August 31st, 2019

Great Videos by Kirsten Weiss Teach Shooting Skills

Kirsten Weiss marksmanship tips video training trainer

Kirsten Weiss knows a thing about accuracy. She won the 2012 NRA Three-Position Women’s Smallbore Championship, while finishing as the National Overall Woman Champion. She used to shoot with the American team in top-level World Cup competition. Kirsten started shooting fairly late — at age 16. Despite her relatively late start, she earned 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 these three videos, Kirsten offers key tips on accurate shooting. In the first video she explains how to get and maintain the proper cheek weld on your rifle. In the second, Kirsten talks about canting error — how having inconsistent side-to-side tilt on your rifle. In the third video, Kirsten explains the importance of proper trigger placement.

Kirsten Weiss smallbore 3P anschutz .22 LR

Proper Cheek Weld

No matter what your discipline — smallbore, silhouette, High Power, F-Class, or even PRS — it’s vital to have a consistent cheek weld for every shot. You want your head to be in the same position on the stock each time.

In this video, Kirsten explains how to find the best position for your head on the stock, which may require adjusting the cheekpiece. Then Kirsten demonstrates how to maintain consistent cheek weld shot after shot.

Consistent Rifle Cant (Tilt from Centerline)

Kirsten says most training manuals don’t explain rifle cant: “You won’t find this shooting technique just anywhere. Most shooters don’t even think about it — and they’re missing out. Proper Rifle Cant or Gun Cant (also known as cant error or even scope cant) is a complicated topic, but I’ll explain it simply — and how to simply avoid cant error.”

Want to know how to actually aim a gun right? This accuracy tip covers a crucial aspect of marksmanship. If you cant your rifle inconsistently from shot to shot, the point of impact will change, even with “perfect aim”. This is another episode in Kirsten’s How to Shoot Awesomely video series.

Proper Trigger Finger Technique

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 shooting tip marksmanship

Watch more videos on Kirsten’s YouTube Channel »

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
June 19th, 2019

Become a Better Trigger-Puller — Trigger Techniques Analyzed

trigger show bix'n andy otm tactical

Do you occasionally get completely unexplained flyers, or have a shot land straight down at 6 O’Clock, right below your point of aim? That could be caused by poor or inconsistent trigger technique. How you pull the trigger can and does affect your accuracy.

Many gun enthusiasts start with pistols. When they later start shooting rifles they may carry over some not-so-good practices acquired from shooting handguns with heavy 4 to 6-pound trigger pulls. You may want to “re-learn” your trigger techniques to get better rifle results.

Shooting Sports USA has a good article on trigger technique that offers many useful tips. That article also has many helpful illustrations, including the one shown above. Another illustration shows different types of trigger shoes (straight vs. curved) and explains how each makes a difference: “With a lightly curved trigger, the shooter’s finger can contact the trigger either high or low according to preference. Higher contact will increase the resistance.” READ ARTICLE HERE.

The article analyzes common errors, such as pulling the trigger with the very tip of the finger rather than the pad of the index finger: “Using the tip of the finger can lead to lateral pressure on the trigger, which throws off the shot.”

The article also explains that you should check your trigger regularly to make sure it is functioning properly and is not out of adjustment: “Just like any other moving part, the trigger can suffer from wear. In such a precise mechanism, tiny amounts of wear can cause major problems.”

Gary Eliseo tubegun prone rifle
The ergonomics of the Eliseo Tubegun allow a nice, straight trigger pull.

Trigger Tips

Six Suggestions for Making your Trigger Control More Consistent.

1. If your triggers are adjustable, set the pull weight appropriate to the discipline. For a hunting rifle, you don’t want an ultra-light trigger pull. For High Power, you may want a two-stage pull, while on a Benchrest rifle you may prefer a very light trigger.
2. If you have a two-stage trigger, experiment with different combinations of First Stage and Second Stage.
3. Have a friend watch you as you pull the trigger, and maybe even take a close-up video as you pull the trigger. This can reveal a variety of flaws.
4. Practice dry-firing to see if flaws in trigger technique are causing gun movement.
5. As an experiment, try pulling the trigger with your middle finger. Ergonomically, the middle finger has a more straight alignment with the tendons in your hand. This exercise can help you identify alignment issues with your index finger.
6. For stocks with adjustable Length of Pull you may want to set the LOP differently for bench shooting vs. prone or F-Class shooting.

trigger show bix'n andy otm tactical

trigger show bix'n andy otm tactical
The Bix’N Andy trigger is one of the very best you can buy. It can be fitted with a variety of trigger shoes according to shooter preference.

Permalink - Articles, Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
May 11th, 2019

Be a Better Pistolero — Handgun Shooting Fundamentals

pistol fundamentals NRA marksmanship sight alignment
Photo courtesy St. Bernard Indoor Shooting Center.

Do you enjoy shooting pistols for sport, or perhaps you carry a handgun for self-defense? If you’re like most of us, you might benefit from a “refresher course” on the fundamentals of handgun shooting. The NRA has created a useful Infographic that covers important basics of handgun marksmanship — key things such as Sight Alignment and Trigger Control.

Here are the first two (2) lessons. Click the link below to see all SIX (6) training topics: Sight Alignment, Sight Focus, Trigger Control, Breath Control, Hold Control, and Follow-Through.

CLICK HERE for ALL SIX PISTOL LESSONS

pistol fundamentals NRA marksmanship sight alignment

VIEW ALL Six Handgun Fundamentals

Video Shows Sight Alignment, Grip, Stance, Trigger Control and More
In this USAMU video, SGT Shane Coley talks about the basics of sight alignment and trigger control. But then SGT Coley talks about other important control factors such as grip, arm position, and body stance. For rapid-fire shooting, you need to have a good arm and body positioning to control recoil and get back on target quickly. This video is a valuable complement to the NRA Infographic because it demonstrates all the important pistol fundamentals during live fire, at the range.

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March 29th, 2019

Breath Better… To See Better (and Shoot Higher Scores)

Vision Eye Target Scope Relaxation Oxygen Target

Do you find that the crosshairs in your scope get blurry after a while, or that you experience eye strain during a match? This is normal, particularly as you get older. Focusing intensely on your target (through the scope or over iron sights) for an extended period of time can cause eye strain. Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce eye fatigue. For one — breathe deeper to take in more oxygen. Secondly, give your eyes a break between shots, looking away from the scope or sights.

In our Forum there is an interesting thread about vision and eye fatigue. One Forum member observed: “I have noticed recently that if I linger on the target for too long the crosshairs begin to blur and the whole image gradually darkens as if a cloud passed over the sun. I do wear contacts and wonder if that’s the problem. Anyone else experienced this? — Tommy”

Forum members advised Tommy to relax and breath deep. Increase oxygen intake and also move the eyes off the target for a bit. Closing the eyes briefly between shots can also relieve eye strain. Tommy found this improved the situation.

Keith G. noted: “Make sure you are still breathing… [your condition] sounds similar to the symptoms of holding one’s breath.”

Phil H. explained: “Tom — Our eyes are tremendous oxygen hogs. What you are witnessing is caused by lack of oxygen. When this happens, get off the sights, stare at the grass (most people’s eyes find the color green relaxing), breath, then get back on the rifle. Working on your cardio can help immensely. Worked for me when I shot Palma. Those aperture sights were a bear! The better my cardio got the better and longer I could see. Same thing with scopes. Try it!”

Watercam concurred: “+1 on breathing. Take a long slow deep breath, exhale and break shot. Also make sure you take a moment to look at the horizon without looking through rifle or spotting scope once in a while to fight fatigue. Same thing happens when using iron sights.”

Arizona shooter Scott Harris offered this advice: “To some extent, [blurring vision] happens to anyone staring at something for a long time. I try to keep vision crisp by getting the shot off in a timely fashion or close the eyes briefly to refresh them. Also keep moisturized and protect against wind with wrap-around glasses”.

Breathing Better and Relaxing the Eyes Really Worked…
Tommy, the shooter with the eye problem, said his vision improved after he worked on his breathing and gave his eyes a rest between shots: “Thanks guys. These techniques shrunk my group just a bit and every little bit helps.”

Read more tips on reducing eye fatigue in our Forum Thread: That Vision Thing.

To avoid eye fatigue, take your eyes away from the scope between shots, and look at something nearby (or even close your eyes briefly). Also work on your breathing and don’t hold your breath too long — that robs your system of oxygen.

eye vision Vince Bottomley

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
September 13th, 2018

Miculek Nails 3 Targets at 400 yards in 4.37 Seconds — Offhand

Jerry Miculek AR15 400 yards
Jerry Miculek — that name is synonymous with revolvers. But Jerry is also one heck of a rifleman, as he demonstrates in this video.

Three Shots Standing at 400 Yards in 4.37 Seconds
For those of use who usually shoot from the bench, hitting a silhouette target at 400 yards from an standing position (unsupported) would be a big challenge. Here Jerry Miculek makes it look easy.

In this video, Jerry hits not one but THREE c-zone targets at 400 yards. And — get this — he does this in under 4.4 seconds starting with his rifle laying on a support. It took Jerry two tries (on his first run he hit 2 out of 3 in 4.65 seconds). On the second attempt (see video starting at 2:19), it takes Jerry just 4.37 seconds to shoulder his rifle, aim, and fire three shots, each hitting a separate steel target. Wow. That’s truly remarkable. Most of us would need ten seconds (or more) just to get the scope on the first target.

Jerry Miculek AR15 400 yards

Trust us folks, this ain’t easy. It takes remarkable marksmanship skills to shoot with this kind of precision at this kind of pace. As Jerry would say himself, “Not bad for an old guy who needs glasses”.

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills 4 Comments »
May 6th, 2018

How to Shoot Better — Video Training with Kirsten Joy Weiss

Kirsten Weiss marksmanship tips video training trainer

Kirsten Weiss knows a thing about accuracy. She won the 2012 NRA Three-Position Women’s Smallbore Championship, while finishing as the National Overall Woman Champion. She used to shoot with the American team in top-level World Cup competition. Kirsten started shooting fairly late — at age 16. Despite her relatively late start, she earned 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 these three videos, Kirsten offers key tips on accurate shooting. In the first video she explains how to get and maintain the proper cheek weld on your rifle. In the second, Kirsten talks about canting error — how having inconsistent side-to-side tilt on your rifle. In the third video, Kirsten explains the importance of proper trigger placement.

Kirsten Weiss smallbore 3P anschutz .22 LR

Proper Cheek Weld

No matter what your discipline — smallbore, silhouette, High Power, F-Class, or even PRS — it’s vital to have a consistent cheek weld for every shot. You want your head to be in the same position on the stock each time.

In this video, Kirsten explains how to find the best position for your head on the stock, which may require adjusting the cheekpiece. Then Kirsten demonstrates how to maintain consistent cheek weld shot after shot.

Consistent Rifle Cant (Tilt from Centerline)

Kirsten says most training manuals don’t explain rifle cant: “You won’t find this shooting technique just anywhere. Most shooters don’t even think about it — and they’re missing out. Proper Rifle Cant or Gun Cant (also known as cant error or even scope cant) is a complicated topic, but I’ll explain it simply — and how to simply avoid cant error.”

Want to know how to actually aim a gun right? This accuracy tip covers a crucial aspect of marksmanship. If you cant your rifle inconsistently from shot to shot, the point of impact will change, even with “perfect aim”. This is another episode in Kirsten’s How to Shoot Awesomely video series.

Proper Trigger Finger Technique

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 shooting tip marksmanship

Watch more videos on Kirsten’s YouTube Channel »

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
April 18th, 2018

Reading the Wind — Good Guidebook from M.Sgt. Jim Owens

Reading the Wind Jim Owens book CD DVD Creedmoor Sports

Readers often ask for a good, authoritative resource on doping the wind and reading mirage. Many of our Forum members recommended M.Sgt. Jim Owens’ Wind-Reading Book. With 22 sets of wind charts, this 166-page resource is offered for $14.95 in print format 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.

NOTE: The Wind DVD product is completely different than Owens’ $12.95 CD. The DVD is like an interactive class, while the CD is basically an eBook.

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.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
March 15th, 2018

Rifle Shooting 101: Key Skills Explained in USAMU Video Series

USAMU Basic Riflemans Course SFC Brandon Green High Power Shooting Training

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has produced an excellent series of videos, which collectively cover the Basic Rifleman’s Course. If you are getting started in high power shooting, or want to improve your position shooting skills, this series is well worth watching. And these videos are not just for service rifle shooters — even bench shooters can benefit from these videos, particularly Part 5, which explains how to estimate wind speed and direction. The lead instructor for these videos is SFC Brandon Green, the 2015 National High Power Champion, and Service Rifle Champion at the 2017 CMP Trophy Matches. When SFC Green talks, you should listen. This man is one of the greatest marksmen in the nation’s history.

Part 5 — Wind and Weather Estimation (Very Useful for All Shooters)


Note: This video includes a hit location “target analysis” in the first 6 minutes.

Part 4 — Minute of Angle Explained

Part 3 — Ballistics and Zeroing

Part 2 — Positions, Sight Alignment, and Natural Point of Aim (Very Useful)

USAMU Basic Riflemans Course SFC Brandon Green High Power Shooting Training

Part 1 — Aiming and Sight Picture

SFC Brandon Green 2017 CMP Camp Perry USAMU Service Rifle
SFC Brandon Green (left above) set four new National Records at Camp Perry this year.
Story tip from Precision Shooting Journal on Facebook.

Permalink - Videos, News, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
March 16th, 2016

Equipment Advice for Mid-Level Shooters from Bryan Litz

Mid-level equipment selection Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics

Are you looking to improve your long-range shooting? Doubtless you’ve been thinking about upgrading your rifle or optics, but wonder what to buy (and how to get the best “bang for your buck”). In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics offers “solid gold” advice on equipment selection for mid-level shooters (i.e. those who are somewhere between “newbie” and “Master of the Universe”). Bryan explains the logical first step is a barrel upgrade — a new tube from a top-barrel maker can make a huge difference. Then you should research the best factory ammo for your rifle, or get started in precision hand-loading. Bryan also offers advice on choosing a scope and optics accessories.

Equipment Upgrades: Barrel, Optics, Ammo by Bryan Litz
Every equipment element can be upgraded. You can run that factory rifle for a period of time, but the barrel eventually is going to be what holds you back. The twist rate probably won’t be fast enough to stabilize the high-BC bullets that you want to shoot at long range. So, the first thing you want to upgrade on your factory rifle is probably going to be the barrel. [With a new custom barrel] you’re going to get a fast twist rate, you’re going to get a chamber that’s optimized with a throat for your … bullet. And a good quality custom barrel is going to be easier to clean, won’t foul out as much, and it’s going to improve to overall accuracy and precision of your shooting. Barrel swaps are very common and routine thing for gunsmiths to do.

The next thing is improving your scope. If you don’t have a quality optic it’s going to hold you back. The job of the scope is to precisely and perfectly delineate [the target] within a half a degree (from 100 to 1000 yards is only a half a degree). The scope has got to put you on the money within that half a degree. So, it’s not a piece of equipment you want to go cheap on.

The other big factor is your ammunition. Getting into hand-loading is meticulous and it takes a long time to learn, but ultimately you’ll be making ammunition that is tailored for your rifle, and there simply won’t be anything better for your rifle than what you can develop through individual handloads.

So that’s typically the upgrade path: Get your factory rifle re-barreled, don’t skimp on a scope (or anything that attaches to it), improve your ammunition (whether by upgrading to better factory ammo or hand-loading on your own). All through this process is continuous learning… Once you have the best equipment (and it doesn’t get any better), the process of learning and education never ends. That is something you build on every single time you go to the range, and it’s what going to allow you to continually improve your skills.”

No matter what kind of rifle you shoot, whether it be an AR or a brenchrest rig, the principles are the same — develop a good load, learn the gun, hone your wind-reading skills, and practice in all conditions. Making a video of a practice session can help you identify and correct bad habits.
Bryan Litz mid-level equipment shooting skills ballistics

Bryan Litz says “don’t skimp on your scope”. Purchase a quality scope, rings, and scope level. Successful long-range shooting all begins with your view of the target.
Bryan Litz mid-level equipment shooting skills ballistics

Even with a top-of-the-line F-TR rig like this, you still have to practice diligently, putting in the “trigger time” needed to improve your game.
Bryan Litz

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills, Tactical No Comments »
October 8th, 2015

Learn Position Shooting Techniques from Gary Anderson

rimfire sporter position shooting Gary Anderson

Want to learn the basics of position shooting? Then you should check out an article by Gary Anderson, DCM Emeritus, in On the Mark digital magazine (Summer 2014, pp. 6-13). This article covers all the key elements: body position (prone, sitting, standing), sling use/adjustment, sight picture, aiming process, and trigger control. While this 8-page article was specifically written for Rimfire Sporter shooters, the techniques described by Anderson apply to all types of position shooting, whether you shoot air rifles, smallbore rifles, or centerfire rifles.

CLICK HERE to load On the Mark eZine and Read Gary Anderson Article (page 6-13)
NOTE: This is a large PDF Document — it may take some time to fully load.

Here’s what Anderson says about aiming — how to keep your sights steady and get them centered on the middle of the target:

Trigger Contact and Center
rimfire sporter position shooting Gary AndersonAs soon as aiming at the target begins, the index finger must move from the trigger-guard to contact the trigger. It is important to get initial pressure on the trigger as soon as aiming begins. Then the shooter must focus on the sight picture and centering the sight picture movements over the aiming point. No one, not even champion shooters, can hold the aligned sights perfectly still. The sights are going to move a little bit or a lot, depending on the shooter’s skill level. The secret is to center those sight picture movements over the aiming point on the target (see trace illustration) before pulling the trigger.

When the sight picture movements on the target are centered, the last step in firing the shot is to add… smooth pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks.

Anderson also discusses the 5 Basics of Shot Technique:

rimfire sporter position shooting Gary Anderson

Permalink Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
January 2nd, 2015

Concentration — Matt Emmons Explains How to Stay Focused

Writing for the ELEY Bulletin, USA Olympic Gold Medalist Matt Emmons provides rock solid advice for anyone involved in competitive shooting. Matt talks about dealing with pressure, and how to maintain concentration and focus. Matt says two keys to maintaining focus are practice and imagination….

Matt Emmons USA Shooting Olympics Eley

Sports Shooting Psychology – Concentration

Concentration – staying focused in stressful competition situations
There are books… totally devoted to concentration, so I what I am about to write is only my opinion and take on the subject matter. There are so many aspects to the game of shooting, whether it be rifle, pistol, or shotgun. At the same time, one of the constants is concentration. Concentration is one of the things that allows you to be your best and keeps you in the “zone” when you are performing extremely well. It’s also a piece of the puzzle that has often disappeared when things go awry.

Matt Emmons Eley OlympicsSo how do you concentrate when the pressure is on? The exact recipe will be slightly different for different people, of course. Two important things for anyone, however, are practice and a great imagination! If you never practice focusing intently on anything, or especially during training, you will never learn to do it when you really want to. You must practice every situation that could occur during an important competition and practice what you will do so that you can continue to be your best. That means imagining and practising what you will do in the biggest match of your life when things are going incredibly well. How will you react? How will you work with it so that you continue to perform beautifully?

What will you do if you are in that same biggest match of your life and something goes wrong? How will you keep your poise, get back on track, and do what you’re capable of to achieve your goal? The answer depends on you. A great shooter needs to have a great imagination and needs to be able to look deep inside themselves to know how they might react in every different situation. If something doesn’t feel comfortable or there is nervousness, that means the athlete needs to work on preparing for it in training so that if the situation happens in a competition, there will be no lapse in concentration. There is a plan and it has be rehearsed so that it flows effortlessly.

I certainly can’t recommend any “quick fixes” to help anyone concentrate better. That doesn’t really exist. A couple things that always help in stressful situations, however, are these:

Breathe!! Stop and take a few slow, deep breaths to slow the heart down. You’ll be surprised how much this can help.

Keep your thoughts rational and focused on things you can control. Any worries about “what if’s” or things out of your control are completely useless and will only take your concentration off of what you’re trying to do.

Stay in the moment! Good or bad, the past is done! You cannot change it. If the past was great, enjoy it for a moment and move on to now. If it was bad, learn what you can from it and move forward. The future is what you create. Every future moment is this current moment. Enjoy and make the best of this current moment and the future moments will come by themselves. Make the current shot the best shot you can possibly make, enjoy it then repeat on the next one.

Picture what you want to see happen. Imagine a short video of the “your perfect shot” and play it over and over again in your head. Keep it short, keep it simple.

– Lastly, no matter whether it’s your club championship or the Olympic Games, remember why you are shooting. Hopefully you are in that particular moment because you love the game. At the heart, that is why we play any game – because we enjoy it! Never forget that no matter how stressful any competition might be. Aligning the sights and making a great shot is a whole lot of fun to do wherever and whenever you do it.

Good luck and great shooting — Matt Emmons

About ELEY Ammunition
Established in 1828, ELEY now produces some of the most consistently accurate .22 LR rimfire ammunition in the world. Countless championship medals have been earned with ELEY rimfire ammo, and most current smallbore ISSF world records were set with ELEY ammo. ELEY maintains a large production and testing facility in Birmingham, West Midlands, in the UK. ELEY employs a team of specialists (including many Six Sigma qualified engineers) with extensive knowledge of internal and external ballistics, powder dynamics, and advanced production methods. ELEY has always been at the forefront of the ammunition industry, pushing technological boundaries which have resulted in patented new methodologies and techniques.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Shooting Skills No Comments »
December 14th, 2014

Benchrest Tip: Optimize Your Rifle Position on the Rests

Here’s some benchrest advice that can help you reduce vertical and shoot tighter groups… without spending another penny. Next time you go to the range, experiment with the position of your rifle on the front rest, and try a couple different positions for the rear bag. You may find that the rifle handles much better after you’ve made a small change in the placement of your gun on the bags. Recoil can be tamed a bit, and tracking can improve significantly, if you optimize the front rest and rear bag positioning.

Balance Your Gun BEFORE You Spend Hours Tuning Loads
In the pursuit of ultimate accuracy, shooters may spend countless hours on brass prep, bullet selection, and load tuning. Yet the same shooters may pay little attention to how their gun is set-up on the bags. When you have acquired a new rifle, you should do some basic experimentation to find the optimal position for the forearm on the front rest, and the best position for the rear bag. Small changes can make a big difference.

Joel Kendrick

Joel Kendrick, past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has observed that by adjusting forearm position on the front rest, he can tune out vertical. He has one carbon-fiber-reinforced stock that is extremely rigid. When it was placed with the front rest right under the very tip of the forearm, the gun tended to hop, creating vertical. By sliding the whole gun forward (with more forearm overhang ahead of the front sandbag), he was able to get the whole rig to settle down. That resulted in less vertical dispersion, and the gun tracked much better.

Likewise, the placement of the rear bag is very important. Many shooters, by default, will simply place the rear bag the same distance from the front rest with all their guns. In fact, different stocks and different calibers will NOT behave the same. By moving the rear bag forward and aft, you can adjust the rifle’s overall balance and this can improve the tracking significantly. One of our shooters had a Savage 6BR F-Class rifle. By default he had his rear bag set almost all the way at the end of the buttstock. When he slid the rear bag a couple inches forward the gun tracked much better. He immediately noticed that the gun returned to point of aim better (crosshairs would stay on target from shot to shot), AND the gun torqued (twisted) less. The difference was quite noticeable.

Benchrest stock

The important point to remember here is that each rig is different. One gun may perform best with the front rest right at the tip of the forearm (Position ‘D’ in photo), while another gun will work best with the rest positioned much further back. This Editor’s own 6BR sits in a laminated stock that is pretty flexy in the front. It shoots best with the front rest’s sandbag located a good 6″ back from the forearm tip (position ‘A’).

A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs. You should experiment with the forearm placement, trying different positions on the front rest. Likewise, you can move the rear bag back and forth a few inches. Once you establish the optimal positions of front rest and rear bag, you should find that your gun tracks better and returns to battery more reliably. You may then discover that the gun shoots smaller groups, with less vertical dispersion. And all these benefits are possible without purchasing any expensive new gear.

Rifle photo courtesy Johnson’s Precision Gunsmithing (Bakersfield, CA).

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 6 Comments »
November 16th, 2014

Motivational Advice from Eley’s Champion Shooters

Eley sponsors many of the world’s top rimfire shooters, who have shared their Tips from the Top for 2014. Five ace smallbore shooters provide advice on how to shoot better, how to train more effectively, and how to stay motivated even when “the going gets tough”. If you’re a competitive shooter (in any discipline) you can benefit from reading these words of wisdom from world-class shooters.

Eley champions shooting tips

Henri Junghaenel, current world #1 ranked, 50M prone rifle shooter.

    Focus on Fundamentals: Good performance requires a solid technical foundation. One can hunt after personal bests or one can try to work on the technical basics. The latter will probably lead to better results sooner.

    Stay Motivated Over Time: Be persistent and don’t lose your motivation on your way to success. Shooting, like every other sport, requires a learning process which takes a lot of time.

    Don’t Yield to Outside Pressures: Don’t let the expectations from others impact yourself. If some people try to put pressure on you (consciously or unconsciously), don’t let them!

Bill Collaros, 2013 Australian WRABF World Cup (Benchrest) and RBA team captain.

    Don’t Skimp on Hardware: Ensure your equipment is a good as you can buy. This includes: rests, bags, rifle, scope, and ammunition.

    Tune to Your Ammo: Ensure that the ammunition you have is tested and your rifle is tuned to it, to get the smallest possible group.

    Train in All Conditions: Train in all sorts of wind and conditions so you know how your rifle and ammunition react in all circumstances.

Stine Nielsen, 2012 Olympic finalist for 3-Position Smallbore Rifle.

    Eley champions shooting tips

    No Excuses: When I train, I train by my motto: “A loser has excuses. A winner has a plan.” And when I shoot in competitions I think about that mantra.

    Stay Focused: When I stand at a shooting range, I have a good focus on my shooting and myself. I also have a good will to want to shoot 110%.

Zorana Arunovic, current world #2 ranked, 25M women’s pistol shooter.

    Never give up: No matter how hard it is you should always find something that will inspire you to keep going further. I find my inspiration in the success of other athletes. They inspire me to work more and harder. I would say to any young athletes, never give up, no matter how hard it is.

João Costa, current world #2 ranked, 50m pistol shooter.

    Breathing is Key: In shooting as in life, breathing is of paramount importance. So, when shooting try to be calm and quiet. On the bench in front of me I have my pistol, the scope, the magazine and my choice ammo then I count:

    1… Eley – breathe
    2… Eley – breathe
    3… Eley – breathe
    4… Eley – breathe
    5… Eley – breathe

Story find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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August 29th, 2014

Accuracy Problems? Put Another Shooter Behind the Trigger to Rule Out ‘Driver Error’ Issues

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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December 14th, 2012

Clint Smith Gun Safety Video from FMG Publications

Clint SmithFMG Publications has partnered with renowned firearms instructor Clint Smith in a timely video covering the precepts of safe gun-handling. Commonly known as the “Four Gun Safety Rules,” these simple steps act as a safeguard, helping to prevent tragedy.

“I was heartbroken to read about the father who accidentally shot his son in Mercer, PA, earlier this week,” said FMG Publications Director Randy Molde. “If he would have observed just one of the four gun safety rules, his son would still be alive. It’s a sobering reminder that we can never take gun safety for granted. Hopefully our viewers will share this video and, more importantly, remind friends and family of the four gun safety rules.”

Clint Smith, Director of the Thunder Ranch training facility in Oregon, is widely recognized as one of the top shooting instructors in the nation.

Click to Watch Gun Safety Video

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