View Full Version : How come I never can get all 5 to group?

May 2, 2012, 09:56 PM
As you can see, I can get some pretty good groups with my DPMS bull, but I just can't seem to get all five to land in there! I can get three or four but never five!


What am I doing wrong? Sometimes the flier is the first, sometimes the third, some times the fith shot?

I am using a Caldwell rest and shooting from a bench. Any help to get all five in there would be great.

May 2, 2012, 09:59 PM
I don't know what it is but no matter how many I'm trying to group from 3 up to a 30 round mag......I always pull one.

Brian Pfleuger
May 2, 2012, 10:02 PM
The law of averages is not your friend.

May 2, 2012, 11:10 PM
A good many rifles will print the "first" (cold barrel shot) slightly away from the rest of the group (that are fired immediately thereafter).

You can mitigate that anomaly by "dumping" the first round somewhere off target...if you are just trying for the best possible group size.

I am sure you know, "accuracy" in terms of group size is all about eliminating variables. Hard to do under many conditions.

May 2, 2012, 11:15 PM
What am I doing wrong?

You're not paying attention. Forget about shooting a 5 shot group, shoot 5 one shot groups.

It's concentration. You shoot, then you're looking at the bullet holes in the target instead of your front sight.

The last shot is history. Concentrate on the next shot.

May 3, 2012, 12:06 AM
I'd rule out concentricity and go from there.

Sent from MIUI using Tapatalk 2.

May 3, 2012, 01:34 AM
Now you know why so many people stick with 3 shot groups :D

Seriously, I would think it could be 1 of 3 things (Obviously more if you want it to be). You are messing up 1 in 5 shots. The ammo is not perfectly consistent for 1 in 5 shots. Or since you are shooting outside, some crazy atmosphere conditions are happily messing up 1 of your 5 shots every time:cool:

Not sure, but other wise those look like some decent groups. Keep it up. and good luck!:)

Oh, and honestly, I understand your frustration, if you figure it out, let us know. I had this issue with a bolt rifle once... Eventually I found it was the ammo... But when you get what seams like 2 separate tight groups like your picture shows from what was supposed to be one tight group it gets confusing.

You could just as easily be messing up a couple shots in a consistent way to group those 2 or 3 shots away from your actual good shots...

Take advice from some of these other guys and try shooting 1 shot groups, very focused shots, making sure each one is a good shot on your end... then dont choke on the 5th one!:D and if you FEEL like you pulled one or lost focus as you broke the shot... forget it, discount that shot. and move on... Then practice practice practice.

I hate to say it, but sometimes for us armatures we need confidence in our rifle and load before we can be confident in our shooting. For the real Pro's it's the other way around. I'm sure they can spot a bad rifle/load combination with just a few shots and vice versa.

May 3, 2012, 04:16 AM
IMO, while parallax may be an over rated excuse,it is possible an inconsistent cheek weld combined with a scope with some parallax error could be involved.However,this,in part is a cheekweld issue.I recall reading an article in a Precision Shooting Annual where a gentleman's shooting coach had him shooting at 300 meters...with the rear sight removed.The rest of his shooting technique was good enough,I would call it good shooting with a scope.And of course,cheekweld also applies to iron sights.

Your Caldwell rest may be an issue.Nice,but not lead-dead.Wobble.During the dynamics of firing,sometimes the slop is one way,sometimes another.

You cannot go wrong listening to kraigwy(at least about shooting!:-) )

Just a bit of recoil anticipation can do it.or each of those one shot groups,focus on seeing where the sight was as recoil occurred.Call the shot.Be able to mark the shot on a target on the bench.

If you cannot see the image of where the sights were as the gun fired,you closed your eyes.

May 3, 2012, 04:32 AM
Those look like wadcutter holes.

May 3, 2012, 04:51 AM
You'd be hard pressed to find one single reason why. So many variables. Having said that I agree with every post I read.

May 3, 2012, 06:04 AM
kraigwy nailed it. It's concentration. It's 90% mental and 10% equipment.

Try some ten round groups.

May 3, 2012, 06:41 AM
You shoot, then you're looking at the bullet holes in the target instead of your front sight.

Kraigwy, I'm definitely one of those guys who can't get to range nearly as often as I'd like to because of work and family requirements. Are you implying to not even look at the target inbetween shots? Focus so much on your technique that where it hits on the paper becomes a secondary consideration? :confused:

May 3, 2012, 08:38 AM
Are you implying to not even look at the target inbetween shots?


When I was coaching the AK NG Rifle team we had a varity of shooters, The NG had a 50% New Shooter Rule, or any time you show up at the Wilson Matches (National Guard Championships) 50% of your shooters had to be new shooters.

These shooters tended to chase spotters, meaning they would base there next shot on the spotter showing the location of the last shot.

The last shot is history, if you're thinking about it you're not thinking about your next or present shot.

As a coach, I'd take away the shooters spotting scope so he couldnt see the spotters on the target. He had his score book in which I required him to record his calls. He would then give me his call, I'd give corrections based on his call and condition changes. I would never tell him the value of any shot until after the match. The we would set down, compare his calls to the value and location of shot and make any zero or shooter changes necessary for the next stage or match.

I do my best pistol shooting when I wear my reading glasses. With them I can see the front sight but the target is a blur. No way possible that I can see the bullet hole on the target unless I take off my glasses. This means I can worry about my sight picture, trigger control and other fundamentals instead of the last shot or shots I fired.

I use to shoot skeet under the guidence of a guy who use to instruct/coach the Uof GA skeet team. I asked him how do you shoot 100 straight, his reply was always ONE AT A TIME. In skeet or trap you seldom see 99s, the reason is a guy is trying for 100, drops one, thinks about it and drops a couple more.

It works the same way with rifle and pistol shooting. Don't think of your rifle match as a 20 shot stage, think of it as 20 one shot stages.

It's all mental.

May 3, 2012, 08:39 AM
Focus so much on your technique that where it hits on the paper becomes a secondary consideration?

That is pretty much the idea, as I understood it. You can't do anything about the last shot, but you can make sure your technique is right for the current one. If you put your focus completely on the current shot, and continue to do so each time, then consistency and grouping should take care of themselves. Basically it is a matter of trying to remove one more variable that can cause inconsistancy - the psychological variable. It is amazing how much we can psych ourselves out if we are thinking in terms of good groups. The psychological pressure to keep the groups tight builds with each shot, and it can, and often does, manifest itself physically. Different people will display this in different ways, but if your tendency is to tense up physically when experiencing psychological strain, then it is likely to have an effect on your shooting.

Like Kenny Rogers said, "Don't count your money when you're sittin' at the table..." ;)

May 3, 2012, 08:52 AM
You're probably doing the same thing I have done in the past. I'll start on a 5 round series/group; I'll set four rounds into a nice little bughole and then I'll make the critical error of looking at the group. Instead of the basics (focus on the crosshairs/front sight), I consciously try to put the last round right into the bughole, and end up throwing it somewhere else. :(

I have found--especially with a scoped rifle--that my best shooting is done in the middle of the magnification range--for instance, I'll set my scope to about 15X and go for it. I can see the target, and hold a good point of aim--but I can NOT see the group or the bullet holes.

On the positive side, I noticed on your target that you shot in a 15 mph wind. Even if it was only quartering and especially if it was full value, you still have some good shooting on those targets--so, please don't beat yourself up about it. :D

May 3, 2012, 09:02 AM
Thanks for the advise. I like the idea of shooting 5 - 1 shot groups:D. I did have my friend on the scope that day, so this might be the problem. I was looking for my holes!

Powderman, I appriciate the complimate! BTW, the wind ALWAYS blows in Wyoming. I think 95% of the lead I've sent down range has been in the wind!

Dave P
May 3, 2012, 09:09 AM
and work real hard on trigger control. Nice smooth squeeze, strait back; no jerks.

Using a scope? zero out parallax errors first.

May 3, 2012, 09:12 AM
Using an Nikon M-223 2-8x32, I do not believe it has any paralax adjustment.

Art Eatman
May 3, 2012, 09:18 AM
My uncle's subscription to The American Rifleman began in 1940. Call me, "Voracious Reader". So, I'd have to say that this question has not been satisfactorily answered in some seventy-two years.

It's likely that the best answer is, "All of the above." :D

May 3, 2012, 09:20 AM
Wyoredman, what part of Wyoming. I'm putting on a CMP GSM Clinic & Match in Newcastle on Jun 2nd and Aug 18th.

If interested I'll PM you with the information.

May 3, 2012, 09:26 AM
Kraigwy, Lander. I am interested! Please PM me.

May 3, 2012, 11:54 AM
DPMS bull
A self loader, correct?

My suggestion.
If you're loading 5 in a magazine dropping the bolt with the BHO lever & firing all 5 rounds there's your problem right there.
Try this just for a giggle.

Load 7 rounds.
Drop the bolt & waste the shot into the bank or on a different target.
Fire 5 rounds for score.
Throw away the last round same as the first.

I'm basing this on a test done elsewhere years back with a different self loader, (a FAL), the challenge was load 5, drop manually fire a 5-round group with the magazine empty on the last round. I think about 150 participated, no-one could post proof they could do the 2" group requested. It had to do with the dynamics of internal parts working differently between manual bolt operation, auto bolt operation & last round hold open. Switching to the setup above shrunk groups by a considerable amount.

May 3, 2012, 11:59 AM
If all the rounds out of a auto can't go into the same group, you have other problems besides the auto.

Take in a High Power match. In rapid fire stages at 200 & 300 yards you're required to fire 10 rounds per sting. Loading two in one magazine and eight in another, they firing with a magazine change.

You'll see a heck of a lot of Clean targets at 200 and several at 300 yards.

In high power you don't get the option of firing one into the bank, if you do its gonna cost you 5 points.

May 3, 2012, 07:48 PM
You shoot, then you're looking at the bullet holes in the target instead of your front sight.

I can tell you for a fact that this is my issue, I shoot my best when I can barely see the target. As a matter of fact I'm getting to the point where I shoot irons about as well as I shoot with a scope.

There is one rifle I own which this does not hold true with and that's my Mini-14. The first round out of the mag will almost always be 2" low and 2" left of the rest of the group which I believe is caused by the action being hand cycled instead of being gas operated. I have even gone so far as to shoot groups of those first round fliers and those groups will be exactly the same size as a gas operated group just 2" low and 2" left of the gas operated group. This phenomenon doesn't really concern me since it's not a target rifle although with only about 500 rounds through it there's a chance it'll solve itself with more shooting.


Bart B.
May 4, 2012, 05:47 AM
Looks to me like the rifle's not being held the same way for all the shots.

Put a laser bore sighter in its muzzle, then dry fire the rifle watching how the laser spot behaves as you "click" the rifle. If it jumps around differently each time, you need some practice, training or maybe a coach to see what you're doing and help you do things right.

Most new (and some that have been shooting for decades) firearm shooters are finger flickers. I sure was when I started. They flick their finger off the trigger as soon as their nervous system senses the sear release the firing pin and that moves the barrel away from where it has to be to shoot where you want it to. As they are also wanting to get their finger off the trigger as soon as possible for some safety reason. So, as quick as possible, they flick their finger off the trigger after each shot.

Keep your trigger finger pulled back all the way until the firearm stops moving from recoil. This is called follow through. That'll eliminate the wide shots and you'll amaze yourself at how well you shoot.

May 4, 2012, 10:35 AM
Good trigger makes a world of difference varies from gun to gun but there are some super bad triggers on AR's, a consistent trigger is most important IMO, not saying that is the entire problem but certainly one variable.

May 4, 2012, 12:42 PM
One more thought,for me,my old eyes have gone a mite wobbly.I need all the help I can get.
The round ,black bull with black scope crosshairs does not give me as precise of aiming point as some other targets.I have become partial to the orange diamonds.The crosshairs stand out sharply on the orange background and the diamond points are a precise reference.

May 4, 2012, 08:48 PM
I'll 'fess up ...... I use a 20x setting on the scope at 100yds. so I can see the bullet holes; putting the cross hairs on the center of the bullseye for the first cold-barrel shot, then on the first bullet hole for subsequent shots to get the best groupings. As stated in previous posts, and by Baseball Yogi, this stuff is 90% mental.

May 4, 2012, 09:17 PM
Everyone has mentioned the shooter's variable and somewhat the rifle (cycling).

I'd like to address the ammo. Since you reload, have you used different bullets or different charge? You might not have found your sweet spot yet.

May 5, 2012, 08:29 AM
Based on the original post:
I am using a Caldwell rest and shooting from a bench.
I'm making the assumption that the shooter is 95% removed from the equation as long as the rest is being used correctly.

Question for the OP, How exactly are you using the Calwell & how are you handling the rifle?

Not being a wiseacre, but if the shooter is removed from the equation then we need to look elsewhere, if not we need to look at the shooter & his technique as well.

May 5, 2012, 05:55 PM
The best groups I shoot are when I shoot all three (or five) shots first and THEN worry about where they went. By doing that you are thinking about the technique on each shot and squeezing the trigger. I've also found if you have your trigger set too light (this is in MY case) I can't feel the squeeze and you get into the "tapping" the trigger thing instead of just aiming while squeezing. I don't like a trigger lighter then 3 lbs. Even for bench rest shooting.

One more thought,for me,my old eyes have gone a mite wobbly.I need all the help I can get.
The round ,black bull with black scope crosshairs does not give me as precise of aiming point as some other targets.I have become partial to the orange diamonds.The crosshairs stand out sharply on the orange background and the diamond points are a precise reference.


Totally agree with this also. Found the exact same thing works for me.

May 7, 2012, 12:16 PM
Just a thought that worked on me; take your buddy with you. Have him load each shell, individualy, before you shoot. He puts in a shell, you shoot it, he puts in a shell you shoot it, you dont get to see what he puts in it! One of them is going to be an empty shell, and he's going to watch your reaction when there is only a click, not a bang! It could be the 2nd, or 4th,or 5th shot, you dont know!
You might be surprised at what your doing!

Just a thought!

May 7, 2012, 03:30 PM
Regarding shooting all before checking and shoot & check schools of thought.
It seems that if you're doing what we called "grouping" (never mind the score, get a smallest possible group size) you'd keep a constant aim & wait for identical conditions before firing identically, but shooting for "application" (trying to get 'em all in the X-ring) you'd correct individually for best results.:)

May 7, 2012, 03:58 PM
Sight alignment

Trigger pull

Position, position, position.

Those are the top ones you have to practice on for consistency.

May 7, 2012, 04:55 PM
I will take all this good advice to the range. Promise to post pictures. Thanks.

May 9, 2012, 08:31 AM
Perhaps your rounds need a bit of group counselling or at least introducing them to each other before expecting them to socialize. You probably take them to the range in a box with separators and a cover that keeps them in the dark, then you put them in the rifle one at a time.

For bullets to feel part of a group, they need to be formally introduced on the shooting bench, then rolled around together in your hands until they're comfortable and properly introduced to each other and want to be together on target. Touching bullet noses together in a group hug really helps the process of breaking the ice.

When you shoot a group, fire fairly fast, so the bullets can feel the warm tunnel of air left by it's friend, allowing it to "sniff" it's way to a tight group.

If groups don't improve by introduction and group hugs, further counseling may be required. If that fails, the only alternative is time-outs. Beating is not an option, as it may be hazardous to your health.

(Hope this little bit of humor helps. You got some really good advice by others, now put it to use and relax when you shoot. Like s-x, it's more enjoyable that way.)

May 9, 2012, 10:43 AM
Wow, that's like, so zen, like!:D

May 9, 2012, 09:51 PM
Shoot the 5 shot groups and as suggested shoot 5 one shot groups w/ consistancy from shot to shot.

Then develope a habit of calling the shot. How did it feel/look when you squeezed the bang switch? If it was off one way or so you should know. Then it aint a surprise and that shot can be discounted/disregarded depending on call.

May 10, 2012, 10:04 PM
I shot better today! Thanks for the help guys!


May 11, 2012, 06:53 AM
Congrats! What did you change?

May 11, 2012, 08:44 AM
Very nice. I like that you actually wrote "YEAH!" next to the tighter groups. What did you find helped the most?

May 11, 2012, 09:17 AM
I went to the range alone. I then concentrated on making one shot at a time and did not even look at the target untill i had fired all four 5 shot groups.

After shooting the first group, I noticed that ny elevation turet was not at zero, so that explains the group 1 being so high. The wind was gusting pretty bad today which explains the POI shifting from group to group. But other than that, I was pretty happy.

I shot my .220 Swift also and got some ok groups. Here is that target:
Not quite as tight as the AR15, but not to bad. Two under 1".

The bad thing is, at 200 yrds, I couldn't get a group at all with the AR. I am thinking the wind was just gusting too much by that point.

May 11, 2012, 03:50 PM
Those groups aren't totally bad. What range were the first targets shot at? And Kraigwy has the straight dope, beware of some of these idiots as they don't have a clue.
Flyers are caused by many variables, and it's the student,(cause we are all students) that spends the most VALUABLE time correcting these variables. That first set of targets aren't really that bad per say, and if your shooting these groups at 200 yds, then they're pretty damn good man. anyway thats my buckfitty,,, good shooting dude!:)

May 11, 2012, 04:37 PM
You are shooting sub-moa.That is pretty good.

Now,realize,from the perfect center of the target,there is a sum total of less than 1/2 moa to find gains.What?

A hound dog can only run 1/2 way into the woods,after that,he is running out.Radius versus diameter.You have the radius to work with.

That 1/2 moa is divided up.

Some is still shooter error.

Some is the barrel.I'm not knocking your DPMS,but I would not have the same expectations from it that I would have from a top line barrel from a custom barrel maker

Some is likely copper fouling,correctable with Bore -tec eliminator and a nylon brush.Use a good one piece rod and a bore guide.Not doing damage is important

Some is in the ammo.Your rifle may prefer a different bullet weight,or ogive or seating depth.You may get better results with a different powder or primer.

Some gains can be had from a basic brass prep,
Trimming squares the neck and makes them the same length.

Chamfer helps keep the bullet from being damaged in seating

Light deburr of the flash hole.Keeps the primer flamefrom being distorted.

Brush out the necks with a nylon bore brush,Clean is good,makes a more uniform bullet release.

BTW,I took those steps from Precision Shootings Guide to Reloading for High Power competition,the steps to make "pretty good" ammo.

They also describe using an O-ring under the die lock ring or more concentric ammo.

OK,now,remember,to a degree,each of these steps may give you some results in reducing that less than 1/2 moa radius ,that is how far each individual shot varied from center.

You may pick up 1/16 in here,1/8 in there,etc,but that is where you are.

You can do as much of that as you like,

But some might say a next step would be getting that "How to shoot" book from CMP that Mr kraigwy recomends,and a shooting sling,and working with prone,sitting,etc.

Oh,you get extra bonus points for the wind!!Good job!You made improvement

May 11, 2012, 05:01 PM
Hooligan, These targets are all 100yrds. I didn't post any from 200 because they were terrible. I started at 100 with both the .223 and the .220 Swift (1:00pm) yesterday. By the time (3:00pm) I got to the 200 yrd range, the wind was blowing the .223 everywhere! The Swift did a bit better. I can post those targets tonight.

Thanks for the input HiBC.

I do think that the DPMS trigger is pretty stiff, I may get a different one and see what happens. Even though it is a DPMS, I think it shoots better than I do. I need to master it before I can justify spending more money on a "custom" barrel!

May 11, 2012, 06:33 PM
I recall Dean Grennell refering to "1st round fliers" in semiautomatic pistols, I forget how he resolved it, perusing some other boards I see no consensus on either the cause or the cure. I would try firing a group with each round single loaded, though you seem to have resolved some of it on your own. Happy shooting.

May 11, 2012, 09:11 PM
I did not intend to suggest you need a different barrel.Not at all.
I meant to suggest realistic expectations from a moderately priced production barrel.That includes the sort of barrel you would get on a tac/varmint heavy barrel bolt rifle from the major mfgrs.

IMO,on the bench you have proved the rifle is capable of making you look good.Most all the time it is less than 1/2 in from the point of aim at 100 yds.
Most of the time,less than 3/8 in.

Shooting smaller groups is fun,and with just a little ammo tickling you will get some improvement.

IMO,now you know the rifle can shoot if it is resting on sandbags on a bench,you can work on not needing the bench.Anybody with enough money can buy an accurate rifle,but it won't make them a good shot.

It has been mentioned on this forum,the famous Whitefeather,Carlos Hathcock,got his business done with a rifle that was not anywhere close to being as accurate as the rifle you have.

What is in short supply..and to be valued,and respected,are gentlemen like kraigwy who have the skill and experience to pick up an old Garand battle rifle,sit down on their butt and knock the 10 ring out of a target with Marksmanship,not equiptment.

What is even better,he is willing to pass it on.

I missed a vintage battle rifle clinic he offered last year.Maybe I will get a second chance.

On your trigger,if it is a military grade poor trigger,IMO,the best value is a Rock River National Match 2 stage for about $120.

It is plenty good enough trigger to shoot very well.

May 11, 2012, 11:29 PM
Thank you, Sir.

I may have just that chance to attend one of Kraig's clinics this summer.

May 12, 2012, 04:59 PM
Those are still fine for 100 yds, Also practice and tweaking the handload, (one part or another) will tighten those suckers up.
If your intention is to hunt with that rifle, it will be a fine coyote/ varmit rifle, it shoots plenty fine for that.;)

May 15, 2012, 08:14 AM
Okay, now we're getting serious about shooting groups.

The next thing you need to do is to build or buy some wind flags. They can be as simple as a L shaped piece of coat hanger or brazing rod with a loop on the end, placed in a slightly larger drill hole in a stick. The rod swivels around, so the flagging doesn't wrap itself around the rod. I've made some pretty nice ones out of plastic signboard with coathanger rods, stuck in music stands with drilled bolts in the top.

Depending on the range and surrounding features, you may need four or more wind flags at distances of: 10 yards from your bench, 60 yards, 120 yards, and 170 yards. Any closer to the target than that won't make much difference in bullet flight. Pay the greatest attention to the closest flags because small changes in wind at the beginning make the greatest change in impact location.

The trick to shooting good groups using wind flags is to try shooting each shot with the flags in as close to the same position for each. If they move as a shot is fired, don't count that shot, or realize why it may be out of the group. Find one or two prevailing wind conditions and see where rounds impact from those conditions. If a condition looks different, try a sighter on another bull, rather than spoiling your group.

Hope this very basic wind information helps you shrink your groups. If you want to see what professionally-made wind flags look like, just Google "Wind Flags".