Accuracy - Discuss


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Now I don't want to spend 20 rounds a week on a range "tweaking" performance, but why do others seem to feel this is important in the harvesting of deer?

Surely only the first round out of a cold barrel is what kills / counts?

Surely the repetitive nature of "zeroing" is just that. My rifle does what it says on the label, but.....

What about the one shot, uneven stance, where did that come out of, type of shot ever get repeated ?

Why can't we seem to get to shoot on a public range on anything other than bench or prone?

Remember that knee deep heather on the stalk that turns into waist deep at the same moment the deer sees you. Kneeling or standing shot only, please choose within the next second. Didn't practice.....

That bloody Roe that stands up 40 feet from you on the stalk into a Red Stag...... Quick shot, glad it's down and start crawling and hoping you don't have to spend another day.....

Target shooting is about repetition. Stalking/Deer Shooting / Harvesting (love that term) can only be about the first shot. Calm deer, sudden loss of blood pressure to the brain, adopt a supine pose (maybe a little way from the last mouthfull of food). Process and eat.



Yes, I want to shoot to improve my field accuracy, just not this Vegan attitude toward Cloverleafs.


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Why not tweak performance? Happy with all over the place?

My regime is to get the rifle right first. The stock must fit, standing, sitting and prone. The rifle must have the same point of impact on the bipod on a sand sack, front or back of forend. If that is ok then I only check zero with one or two shots every now and then.
This gives me confidence.

Every now and then I'd use up old ammo to practice free standing 100yds.
One should do that more often, good fun.
Shot quite a few this year free standing.



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Define "all over the place".

A 4" diameter bull really means that you should be within 2" at 100 - 150 M, assuming you were aiming at the centre ;)

How can you be all over the place with only one shot ?

My hand grenade is designed to find hunters, not shooters.

Again, why do we all believe that we should disregard the first round on a RANGE but it is acceptable on a DEER ?



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I'm with you on the first shot, it must go to the same spot as the second and maybe third.
What I mean all over the place is, all over the place in a 4" circle. Today here tomorrow there.
This set up will limit you to body shots max 200yds.

We often have no other choice in high grass than head or neck shots also to around 200yds.
My furthest deer this year was 360m body shot. The 4" set up is not enough for that.



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I think there are two types of shooter.

1. People who are as interested in the science of rifles, ballistics reloading etc

2. People who use the tools nessessary to do the job , and if they work then they are happy

I fall into group 2, I have quite a pragmatic approach to shooting , I hate target shooting, and very rarely go to the target.

Those in group 1 will be astounded at my attitude, those in 2 will agree.

It may be down to the ammount of shooting you actually get, I know now that I get less of a chance to shoot with a shotgun[rabbits,pigeons,game], I'm down to the clay range whenever I can.

I know I will be doing a lot less stalking in 2009 so I may start going to the target more :D :D

Just an observation


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What I actualy meant to post before my last ramble is that I am happy to break 3 standard clays @ 100m. In quick sucsession

My rifle is zeroed 2"'s high @100m

It suits me


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Can one shot now and then at a 4" target prove your rifle fit for purpose :confused: I don't shoot as often as i would like so like to prove zero with three rounds, that way I know I didn't pull on the first shot if I get a reasonable group. And yes I do agree that its the first shot that counts but don't see how only one shot proves that 'test' shot.
As for accuracy well I've taken up reloading and want to see what level of accuracy I can achieve purely for the hell of it and to see what the rifle can do. One thing I have found is that as I have gradually found more accuracy the more comfortable and confident I feel. That is not to say I take long or difficult shots - I don't, but do feel happier that the shots I do take will hit there intended mark. I'm also lucky in that I can practice shooting from different positions and off sticks.


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Ideally you should fire TWO zero groups. One shot from the cold barrel then straight after a second shot on a second target. Wait for the rifle to go totally cold and repeat. Do this a total of five times. Letting go totally cold each time.

Place second target over the first and mark through the holes onto the target below. ZERO to the mean point of impact of all ten rounds. Ideally on a properly set up rifle ALL the ten rounds should be within 1" or 2" of that point of aim at 100 yards.

Personally? I shoot five rounds one after the other and zero from that and can't be bothered with the two targets etc. as above.


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I thought that I took a simple and practical approach to zeroing my rifles, it has always seemed to work for me. I am now beginning to think that I am not doing enough.

After initially zeroing my rifles I then check for accuracy using five shot groups. I may be very lucky but none of my rifles seem to suffer with the cold barrel / hot barrel syndrome so consequently I can get five shots into an inch circle at 100 yards. I have no doubt at all that the rifles could do better but I am not sure about me.

Now having achieved this grouping, from a bench or prone, somewhere steady, I move on to phase 2. This involves practising under what I would term field conditions, be it off sticks, leaning against a tree, using my bins as a rest. By doing this the groups open up, BUT they do not open up beyond the target kill area at the distances I choose to shoot at, which by the way are mostly under 100 yards.

So to my simple mind I know that I am going to be in the killing zone when shooting under "field conditions" and if need by by getting into a much more supported position I can be more accurate. Is this not what we are after?



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I go along with your approach, in that I want to be confident that under hunting conditions I can consistently place a bullet in the right spot. I recognise that this doesn't guarantee 100% success - see my posts in the Articles section for example ;) - but it is one less thing to worry about when looking through the crosshairs.

That said, I also appreciate that there is a lot of enjoyment in the pursuit of accuracy for its own sake, whether through reloading, optics, physical fitness and training, riflecraft, etc.

Like so much in stalking, and life in general, it's different strokes for different folks.



For the average deer stalker a zero session once a month would be fine and that only to fire a three shot group through a bull and see if everything is as you set it last month. i DONT EVEN DO THAT MUCH I SIT WITH MY RIFLE AT THE END OF EACH SEASON and clean it thoroughly. The week before the new season its a wipe down and a zero session can be 10 -20 shots or as little as the first group of three but that's it every now and then on the way back in from the hill i will have a shot at the odd pebble and when i see it dust that me happy. IF I DONT HIT IT THEN I WILL GET A BIT OF PAPER OUT.
Shooting over distances of 200 yards dose not interest me at all that's not deerstalking that's long range hunting and i will leave that to who ever gets excited about it. ;)


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What an interesting discussion!

I like very accurate rifles and am lucky enough to own several. I like to reload and "tweak" the best loads I can for them. That is one thing.

I also practice off hand shooting every time I shoot at the range because that is the way I must hunt here...and this is another thing entirely.

Developing tack driving loads is a worthwhile endeavor but it should never be confused with the ability to hit what you aim at. They are usually unrelated when it comes to deer sized game because an inept or unpracticed marksman can't kill reliably even with a super accurate rifle. I have seen it time and time again. On the other hand, I can toss a 3 MOA rifle at a serious marksman and he will bring home the venison.

Up until very recently, a 2 MOA deer rifle was considered a good rifle. I have seen old Rigby and Winchester ads depicting 5 shots in a 2.5" circle at 100 yards offered as testimonials to their rifles' fine accuracy. Either the deer are now smaller or the riflemen less skilled. I suspect the latter.

I practice with a .22 rifle all the time. Every week. Sometimes I shoot paper, sometimes I shoot old shotgun hulls off of hay bales, sometimes I also shoot pebbles off of gravel banks.

When I pick up my deer rifle it is no different than shooting the .22 rifle: Sight alignment and trigger control. Like Smullery said, it's only that first shot that matters. ~Muir


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After initially zeroing my rifles I then check for accuracy using five shot groups.

I think that that is what most of us do. And if I've a rifle that can't do that it gets the boot.


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I'm my experiences yes there are two distinct schools of shooter
in one group it has been said here is the target shooter and amateur ballistics expert i am not knocking any body here as in the past sitting and chatting to these people i have got some very useful recipes and and techniques but their drive is to get either three rounds through the same hole or to form a perfect clover leaf at 100 yards. as i said I'm not knocking them in any way as that takes a grate deal of skill to do.

the other is the likes of me and i suspect 90% of this forum all i want is one shot in the 4" kill zone whether it be deer or fox if i take one shot and roll the intended target over in its tracks then i am one happy bunny.


though i do have access 24 - 7 to my range i do home load and as most of us i like to have confidence in my equipment so i guess that when working i call At the bottom of the garden two or three times a week simply because the rifle is out with me every day and in and out of the Land Rover so it may get knocked etc

as i said all this is just my opinion for what it is worth


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The two classic rifle tests are the Rifle Ten and the Rifle Bounce. When either is combined with a snap shot drill they constitute a pretty complete test of one's skill. With these courses, unless indicated otherwise, the shooter starts with the rifle loaded and slung on the shoulder or at port arms, with the bipod, if any, closed.

Rifle Ten

This is one of the classic drills used by Jeff Cooper. A single IPSC "option " target is placed at 300 yards. There are five firing points, one each at 300, 275, 250, 225, and 200. The shooter stands clear of his firing point at 300 yards.

On signal the shooter moves to the firing point , assumes any position he chooses and engages the 300 yard target with two rounds. He immediately moves to the 275 yard position firing two more shots, then advances to the 250 yard position, fires two more rounds, and then to the 225 yard position where a 2 foot high baffle precludes prone or supine position and fires two more rounds. He the moves to the 200 yard position where a 3 foot high screen eliminates any position but off hand or standing and fires two rounds.

Score is based upon the hit values divide by your time in minutes, with a par time of 2 minutes. To prevent someone throwing away the two 200 yard shots you can use a separate target for the 200 yard stage. The option target is scored 5, 4, 2. A score of 40 in two minutes is considered very good.

Snap Shot Test

Target used is the IPSC "option" target at 25 yards. Shooter stands ready with butt on hip and is allowed 1.5 seconds to make a head shot. This is repeated for a total of 5 shots. Shooter then moves back to 50 yards where the exercise is repeated with the same time limits but this time shooting for the center of mass 10" ring. You can also try this at 100 yards allowing 2 seconds. Misses score -10.

Rifle Bounce

This course is best run using steel reactive targets like the "pepper popper" with a 8" center. The shooter is limited to firing a total of 6 rounds.

Three firing points are set up side by side about between 2 and 3 yards apart, with the targets placed at 100, 200, and 300 yards. The shooter starts at the first firing point and on signal engages the 100 yard target until it is knocked down. He then moves to the 200 yard firing point and engages the target until it is knocked down, and then moves to the 300 yard position and engages the target until it is knocked down. Any shooting positions may be utilized (or alternatively a different position may be required at each firing point), but the shooter is limited to firing only 6 rounds total. The score is the time it takes to hit all 3 targets. If all three targets are not hit, no score is given. An excellent score is all hits in 20 seconds or less with the current record being about 11 seconds.

The Plate Test

Here is a quick and easy to run test. As with all these tests it should be run cold, that is no sighters, and no warm-up. Just load and start shooting.

Put a 10" paper plate (if you have access to a 10" steel plate that's even better) at 100 yards. Start from standing with the rifle in "Condition 1" and slung. On signal fire 10 rounds from any position at the paper plate. Time limit is 2 minutes. For rifles with a magazine capacity of over 5 rounds only load 5 initially.

For every miss you have to give your shooting buddy a dollar. (Incentive not to miss!) A variation is to use 2 paper plates, one at 100 yards and one at 200 yards. Fire 5 rounds at 100 yards and the 5 rounds at 200 yards, in the same 2 minute time limit.

Scoring goes like this

1 to 2 hits - Have your eyes, ammo and gun checked; in that order.
3 to 4 hits - You need more time at the range.
5 to 6 hits - You're an average shooter but keep trying.
7 to 8 hits - You're better than most.
9 to 10 hits - You've been to a "270" haven't you?

For the real braggarts in your group place the paper plate at 300 yards. Have the shooter stand with the rifle in "Condition 1." and slung. On signal have them engage the paper plate from any position with 1 shot. Time limit is 7 seconds. If the shooter misses, lunch is on him.

For those of you who are wondering, "270" is the designation for the Gunsite Basic Rifle Course.


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That's all a little severe, isn't it? That's a course for professionals and paramilitary geeks. My testosterone levels aren't up to such manly displays of marksmanship. I can kill prairiedogs off hand at 100M with a .22 and mule deer off hand at 200 with about any suitable rifle from my rack. That will suffice for practical purposes. ~Muir


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Muir said:
That's all a little severe, isn't it? That's a course for professionals and paramilitary geeks.

Bit severe, it's called 'practical shooting' and is good fun.
Be with a pistol or rifle. :D


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My only deerstalking tends to be a 2-3 weeks a year at hinds in the West Highlands.

I use a rifle at least every week, in order of frequency, air, .22LR and .22CF; but as November approaches, my visits to the range become more frequent as I reestablish my confidence in my (unmoderated) .308 and 6.5mm rifles' ability, and my own in using them.

As I think I've mentioned before on this forum, when hind-stalking it is definately not only the first shot from a cold barrel which counts. In fact, I imagine with any stalking that the ability to loose off an accurate second shot is an advantage. At hinds, shots 2,3,4 and 5 might be shot 1 at different animals, and the size of groups, as well as their closeness to the aiming mark are a useful index of the Dalua/rifle combo's ability to do this effectively.

As an aside, I really dislike the use of the word 'harvest' in connection with shooting/culling deer. Not sure why. Anyone any thoughts?

Bandit Country

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viking said:
it's called 'practical shooting' and is good fun.
Be with a pistol or rifle. :D

Not in the UK mate. Unless you are in the police or military, if it's done with a pistol it's called illegal :lol: