May 23rd, 2019

Suppressor Myth Busting — Do Silencers Degrade Accuracy?

Shooting Sports Suppressor Sound

Shooting Sports Suppressor SoundAre sound suppressors useful in competition shooting? In some disciplines, and in venues where sound “moderators” are permitted, the answer is “yes”. Some years ago Shooting Sports USA (SSUSA), published an interesting article about the use of sound suppressors (aka “cans”). The article explores the use of suppressors in Europe and in tactical matches in North America. You’ll also find an explanation of the rules and regulations governing suppressor ownership and use in the United States.

Former SSUSA Editor Chip Lohman tested three rifles from the bench and found that suppressors did not harm accuracy (at least with these rigs). In fact, all three test rifles (.223 Rem, .308 Win, and .338 Lapua Magnum), shot slightly better 5-shot groups at 200 yards with a suppressor than without. However, the suppressors did alter point of impact. Interestingly, velocity standard deviation (SD) values were lower with suppressors in place for all three test rifles. This observation calls for further study.*

CLICK HERE to Read Suppressor Article in Shooting Sports USA.

Shooting Sports Suppressor Sound

So the use of suppressors in competition could be a good thing. However, in the United States, current NRA High Power rules prohibit the use of sound suppressors. NRA Rule 3.16.1 subsection (a) states: “Sound Suppressors are not authorized for use in High Power competition.” In addition, there are some practical problems with suppressors — the heat rising off of a naked suppressor can create mirage problems (that’s why some shooters wrap their cans with a cover).

Despite such issues, it is now common to see moderators on rifles used in non-NRA-sanctioned tactical matches such as the Precision Rifle Series. For example, many competitors in the popular Steel Safari field challenge match use suppressors. The photo below shows our friend Zak Smith competing in the Steel Safari with his suppressed Accuracy International rifle.

Zak Smith Thunder Beast Steel Safari Suppressor

Commentary — What Can We Conclude?
Obviously, this three-rifle SSUSA test was not definitive. One well might observe different results with different types of suppressors, fitted to different kinds of rifles. Mounting a suppressor to any barrel will certainly affect harmonics and “tune”. But this SSUSA study does suggest that tactical shooters, who are allowed to use suppressors in competition, may find that the benefits of suppressors (significantly reduced recoil and less noise) outweigh any meaningful accuracy loss, at least in PRS-type matches.

*The article cautions that one should not extrapolate too much from the SD numbers, given the low number of test shots. Chronograph-maker Ken Oehler, when asked to comment on the SD values stated: “[You should] report the observed SDs, but draw no conclusions until… you can do more testing with larger sample sizes.”
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November 10th, 2018

Enhance Mental Function to Shoot Better Scores

Shooting Sports USA Brain mental game psychology cerebellum

Looking to improve your competition skills? The Shooting Sports USA website has scores of informative articles that can help your score higher at your next shooting tournament. You’ll find articles on wind reading, position shooting, match strategies, and much more.

One great Shooting Sports USA article, Shooting is 90% Mental, was penned by Chip Lohman (SSUSA’s former Editor). With the help of two very smart Ph.D types, Judy Tant and Mike Keyes, Lohman examines the mental processes involved in the shooting sports. Chip’s co-authors have impressive credentials. Dr. Judy Tant is a Clinical Psychologist and National Bullseye Pistol Champion. Dr. Michael J. Keyes, is a licensed Psychiatrist and former physician for the U.S. Shooting Team.

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article in Shooting Sports USA Online Magazine.

Visualization, Brain Function, and Muscle Memory
If you shoot competitively, this is definitely a “must-read” article. The authors examine how the brain functions under stress, how “visualization” can be used to improved performance, how “brain speed” can be enhanced through proper training, and how the brain stores learned routines into “muscle memory.” And that’s just for starters — the article gives many concrete examples of techniques top shooters have employed to improve their “mental game” and shoot higher scores.

Brain Speed and Trigger Control:
Shooting Sports USA Brain mental game psychology cerebellumResearch: Scientists believe that the newer frontal lobe may not be able to keep up with “deep” brain signals that transmit at nearly 300 mph. This is explained when athletes talk about “letting go,” rather than over-thinking the shot. This conscious signal can take up to 0.3 seconds from recognizing the desired sight picture to moving the trigger finger — too long to capture the opportunity for a perfect shot. However, if the signal is initiated spontaneously in the cerebellum where such procedures are thought to be stored through repetition, the reaction speed is much quicker. Signals are processed by the “deep brain” almost twice as fast as the problem-solving frontal lobes.

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October 14th, 2015

Barrel Care and Maintenance — Expert Advice

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

Ask 10 shooters about barrel cleaning and you’ll get 10 different opinions. This reflects that fact that different fouling problems demand different solutions. For example, solvents that work well for copper may not be the best for hard carbon (and vice-versa). To come up with the right solution, first you must understand the nature of the fouling in your barrel.

Chip Lohman, former Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning. Chip’s article, Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care, can be found in the Shooting Sports USA digital archives. In this article, Chip shares the knowledge of a dozen experts including barrel-makers Frank Green (Bartlein Barrels), John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), and Tim North (Broughton Barrels).

CLICK HERE to read Full Match Barrel Care Article.

The debate about the proper care of a match barrel is a hot one, spiked with folklore and old wives’ tales, Lohman said. He and his staff set out to set the record straight: “We tried to interject some science into the discussion of cleaning a match barrel,” he explained. In his article, Lohman writes:

Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing — the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion, and remove fouling — all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.

For more Shooting Sports USA articles, visit www.ssusa.org.

John Krieger Interview with AccurateShooter at SHOT Show:

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September 2nd, 2014

New Book Challenges Media Misconceptions of the NRA

Chip Lohman book NRAOur friend Chip Lohman, Editor of NRA’s Shooting Sports USA magazine, has authored an important new book, NRA the Rest of the Story. It’s about the NRA, but it is definitely NOT a political treatise. Rather it examines all the myriad things the NRA does — from safety seminars for kids to running the National Matches at Camp Perry.

Chip explains the “mission” of his new book: “Having worked in NRA’s Youth Program Division and now within the shooting sports community, I’ve wanted to help offset misconceptions in the news about our sport and the people that make it special. By creating a short, inexpensive book that can be passed along by a friend, perhaps some balance can be added to misleading media ‘sound bites’ about the shooting sports and firearms.”

Share the Book
Chip hopes shooting sports enthusiasts will “pass the book along for others to read, especially those who may be on the fence about firearms. For every book sold, I can give two away.”

Chip Lohman book NRA

“From a multi-faceted man (Marine, teacher, sailor, and editor) comes this many-sided little book that sparkles with bits of information about the NRA’s history and current mission. No polemics, just useful nuggets of data that the publics would be unlikely to encounter otherwise.

This book will not change the minds of dedicated anti-gunners, but it could make the difference in the hands people who want to get the story right, but are too busy to do the research themselves.

– Dr. Judy Tant, National Pistol Champion

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November 14th, 2012

Sound Suppressors Tested in Shooting Sports USA Article

Shooting Sports Suppressor Sound

Shooting Sports Suppressor SoundAre sound suppressors useful in competition shooting? In some disciplines, and in venues where sound “moderators” are permitted, the answer is “yes”. In the November edition of Shooting Sports USA eZine, you’ll find an interesting article about the use of sound suppressors (aka “cans”). The article explores the use of suppressors in Europe and in tactical matches in North America. You’ll also find an explanation of the rules and regulations governing suppressor ownership and use in the United States.

Shooting Sports Editor Chip Lohman tests three rifles from the bench and found that sound suppressors did not harm accuracy. In fact, all three test rifles (one each in .223 Rem, .308 Win, and .338 Lapua Magnum), shot slightly better 5-shot groups at 200 yards when a suppressor was fitted to the barrel. However, the suppressors did alter point of impact. Interestingly, velocity standard deviation (SD) values were lower with suppressors in place for all three test rifles. This observation calls for further study.*

CLICK HERE to Read Suppressor Article in Shooting Sports USA.

Shooting Sports Suppressor Sound

So the use of suppressors in competition could be a good thing. However, in the United States, current NRA High Power rules prohibit the use of sound suppressors. NRA Rule 3.16.1 subsection (a) states: “Sound Suppressors are not authorized for use in High Power competition.” In addition, there are some practical problems with suppressors — the heat rising off of a naked suppressor can create mirage problems (that’s why some shooters wrap their cans with a cover).

Despite such issues, we are starting to see moderators on rifles used in non-NRA-sanctioned tactical matches. For example, many competitors in the popular Steel Safari field challenge match use suppressors. The photo below shows our friend Zak Smith competing in the Steel Safari with his suppressed Accuracy International rifle.

Zak Smith Thunder Beast Steel Safari Suppressor

*The article cautions that one should not extrapolate too much from the SD numbers, given the low number of test shots. Chronograph-maker Ken Oehler, when asked to comment on the SD values stated: “[You should] report the observed SDs, but draw no conclusions until… you can do more testing with larger sample sizes.”
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