Need Help, Critique My Grouping Consistency

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OK I'm looking for tips to get more consistency in my groups. If you look at the pics maybe you could tell me what I'm doing wrong or right.
This is a heavy barrel AR. Nothing fancy. The powder is 24.0 and 24.3 grains of Varget. It's a 69 grain Barnes HPBT loaded 0.020" off the lands.The distance is 100 yards. There was a cross breeze but I tried to shoot when it was calm.
Thanks

zN8QlOQ.jpg




IBNxwEr.jpg
 
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Mountain

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Except for that flyer, your 24.3 gr Varget group is pretty sweet & leads me to believe that you and the rifle are certainly capable of sub .5 MOA.

In my experience, everything has to be spot-on to shoot AR groups consistently below .5 MOA. This is not the typical realm of the AR & it is necessary to pay attention to finer points that would usually be ignored. Here's some things I did with the Windham VEX I had:

-Bolt should be headspaced to the barrel. VEX of course came that way from the factory.
-Mating surface of the upper receiver lapped flat to best fit against the barrel extension. If it's a factory gun, I'd just leave this alone.
-Remove any play between the upper and lower receivers. A simple #7 O-ring over the front lug will do the trick.
-A precision type stock or an A2 stock with a 'BagRider' keeps the rifle moving straight back during recoil.
-JP reduced power spring set. Cheap and easy way to improve weight of trigger pull.
-A top quality aftermarket trigger or a very careful DIY trigger job will get the quality of the pull and break where you need it.
-Brass should be sorted, trimmed, once-fired then neck sized only. Don't use this brass for self defense, LOL. IMHO, Norma bra$$ is best.
-I prefer either Nosler Competition or Sierra Match Kings. Depending on your barrel twist, it may 'like' 77's more than 69's. BC is better for the 77's.
-Benchrest primers. I like CCI.
-Varget is pretty good, but it's a little big to easily meter for the little .223's. I have found the finer grain size of Benchmark to facilitate more consistent and accurate loads.
-I had a Compass Lake chamber. It was somewhat forgiving of the cartidge OAL / jump to lands. Once you have everything else dialed in, you may play with the 'jump' a little more.

-edit: Looks like there could be some vertical stringing. Consistent placement on the rest / sand bags, precision type stock, consistent cheek weld & position, and very consistent load weights should reduce this problem.

Where to start? I think the reduced springs and trigger swap or trigger job are #1, followed by finding the sweet spot for some Benchmark loads. Good luck!

P.S. I traded my VEX and built a CLE / Kreiger service rifle with removable handle / rear sight. Glad I went the removable direction as a serious shoulder injury will keep me away from any matches involving a sling. I can shoot bench with my opposite hand, however. I'll be making some minor mods to the service rifle for some bench shooting.
 
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mac1911

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Looks pretty good for a nothing special AR heavy barrel.
Barnes are very nice bullets.
Have you tried the optimum charge weight method yet? I was a bit skeptical of it at first but then my guns and skills got better and I revisited it. Was nice to find that range of powder charge that wouldn't toss your POI/POA off.
Funny thing is with my ARs all have done just as well at mag length vs trying to come off the lands a few .xxx"
I'm trying to beat that 1/2" group next. I have several loads and bullets that are getting .75 to1"
For my latest AR 18" heavy bull barrel I'm trying a all new powder and bullet combo.
So far my best consistent load is with nosler 77 custom comps, Sierra 60 gn varmint with Varget and RL15 being the better powders for me.
I think now though it's more on my end. Need to really shoot more.

Just curious what are you using for optics? Also I found using the red one inch bulls on 1" graph lined paper really help when trying to shoot for groups.
Also optics.... i don't have what I consider target scopes.
I have a few decent scopes.
I,can shoot close to 1" groups with my 1903a4 with reproduction scope but it's not a easy scope to shoot with.
My better scopes are on my pellet guns and believe me a better scope can improve my groups on those.
I'm still tossed on what scope to get for my AR... right now I stick with my old leupold vxIII
 
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Are you developing an optimum charge weight?

Yes. I built the rifle last June and went through the OCW ladder in August. I was not satisfied with the out come. Got a digital scale to really sort brass. Started over with everything. Also pushed the bullet out to .020 from the lands for single loading. These rounds I just shot were loaded four months ago. I've put less than 100 rounds through it so far.
 

mac1911

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Yes. I built the rifle last June and went through the OCW ladder in August. I was not satisfied with the out come. Got a digital scale to really sort brass. Started over with everything. Also pushed the bullet out to .020 from the lands for single loading. These rounds I just shot were loaded four months ago. I've put less than 100 rounds through it so far.

Something that I figured out quickly is my guns don't like to change bullets with out a very good cleaning then some "fouling shots". I should have known this seeing pellet guns are very sensitive to pellet change from one make and weight to another.
 
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Except for that flyer, your 24.3 gr Varget group is pretty sweet & leads me to believe that you and the rifle are certainly capable of sub .5 MOA.

In my experience, everything has to be spot-on to shoot AR groups consistently below .5 MOA. This is not the typical realm of the AR & it is necessary to pay attention to finer points that would usually be ignored. Here's some things I did with the Windham VEX I had:

-Bolt should be headspaced to the barrel. VEX of course came that way from the factory.
-Mating surface of the upper receiver lapped flat to best fit against the barrel extension. If it's a factory gun, I'd just leave this alone.
-Remove any play between the upper and lower receivers. A simple #7 O-ring over the front lug will do the trick.
-A precision type stock or an A2 stock with a 'BagRider' keeps the rifle moving straight back during recoil.
-JP reduced power spring set. Cheap and easy way to improve weight of trigger pull.
-A top quality aftermarket trigger or a very careful DIY trigger job will get the quality of the pull and break where you need it.
-Brass should be sorted, trimmed, once-fired then neck sized only. Don't use this brass for self defense, LOL. IMHO, Norma bra$$ is best.
-I prefer either Nosler Competition or Sierra Match Kings. Depending on your barrel twist, it may 'like' 77's more than 69's. BC is better for the 77's.
-Benchrest primers. I like CCI.
-Varget is pretty good, but it's a little big to easily meter for the little .223's. I have found the finer grain size of Benchmark to facilitate more consistent and accurate loads.
-I had a Compass Lake chamber. It was somewhat forgiving of the cartidge OAL / jump to lands. Once you have everything else dialed in, you may play with the 'jump' a little more.

-edit: Looks like there could be some vertical stringing. Consistent placement on the rest / sand bags, precision type stock, consistent cheek weld & position, and very consistent load weights should reduce this problem.

Where to start? I think the reduced springs and trigger swap or trigger job are #1, followed by finding the sweet spot for some Benchmark loads. Good luck!

P.S. I traded my VEX and built a CLE / Kreiger service rifle with removable handle / rear sight. Glad I went the removable direction as a serious shoulder injury will keep me away from any matches involving a sling. I can shoot bench with my opposite hand, however. I'll be making some minor mods to the service rifle for some bench shooting.

That's good insight there and a great starting point. I did polished the trigger and put the JP springs in. It is very smooth and about 3.5 lbs. The chamber 5.56 and the twist is 1-8". I was noticing the vertical stringing too and was wondered how to solve that. The consistent correct shooting technique is what I lack. Also on the third target from the top is shooting a square. Any thoughts on that? In the past I had some horizontal stringing with virtually zero vertical. Any thoughts?

Also on case prep once the brass is sorted do you anneal at any point in the future?

I'm using a bipod with a rear bag.

These groups are the most respectable so far.
 

Mountain

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Aha-

I'm actually impressed with your groups given that you are shooting with a bipod. Unless it's a F-Class type bipod, I think you could significantly reduce the stringing by shooting with a heavy benchrest style front rest & make sure you position the stock the same for every shot.

As mac1911 mentions, optics may come into play. If you can get the exact same cheek weld and eye position it may not be such a problem, but with so-so to low quality optics you may get some parallax issues when your eye position changes.

High magnification may help with your point of aim. What's the power of your scope?

It seems weird, but a load that is off from optimum may start to spray around a bit- left, right, up, down. That could explain your square pattern. Also I have found that if I have well rested eyes & omit caffeine ~24 hours before I shoot, it helps with tight groups. I'm overseas a lot and have shot (like schmidt!) on a Saturday after arriving home from Asia the night before. I can suck it up, fight the jet lag, and get my ass out of bed no problem- but there's no fooling your eyes especially as you get older. Maybe for the young guys being up late partying and hitting the Red Bulls next morning would have the same negative effect.

Oh, I have not annealed brass so far. Winchester seems pretty good for being consistent and workable. Norma and Lapua even better. My once-fire Norma easily fit my case guage without sizing. Just a neck size and GTG. Federals seem ok, but Krieger recommends against Feds so I'll stop. I have found Lake City brass to be hard and brittle so I don't use it.
 
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mac1911

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I like shooting prone with bags front and rear. ..... what I should say is try shooting close to how you will shoot.
I use the rest for my first stage of testing then when I get closer to the final stages I will shoot prone supported then sling up and see how I do.

My bull barrel AR will be a prone gun off Harris bipod or a poor man's F class
Although looking into F class they seem to have a "tactical" version for AR platform now. Where you can only use Harris style bipods and 12x scope
 
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Looks pretty good for a nothing special AR heavy barrel.
Barnes are very nice bullets.
Have you tried the optimum charge weight method yet? I was a bit skeptical of it at first but then my guns and skills got better and I revisited it. Was nice to find that range of powder charge that wouldn't toss your POI/POA off.
Funny thing is with my ARs all have done just as well at mag length vs trying to come off the lands a few .xxx"
I'm trying to beat that 1/2" group next. I have several loads and bullets that are getting .75 to1"
For my latest AR 18" heavy bull barrel I'm trying a all new powder and bullet combo.
So far my best consistent load is with nosler 77 custom comps, Sierra 60 gn varmint with Varget and RL15 being the better powders for me.
I think now though it's more on my end. Need to really shoot more.

Just curious what are you using for optics? Also I found using the red one inch bulls on 1" graph lined paper really help when trying to shoot for groups.
Also optics.... i don't have what I consider target scopes.
I have a few decent scopes.
I,can shoot close to 1" groups with my 1903a4 with reproduction scope but it's not a easy scope to shoot with.
My better scopes are on my pellet guns and believe me a better scope can improve my groups on those.
I'm still tossed on what scope to get for my AR... right now I stick with my old leupold vxIII

I don't get this particular gun out much. So trying to be consistent is a problem. As I said I did the OCW method back in August and you could see the grouping and POI go up and back down. That was the first time I ever did it so I wasn't sure about the outcome. I worked with the results but my groups were horrible. Nothing like what the inventor of the OCW method was getting anyway. This is the first batch that I pushed the bullet out. I'm trying to improve on my case prep but that's a whole other science in itself. LOL.

The "optics" are an eBay 6-24x50 Mil Dot reticle that was under $70 with the P.E.P.R. style mount. The cross hairs are a little heavy for my simple target but I like your red dot idea. The scope isn't all that bad. It certainly can't compare to the high dollar ones but then I'm in it for the fun.

My two biggest problems are me and me. Knowing if I'm shooting properly and how I set the gun up.
 
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fencer

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OP - you could spend the rest of the summer screwing around with it, and still not get better groups.

That is damn fine shooting there. You basically put 20 rounds on an egg at 100 yards with a bi-pod, outdoors. If you strapped that rifle into a vise, and were shooting in an indoor range, you would be shooting cloverleafs.

Very Well done OP. Carry On.
 

Mountain

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If your crosshairs are a little thick for what you are shooting, try putting the x-ring or whatever you are aiming at in the corner of the '+'. I'll put the x-ring in the upper right corner of the reticle crosshairs so that it's just touching the vertical and horizontal crosshairs if you can picture that. My club does a 22LR benchrest & scoped rifles have to shoot at a 0.15" 10-ring. I can't see it very well if I try to center my crosshairs over the tiny ring.

You have enough magnification. Try to put your eye in the exact same position every time.
 
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Aha-

I'm actually impressed with your groups given that you are shooting with a bipod. Unless it's a F-Class type bipod, I think you could significantly reduce the stringing by shooting with a heavy benchrest style front rest & make sure you position the stock the same for every shot.

As mac1911 mentions, optics may come into play. If you can get the exact same cheek weld and eye position it may not be such a problem, but with so-so to low quality optics you may get some parallax issues when your eye position changes.

High magnification may help with your point of aim. What's the power of your scope?

It seems weird, but a load that is off from optimum may start to spray around a bit- left, right, up, down. That could explain your square pattern. Also I have found that if I have well rested eyes & omit caffeine ~24 hours before I shoot, it helps with tight groups. I'm overseas a lot and have shot (like schmidt!) on a Saturday after arriving home from Asia the night before. I can suck it up, fight the jet lag, and get my ass out of bed no problem- but there's no fooling your eyes especially as you get older. Maybe for the young guys being up late partying and hitting the Red Bulls next morning would have the same negative effect.

Oh, I have not annealed brass so far. Winchester seems pretty good for being consistent and workable. Norma and Lapua even better. My once-fire Norma easily fit my case guage without sizing. Just a neck size and GTG. Federals seem ok, but Krieger recommends against Feds so I'll stop. I have found Lake City brass to be hard and brittle so I don't use it.

The gun weighs about 12 lbs. The bipod is a Harris type eBay knock off. Will try a heavy front rest and see if that helps.

I haven’t noticed any parallax as of yet. The magnification is at 24x and as mac1911 suggested a slightly improved target will help because the cross hairs don’t work well with the target.

I have seen the square grouping a couple of times before and thought it was kind of funky. I think improving my shooting technique will go a long way then to my grouping ability. It’s like learning to ride a bike you don’t get it until you get it, then when you do you will always know it. Well I haven’t quite learned to ride the bike yet to know exactly where I’m lacking but I'm getting there. It’s all good.

I have a small batch of WCC 1991 that I’m using now. Then I’ll be going to a batch of 500 brand new Federals I bought last November.
 
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mac1911

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I found shooting at anything black with the black cross hairs was harder. Especially with a somewhat fat reticle.
For example my 03a4 clone sniper scope cross hairs will complete cover over a inch at 100 yards and obscures the 10 ring (SR1 target) enough to make it hard to center the reticle.

Same goes for my leupold. It's a old school duplex 30/30 reticle. Although the SR1 black bull fits nicely in the tips of the heavy post...
Some scopes cover a lot of target. This is why the crazy bench guys like things like 1/8 and 1/16 target dots and some big MagX.
I shot one of club members bench guns with a March fixed mag 40x 1/16 target dot at 200 yards. You can put the aiming dot in the center of the hole you just shot.... I pulled off a nice tight cluster of 5 shots at just under 1moa.
CTC was 1.690" from his measurement....he basically can put shots on the tips of the X and through the 0s on the 10.
So that tells me it's more me at this point.

Focusing on my breathing was one of my biggest improvements over the past 5 years. Along with a Rx for my diminishing eye sight.

Keep us posted

just a side note .... the more MagX you have the more movment shows up.if your shooting on 24x maybe turn it down to 12ish, I looked through a 10x50 scope last week and on 40x my heart beat was very very clearly seen in the reticle bump bump bump bump more so than what im used to on my 12x scope. this could be a distraction and would at firdt make me try to fight the movement rather than relax focus and flow with it....like when I shoot off hand with the ar I used to try and hold the gun steady which just made things worse. now I have learned to get NPA better and learn how my rhythm makes the front sight flow and have learned to find that pause when the post is where it needs to be.
 
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I'd go 24.3. clearly it has an advantage from what you are showing. Although it can be deceiving, especially with wind conditions, i am surprised at the differences from your .3
 
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I found shooting at anything black with the black cross hairs was harder. Especially with a somewhat fat reticle.
For example my 03a4 clone sniper scope cross hairs will complete cover over a inch at 100 yards and obscures the 10 ring (SR1 target) enough to make it hard to center the reticle.

Same goes for my leupold. It's a old school duplex 30/30 reticle. Although the SR1 black bull fits nicely in the tips of the heavy post...
Some scopes cover a lot of target. This is why the crazy bench guys like things like 1/8 and 1/16 target dots and some big MagX.
I shot one of club members bench guns with a March fixed mag 40x 1/16 target dot at 200 yards. You can put the aiming dot in the center of the hole you just shot.... I pulled off a nice tight cluster of 5 shots at just under 1moa.
CTC was 1.690" from his measurement....he basically can put shots on the tips of the X and through the 0s on the 10.
So that tells me it's more me at this point.

Focusing on my breathing was one of my biggest improvements over the past 5 years. Along with a Rx for my diminishing eye sight.

Keep us posted

just a side note .... the more MagX you have the more movment shows up.if your shooting on 24x maybe turn it down to 12ish, I looked through a 10x50 scope last week and on 40x my heart beat was very very clearly seen in the reticle bump bump bump bump more so than what im used to on my 12x scope. this could be a distraction and would at firdt make me try to fight the movement rather than relax focus and flow with it....like when I shoot off hand with the ar I used to try and hold the gun steady which just made things worse. now I have learned to get NPA better and learn how my rhythm makes the front sight flow and have learned to find that pause when the post is where it needs to be.


Your right about the contrast between the black target and the black cross hairs. That's next after tightening up the slop between the upper and lower. I'm getting older now too but the eyes are still holding up. When I was 18 I bought a Win Mod 70 Varmint in 22-250 and topped it with a 24x Unertl scope. I never did very good with it. I'm sure it was me. Atleast now there is more information available now with the internet and forums like this one.
 

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Change the thread title to "I finally can say I shoot better than my gun" Then stop showing off.

Yeah no kidding right....oh my soso AR and FleaBay knock of scope and bipod[rolleyes] your doing well my friend.
I say just keep shooting those loads until that 70$ scope falls apart.!
 
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I am not here to brag or show off. I am sincerely looking for direction. I have never sought advice from another person for this matter before. I do not have the shooting and precision reloading skill and knowledge that some have here.

The rifle cost the same to complete (including scope, bipod, rail, etc, etc) as what most people pay for their regular off the shelf AR’s. The barrel was a no name unit I purchased off eBay for $149 and yes the scope really cost less than $70 from eBay. And yes there are a bunch of other eBay parts too. I was reluctant to mention the specifics of the build because I know people think eBay is not the place to buy “real” gun parts. That’s why this really is a truly nothing fancy AR.

These are what I was getting for groups before this last string.

The first one is from my first attempt at the OCW method. You’ll notice this is the same load that now looks the most promising thus far.

RyqnNi2.jpg


The next one is what I was regularly getting, so you can see where my frustrations were coming from.

jNgj2YI.jpg
 
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mac1911

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I am not here to brag or show off. I am sincerely looking for direction. I have never sought advice from another person for this matter before. I do not have the shooting and precision reloading skill and knowledge that some have here.

The rifle cost the same to complete (including scope, bipod, rail, etc, etc) as what most people pay for their regular off the shelf AR’s. The barrel was a no name unit I purchased off eBay for $149 and yes the scope really cost less than $70 from eBay. And yes there are a bunch of other eBay parts too. I was reluctant to mention the specifics of the build because I know people think eBay is not the place to buy “real” gun parts. That’s why this really is a truly nothing fancy AR.

These are what I was getting for groups before this last string.

The first one is from my first attempt at the OCW method. You’ll notice this is the same load that now looks the most promising thus far.

RyqnNi2.jpg


The next one is what I was regularly getting, so you can see where my frustrations were coming from.

jNgj2YI.jpg

don't worry about the fleabay stuff.....I got enough of it myself. Also plenty of cheap scopes that work for me also.

your on the right track.... keep changes small. right now you know you have a load that is moa capable even better. I would say shoot 500 rounds of that load. shooting 5 , 5 shot groups and see if you can consistently keep your groups at that -1" area. once you do that you can play with the load? that was advice given to me about 5 years ago. So I spent more time actually shooting and practicing than reloading and thinking

these pictures could be you or even just the barrel "fouling" or seasoning up to the barnes bullets. Have barnes been the only bullet through this rifle.

for example my standard 20" a2 1/9 will shoot my 77gn nosler with 24 gr varget to 1" off the bags. If I try and dump the 55 grain plinking loads through it with out cleaning the barrel and taking fouling shots the 55s will go all over from 2.5-1.5" before settling down bacl to the 1.125" range it can shoot?
 
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I got out with it this morning for another round of testing. Definitely patterns of vertical and horizontal stringing in some of the groups. There were overall mixed results. Some much better, some much worse. For example the previous winner of 24.3 of Varget was not even close today and only could best with a .952” in a nearly vertical string. While 24.6 of Varget had the largest with 1.379” in a pretty much evenly spaced horizontal line. Incidentally it also had the new record smallest at .550”! Go figure. I’m realizing it’s me and your suggestion for just shooting it is the key.


I was not aware using different fowler rounds would cause grouping changes. I’ve shot 55 FMJ and ss109 reloads as both fowler and just for fun but that’s all my mixed brass blasting stuff. I’ve tried some Hornady 68 HPBT that I had from long ago behind 22.0 grains of Accurate 2460. I was using different brass then and loaded for the magazine length. The best was one at .768” but the rest were 1.5” or so.
 

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theres so much at play..... even lighten can really hurt your groups. I refuse to shoot at one club for any testing or groups past 2pm the lighting is just awful.

the other club I go to is well shaded and light dapples in through the barriers....really sucks.
 
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I tightened up the looseness between the upper and lower before going out today. My accu wedges arrived this morning but wasn't really liking it. Instead I used a small 1/8" wide piece of electrical on each side by the rear pin. Now it is rock solid.

I did notice a slight side to side motion from the read bag which will need to be addressed. One good thing was the barrel never heated up or the POI didn't really shift during the session of about an hour and 25+ rounds. There was no real break during the shots only the strings.
 

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I'm not so sure the upper and lower need to be solid. All my ARs are pretty darn snug so I can't say for sure.
Friend of mine was bothered by his play. I'm not sure how they did it but he had a machine shop match the take down holes to a slightly larger take down pin...it's rock solid now but I'm sure will loosen up over time tearing it down?

I can't obsess to much over mine. If I get to nutty I will just sell them off and buy bolt guns. Which is the direction I have been moving anyway. Right now I'm actually hung up on 22lr again.....revisiting my past. Actually found myself with sellers remorse.....my Anschultz 22 match rifle. Dusted off the rem 513 but that's not the same...
 

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Thanks all for the shooting tips. Got out this afternoon for a little more testing. I worked on technique and did it make a difference. Breathing, relaxing, cheek weld, grip and trigger. More organic looking groups and way less stringing. Also a lot more fun.
Thanks again.

Another thing that helped me is I started calling my shots.
I'm at around 80% on my calls.
Funny thing is I'm getting more good shots after I call a bad one.?
Wierd....
I have a target at the bench. I will plot my calls on the target and then Mark the actual shot.
 
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