View Full Version : Need Help w/Shooting Technique

May 18, 2012, 06:02 PM
I am sighting in my new Savage 116 FHSS in 30.06 and I am having difficulty getting a tight group. For example, from a 100 yard bench, my first two shots will touch and then the third will be about 2-5" from the first two shots. It is not uncommon for the second and third shot to touch 2-5" away from the first shot. My five shot groups will have two or three shots touching and the rest will be scattered. After about 40 rounds through eight targets, I noticed that my shots are pretty consistent as far as the height from the bullseye, but they are all over the place left to right. I know that it is not the gun, as I had a friend try it and he ended up shooting a three shot group that was one ragged hole (bastard!).

My question is how do I address this inconsistency/ left to right "stringing" problem that I seem to have? Is there anything specific that I can do to get more consistent? I should note that this is my first centerfire rifle and that I am an avid bird hunter and shotgunner through and through. I fear that my years of "keeping the gun barrel moving" and slapping the trigger are coming back to haunt me.

Thanks for helping a lurker out.

May 18, 2012, 07:09 PM
Work on your follow up ... after you pull the trigger ... you must maintain control as the recoil pushes back, the barrel whips, and the torque makes the rifle cant! You can't talk to make it better ... this takes hard work over a long period of time!


May 18, 2012, 09:24 PM
Do you still slap the trigger?

IMHO you should have trigger finger contact way before breaking the shot, then you should have a smooth straight back pull with the trigger behind your nail in the middle of that joint.

After the shot breaks maintain the trigger pressure then slightly release the trigger just to the point where the hammer resets, do not come off the trigger.

Repeat steps for followup shots.

Make sure your sight picture is good and consistent. Shoot during your respiratory pause after you exhale(you could really shoot on the inhale as well if you time it).

For optimum accuracy shoot between heart beats. This is only really applicable if you have a high magnification scope and can clearly see your heart beat effectively the position of the reticle.

Have a proper hold of your rifle. One way to do it is if you're right handed put your right hand hold near the trigger then the left hand tucked back toward your right arm pit essentially cupping the bottom of the stock. Make sure you're making good contact with the stock and that your body is stable and inline with the rifle.

Also consider using something stable to support the front of your rifle.


May 19, 2012, 06:07 PM
Get off the bench. Benches make guns bounce all over the place.

Go prone, get a good sling position, laying your supporting forearm on you back pack or something. Don't let your rifle touch anything but the sling, hands and shoulder.

Don't grip the rifle hard with your shooting hand. That should be firm but not tight. A super tight grip doesn't allow the trigger finger to move without disturbing sight alignment.

When you squeese the trigger, keep holding the trigger to the rear until you and your rifle recover from recoil.

Make sure you have perfect sight alignment. Don't get close and then have to muscle the rifle on target.

Dry fire a couple times. Line up your sights, close your eyes, dry fire, open your eyes and see if you're still on target. If not adjust your position.

You'd be supprised how much dry firing helps.

May 19, 2012, 06:56 PM
Several thousand dry fires at home will go a long way. You will be able to tell if you moved before the gun fires because there will be no recoil.

May 20, 2012, 12:50 PM
IMO, it sounds like the butt is moving to the side, on your shoulder, inconsistantly.


May 21, 2012, 07:42 PM
Try a towel under the butt of the gun. I don't know if you are using a sandbag, but it helps a lot too.

It's just like golf, all about the follow through. As you shoot, try your hardest to keep the sight on the bulls eye through the recoil, like you are looking through a hole through the bulls eye.

May 21, 2012, 07:48 PM
You also didn't mention how long between shots. If the first two are on a cold barrel and the next shots are quick follow-ups then your barrel is heating up and could be changing POI. Make sure and let your barrel cool off 3 or 4 minutes minimum between shots when you are shooting for grouping.

May 21, 2012, 11:18 PM
get an end of barrel laser bore sight. Dry fire with it in. See what happens when.

May 22, 2012, 11:56 AM
Horizontal stringing can also be due to barrel issues.
Yours has a factory contour barrel- hunting barrel, not a heavy target barrel.

First, make sure the barrel is fully free-floated, and remains so even when putting downward pressure on the bipod.

If you're sending 40 rounds through a factory contour barrel, without a decent amount of interval to allow barrel cooling, the barrel heating up could be affecting harmonics and stringing the shots- although I would not expect that after only three shots...

To be clear, this happens with a cold barrel?

May 22, 2012, 05:05 PM
Something else to consider since the OP is a shotgunner is finger placement on the trigger. When i instruct on the range with handguns when ppl are shooting to one side or the other it is usually because of finger placement. If The OP is hitting to the left put your finger a bit further into the trigger if it is to the right then a bit less into it.

This is of course that the OP is right handed. If left handed just reverse the directions.

May 22, 2012, 09:57 PM
Thanks for all of the suggestions and advice. I am planning on shooting again later this week and over the coming weekend, so I will try to apply your suggestions and post back with my results.

To answer some of the questions that many of you have asked - I was using a lead sled off of a bench. I was taking five shot groups over the span of a few minutes. I would then remove the bolt, run a patch down the barrel and go hang a new target. Five or ten minutes later, I would shoot another five shot group. I am not slapping the trigger. The 116 has the accu-trigger and I fear that I may be doing the exact opposite and taking too long to get the trigger to break. I was lining up the crosshairs on the center of the target and applying a bit of downward pressure on the forearm of the rifle with my off-hand to keep it from jumping after the shot.

The 116 has the accu-stock and the free-floating barrel. How do I check to make sure that it is free floating? Dollar bill under the barrel?

May 22, 2012, 11:33 PM
IMO, you don't need to be cleaning the gun that often.

A gun can have different points of impact for cold bore, clean bore, and cold/clean bore. I am fortunate in that mine does not care....it puts them all in the same spot. I saw plenty in my last precision rifle class that had different points of impact.

May 23, 2012, 07:47 AM
I prefer the "business card" test for free-float. Dollar bill is fine, but some stocks flex in the forend when downward pressure is applied on a rest/bipod.

You say you're "putting downward pressure on the forearm" of the rifle...how are you doing that? Sounds like that's your problem- never press down on the barrel- you'll screw up the barrel harmonics and cause inconsistent point of impact...

Let the rifle jump off the bench- no harm, no foul. If you go prone, and can load the bipod properly it'll tend to jump less.

And, ditto what Arizona said. Cleaning will result in a slightly different POI than fouled barrel shots. Just shoot it...when accuracy drops off, clean it.

May 23, 2012, 11:02 AM
1+ about the clean vs. fouled barrel.
I used to clean my barrels all the time but not anymore.
After I shoot it I just push couple of dry patches through it to remove loose powders.
Now I clean out my barrel after couple hundred rounds through it.

May 24, 2012, 08:22 AM
===You say you're "putting downward pressure on the forearm" of the rifle...how are you doing that? Sounds like that's your problem- never press down on the barrel- you'll screw up the barrel harmonics and cause inconsistent point of impact...===

I guess I should have said that I was simply holding the forearm of the rifle. The lead sled makes it difficult for me to hold the forearm of the rifle, so I was simply pulling down on it a bit to keep it from jumping. I was not touching the barrel at all.

May 26, 2012, 01:49 PM
I only target shoot from the bench . My set up is a Remington 700 LTR 308 Cal. I think you only need bench time & alot of dry fire for muscle memory. Look through the scope,relax, breath hold at the bottom squeeze the trigger , your POA should not move when the pin hits.

May 26, 2012, 02:24 PM
My five shot groups will have two or three shots touching and the rest will be scattered.

I'd try to put the rifle on bags, or a bipod and a rear bag, and make sure the barrel is not too hot between the shots. I think that your model has a light barrel. Is it possible that the barrel gets too hot and you can see mirages in your scope (which gets the aim off the target)?
You also might get tired if you shoot in an uncomfortable position. It helps to make sure you feel relaxed and the rifle points naturally at the target so you are not tensed when aiming. I'd also try to wait about 15 - 30 seconds between the shots.