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Old April 14, 2014, 06:37 AM   #1
8MM Mauser
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Join Date: October 16, 2011
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Posts: 401
Do you shoot better or worse at different ranges?

Hey guys, I wanted to ask this question here because I have noticed something that seems very odd to me. There are two outdoor places I regularly shoot; and three indoor ranges I visit maybe once a year each (if whether is consistently bad) and for the most part I shoot the same across all the different ranges. I mean a range is a range right?

Maybe not.

Some of you may remember threads I have started in the past about a bad range day I had: and in particular:

The latter was such a bad day it prompted a soul searching blog post and me actually buying some more books about shooting. Ouch. Well as far as I could tell they helped because when I went to my normal range a few weeks later I was right back in the saddle shooting mostly one-ragged-holes into targets with my Ruger MKII This gun is a 10 inch barreled monster that is infinitely more accurate than I am.

However, many range trips later I couldn't help but noticed my shooting seemed to be slipping again; not nearly so bad as before; actually my groups with my G19 were acceptable. They weren't good though. They were twice the size as my last outing to Center Shot in Dorr, MI. They were bigger groups than shooting it at my normal range 10 minutes to the south (which is a joint DNR/Boy Scout maintained range with no FEES.) The pattern repeated itself with my Ruger again and with my Mauser rifle. Last time I was at the DNR range I shot that 100 year old rifle like a champ; as I consistently have been about a three inch group from a kneeling position at 100 yards. Not too shabby right?

Glock 19 best group:
Center Shot indoor range: 2.2 inches at 15 feet
Valley range: 4.7 inches at 15 feet (feet measured roughly in paces)

Mauser best group:
DNR range: 3 inches, 100 yards kneeling position - flat surface
Valley range: 4.6 inches, 75 yards kneeling position - elevation a factor

Ruger best group:
Center Shot indoor range: 1 inch at 25 feet
DNR range: 4-ish inch group at 25 Yards
Average 8 inch group at 50 Yards (minute - of - paper plate)
Valley range: 4 inch group at 25-ish feet

These are all ones I wrote down in my notebook, honestly my records are far from complete, so there may well be anomalies in my averages and I maye have even skipped/missed a better group.

At the range in question, which is not actually a range but a small valley between two hills I always shoot worse. I don't know why that would be accept for the fact that we are actually estimating distances instead of having a precise measure except at the 100 yard line. At this range last weekend I shot all three guns I brought worse than I had only a week before at a different range. The only reason I go to this "range" in a valley is when the DNR range is too busy or the road to it is inaccesible to my Chevy Cavalier. I'm not blaming the range, mind you, I am sure that there is some factor inside my head that makes this happen; but it does happen and my performance at this range is consistently worse across the last three years I've been using it a few times a year.

So, does anyone else have a particular place where they shoot worse? What affect does location have on shooting ability and as a hunter should I be concerned that I may not be doing my best shooting in an uncontrolled environment?
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Old April 14, 2014, 08:02 AM   #2
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Join Date: February 13, 2014
Location: Grapevine TX
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Light angle

My wife and I had this discussion recently. She hates the indoor range I go to, mainly since there is a light at the top center of the booth. It has a fairly nasty glare since it is slightly in front of the shooting line. This would be better if the lights were moved to behind the shooting line, in order to reduce glare. It is more difficult there to get a good sight picture. It doesn't bother me as much, since I purposely train for different lighting conditions, you never know what the light will be like when you need to shoot.

The outdoor range we go to... faces north, this puts the sun always somewhere behind you. A great feature that I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it makes a vast difference in visibility. This is the range I take any new shooter to that I am training.

As far as hunting, try to setup where the sun is at your back and the wind is in your face.

Last edited by Marty8613; April 14, 2014 at 08:16 AM. Reason: fix stuff
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Old April 14, 2014, 09:38 AM   #3
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Since you are shooting and measuring for groups, it's easy to be thrown off by different lighting and perspective features of the various ranges you use.
No mystery there.
It would be less noticeably, probably, if you were practicing for, say, the action sports, or self defense, with less need for extreme accuracy.
Sometimes range conditions will improve at certain times of the day.
There's one near us that is best avoided in the mornings, as the sun is directly in the shooters' eyes.
But it all depends on what you are practicing.
Like Marty said, it's useful to do so under all kinds of conditions, unless it's for a specific purpose, like indoor bullseye or accuracy testing.
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Old April 14, 2014, 12:36 PM   #4
8MM Mauser
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Join Date: October 16, 2011
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Posts: 401
Sound advice gentlemen. I have actually been seriously considering joining a local range that hosts IDPA events to get some more practical experience. Only cost has kept me away so far.

I guess there probably isn't much of a way around different conditions leading to different accuracy results? This range is in a valley also has some elevation to it, moving slightly up in a hump near the middle and back down lower than the firing line near the end, only to swoop up into a hill at the end. The 100 yard mark is actually probably 20 feet above the firing line in elevation. So that is a factor.

Like I said the groups are all reasonable; i'm not upset about my performance as I do think that it passes the "acceptable" mark but it just makes me very curious as to why i am always worse at one particular place and consistent in others.

I see a particularly interesting insight in that the lighting and wind will affect accuracy in ways we might not immediately detect. Now that you mention it the offending range faces south-east. I was also there later in the day than I usually go.
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Old April 14, 2014, 01:51 PM   #5
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Location: Cleveland, OH
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What were the weather conditions like?

At my regular range, the wind always kicks up around 12:00 - 1:00 pm. So If I am measuring groups during load development, I always shoot that gun first to negate the wind that will arrive later.
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Old April 14, 2014, 04:51 PM   #6
8MM Mauser
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Join Date: October 16, 2011
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Posts: 401
Weather was ok this time. Nice and warm, a little muddy but it was a sunny day. It was a little windy though, and I am sure that I underestimate that factor because I honestly never think about it.
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Old April 15, 2014, 05:15 PM   #7
Join Date: November 12, 2012
Posts: 72
I have found there are some days where i feel as if I can't miss. I get in a groove and the shots fall into place. Other times can be disappointing. Some days I just don't have it mentally, but still enjoy shooting. The only constant is the place is the same.
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Old April 15, 2014, 06:37 PM   #8
Join Date: March 30, 2014
Posts: 95
When ever re-certification came up, we were on the outdoor range no matter the weather or time of year.

From 110 degree temps (no shade), to a steady rain, or standing in a foot of snow with a driving wind, we shot. In these conditions, it can affect your shot groupings.

Funny thing, the worse or more unpleasant the weather was, the quicker we went thru the drills, and the better our shooting was. Maybe it was because we were concentrating harder or better, and it showed. Or.....maybe it was because we were miserable and just wanted to get it over with.

Either way, in LE, you just never know when or under what kind of conditions you may have to use deadly force.
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