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Old August 20, 2011, 02:31 PM   #1
Fish_Scientist
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Long(er) distance bench-rest shooting questions

I generally re-zero my rifle before every hunting season with a sled. In the past, other than re-zeroing and shooting immediately before and during the season, that's all the rifle shooting I'd do. This year, however, I'm interested in becoming more proficient with my rifle at longer ranges and just generally shooting my rifle more in the off-season. Ultimately, I'd like to shoot at longer and longer ranges without the sled I use for zeroing.

When I hunt, I use a bipod or some sort of "modified" rest (e.g., my pack, a log, etc.) and make sure that the butt is firmly in place against my shoulder. When I read about practical shooting at longer ranges from a bench, I've read that under the butt many shooters use a hand-squeeze sandbag to adjust elevation. How does one use the sandbag for elevation but also keep the butt of the stock firmly planted against their shoulder? It seems that if there's little enough friction on the stock to allow for easy up and down movements that the recoil from the shot is going to whack your shoulder. Am I missing something about using a beanbag in your left hand?

I'll be honest; I never really "learned" to shoot a rifle from an instructor or even another shooter, but I've taken big game cleanly and I can shoot six inch groups out to 150 yards. (I know that 6" groups at 150 yards sounds pretty big, but the vital area is bigger than that on the game I hunt, so I've never had the need to shoot any tighter.) What I'd like to be able to do is increase my accuracy at 200, 300, and longer to as small as I can get. I know that takes practice and I'm ready to put in the time. I also just started handloading for .30-06 which should help keep the ammo cost down. Now I know that .30-06 isn't really a "long distance" caliber, but right now it's all I've got. (Well, there is my wife's .243...)

Anyway, No one in my family (other than me, now) is much of a gun person, so all of my practical shooting education (up 'till now, handguns mostly) has come from reading a lot and asking lots of questions. Now I'd like to become more proficient with my rifle and maybe get into long-distance practical (i.e., no sleds) target shooting.

If it helps, I shoot a Remington 700 .30-06 with (without checking, I think) a 22" barrel with a Harris bipod.

Thanks -

Fish
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Old August 20, 2011, 02:53 PM   #2
hooligan1
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I also use a "sandbag" to elevate the butt of my rifle. I own a set of Winchester bags, the one I set my rifle butt has kind of a set of ears on the top, I place the toe of the rifle-butt in between those ears andthen I wrap my left arm around and under the rifle and pinch those ears with my index finger and thumb. The harder you squeeze the higher the rear sight goes basically, and yes you pull the butt up firmly into your shoulder. Oh and by the way I'm trying to shoot into the same hole shot after shot, not necessarily just to be able to take an animal cleanly,,,, I'm by no means a "bench-rifle" owner but I have to shoot for "same hole" every time regardless.... It helps develope good shooting skills, which you could always,,,everyone could always stand to be better, I think, anyways Happy shooting dude!!
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Old August 20, 2011, 04:05 PM   #3
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Fish_scientist,
If you want to understand good shooting technique I suggest reading and watching videos related to Conventional Highpower rifle shooting even if you are not interested in competition. In Highpower there are no benchrests and good shooters are capable of MOA and better results. If there are any clubs that shoot highpower stop by and watch. It's a great teacher of technique. Learning how to shoot from position makes bench shooting almost easy.
BTW your 30-06 is fine for long range. It is sometimes used for 1000 yard matches.
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Old August 21, 2011, 01:08 PM   #4
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Here is a good way to use a sandsock and a bipod.

1. Get on the ground with your rifle in front of you.
2. Put your shoulder to the buttstock and get on target.
3. Place the sandsock under the buttstock and squeeze it so your cross hairs dip below the target.
4. Shift your hips toward the buttstock to pre-load tension onto the bipod.
5. Relax your left hand on the sand sock and let the cross hairs go up into the target.
6. Breath out, relax, squeeze the trigger.

If you don't pre-load the bipod you'll get really bad "bipod hop" when you squeeze the trigger. I doubt you'll be able to call your own shots with a hunting weight rifle, but with a heavier stick usually you can get back on target fast enough to see the bullet impact beyond 300 meters or so.

Good luck and good shooting.

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Old August 21, 2011, 03:00 PM   #5
Fish_Scientist
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Thanks for the responses. The videos I've found and now the six-step list above will certainly be helpful when I head to the range tomorrow.

This may be a basic question, but what does "call your own shot" mean in the context of shooting? Based upon the context in Jimro's post, I imagine it has something to do with watching the target and seeing the bullet impact on the paper. I could be wrong.

Thanks -

Fish "working to get better and the shoot in the same hole every time" Scientist
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Old August 21, 2011, 03:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
what does "call your own shot" mean in the context of shooting?
Calling the shot is taking a mental picture of the "sight picture" at the time the rifle discharges. Were the sights in the center? Were the sights moving to one side? In short did you release a quality shot ? You should be able to determine where the shot will impact based on the last thing you saw through the sights.
A good call implies that you applied all of the fundamentals of marksmanship correctly and expect the shot to impact the target where you were aiming. A good call can even mean a shot off target if that is where you expect it based on the last thing you saw through the sights.
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Old August 22, 2011, 01:30 AM   #7
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Sorry, 4-EVERM14 is correct. Although I meant something slightly different for "call the shot" which is what a spotter does for a shooter. The spotter will call out corrections to the shooter such as "low two mils, left three mils" so that the shooter can make the correction.

With a heavy rifle you can often get back on target to watch bullet impact and get your own correction through the scope.

I'm sure there is a real term for this, but the point is that you should be able to see where your cross hairs are when you pull the trigger, and then recieve correction from a spotter or watching the impact to make sure you put lead on target by making the corrections to your dope.

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Old August 22, 2011, 06:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Fish_Scientist:
Now I'd like to become more proficient with my rifle and maybe get into long-distance practical (i.e., no sleds) target shooting.
Another idea would be to use a .22 rifle to practice. The cost is obviously lower but the techniques would be the same. Though perhaps thought of as a plinking gun the .22 closely mimics the trajectory of centerfires but on a smaller scale. All of the skills needed to make long range centerfire shots can be learned with a .22 at shorter distances. Jimro's post about correcting off of the impacts would be much easier with a smallbore. Stepping up th the '06 would use the same theories.
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Old August 22, 2011, 09:40 AM   #9
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A small target up close with a .22 is pretty much equal to a "standard" target way out there with a centerfire. If you can hit a 5" target at 500 yards, why can't you hit a 1/4" target at 25 yards? (Or 10" and 1/2".)

My father killed more than one deer at 500 yards, in front of witnesses. I've killed a couple out at 350 and 450. Both of us with '06s. If you know your rifle, what I call "all married up with it", it's not that big a deal. "Feel, fondle and dry-fire" helps develop what some call "muscle memory".

Hunting proficiency is best learned from field positions, not from the bench rest. All a bench rest tells a hunter is that the rifle is okay.

To me, a "called flyer" is the case where you know you did wrong at the instant you pulled trigger; you don't even have to see the target to know the shot was off. It triggers the "Oh, (bleep)!" reflex.
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Old August 22, 2011, 09:55 AM   #10
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Nobody seemed to really answer the question as asked. Given what your request was, it seems you have 2 practical options. First if you wand to practice with a bipod get a Harris or someting equivilent and use it for elevation in conjunction with a rear bag. The best solution for consistant long range rifle work from a bench is to buy a moderate priced adjustable front rest used with a rear bag and learn proper gun handling using the bench setup until you're consistant.
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