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Old June 16, 2013, 10:35 AM   #1
kraigwy
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Why I ignore shot groups

Yesterday, Saturday, I put on a CMP GSM Clinic and match, so Friday I loaded up my riding lawn mower to mow the range (somebody beat me to it but that's not the topic).

A guy who planned on attending my Clinic/Match was just finishing some practice. He was raving about his Surplus brand X rifle showing me some 1/2 min groups he had just shot swearing that Y military round was the most accurate round ever developed.

OK I'll assume rifle X with Y ammo is good,

BUT when the rubber meets the road it's a different matter.

The same guy shooting the same rifle with the same ammo averaged about 7 MOA groups slow fire sling supported prone.

Not saying shooters fib a bit, but I've seen this more then once.

Another un-related observation: What a rifle does from the bench is totally un-related to what it does in field or match conditions.

OK so much for my Sunday Morning Quarterbacking.
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Old June 16, 2013, 10:48 AM   #2
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Couldn't agree more. I use the bench to determine the rifle's inherent accuracy under perfect conditions. When I get it where I want it, I know that anything that happens (or doesn't happen) out in the field is my fault.
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Old June 16, 2013, 02:29 PM   #3
Bart B.
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And I sometimes ignore groups some folks shoot from the bench.

The only way to find out how just the rifle and ammo shoot is to clamp the rifle in a free recoiling machine rest, load it, then shoot at least 20 shots. That eliminates all the holding and trigger pulling errors us humans make. Top ranked high power match rifle competitors take their rifle that shoots its ammo under 1/2 MOA all day long from a machine rest at 600 yards, lay down slung up in prone and in good conditions will shoot about 1.25 MOA at 600.

Humans add a lot to the accuracy degradation rifles and ammo. I believed this after watching a dozen or more riflemen at a public range take a Win. 70 .308 Win. factory match rifle and each one shoots 10 shots at 100 yards with a National Match lot of M118 ammo. Their groups ranged from about 2.5 inches down to about .75 inch. By itself, that rifle shot that M118 ammo about .375 inch. The rifle had a 10X scope on it.

And rarely does anybody shoot a hand held rifle with butt plate hard against their shoulder as it rests atop something on a bench as accurate as they could slung up in prone with a bag under the fore end and stock toe. Especially with cartridges more powerful than the .30-30 Winchester. Proved this to several folks over the years.

Go figure all this out.
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Old June 16, 2013, 04:27 PM   #4
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BUT when the rubber meets the road it's a different matter.

The same guy shooting the same rifle with the same ammo averaged about 7 MOA groups slow fire sling supported prone.

Not saying shooters fib a bit, but I've seen this more then once.
I really don't like it when we start equating group size as the be all and end all in rifle shooting. I also don't like it much when we denigrate the efforts of shooters trying for the single caliber hole 5 shot group.

I hope it has occurred to you gentlemen that many of us for what ever reason, age, health or whatever have given up hunting.

That does not mean we cannot shoot. Perhaps it means we cannot compete at the same level as before.

Let's cut a little slack to those who still choose to shoot the best they can with the limitations they have.

I have realistic expectations of what I can achieve as a shooter. It does not mean that I can or want to try to compete at the level dedicated long range shooters do on a regular basis.

It means that many of us compete at the level commensurate with our abilities. No more and no less.

To denigrate those whose frame of reference is group size, puts more of a roadblock in the way than a window from which to view the shooting landscape.

I read every post Kraig and Bart post and to say I am surprised to see this kind of thing posted is really understated. I really think you should rethink your posts.

Not everyone can compete at your level. You should also realize that not everyone wants to. Many of us choose to compete with ourselves.

I was never exposed to the intricacies of long range shooting as a young man and that was a long time ago.

I and many others are comfortable in our own skin. I will leave it at that.
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Old June 16, 2013, 04:44 PM   #5
SIGSHR
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I believe in shot groups. When the rifle is shown to be accurate the shooter knows any failings are his to correct. And a few years ago when I sighted in one of my SIG SHR 970s, those tight 100 yard shot groups were very gratifying to this shooter who has done VERY little high power/centerfire rifle shooting over the past 20 years or so.
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Old June 16, 2013, 05:11 PM   #6
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Smart competitors only compete against themselves. They compete with the others.
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Old June 16, 2013, 05:22 PM   #7
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^^^^^^ I am not sure I understand your post.

By nature, I am not a type A personality. I don't compete against others.

I have never been much of a joiner. I ride motorcycles by myself and choose not to engage the crotch rockets. I play a LOT of music also. I understand what I do well and what I do not do so well. While competition is vital for some. . .they seem to thrive on it, there are many who do not. They choose to compete against themselves. I have been asked many times to join shooting leagues at the ranges I frequent. I choose not to do that and I am comfortable with that.
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Old June 16, 2013, 05:25 PM   #8
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He was raving about his Surplus brand X rifle showing me some 1/2 min groups ...

The same guy shooting the same rifle with the same ammo averaged about 7 MOA groups slow fire sling supported prone.
It's not that shot groups are unimportant, it's that they need to be shot under reasonable conditions to be meaningful.

If a person only shoots a particular rifle under benchrest conditions then their groups, shot under those conditions are meaningful.

If a person intends to use a particular rifle under a variety of field conditions and from several different shooting positions, then their benchrest groups don't mean very much.
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Old June 16, 2013, 05:28 PM   #9
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Let's cut a little slack to those who still choose to shoot the best they can with the limitations they have.

I have realistic expectations of what I can achieve as a shooter. It does not mean that I can or want to try to compete at the level dedicated long range shooters do on a regular basis.

It means that many of us compete at the level commensurate with our abilities. No more and no less



The CMP GSM matches are not long range competition, they are shot at 100 or 200 yards at a target with a 3.5 MOA X-10 ring. They are designed for rifles made up to the Korean war. "AS IS, military surplus rifles not target rifles.

They are not set up for upper level shooters. They don't require expensive rifles and equipment.

The point I was making, the individual some how came up with a 1/2 minute group somehow, and based his results on the up coming match on this group.

My contention is, you brag about your bird dog after the hunt, not before.

According to him, he was practicing for the CMP GSM match. Practice is good, but you practice for the match. Meaning if you are going to practice for this match, then you should practice prone slow fire, prone rapid fire and off hand. You don't accomplish nothing shooting from the bench in this case.

What I totally disagree with is the part of your post that I highlighted.

Regardless of age, regardless of abilities or disabilities, you don't stop at a certain point, you strive to improve.

I'm old, got a bad ticker, COPD, and my eyes are going south. I don't shoot near as well as I did 25 years ago, but that doesn't mean I'm going to put limits on what I can do. I strive to be better then I was yesterday, I'll strive tomorrow to be better then I am today.

Regardless of what shape I'm in, I strive to improve. Like the TV commercial says when it quotes Newton, "An item at rest wants to remain at rest - an item in motion tends to remain in motion".

I don't wish to be stagnant, I want to remain in motion until I go under, to do that I have to keep trying to improve.

And this isn't limited to shooting sports.
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Old June 16, 2013, 05:43 PM   #10
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The point I was making, the individual some how came up with a 1/2 minute group somehow, and based his results on the up coming match on this group.
All he figured out was what the rifle/ammo combo was capable of under essentially ideal conditions. What he failed to factor in was that he was the weak link in the system under match conditions.

I predict my match performance based on the dryfire groups I shoot in my workshop. Somehow my predictions never match reality...
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Old June 16, 2013, 05:51 PM   #11
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One more thing about the CMP GSM matches.

You are not competing against others, you are competing against your self.

The CMP provides metals for these matches, Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Each category has a cut off for the different metals.

The standards or cut off scores are different based on category, Garand's have cut off scores, Springfields have theirs and "other" Military rifles have theirs.

You don't shoot against another you shoot for that category's Cut Off Scores.

In theory, every one who shoots can get a Gold metal, Silver Metal or Bronze metal or no metal at all.

It's about fun, and self improvement, not competition with others.
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Old June 16, 2013, 06:40 PM   #12
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it's that they need to be shot under reasonable conditions to be meaningful.
I would answer: To whom?

I understand that many who post here are competitive. The point that I am making, albeit not terribly well, is that there are people. . .like me, who do not like to be in groups. I am in competition with myself but can leave the competitive world with others by the wayside.

Call it a character flaw I suppose. I have never felt the need to be in competition with anyone other than myself. I have never joined an organization like American Legion, Elks, Moose or the Masons for the same reason. My son is the same way, We are not comfortable in groups. What that means is, I am limited, by my own choices, to how and where I can compete with other than myself.

I did not join a fraternity in college and have not joined any shooting leagues or retirement groups from work.

That does not mean I don't respect the achievements of those who do. I am just not a people person and never have been.

Even in the military, I was happier by myself than with others and even today can spend the better part of the day not talking to anyone.

I am not mad at anyone and many who are not loners by nature really do not understand those of us who are. We are just different.

We have our goals viewed through a different prism than others I suppose.

I read just about every post that some of you post and find a wealth of information that is useful to me. Occasionally, I am able to toss out a nugget or two that may be helpful to others.

I really hope no one takes offense, that was not my intention.
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Old June 16, 2013, 06:48 PM   #13
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...I would answer: To whom?
To the shooter.

In my example, a person who only intends to shoot from the bench can expect groups shot from the bench to provide meaningful results.

If he intends to shoot under field conditions then groups shot from the bench will not provide meaningful results because the shooter is the biggest variable under field conditions and the bench is intended to minimize shooter contribution to group size.
Quote:
I am in competition with myself but can leave the competitive world with others by the wayside.
Sure, I do a lot of that myself (although I compete more formally as well).

But even in my own (me against me) informal shooting, I still work to keep track of conditions to at least some extent so I can tell if I'm improving. It doesn't make sense for me to assess my progress in offhand pistol performance by comparing my current groups shot offhand with the groups I shot last time at the range from a rest to test different types of ammunition.

The groups I shot from the rest aren't meaningful to me in the context of offhand pistol shooting.

Just as the benchrest groups that the shooter in Kraig's post was bragging about weren't meaningful in the context of the match that the shooter was preparing for.
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Old June 16, 2013, 07:14 PM   #14
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To the shooter.
Exactly. If I am not happy with how I shoot, it is up to me to work on the variables and try to make changes.
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Old June 16, 2013, 07:17 PM   #15
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All good points. I normally don't put much faith in group-shooting, except to understand my ammo and my rifle. When I get away from the bench and lay down on the ground, it's a whole 'nuther story. The only guy I shoot against is myself. Occasionally, I shoot against the deer on my hunting lease, but that's another story entirely.

Recently, I joined a local pistol club to help me with my handgun shooting. There are some fairly impressive pistol shooters there who are dedicated to the race-gun hobby and take it seriously. There are also guys like me who'd like to spend Saturday morning burning some powder, flinging a little lead downrange, and enjoying the company of like-minded people. It's a little thing to join the club, to help the people who run the club, and have a little fun while shooting. In short, I shoot for other reasons than the some of the guys who come to those shoots. They shoot to win, and that's great. I shoot to have fun, and that's great too. As long as I don't embarrass myself, or get DQ'd, I'm having a ball. And incidentally, my pistol craft is improving.

But, when I put my belly in the grass, sling up the rifle, and settle into my breathing, it's just me and the target. I don't care if there is one person there, or a hundred. It's just me, the rifle, and the target. I haven't yet found a better way to spend the day.
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Old June 16, 2013, 07:44 PM   #16
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PawPaw,

Good points. I never hunted any big game. Quail and squirrels with a shotgun and ground hogs with a rifle.

Never tried to stalk ground hogs. Just find a bean field and look where the hogs have been cleaning the field and set up some shooting sticks or a rolled up blanket.

I never worried about groups then. Either the first shot nailed them or they were gone. Sometimes I would go out with a friend and we would just shoot the bull until we would see a hog come out into the field.

We did not have range finders then so it was best to scout the fields early and estimate the distances and then step some off to see how close you were.

Had some amazing times back then in the early summer when the beans were just coming up.
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Old June 16, 2013, 08:51 PM   #17
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I'm siding with Geetarman. I don't ignore shot groups. To not shoot groups or ignore groups is ridiculous. If you don't even occasionally shoot groups, how in the world will any decent hunter know where the rifle is shooting. I'm not a target shooter or competitor. I just hunt and I shoot rifles because I enjoy it. When I go in the woods, or more likely when I hunt the edges of the woods, I want full confidence that my rifle will put the bullet right where I want it to wind up. Further, I like to know that my rifle is capable of doing what I'm about to attempt. And I don't need 20 shot groups from a fixed mechanical rest to know what's happening. I can get there with 3 and 5 shot groups. I want to go into the woods with a rifle that will put that first round from a cold barrel right where it should be. Getting to that point requires diligent handloading, shooting groups, adjusting the scope and then a couple of days of taking that one cold barrel shot at my range and making any minor adjustments that I feel necessary. If I miss, it'll be my fault.

I know my limitations. I can still close my eyes and see the crosshairs right at the top of the back of that giant buck back in Louisiana. Offhand at about 150 yards, and my heart was thumping and the crosshairs were dancing, and I shot about an inch too high. But that was me and not the Sako 270. It was perfectly sighted in for 200 yards. Gotta know what the rifle will do, and I do. Give me 5 to 7 seconds and something to rest the rifle on, and I can get that Sako up and on target and be good to 400 yards. Been doing it for years (decades).
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Old June 16, 2013, 09:09 PM   #18
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If you don't even occasionally shoot groups, how in the world will any decent hunter know where the rifle is shooting.
Simple, I shoot and practice like I'm going to hunt. The vital area of an Antelope is 8.5 - 9 inches. A deer is 10 - 11 inches.

So I have a 9 inch gong that I set out and then stock it, shooting the gong at varying distances, angles, and positions.

I don't take a shooting bench hunting. I use a M1907 type sling on my rifle and use it, Setting, Kneeling and Prone, laying against a tree, fence post, or without the support other then the sling.

My rifle is zeroed at 250 yards, its good to a bit better then 300 yards staying in the vital area. I use a mil dot scope, on deer and antelope hunting and if I look through the scope and its within 1.5 mils or greater, then its in range, aim the center of the vital area and I'm good to go.

If its less the 1.5 mils I range it and adjust or stalk it to get closer.

This method prepares me for hunting much more then shooting groups for a bench plus its more fun.
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Old June 16, 2013, 09:19 PM   #19
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Along the same lines, the USAMU Sniper School put out a LE Sniper Counter Sniper guide that talks about training. They don't mention groups, here is a quote from that guide as to practice:

Quote:
Chapter 5 General Notes:

1. ….. The counter-sniper is a hunter and must use any and all tricks of the trade to assure a proper hit. The lives of fellow officers and that of the general public are at stake. Time is extremely critical, therefore, he can expect to be required to make shots at varying angles and distances on a split second’s notice. The hunting of varmints such as woodchucks, prairie dogs, and crows provides outstanding training because the techniques involved are almost identical.
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Old June 16, 2013, 09:48 PM   #20
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My read on the point:

I like to see a rifle in my head and build it.For myself,part of the success is building a rifle that will shoot,and that means shooting good groups.I get that part.

Few shooters can shoot as well as their rifles.

kraig has said before "Its not the hardware,its the software" From what I see at kraigwy's shoot,a battlefield serviceable M1 Garand puts you on the line.The rifle will shoot a ten most all the time.

Folks were making some nice targets with Moisins and SMLE's and Krags along with Garands and Springfields,men,women,and juniors.I saw a lot of folks having a great time shooting.

They left with big grins on their faces.

I do not want to speak for kraig,but,in the words of Elmer Keith"Hell,I was there"

His message was not about elitism .Just the opposite.Any age,size,shape,gender or ability is fine.Every gun there was plenty good enough.

My back is unhappy with me right now.I did not shoot.So,everybody outshot me.I'm happy,and I look forward to going back in August.
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Old June 16, 2013, 10:43 PM   #21
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I don't ignore groups when I'm proving a new-to-me rifle or load.

I do ignore groups when I'm trying to hit something offhand or from field positions. If I don't hit it on the first shot, it's a failure pure and simple.
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Old June 16, 2013, 10:59 PM   #22
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I always bench my rifles when I first get them, both to zero the sights and to try different ammo setups to see what the potential is for the gun's accuracy. Then when I'm shooting off-hand or semi supported, I can tell just how bad I am and know it's not the gun, it's the trigger puller.
The bench only shooters are enjoying the sport in their own way and that's fine with me. I have a fine Remington 700 PSS that was worked over by a master gunsmith in my area, and with my handloads is a one ragged hole maker...on the bench. Off hand, well, let's say it gets heavy in a hurry and the barrel gets hot and the humidity is too high and it wanders a bit.
The beautiful thing about our sport is that it does offer many facets to pursue and much enjoyment to be had for anyone that wants to learn different disciplines.
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Old June 17, 2013, 12:54 AM   #23
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What a rifle does from the bench is totally un-related to what it does in field or match conditions
That's wrong. What the rifle does from the bench is exactly what the rifle can do in the field or in a match. What the shooter does from the bench is unrelated to what the shooter does in a match. And your 7moa shooter in question, imagine what his groups would have been if he had been shooting a load that shot 3MOA from the bench, or 6, or...
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Old June 17, 2013, 06:51 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by 603Country
I'm siding with Geetarman. I don't ignore shot groups. To not shoot groups or ignore groups is ridiculous. If you don't even occasionally shoot groups, how in the world will any decent hunter know where the rifle is shooting
Oh, I shoot groups occasionally, normally during this time of year. It gives me something to do on these long summer days when it's too danged hot to go to the hunting lease. One habit I've gotten into, (from one of the gun writers, I forget who. Mighta been Grits Gresham) is what I call the One Shot Group. Normally, in late June or early July, I'll settle on the whitetail load and rifle I'm going to use for the upcoming season. Then, when I go to the range, I'll take that rifle and one round of ammo. (There will be other firearms for recreation). Then, I'll post a target and fire that one round. All I'm interested in is that cold-bore shot. Then, when I get home, I'll start building a composite target and over the course of several one-shot groups, I'll plot those shots on a target. After six or seven range trips I'll have that rifle tweaked to the point where I know exactly where that first shot is going.

I've got one composite target with over 50 shots on it. Surprisingly that rifle throws everything from 60 grain varmint bullets to 107 grain deer bullets into a 3" circle.
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Old June 17, 2013, 07:06 AM   #25
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Kraigwy, do you handload or do you always use factory ammo?
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