Deplorable Sunday

January 14th, 2018

Thank God Hillary Lost

If there is one thing I love about NOT LIVING IN MIAMI, it’s being able to shoot in my yard. Today I took advantage. I took the .17 HMR Savage out and shot 35 rounds at about 100 yards. I don’t know how accurate the distance measurement was. I do not have a measuring tape that long. I paced it off, taking big steps.

I like Savage guns because they are cheap and very accurate (supposedly), and because they have a patented trigger which is alleged to be very good for sharpshooting. I don’t recall what I paid for this rifle, but I believe it was under $250. It’s a stainless job with a bull barrel and no sights, made for shooting with a scope.

The scope cost more than the gun, probably. It’s a Burriss Fullfield II which goes to 14x. I guess it’s a little weird, on a gun that isn’t very useful over 150 yards, but I like magnification.

It would be fun to use this gun on squirrels. I should be able to pop them at 100 yards with no problems, provided I can get the rifle steady and take my time. I would have to watch the angle, because these little bullets would go right off the farm if I missed.

I would love to get some instruction in shooting rifles. I shoot okay, but not great, and I assume this is a matter of teaching.

I threw a folding table in the EZ-GO and drove to my berm. I put two 5.5 Orange Peel Targets on the steel frame I use for shooting. I put a few rounds into the first target, and then I went to look it over. The target has an inner ring maybe 2″ wide, and I did not go completely out of it, but I did not feel like I was shooting up to the potential of the gun and ammunition.

It seemed like I was shooting a little to the right, so I got out my phone and looked up information to make sure I didn’t adjust the scope the wrong way. Then I adjusted the scope and shot another target. The rounds spread out over an area 5″ wide as I tried to figure it out. I think I went the wrong way in spite of my efforts. I went back to the original setting and shot another target.

The last target should have been my best, but it was the worst. I had some fliers.

I don’t really know what I’m doing wrong, but I think one problem is the table. It’s slick, so my elbows feel unstable on it. I think I need to put a rubber mat on it. This will be a problem if I shoot a bigger gun that has recoil, because the recoil will shove my elbows across the mat and rub the skin raw, so I guess I will also need elbow pads. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone use elbow pads at the range, but it seems like an obvious thing to do.

I’m not sure how accurate the equipment is. If I put the gun on a sled and held it rigid, how small would a 20-round group be? It’s impossible to know how well you’re doing until you know what the best looks like.

It’s hard to get information on the web. If you look for forum posts about a rifle’s accuracy, people will say they got x-MOA “groups.” They’re referring to isolated groups of 3 shots. I think this information is worthless. If you can shoot a rifle well, you won’t shoot a good 3-shot group and then quit and say you shoot x-MOA groups. If you can’t put 25 or 50 rounds into x MOA, then you can’t shoot x MOA. Your 3-shot group is just cherry-picking.

Today I put 4 rounds into one big hole at 100 yards, but I wouldn’t think of telling people I shoot 1/4 MOA. It would be a moronic, obvious lie. If you look at my target, you’ll see the big hole, plus a number of holes around it. If you want to judge my shooting, you should measure the longest distance from one hole to another. Maybe you should omit real fliers, because they’re not representative of my shooting, but dumping all the bad shots is just stupid.

If I were a golfer and I made a hole in one, I wouldn’t go around telling everyone it only takes me one swing to finish a hole.

I have no idea how well this rifle will shoot, so I guess I’ll have to keep plugging away and do my best to shrink my groups. And by “groups,” I mean 10 or 20 or 30 rounds, not 3 incredibly lucky rounds.

7 Responses to “Deplorable Sunday”

  1. Og Says:

    The barrel is possibly warming and moving around. Not uncommon.You can take a can of liquid air out and blow it through the barrel via the open bolt and see if that changes anything.

  2. Steve H. Says:

    Yesterday I learned that a slight wind can make a .17 HMR bullet drift a great deal over 100 yards. I saw a figure of 1.6″ and one that was considerably higher. It looks like I won’t learn anything new with .17 HMR until I shoot on a still day.

    On the up side, this means my shooting is a lot better than I thought.

  3. Steve B Says:

    Those are all still “core” hits on a man-sized target, so no shade there. Good shooting.

    The center of the group is where it should be, so the rest is most like a) breathing and b) trigger pull. Even with a rest, breathing can create enough of a rise and fall to account for the vertical spread you are seeing. Trigger pull can mean either anticipating the recoil and leaning into it (shots to the left), or “snapping” the trigger (shots to the right).

    The other things to check is if you are “holding” yourself in position. Using muscle tension to maintain your position means you can be the victim of twitches, muscle fatigue, etc.. The best position is a relaxed one, bone on bone. Close your eyes, take and release a breath, and then open them. You should be looking at the bullseye. If not, you’re forcing your sights onto the target, and that will cause it to waver.

  4. Steve B Says:

    And the mat and/or elbow pads is a great idea.Keeping elbows steady on a slick surface is another example of “muscling it.” Should be steady in a relaxed state.

  5. Mike Says:

    Shoot more. People that shoot well shoot a lot. When I was competing 200-250 rds a week was the norm. Two shot out barrels a year and many hours at the loading bench.

    And you are correct on the wind dragging that little bullet around. I’ve shot long range matches where we had to use the upwind adjacent target for the aiming point. The sights didn’t have enough windage adjustment to make the corrections needed. Needless to say there were no record setting scores on days like that.

    The most important thing about shooting other than safety is to have fun and I always had fun even on days with terrible scores.

  6. Oran Woody Says:

    Everyone wobbles so don’t let that worry you. It is better to shoot with a rest under the fore end and another under the toe of the stock if you want to get closer to that magic MOA grouping.
    Use your free hand to gently pull the stock back into your shoulder. Place the free hand over your trigger hand as if you were shooting a pistol with both hands.
    When you shoot like this, you’ll have very little weight on your elbows because you want to be as low as you can comfortably be. Put a towel under each elbow and all will be okay. This position may put you closer to your scope than you’ve been before. That’s okay. You just want to be consistent.
    Your head can wobble a lot so find where your cheek touches the stock with a gentle firmness. Repeat that over and over so that when you aren’t “there,” it just feels wrong.
    Dry fire a bunch of times. That lets you see if you are gently pulling the trigger and gives you the muscle memory to repeat the process when the rifle is loaded and ready to go.
    And… yes. Savage puts out a fine product so you just shoot and enjoy things while improving those smaller and smaller groups.

  7. Jim Says:

    Get connected with a Project Appleseed weekend.

    You’ll come out of the event with a solid grasp of the fundamentals of riflery in every necessary respect.

    What they’re teaching is basically what the USMC/U.S. Army taught with their Springfield rifles, circa the 1st half of the twentieth century.

    Though you can shoot the course with a scoped rifle, in a word, don’t. Rather, acquire the requisite skills with the iron sights, and your shooting with everything other than wingshooting with a shotgun, will improve, markedly.

    You can opt for a Centerfire Rifle Course, which, at the right facility, will have you scoring solid hits on-target all the way out to 600 yards.

    Conversely, you can shoot the .22 LR course, with reduced size targets at distances suitable to the cartridge.

    Neither course is “easy”. And you need to show up with at least 300 rounds of ammo, and a gardener’s wagon or other “gear cart” is highly recommended. As is a good, full sized shooting mat. (prone from the gravel is NOT fun!)

    They teach a good bit of American History at these events, too.

    It’s a weekend well worth the time and effort, and truly modest expense.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX