It’s the Little Things

Many times it’s the little
things that make the biggest difference in the way we shoot.  I had a customer call me the other day and
said the custom rifle he had bought from us would not shoot.  I asked him what he was doing and what type
of ammo he was shooting through the rifle. 
He told me that he had a gun shop mount his scope, they also sold him a lead
sled and what they considered very good ammo. He wanted to return the rifle to
have us check it out and figure out what we had done wrong.
We had shot the gun before we
shipped it to the customer and knew it had shot very well.  However some things can happen in shipping or
maybe we didn’t tighten a stock screw before it left.  When the rifle came in I took one look at it
and started to laugh.  The “quality”
scope was a $200 Japanese scope with “made in China” stamped on it.  The big box store who sold him the scope and
had mounted it, had replaced the Talley Ultra-Light rings we had included on
the rifle originally with a $15 dollar set of Tasco rings and not one of the
screws had been torqued down or even tightened. 
The scope was set at about a 10 degree angle from being straight and you
could see where it has slipped in the rings from shooting.  Now, we never recommend shooting our rifles
in a lead sled, they put pressure on the forend of the stock which changes the
harmonics.  I don’t think you are going
to take a shooting bench or a vice when you are out hunting, so we always shoot
the gun off sand bags with it against your shoulder like you would in a hunting
situation.  You could see marks on the
stock where the vice had tried to hold the stock in place.

We mounted his $200 Japanese
scope correctly in a set of good Talley Ultra-Light rings.  We made sure the scope was straight and perpendicular
with the bore of the rifle.  If you don’t
do this, your bullet will not only be dropping straight down but it will also
be dropping to the side.  With a 400 yard
shot, the bullet can drop 30 inches and be right 15 inches without any wind
effect.  If a scope is loose in the rings,
it can jump forward with every shot, then your groups will definitely open
up.  With a minimal .002” slip on a scope,
the rifle will give you 2 inch groups at 100 yards!
 With the scope mounted straight and tight we
took his rifle back to the range and shot it at 100 yards.  The scope had very heavy cross-hairs and no parallax
adjustment but we were still able to shoot .650” groups with the rifle.  Now this is not as good as when we shot the
rifle before but when we shot the gun we had used a good 12 power target scope
with good ammo which was built for this particular rifle. 
There are so many little
things that can make a rifle shoot better and don’t cost a great deal of
money.  First and foremost is to use good
scope mounts.  A good set of rings make a
big difference in knowing the scope will not slip or come loose when
shooting.  Second, make sure the scope is
mounted correctly and aligned with the axis of the rifle.  If you never shoot past 100 yards then you
will never know the difference, but if you plan on shooting long distance then
you will need to have a straight scope.  Make
sure the base screws are torqued with a little Lok-Tite to the receiver.  If a base screw comes loose or breaks, your
shots will be erratic.  You might get 2
or 3 shots together then have a flyer or your shots will start walking on you
when you shoot.  Having a loose or broken
base screw can be hard to find and many times you have to remove and remount
the scope before you know what is going wrong. 
Make sure the stock screws are snug. 
A loose stock screw can cause you to shoot bad groups.  On a big caliber rifle which kicks hard, a
loose stock screw can cause the action to slip in the stock and break a nice piece
of wood.  Make sure the rifle is not too
long for you and that the eye relief is set right for you.  If you are having to push your head forward
to see clearly in the scope that either the rifle is too long or the scope is
mounted too far forward.  If you have to stretch
your head to see every time, your eye won’t be in the same place every time, so
your groups will change with every shot. 
Now we have just been talking about the scope, there are many other
little things which make a big difference.


A good crisp trigger will
make you a better shooter.  If you have
to concentrate on the trigger pull then you are not thinking about the cross-hairs
or where the bullet needs to go.  A clean
gun will shoot better than a dirty gun. 
If a bullet has to push copper or brass out of its way as it goes down
the barrel then it will shoot different as the brass and copper build up.  Take the time to break in your barrel.  If you will take an hour or two when you
first get your new gun with shooting and cleaning after every shot for 10 to 20
shots, then your rifle will shoot better in the long run.  Shoot good ammo and find out what your rifle
likes.  Even a good custom gun will be
particular about types of ammo and bullet weights.  You need to try several brands and weights to
find what really shoots well in your gun. 
Last, take time to practice at the range.  Don’t just shoot off a bench.  Simulate as closely as you can, a real hunting
scenario.  Try shooting off hand or off a
bipod or shooting sticks.  One of the
best experiences for someone who wants to take shooting to the next level would
be to go to one of the long range shooting camps here in Texas.  One of my favorites is the FTW SAAM course in
Barksdale.  Their instructors are former
Navy Seals who really know their stuff when it comes to guns and shooting.  It’s a fun experience and you come away with
a new appreciation of what shooting is all about.  And finally, the more practice you get, the
better chance you will have when you have to make that once in a life time
shot.  The rifle and scope can’t do it
all.  The person behind the trigger has
to be just as capable.


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