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Old March 6, 2010, 10:05 PM   #1
Double Naught Spy
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Gun Not Zero'd Before Hunting?

After reading the thread on super duper whamo ammo that doesn't group well, http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=394331 , and seeing some of the comments, it reminded me of an experience I had with my BIL.

Last year I took my BIL hog hunting on my property. He actually had more experience hunting than I had at the time, having gone hunting once or twice a year for the past several years. No hogs were seen, but the next week he went deer hunting with the same scoped rifle and missed two deer, the first shot was offhand at 50 yards and the second shot was rested at 30 yards. Both deer were broadside and stationary. He had no idea where his shot at 50 yards went, but based on the impact well behind the deer, he estimated he was a foot high at 30 yards!!

I asked him what the zero was on his rifle and he said "in the middle of the crosshairs." After further discussion, I learned that he inherited the rifle and assumed it was sighted in properly by his grandfather. Needless to say, I was seriously upset with my BIL for reasons of safety and ethics, a conversation that did not go well.

I spoke to a buddy who is a retired gunsmith and is a guide about my BIL and he just laughed and said that I would be surprised at how many hunters he had buy rifles before hunting season and return them after missing game because either they never sighted them in or didn't know how to sight them in properly and missed their shots or made poor shots. He would charge them to sight in their guns properly with their ammo (for a fee) and said that most then got good results when they next went hunting, which sometimes was the following year. In other words, folks still weren't checking out the rifles for themselves before hunting. He informed me that folks don't want to deal with the expense of shooting their hunting ammo at paper targets and so end up shooting their hunting rifles and hunting ammo as little as possible.

I know that every year at the public range where I used to shoot that the two weekends before deer season saw the ranges filled with hunters sighting in or verifying the zero on their guns. The rangemaster there considered it to be one of the most dangerous times at the range because many of the hunters shoot only 5-10 shots a year and a goodly number of those shots are reverifying and adjusting their zeros. Still I was of the impression that most hunters did verify their zero before hunting, especially because of the turnout at the public ranges where I have shot.

I have always been warned about inexperienced hunters who might take less than ideal shots because they got buck fever or blew shots due to their inexperience in hunting or marksmanship, but I guess I never considered that some would not have sighted in their rifles or verified zeros.

So is my gunsmith buddy right? Is there a fair number of hunters who are fairly clueless about sighting in guns or just assume they are on target without first verifying them? Has anyone else taken somebody hunting only to learn that the person had not sighted in the rifle before, maybe never even shot it before? My lesson was learned. I don't take any new people hunting until I know more about their capabilities and the capabilities of their gear. There isn't anything wrong with being new or inexperienced, but there is something wrong with being improperly prepared.
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Old March 6, 2010, 10:17 PM   #2
SKULLANDCROSSBONES65
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G'day. Don't think it is limited to new or inexperianced hunters. I suspect my scope may have been 'bumped' yesterday while I was out in the 4x4.
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Old March 6, 2010, 10:24 PM   #3
Double Naught Spy
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Right, but you would reverify the zero before using it to hunt given that you think it was bumped, right?
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Old March 6, 2010, 10:28 PM   #4
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Just happened last weekend. Took a co-worker who wanted to go coyote hunting, never been, and he brought his .250. I asked him if he knew where his gun was zeroed, because we could have up to 300+ yard shots, but I didn't want him to shoot at one that far until we were absolutely certain they were hung up and not going to come on in. He said he was zeroed at 200 yards, so I figure good to go right? WRONG! He goes the Thursday before we go and buys some new, different weight ammo and misses about a foot high on the closest dog which was inside 150 and then missed again looked to be a foot high on one inside 90 yards. I got kind of fumed, but held my tongue because I really thought he could shoot better than that and was giving these dogs an education. So, we go to the house, grab the bags and set up paper, I tell him, let's see what the deal is. He shoots 5 shots, all around 8 1/2" high at 100 yard target. So different scenario, but same principle as not checking the zero, you still have to check when you change ammo. He said he thought that only applied to the deer guns and such!

So now, I have a different outlook on someone I thought knew better.
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Old March 6, 2010, 10:36 PM   #5
kaylorinhi
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Being Ignorant

A buddy of mine has an awesome set-up:

Armalite M15A4T $1300
Osprey TA104050MDG $0300
Harris Bi-Pod $0082
Hornady VMAX $0001
$2683

He wondered why he could hit the hit deer.

I asked him what his dope was and he just blinked repeatedly.

Finally went out and watched him sight it in, for confirmation of course.

After explaining to him about firing groups and cold-bore, he fires one and I am on the ground spotting for him and waiting for the second and third!

nothing...

quite talking...

He is making adjustments of his single cold-bore shot.

I explained the process again to him and talked him through firing a group this time. He had never been instructed in the proper way to build a shooting position supported or unsupported or how to fire a group to cover any variations between shots. So after another twelve or so rounds at a dollar a round, rather cheap today, he now has a solid zero, we still need to do his cold-bore but that is easy to do once you are on and learning your rifle like he is now! The best thing about me relaying this story is that asked for help in an area where he was ignorant and now learning the art of the rifle. Worst part is that this all happened after deer season was over! 2 missed bucks is a hard lesson learned but learned deep.
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Old March 6, 2010, 10:59 PM   #6
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G'day, I discovered the scope was out after I took what should have been an easy kill. I still hit my target, just nowhere near where I expected. It will defenitly get range time before it goes 'hunting' again.
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Old March 7, 2010, 12:00 AM   #7
hoghunting
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Quote:
Armalite M15A4T $1300
Osprey TA104050MDG $0300
Harris Bi-Pod $0082
Hornady VMAX $0001
$2683
$2683??? Looks like $1683 to me, but still nice.
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Old March 7, 2010, 12:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
So is my gunsmith buddy right? Is there a fair number of hunters who are fairly clueless about sighting in guns or just assume they are on target without first verifying them?
Anecdotal evidence from a couple-three years ago: there's a great general/hardware store here that also sells firearms, fishing gear, and other outdoor equipment. At the time, one of my sons had a fundraiser thing going on, so we sat outside that store for several hours the Friday night before deer season -- and we watched a steady stream of men carrying rifles into and out of the store.

Finally asked one of the men what was going on, and he pointed at a sign inside the store: "There's a great deal on scopes right now. I'm just buying a scope for tomorrow morning. They'll even do the mounting."

... It was after dark. The night before the season opened.

When and where were they all planning to sight in?

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Old March 7, 2010, 12:22 AM   #9
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Used to know a fellow who ran a gun shop. Their main product was semi-custom hunting rifles and as a result they did a lot of basic gunsmithing. Recoil pads, scope mounting, bore sighting, etc.

He used to marvel at how many folks would come in and have him boresight their rifle the day before they left on a hunting trip. He was always sure to remind them that they needed to finish zeroing the gun at the range but said that most told him they never did.

This is a bit different, but I know a guy who frequently shows up to pistol matches with ammunition that he reloaded the night before. He would reload a batch with a new recipe just before a match and then come shoot the match without sighting in his pistol for that load and without having any idea about the accuracy of the recipe. For a long time I thought he was just a poor shot until one match he came with some ammunition that shot well in his gun and that his gun was sighted for. Made a huge difference, and that's with a pistol at relatively short ranges.
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Old March 7, 2010, 12:35 AM   #10
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One of my friends literally will try to shoot the fewest rounds he can through his rifle(s) each year. His excuse is that he buys a box of ammo and sights in his gun (usually with approx 5=10 shots) at 100yrds. Then he wants to preserve the rest of the ammo for hunting (due to the fact that changing ammo will change point of aim, which it certainly will). so he hunts that season, (he has killed deer, but has gut shot several). next season rolls around and i ask, how's zero? well, he hasn't fired or cleaned the weapon since last year. Now if you put in all that time and money for clothes/travel/scents/corn/preseason scouting, you would think that sighting in would be somewhere in the rank of importance?? So this year, he misses one and goes to the range and is off about 6in right at 100yrds. so, i told him to buy 2 or 3 boxes of the ammo he plans to use and at least shoot one box through it over several sessions to test the 'cold bore', etc. I think he may finally believe. I have also had scopes move or lose zero, but in each of these instances it was a cheap scope, so i made a promise to myself to NEVER buy another cheap scope except on plinking rifles/.22s.
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Old March 7, 2010, 01:25 AM   #11
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...
Quote:
It was after dark. The night before the season opened.

When and where were they all planning to sight in?
Wellll--- let me tell ya, it is quite possible; and works quite well if you have a spot where the noise doesn't bother anyone. We used to have just such a spot at an old rock pit out in the woods. Would go there at any hour of the evening, and set up to shoot at 100 yards. Would put a good flashlight on the ground about ten feet in front of the target, and shoot some mighty fine groups. As a plus, there are no heat waves.

I know it sounds kinda weird, but I used to be waaayy weird. I'm much better now. jd
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Old March 7, 2010, 06:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
It was after dark. The night before the season opened.

When and where were they all planning to sight in?
I used to have a calling buddy, back in the mid-1980's, who insisted on hunting with a bore sighted rifle. He seldom killed anything, and when he did it was at close range.

One evening, I finally was able to talk him into actually shooting his rifle at some targets. We went to the range, used MY ammo because we hunted with the same handload, and got it sighted in. Turned out his "cbore sight" had him about 2' high, and a foot left at 100 yards.

We got back to his place just after dark, and I picked him up to go call some coyotes before dawn the next morning. On the way to our hunting area, he commented that we must have bumped his 'scope on the way back last night.

???? "Why d'you say that? Was it dented?" I ask.

He replies, "No, it was just off-sight"

"Huh? We got back after dark last night, so why do you think it got bumped off between the range and your place?"

"I put the bore sight on, and it was off." he says.

So I ask, "Danny, did you move the adjustments on your scope?"

"Yep!" he says. "It's back on sight now."

You have to learn to laugh. Common sense really isn't all that common.

I still know him, and he's learned a few things since then, but I still shake my head from time to time.

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Old March 7, 2010, 08:34 AM   #13
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Nothing surprises me. I was at a local gun shop talking to the guy at the counter and he told me about all bore sighting he does right before hunting season.

Anyway, guy brings his rifle and scope in and wants it bore sighted and will be back to get it. The guy that worked there put the rifle up to his shoulder and sighted through the scope and noticed that the scope was rotated so that crosshairs formed an "X" instead of a "+". So he goes on, "I leveled the scope, bore sighted it and tightened it all back up."

The guy comes in to pick up his rifle and is ****** off once he sees it. The guy that works there explained what he did and why but the guy would have none of it and wanted the scope put back the way it was prior to dropping it off. It seems the guy was convinced that the crosshairs should always be an "X" shape rather than a "+" pattern because "X marks the spot" when hunting.

The guy that worked there said "I rotated the scope back to a "x" pattern, gave him his rifle and shook my head as he walked out the door."
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Old March 7, 2010, 09:07 AM   #14
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Zeroing in your hunting rifle:

I could never understand people who are not 100% sure of their zero on hunting rifles, yet they go hunting without concern and wonder why they miss game.....
I guess I am a fanatic about zeroing in my rifles, etc. In fact, I personally go to the range way before the season starts and zero them in to exactly where I want the bullet to impact. Not only that, I go again the week before hunting season starts and do it again just to make sure. This way I know for a fact that if I were to miss, its my fault and not my rifle/scope's fault. This gives you lots of confidence in making shots at deer, elk, etc. You don't need to have questions about your rifle set up when the moment of truth arrives in the field.
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Old March 7, 2010, 09:13 AM   #15
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Always check the zero on my hunting rifles every year before hunting. Once in a while they might be off just a little, but most of the time they are still dead on from the previous season.
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Old March 7, 2010, 09:15 AM   #16
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It was not until I began to reload that I figured out different loads will cause different impact points. Luckily, I discovered this after deer season and I had finished the factory ammo I had on hand.

LoL, What was it Mr. Rumsfeld said? There are knowns and unknowns and and we do not know all the unknowns.....

I honestly do not ever remember reading about how your ammunition choices could make a difference. (Not until about two years ago.)

I know a lot of people who do not have a clue about sighting in a rifle scope.

"I thought it was designed to align automatically when you used XYZ scope mounts."

"I thought they zeroed the scope at the factory."

"A fifty yard zero is still good for a 200 yard shot"

"All the scope does is bring the target closer." <--- Yeah, I am serious, I really was told this at a public range.

When I talk about changing the ammo and the need to resight the scope for the new loads, I hear about ten different excuses as to why you DO NOT need to resight the scope or practice with the pistol.

My scopes are sighted in so my horizontal crosshair is at the bottom of the target and the vertical crosshair splits the target. That is how I like my scope. So if you shoot one of my rifles, you are going to shoot high. Each rifle is sighted in for me. (I do not really know why I prefer this method as opposed to putting the crosshairs directly on the center of the target.)

The more I shot with other people, the more I learned to enjoy shooting by myself. I have a handful of friends I like to shoot and/or hunt with and am very leary now of hunting/shooting with folks I do not know.
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Old March 7, 2010, 09:21 AM   #17
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I guess I just like shooting to much to understand that. I can't wait to get my new rifle and start shooting it. I'll even have another excuse to go. I need to keep my aim sharp for hunting season!
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Old March 7, 2010, 09:53 AM   #18
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People do crazy things. A deer lease around my area can easily cost $800 - $1000 for a season/gun. The sweat equity is at least two semi-casual weekends of preparation or one hard core weekend. It costs about a $20 in fuel each way. Tags from the state ~$50. Corn if they hunt feeders ~ $25-$30. I won't bother mentioning one time expenses such as gun/binoculars/feeders ect.

Cost of ammo/range fee/time is tiny.

I check my zero at least each season. With a full wood stock I want to know if humidity and other environmental factors influence my POI. If I switch ammo I recheck. If I switch sights or scope I obviously check again. Before the season I foul my barrel to remove any oil. After some time during the same range visit I confirm a cold bore/fouled shot. I repeat this for my back up gun. I might do this a few times if I have brought enough entertainment with me.

I spend too much money and work too hard to blow a shoot on an unproved zero. I guess ignorance is a plausible excuse, but there is access to so much information on the net or in person that anyone who takes a bore sighted weapon afield is worse than ignorant (and negligent if any harm comes from their stupidity or laziness).
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Old March 7, 2010, 09:55 AM   #19
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There are gobs of people who buy a new rifle days prior to deer season. It is one of the reasons so many deer are missed and so many deer are hit bad. Many hunters take poor shots because they don't want to wait any longer to make a shot. Most of us don't see 10 bucks in one day and pick and choose.

I don't shoot my hunting rifles much as my shots are generally well under 100 yds. I check them out in the summer prior to deer season to verify that things are still sighted in. I use the same load year after year.

Varmint rifles are different. The distance can vary quite a bit and you need to know where your rifle hits with the ammunition you're using.

I shoot my 22's a fair amount. But even some of them may go a few years between shooting sessions and the impact point can change a good bit between different ammo. I actually have tags on the trigger guard that tells me what ammo a rifle is sighted in with and the distance for the ones that I don't shoot often because I really don't remember and I may have 20 different kinds of 22 ammo on the shelf at any one time.

If I were going hunting and expecting shots of 200 yds or more, I would definitely practice more. Longer range shooting is a bit different than under 100 yd shots.
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Old March 7, 2010, 11:07 AM   #20
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I've noticed the same thing in the run up to bow season. Stopping at the local sporting shop for scent or what ever, the number of people who buy arrows from the box or kit bows, or slap on a new sight the night before the hunt, never taking time to tune them. People think just because they can climb a tree and fling an arrow from a freshly bought bow they've become Fred Bear.
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Old March 7, 2010, 11:28 AM   #21
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When hunting season approaches, we always take the shotgun out and make sure it is still sighted in properly. To do otherwise disrespects the animals and those with whom one hunts. We built a small ‘range’ at hunting camp so everyone can shoot when they arrive. That said, I was hunting with a friend and we saw a wounded buck at about 65 yards. He pulled up and shot and the buck didn’t move. So he shot again… and again. He was getting pretty angry and told me to shoot. After I put the buck down, we did a quick sighting in (yes, he did sight in before going into the woods). He was low by about 5 feet at around 30 yards. He is an excellent shot so I asked him what was wrong. It was then that he recalled smacking his firearm against a tree. He never thought of re-sighting after the incident. It just goes to show you that you need to sight in anytime you think your scope might have been disturbed in anyway.
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Old March 7, 2010, 12:57 PM   #22
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I've not had a high regard for the smarts of a lot of folks, but y'all are giving me a case of the serious shudders!

I'm lucky, I guess. My uncle became an armorer for the National Guard when he was still in high school, and later on became a gunsmith. I got started from the git-go with the whole sight-in deal.

Even though my pet '06 would stay within an inch of the original point of aim from year to year, I always double-checked it before the start of the deer season, and if there had been any severe bump during a jeep ride, I'd check it again.

Did I ever mention I like one-shot DRT?

Hard to figure how a guy could believe in the "X marks the spot" thing. I guess he never, ever, picked up any gunzine and looked at an ad for a scope...
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Old March 7, 2010, 01:07 PM   #23
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Hard to figure how a guy could believe in the "X marks the spot" thing. I guess he never, ever, picked up any gunzine and looked at an ad for a scope...
He could have been a pirate.

Arrr
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Old March 7, 2010, 01:22 PM   #24
Art Eatman
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66, you can be replaced by a human being...



Reminds of that pirate-joke punchline, "First day with me hook."
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Old March 7, 2010, 01:24 PM   #25
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
but y'all are giving me a case of the serious shudders!
Me too! All I can say is, "Holy cow!"
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