced a 6-shot group that was a vertical line, with 2 shots in each hole but at three different points of impact. OK, now we can conclude the load needs to be tuned to get rid of the vertical. Right? Wrong. Shooter #3 sat down behind the gun and produced a group that strung horizontally but had almost no vertical.
Hmmm… what gives?
Well each of the three shooters had a different way of holding the gun and adjusting the rear bag. Shooter #1, the gun’s owner, used a wrap-around hold with hand and cheek pressure, and he was squeezing the bag. All that contact was moving the shot up, down, left and right. Shooter #2 was using no cheek pressure, and very slight thumb pressure behind the tang, but he was experimenting with different amounts of bag “squeeze”. His hold eliminated the side push, but variances in squeeze technique and down pressure caused the vertical string. When he kept things constant, the gun put successive shots through the same hole. Shooter #3 was using heavy cheek pressure. This settled the gun down vertically, but it also side-loaded the rifle. The result was almost no vertical, but this shooting style produced too much horizontal.
A “Second Opinion” Is Always Useful
Conclusion? Before you spend all day fiddling with a load, you might want to adjust your shooting style and see if that affects the group size and shape on the target. Additionally, it is nearly always useful to have another experienced shooter try your rifle. In our test session, each time we changed “drivers”, the way the shots grouped on the target changed significantly. We went from a big round group, to vertical string, to horizontal string.
Interestingly, all three shooters were able to diagnose problems in their shooting styles, and then refine their gun-handling. As a result, in a second session, we all shot that gun better, and the average group size dropped from 0.5-0.6 inches into the threes — with NO changes to the load.
That’s right, we cut group size in half, and we didn’t alter the load one bit. Switching shooters demonstrated that the load was good and the gun was good. The skill of the trigger-puller(s) proved to be the limiting factor in terms of group size.
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Top Shot Season 4 Champion Chris Cheng has written a new shooting skills book, Shoot to Win. This book is designed primarily for new shooters looking to master basic techniques. However, it also provides tips for all competitors, no matter what their skill levels. On the Top Shot TV show, Cheng was able to beat many more experienced marksman because he was smart, he trained methodically, and he had excellent fundamentals. He showed the world that a relative novice with proper training can prevail in head-to-head competition over more experienced shooters who may have acquired “bad habits” (technique flaws) over the years.
Chris Cheng won the title of “Top Shot,” a $100,000 cash prize, and a professional shooting contract. How did a tech support guy with limited shooting experience beat out 17 other competitors — including military snipers, police officers, and seasoned shooting pros? Well, that’s the question this book answers. Cheng covers his approach to staying calm under pressure, teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership.
Chris was excited about his new book: “Shoot to Win is coming out October 7th! This has been almost two years in the making….” The book is primarily a treatise on beginning rifle, pistol, and shotgun marksmanship. The book also how explains how Chris trained for, and then won the Top Shot competition. If you are interested in Shoot to Win by Chris Cheng, you can pre-order the hard copy book at Amazon.com right now (for October 7, 2014 release). An eBook version will be coming out later this fall as well.
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Randi Rogers of Team Comp-Tac is one of best female action shooters in the world. Still in her early 20s, Randi has already captured over 30 World and National Titles in six different shooting sports. Competing as ‘Holy Terror’, Randi has won the ladies’ division at the SASS Cowboy Action World Championships so many times, they might as well retire the Ladies’ Trophy with her name on it. Randi, who started shooting at age 11, now competes in several disciplines including Cowboy Action Shooting, USPSA, Steel Challenge, IDPA, and NRA Action Pistol. When Randi is not on the road or in the office (where she serves as Comp-Tac’s Marketing/Sales Manager), there’s a good chance you’ll find Randi on the range preparing for the next match. In this article, first published on RandiRogersShooting.com, Randi talks about the “mental game” and how she gets ready for a big match.
Preparing Mentally for a Shooting Competitionby Randi Rogers
As I head to the USPSA Nationals this weekend I have a lot of tasks to complete. One of the most important [tasks] is preparing mentally. For an experienced shooter, the mental part of shooting is more important than knowing how to pull a trigger. The mind is an amazing thing and if you/it believes something, your mind will override all the skills you have. Example: if you think that you are bad at throwing a ball you will throw the ball badly.
Over the years I have formed a few techniques to help myself with my mental game:
1. Make Peace with your Current Skills. When I get on the plane is when my mental preperation really starts. This is when I decide that I am ready to shoot, confident in my skills and can achive the goals I set for myself. From this point forward I make peace with my shooting and tell myself that if I follow my plan I will achive my goals. There is no longer any time for me to become a better shooter.
2. Set a Goal and a Plan. When I attend a shooting competition I have a goal in mind and a plan for how I want to get there. This varies on what shooting sport it is. I may have the goal that I want to place in the top half of the shooters in my division. In order to achieve that goal I may have decided that I need to concentrate on accuracy. When you set goals and plans they need to reflect all of the work you have been doing. For instance, it does not make sense to say “I will win everything” if you haven’t practiced in four years. It is important to set achievable but still challenging goals.
3. Stay Positive! Whenever you set goals or “talk” to yourself mentally it is important to stay away from negative commands and negative words. I don’t tell myself “Don’t Miss,” because this is a negative command. It is like telling a child “Don’t spill the milk.” What are they going to do? Spill the milk.
4. Stick to the Plan. As I get ready and start competing in the match sometimes my mental voice goes haywire saying things like, “that wasn’t fast enough,” “that was a huge mistake,” “look how fast they are,” “they are going to beat you” and so on. It is hard but you have to banish these thoughts. You can’t change your plan now, there is nothing that you can do to suddenly become a better shooter. Instead think of your goal and plan and repeat it to yourself over and over again. For instance, “I am going to finish in the top half of my division and I am going to shoot accurately.”
As I head into the USPSA National Championship this weekend my mental plan is to [remember] “Sights” and “Stay Aggressive.” I want to make sure I am remembering to look at my sights and shoot accurately, but I also want to make sure that I am not getting lazy. I need to move and shoot as fast as possible while still making my hits. As for my goal, I will keep that a secret for now.
Have a great next match and remember Rise to the Challenge! — Randi Rogers, Team Comp-Tac
Watch Randi Speed Through a Cowboy Action Competition Stage
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Readers often ask us: “Is there a decent, easy-to-comprehend book that can help my wind-reading?” 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 and decide for yourself. When the Amazon page opens, click the book cover (labeled “Look Inside”) and another screen will appear. 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, such as Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting by Bryan Litz. 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.
All other factors being equal, it is your ability to read the wind that will make the most difference in your shooting accuracy. The better you understand the behavior of the wind, the better you will understand the behavior of your bullet. — Wind Book for Rifle Shooters
The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters cover the techniques and tactics used by expert wind-readers. There are numerous charts and illustrations. The authors show you how to put together a simple wind-reading “toolbox” for calculating wind speed, direction, deflection and drift. Then they explain how to use these tools to read flags and mirage, record and interpret your observations, and time your shots to compensate for wind. Here are some reviews from actual book buyers:
I believe this is a must-have book if you are a long-range sport shooter. I compete in F-Class Open and when I first purchased this book and read it from cover to cover, it helped me understand wind reading and making accurate scope corrections. Buy this book, read it, put into practice what it tells you, you will not be disappointed. — P. Janzso
If you have one book for wind reading, this should be it. Whether you’re a novice or experienced wind shooter this book has something for you. It covers how to get wind speed and direction from flags, mirage, and natural phenomenon. In my opinion this is the best book for learning to read wind speed and direction. — Muddler
As far as I know this is the only book of its type. It’s very well written in a way that’s easy to understand for such a complex subject. The charts and graphs are extremely helpful. It’s a bit on the short side at about 146 pages but still packed with knowledge. — R. Johnson
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In the archives of On The Mark magazine, DCM Emeritus Gary Anderson, an Olympic Gold medal-winning shooter in his younger years, offers sage advice for competitive shooters.
In his article Ten Lessons I Wished I Had Learned as a Young Shooter, Anderson provides ten important guidelines for everyone involved in competitive shooting. Here are the Ten Lessons, but you should read the full article. Anderson provides detailed explanations of each topic with examples from his shooting career.
LESSON 1 – NATURAL ABILITY WILL NOT MAKE YOU A SHOOTING CHAMPION.
(You also need hard work, training effort and perseverance.)
LESSON 2 – ANGER IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD SHOOTING.
(The key to recovering from a bad shot is to stay cool, no matter what happens.)
LESSON 3 – BAD SHOTS CAN TEACH YOU MORE THAN GOOD SHOTS.
(Today, error analysis is one of the most powerful tools for improving scores.)
LESSON 4 – NEVER GO WITHOUT A SHOT PLAN.
(A shot plan is a detailed breakdown of each of the steps involved in firing a shot.)
LESSON 5 – PRACTICE IN BAD CONDITIONS AS WELL AS GOOD CONDITIONS.
(Most competitions are fired in windy conditions or where there are plenty of distractions.)
LESSON 6 – CHAMPIONS ARE POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE.
(Negative shooters expect bad results; positive shooters expect to train hard to change bad results.)
LESSON 7 – IT’S NOT ABOUT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE.
(It’s about how hard you try to win.)
LESSON 8 – YOUR DOG WON’T BITE YOU AFTER SHOOTING A BAD SCORE.
(Hopefully your coach, parents and friends won’t bite you either.)
LESSON 9 – YOUR PRESS CLIPPINGS CAN HURT YOU OR HELP YOU.
(Winning can go to our heads. We start thinking we are so good we don’t have to work hard any more.)
LESSON 10 — YOU NEVER SHOT YOUR BEST SCORE.
(Great champions are always looking for ways to improve.)
About Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson served as the Director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) from 1999-2009, and is now DCM Emeritus. As a Nebraska farmboy, Gary grew up hunting and shooting. Dreams of winning an Olympic Gold Medal in shooting led Gary to the U.S. Army. In 1959, he joined the elite U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Just two years later, he won his first national championship.
At the 1962 World Shooting Championships in Egypt, Anderson stunned the shooting world by winning four individual titles and setting three new world records. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Gary won the 300m free-rifle Gold Medal, setting a new world record in the process. At the 1966 World Shooting Championships in Germany, Anderson won three additional world titles. At the 1968 Olympics, Gary won a second gold medal in the 300m free-rifle event.
Gary retired from active international competition after the 1969 World Championships in Spain, where he set a 50m, three-position world record. After his “retirement” from international competition, Gary competed in the National High Power Championships, winning the President’s National Trophy in 1973, 1975 and 1976. Over his competitive career, Anderson won two Olympic Gold Medals, seven World Championships, and sixteen National Championships. No American has ever won more major shooting titles.
Gary’s influence on shooting sports extends beyond the United States. Gary has attended eleven Summer Olympic Games, three as a competitor and eight as technical delegate or a jury member. Gary is the first American ever elected as Vice President of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), and still serves in that capacity. In 2012, Gary received the International Olympic Committee’s highest honor, the Olympic Order.
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