Iíve spent many hours and fired off plenty of rounds to convince myself that I will never make the Olympic team nor will I ever be able to hit the bullís-eye consistently in all conditions.
I also reckon that Iím not alone
The simple approach to hitting the bull is to pick a flat calm day, measure the range, lie down and pop the rifle on a custom built sand-bag. Then adjust the elevation screw to match the range and fire off a few rounds, allowing the barrel to cool between shots. Measure the size of the cluster of holes (most of which obscure the bull), make a note of this sub-minute group for future reference then march back to the car with your head held highÖnice.
Now this is all very good but it avoids most of the variables which we will encounter in the field on an average day, namely:-
ē Range estimation
ē Variable wind speed
ē Variable wind direction
ē A compromised shooting position
ē A target that moves about
ē Poor weather
ē Buck fever
Add to the mix things like air temperature, ammunition inconsistencies, angle of shot, parallax and the like then no wonder rounds start to scatter about a bit.
Iím sure many individuals will counter these variables and still hit the bull on many occasions or at least satisfy themselves that the grouping was still good, even if it was a bit off centre. However the point I, making is that most of us will get caught out on many occasions because precision can only be achieved by someone who can evaluate all of the above mentioned variables and adjust accordingly.
Things that affect the path of the bullet are exaggerated as range increases, so the easiest way to avoid problems is to get closer to the target.
Have a look at ballistic tables and imagine you have a 200yard zero and often shoot minute accuracy groups. Now imagine you are perched high above a hind on a bitterly cold day in the highlands. The wind is buffeting and the sleet is pelting off your face and scope. Your range finder wonít work but you are confident that the beast is about 180yards away. Letís say you think the wind is 15mph and about 30degrees left to right. You adjust your scope and prepare for the shot and squeeze the trigger.Ö..
Now have a look at the tables and work out where the shot will land if the deer is actually 205 yards away and the wind is nearer 25mph and approaching a 55 degree angle. Donít worry, Iíve worked it out; the bullet will strike 4-6 inches to the right of your aim point.
Donít get me wrong, Iím not condemning long shots Iím just pointing out that the when things conspire against you a long shot might be 100yards! On a good day you could be shooting the ace of spades at 400yards.
Itís also worth noting that a rangefinder will only solve one part of the equation and a lot of guys (me included) may not be that diligent when it comes to reading the wind and finding a good spot to shoot from. I bet wind drift accounts for more off centre shots than bullet drop.
So there you go, I would encourage stalkers to get out there and shoot targets in all conditions in order to inspire confidence build up experience and ultimately become more proficient. Ballistic tables will prove invaluable but practice makes perfect (ish)Ö.