Target Shooting with a Rifle?

This is a discussion on Target Shooting with a Rifle? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Hello, I get to be new at something again. As many of you have read I picked up my first centerfire rifle a few days ...

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Thread: Target Shooting with a Rifle?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    Target Shooting with a Rifle?

    Hello,

    I get to be new at something again.

    As many of you have read I picked up my first centerfire rifle a few days ago. Since then I've been trying to determine its inherent accuracy.

    There is a problem. I can't seem to shoot a piece of a target, say, a bullseye. If I'm given a piece of paper, I will shoot within the confines of that paper, but I'm just no good when shooting something smaller, like a bullseye. This is with open sights.

    Case in point:


    I started shooting this target at 50yds using the green dot as a target. I plunked those three shots into the group that's circled. It measures less than an inch and I knew I threw the last shot.

    After those three shots things went downhill. It wasn't the gun; I just couldn't see the green dot any longer. The white piece of 4x4" paper became my focal point. I managed to keep most shots on the 9x12" sheet of cardboard holding the paper.

    But then, to make sure it wasn't the gun, I got out another 4x4" sheet of paper and put a playing card on it. I shot 9 rounds at it.


    Eight of the nine rounds fired struck someplace on the paper, three striking the card that I was using as an aiming point. Notice how the hits are peripheral to my aiming point. However, all the rounds are in a smaller area than they had been on the previous target.

    I don't know what to do about this. I'm sure that my rifle can cloverleaf at 50yds, but I've just always shot like this. I've never been able to wring out much of a rifle's accuracy on the bench unless I had a 'scope. It's not that I can't use iron sights; last year I was able to hit a running squirrel at 50yds with my .22, then when the bullet failed to expand probably due to the range, I shot it in the head at that range. That wasn't a big deal.

    The bullseye, however, mocks me.

    I have slight astigmatism and 20/30 to 20/40 vision in my shooting eye. They say it's just on the verge of needing corrected, and though I have a pair of glasses, I opt not to wear them as they're optional. I've found shooting with them doesn't much improve things anyway, and I actually go slower on the "action" shots.

    I've practiced with open sights since I had my first BB gun, but it's unless anyone here has any tricks, I'm about as good as I'm going to get without a 'scope.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Josh <><

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    Just in case this might help as a refresher/reminder - take a peek at my old thread Open sights 101 ........ just to check your sighting habits. I expect you know it already - but no harm to run thru again.

    Beyond that I suspect eyesight could be a factor, plus even a combo of breathing and trigger methods - both of which are more critical with rifle compared with combat distance handgun.

    One more thing - you must keep focus on sights ... so ''bull'', if there is a blur ... thus sight alignment is not lost. Focus on distant bullseye only easily incurs error.
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    Ex Member Array aiko1968's Avatar
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    Have you pulled out your .22 and tried the same target(s)? Do you leave both eyes open? With your condition you may want to play around with that, slant view with both eyes open. But considering you are 150 feet away from what appears to be a standard tab sticker used to stick newsletters together and a playing card you are doing well IMO. I think if you put a nice 9X32 or whatever you like on that rail you will shoot the green dot out of the target.
    I can hit a can with a variety of rifles (.223, .308, 30/30. 45) at 50 to 70 yards with iron sites. I'm happy with that. I can re-write the name of the soda can with a scoped rifle at 100 yards.
    I know I'm new here, but I'm not new anywhere else!

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    perhaps a better bullseye might help too. Getting a clear sight picture on a small dot may be difficult.
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    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aiko1968 View Post
    Have you pulled out your .22 and tried the same target(s)?
    Yep. Same results.
    Do you leave both eyes open?
    Sure do. Since beginning this with handguns I find it hard to shoot any other way.

    Thanks,

    Josh <><

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    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    Reviewing P95's 101 is a good start.

    There are many factors that can effect your shooting with open sights, breathing, trigger control, or lack there of, ammunition, your shooting position, eyesight, although in your case at a distance you should be ok with your stated vision, the color of target in contrast to your sights may even play a factor.

    I would start by sandbagging the gun, and moving the target to 25yrds. That is get yourself a good stable shooting position on a table or ground whatever and make sure there is no movement in your rifle, having it rested on a sandbag or other stable shooting surface. Then concentrate on breathing and trigger pull, and see how things improve.

    Is this the 7.62x54 that your shooting? If it is military surplus ammo, that might not be the most accurate shooting stuff.

    There are endless possibilities when it come to inconsistant shooting. If you can start to eliminate some of the easy ones you might be able to make some progress, and then work from there.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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    Post Eight Steady Hold Factors

    Steady Hold Techniques
    Obtaining and maintaining a steady hold is crucial to target acquisition. The proper sight picture cannot be maintained long enough to squeeze off a round if the rifle is waving around like a banner in a breeze.
    Factors in obtaining a steady hold are:

    1.-The butt of the rifle should fit into the pocket of the shoulder.
    2.-The forearm of the rifle should lie across the heel of the left hand and rest in the "U" formed by the thumb and forefinger. Grip should be relaxed. Slight rearward pressure is applied, pulling the rifle butt into the shoulder.
    3.-Lower three fingers and thumb of right hand are firm (not tense) around grip exerting steady rearward pressure to pull rifle butt into the pocket of the shoulder. Trigger finger is relaxed alongside (not in) trigger guard.
    4.-Position of the elbows will vary according to shooting position. In the standing position the right elbow should be horizontal to the ground, the left elbow directly under the rifle.
    5.-Use the Spot Weld on rifles that allow it. Place the right cheekbone against the right thumb as it wraps around the small of the stock. This locates the shooter's eye at the same place behind the rear sight each time the weapon is shouldered.
    Use the Stock Weld on rifles with stocks where the length of pull or presence of a pistol grip preclude the use of the spot weld. Place the cheek directly against the stock. Be diligent to locate the cheek in the same location on the stock each time t
    6.-Avoid tension. Muscles that are overly tense cause trembling. A firm grip rather than a desperate grasp, steady rather than strained pressure seating the rifle butt into the shoulder.
    7.-Control your breathing. Take a deep breath as the rifle is brought into position. As the sights begin to come into alignment, let half to most of the breath out. Your rifle will be steadier at this point, and trigger squeeze may be executed.
    8.-Trigger Control
    The beginning shooter soon realizes that keeping the sights rock steady on target is an impossible task. Learning proper shooting positions, steady hold techniques, and shooting from a supported position or rest greatly reduce sighting error and wobble, but perfect alignment remains an ephemeral circumstance.
    The novice attempts to deal with this by yanking the trigger at that fleeting moment that the sights appear aligned on target. Even if his timing is perfect, which is not likely, jerking the trigger will force the shot awry. The shooter who continues in this error will never be an expert marksman.

    A marksman does not yank, jerk, or pull the trigger. He CONTROLS the trigger. Steady hold techniques aid in target acquisition, and as the perfect sight picture comes into view the marksman applies pressure to the trigger with a SQUEEZE of the trigger finger.

    Should the sights drift out of perfect alignment, the pressure is stopped at that point, but not backed off. As the target is again acquired the SQUEEZE is resumed from the point it ceased.

    This process of applying measured pressure to the trigger only while the perfect sight picture is in view insures that the weapon will fire while the target is acquired. There will be no jerking motion or flinch to destroy accuracy.

    The marksman should mark the sight picture at the moment of recoil and be able to "call the shot" or tell exactly where on the target the bullet will hit.
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    Try putting this target out at the same distance and see how you do.

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    JD
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    Bigger target.

    Quote Originally Posted by rocky View Post
    perhaps a better bullseye might help too. Getting a clear sight picture on a small dot may be difficult.
    I agree with Rocky, judging by the size of the holes in your makeshift target, I'm willing to bet that at 50 yards, your front sight is almost as large as the bull, if not larger.

    With that small of a bull, you need optics, without proper sight picture, your sight alignment is useless. Your problem IMHO is caused by the fact that your referencing your sight picuture off the traget backer as you are loosing the bull by having your front sight covering it.

    At longer distances without optics, you'd be right to index of the backer, but for proving your rifle, you need to have a target with a bull that's large enough to see to enusre you have proper sight picture before firing.

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Josh, you're looking at two issues: your inherent accuracy, and that of your rifle. You will never determine your rifle's inherent accuracy with iron sights; only the baseline of modest sights and your eyes/hold.

    If you're sticking with irons, see about an upgrade from Marbles, or similar, maybe even get a rear aperture. If you want to "reach out and touch something", get a good mount and glass.

    Extreme accuracy (</=1 MOA), unfortunately, requires some fragility in the sight device or serious money, or some compromise between the two.

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    JD
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    Also, shoot from a bench rest as Rob noted:

    your inherent accuracy, and that of your rifle
    Get a bench rest and eliminate the "you" part of the the equation.

  13. #12
    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    These guys have been fairly thorough, I like the bigger bullseye Idea.

    Also, maybe because you are taking your time target shooting (compared to the quick shot needed for squirrelling), your eyesight is suffering due to oxygen deficiency. If you are holding your breath 1/2 way out (as you should), your eyesight will fairly rapidly deteriorate. You still need to take your time and properly control the trigger, but you need to do it in a hurry. I notice the problem is worse for me now that I'm in worse shape than I was a few years ago. Trying taking several deep breaths right before trying the shot. Once you notice everything getting a bit fuzzy just a teeny bit darker, it's only going to get worse until you re-oxygenate your blood.
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    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    Hi,

    The rifle is cleaned and put away. I'm drinking a Killian's Irish Red Lager in celebration.

    Using techniques from this and other boards, I was able to improve quite a bit. Though I still have a long way to go, I am seeing immediate improvement, and that's good.

    My first mistake was that I was dwelling on the target too long. I didn't know this, but after a few seconds of aiming a person's eyesight begins to suffer due to lack of oxygen (thanks, you know who you are). As well, using the truck hood was too close to prone to be a bit painful and I pushed myself. I don't mind standing up and shooting with nothing to rest the rifle on. The recoil is inconsequential from this power class as long as the butt is not on my collar bone - and standing, it's not. It just shoves my shoulder back a bit, and my shoulder is well conditioned from years of slug shooting.

    I decided a new drill was in order: I set up larger targets (thanks, you know who you are), paper plates about 7" across, at 50yds. I slung my rifle up to my shoulder, grabbed a flash sight picture, fired, worked the bolt, and grabbed another sight picture. I repeated this three times before I had to reload.


    Here is the first target. Typical performance was two rounds touching, and the third lost. I'm not precisely sure how I got nine rounds on target here, but I believe it was four vollies of three each, two rounds hitting from each volley, except for one. That would explain the nine rounds on target.


    This is my second target. I didn't do as well. I was beginning to wear down a bit and my rifle was getting dirty.

    That brings me to a question: How long does it usually take for a clean rifle to foul out if the round is travelling about 2600fps? I fired 24 shots.

    I can't explain why the last round didn't make it on target most of the time. This is good ammo, not milsurp. My best theory is that I went a bit too fast on the last shot most of the time, wanting to go see how I did.

    Comments? How about that rifle fouling?

    Thanks,

    Josh <><

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    Rifles can - from dead clean and cold need a ''fouling shot'' after which maybe five shots can be then made fairly consistent. If more are fired and barrel is getting hotter then spread might increase.

    A ten minute cool down can help then another five but this is really more of a precision bench-rest method than you should need.

    Another factor is rifle fit - which can affect comfort and also speed of sight aquisition. I often suggest with milsurps, which often are a far from ideal fit - to make an initial almost lazy/stress-free positioning and approx sight aquisition - then settle in a bit to make position stable and refine sight picture. After this hopefully only one or two full breathing excursions then half way out as sights drop onto target - slow squeeze to release shot. Sustained attempts to get a better steady picture will usually result in adverse results - best to rest a bit and resume.

    IMO the more you are able to say ''oh- it went'' than having forced the release, the better (or more consistent anyways) the result will be.

    Fouling should not be a major issue at the level you are shooting at - once initially fouled you should be good for a good many rounds ... I often plink off 100 rounds or more thru .303 or 8mm - even getting a bit hot but - majority of shots once settled in are plenty accurate enough.
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    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    For those following this, I shot again today. I used 20 rounds of surplus Czech light ball (147-148grns).

    I rested my support hand on an aluminum ladder, but I didn't let the rifle have any direct contact with the support as I couldn't keep a stable sight picture with the rifle resting on the ladder.


    This was the first target. I fired three rounds at it and plunked two in the same hole. There may be three there; the upper hole looks a bit larger than it should.

    I truly can't tell for sure by looking at the target if there are two or three rounds there. If I lost one, it was the only one I lost during the shoot.

    I started to get sloppy after this. Three targets that followed looked only a bit better than before.

    Then I buckled down again.


    When I was down to five rounds I decided to make it good.

    I didn't rush on the above target nor did I dwell too long on any one shot. I made sure to stay well oxygenated and I used the military sniper's breath control instead of inhaling and letting half out as I was taught growing up. Interestingly, I was able to see the dot as long as I breathed well. This made for a rock solid sight picture.

    It seems I had some vertical stringing in the last target. The flyer was called as I shot.

    A note on the ammo: Some of it stuck; some of it didn't. I think I had maybe five rounds that stuck to the point that I had to smack the bolt open with my palm. Most of it, however, extracted just fine.

    When I went in to clean it, I found both action screws were way loose. I had forgot to recheck their tightness a few days after cleaning the cosmoline off. So, I've been shooting with a loose action for a while. Oops...

    I will shoot tomorrow if the weather holds and see what effect, if any, tightening the action had on accuracy.

    Josh <><

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