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Old August 14, 2005, 08:50 PM   #1
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Annual Zero-in

I bet we all do it. But I'm sceptical on the necessity of 'zeroing' every year before hunting starts. Especially if the rifle sits in a safe 10 months a year. If it was on last season, it should be on this season...right?

I always shoot a few just to make sure, however. Then I switch to (edited) paper-animal targets.

Likewise, I am sceptical when I hear about 'bumbing the scope' will move the crosshair. Maybe droping directly on the scope, but not 'bumping'.

Last edited by siotwo; August 15, 2005 at 06:52 AM.
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Old August 14, 2005, 09:45 PM   #2
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Siotwo--If yr rifle sits in the safe for 10 mos, YOU might just be a little rusty with it, and the "zeroing" is good practice. Better you should shoot year-round. But I know the vast majority of deer hunters don't do so.
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Old August 14, 2005, 10:24 PM   #3
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Rifle sits there for 10 Months!

I failed to do this last deer season. So, no practice (zeroing) and went out.

First shot, first day: 1 six point buck gut shot. Tracked him for 2 miles and lost the trail.

Second day: Had to pass a 70 yard head shot on a doe.

Fourth day, second shot: Shot at doe, aiming for front shoulder, but missed and cleanly broke both her back legs. Only reason there is any venison in my freezer is she couldn't run away very well on 2 front legs.

Moral of the story is once the gun is on, the gun is on unless you've dropped it. The shooter however is different. This year I invested in 200 rounds of bulk ammo and have been doing a little pract--ahem, zeroing this summer. With any luck the 'gun' won't be off come next deer season
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Old August 14, 2005, 10:56 PM   #4
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There are several possible reasons for a gun being OFF this year:
1. Stock warping (especially wooden stocks here on the Gulf coast) just enough to change pressure against barrel and thus change bullet impact point.
2. Stock screws or scope screws working loose. Don't ask me how it happens with gun sitting in safe but I have seen it so. (Have not had scope mount screws come loose because I usually LocTite them.)
3. Strangely, have never had a scope change impact point from "bumping" the gun or scope, possibly because I am VERY careful with my custom stocked rifles and pistols.
4. Temperature change, although this does require a pretty drastic change to affect the impact point. Temperature change can affect the stock (see item 1) and/or the ammunition burn rate/ballistics.

Despite the foregoing possibilities, I RARELY have seen bullet impact changes from year to year with my rifles and scoped hunting pistols. BUT I always confirm the impact point before going hunting just for peace of mind and to avoid problems with Murphy's Law.

Good shooting and be safe.
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Old August 14, 2005, 11:06 PM   #5
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Prac--ahem, zeroing

Chemist308--Good on you! If more people did this hunting in general would be safer and the shooters would be happier. Nothing builds confidence in yr rifle like the knowledge that you know how to use it well!

BTW, Might I suggest the final prac--err, zeroing session be done with the load with which you will be hunting. More expensive, true, but bulk ammo and hunting loads may very well have different points of impact, and a bit of sight adjustment might be called for.

Better to know that BEFORE a gut-shot deer.

Be safe. Be sure. Good hunting.
God Bless America

--Smokey Joe
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Old August 15, 2005, 01:30 PM   #6
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Dad rarely shoots his 30-06 before the season, and has always gotten deer. He's been hunting for years, and never sights in unless he thinks he bumped his scope or something.
Personally, I think he's been lucky, and he laughs when I tell him so. Me, I like to shoot a few times a year, but ALWAYS sight in right before the season, with the loads I plan to hunt with. Different loads, and different ammo lots may shoot differently, as I've found. Heck, even having oil in your barrel, or a barrel that is clean vs. one that has had 10 rds shot through it will shoot differently sometimes.
My thought: I always want to know where exactly where my hunting load will shoot, the first shot, out of a cold, clean barrel, dry barrel. Once I get that 1/2" high at 100yds, I know I'm good. That's just me.
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Old August 15, 2005, 01:56 PM   #7
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Along with what's been said - I like the confidence I get knowing exactly where I'm hitting on paper. It gives me more confidence to take that little bit longer shot.

Who knows, your body might have changed and you hold the gun slightly different and your eye might not line up exactly as it did a year ago. The paralax (IIRC/SP) factor with the cross hairs can put you way off.

Lastly, shooting is FUN!
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Old August 15, 2005, 01:57 PM   #8
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I do my annual zeroing 3-5 times a week... just to be safe.
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Old August 15, 2005, 02:46 PM   #9
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I'd rather spend an hour just checking then get to the woods and miss or realize there's now a problem with my gun like a seized firing pin from 10 months of gunk buildup. But that's just me.
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Old October 4, 2005, 03:56 AM   #10
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Sight it in..

I've never had a scope get out of sight from one year to the next. But as the others said, it is a good idea to double check it before the season. Even if it is just 3 or 4 rounds to make sure it is still hitting on. And again, like the others said, you might tend to get out of sight before the gun does, especially with a good scope. Never hurts to practice. It would be a shame to miss a good buck after all the time and money spent for something that could be easily corrected. I'm sure it has happened to everybody that has hunted much, but thats the worst feeling to hunt all season and miss a good buck when you get your chance, whether it is the gun or you. Also, I think you owe it to the game you hunt to make a clean kill, rather than wounding it and letting it run off and suffer.
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Old October 4, 2005, 09:24 AM   #11
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I've never had a house burn, nor have I had a major car wreck. But I have insurance.

I've never had need for self defense with deadly force, but I have a CHL--the handgun is but another form of insurance.

Checking my rifle before hunting has never--or rarely--shown any notable change of point of impact. Howsomever, that checking is just another form of insurance.

You don't go to wood carving with a dull knife. Anybody who's halfway smart doesn't drive on slick tires on the street in wet weather. Anybody with hunting ethics worth talking about knows where his rifle shoots.

Easy enough, seems to me...

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Old October 4, 2005, 09:25 PM   #12
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I've always wondered if ammo really gets older every year. So I always re-zero with the theory that it might.
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Old October 5, 2005, 08:04 AM   #13
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L.L.Bean went into some detail about zeroing his rifle before hunting season, but I'm probably the only one here who reads L.L.Bean. More to the point, however, he went into a little detail about using up old ammuntion, although I doubt that is all that necessary any more.

His rifle was a .25 Remington autoloader. They don't make them anymore.
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Old October 5, 2005, 09:38 AM   #14
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I'd never worry about ammo and age, unless the storage has been in really high temperatures. I have some old .243 I loaded in 1968; it shoots tight grouups but about two inches lower at 100 yards than newer stuff. By the recoil, it's not velocity loss so much as "just different".

I've killed a lot of deer and coyotes with ammo that was several years old...

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Old October 5, 2005, 12:59 PM   #15
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Sitting in the safe for 10 months! Poor rifle! You need to take it out more often. But if you can't, then it is a good idea to practice some/re-zero before going out with it.
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Old October 6, 2005, 07:07 PM   #16
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do not take it for granted.

As an conservationist it is owed to the game animal we are hunting, that we do every thing we can to harvest our natural resourses with one shot, one kill. Sure we make mistakes ,and one would be to not check your zero. Temperature is one reason to check your zero before you start your hunt. My 25.06 zeroed at the 2,( outside temp 45 degrees f.) Drops at least 4 inches at 30 degrees F. If I didn't know real time ballistics and I maintained my zero from 40+ degrees f. and was hunting with a 30 degree temp with a 400 yard shot it would be a total miss. Think about it. Lets say you think you cleaned your rifle out real good last year when you put it up. If you used a little oil to prevent rust did it work? If it worked are you gonna clean the oil out or just shoot what is reffered as the fouler. If you haven't used some type of copper remover the last time you cleaned it the barrel is proberly fouled any ways, if this is the case do not expect that rifle to maintain a constant zero. It will change. Last if not least expect the unexpected.And never expect your rifle to maintain it's zero unless you are having a commited relationship with you rifle. Do not take it for granted.
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Old October 7, 2005, 11:46 AM   #17
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Out on the first hunt for 6 months tommorrow. So took both rifles for a quick check, both still spot on, ones 6.5 swe and other is 270w.
However I have had the 270 Sako TRGS since about 96 and it has always been .5" or better since day one. I use Norma cases CCI 200 primers and 60 grs H4831sc. Suddenly on the last outingI had a shot go a bit low but still killed the animal, So I got a sheet of paper tacked up and the group was worse than 2" and no real pattern to it. I pulled the ammo when I got home and made new and it wasn't a lot different So After a lot of thinking I bought a new box of primers, made some more and its ok again. The only reason I can give is that the reloading an components goes on in the rear extension and the door was a bit past its best, letting rain under a bit when it is stormy. So I bought a dehumidifier and put it in (after fitting a new door and frame) and in three days it took 3 gallons of water out! So I then piled up the ammo, primers powder cans etc in the middle in front of it and left it on for three more days. I took out about half gallon more water and as above the accuracy seems back.
Can anyone throw any light on this, I know powder doesn't like moisture but I keep all my cans sealed up, so it looks lie the primers may be affected too, even when made up ( I have ordered primer/case sealer to try)?
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Old October 10, 2005, 04:10 PM   #18
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Even if it hasn't happened to you, everyone has seen the guy that can't hit the broadside of a barn on a particular hunting trip.He will swear that his scope must of gotten bumped and spend the rest of the trip messing with his gun and missing animals. In the end he will begin to doubt his own ability to shoot. You don't wanna be that guy. Go shoot your gun
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