Testing your Rifle Accuracy

Is it the Arrow or the Indian?

When testing a rifle for accuracy with a new load, its ideal to have multiple shooters to test it out.
For the serious long range shooter working on a load for a new rifle can be overwhelming with all the possible variables that can come up. Such as charge weight, seating depth, neck tension and so on. When you think you got all the variables tackled in the load. The results on target can be a let down. You can quickly jump to the conclusion that the load needs to be changed.
Experienced loaders/shooters may tell you that the load is fine, look into the trigger pull or the set-up bench.

For instances, these three shooters tested out a new Savage F-class rifle, both chambered in 6mm BR. The initial results was ok, but not great.

-The first shooter was getting shot groups around the 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock area and none were touching. This could have been a load problem.
-The second shooter shot the same load and rifle got the next series of shots through the same hole. This shooter finally produced a 6-shot group that was vertical line with 2 shots in each hole but at three different points of impact. With these results the load needs to be tuned to get rid of vertical line. But here’s what happens when the 3rd shooter shoots.
-The third shooter produces a string of horizontal shots no verticals. Serious head scratcher now.

After much thought and observations among the three shooters. What they realized was that each of the three shooters had their own way of holding the gun and adjusting the rear bag.
-First shooter used a wrap-around hold with hand and cheek pressure and was squeezing the bag. All that contact was moving the shot up, down, left and right. The wrap-around hold produced erratic results.

-Second shooter was using no cheek pressure, and very slight thumb pressure behind the tang, find out he was experimenting with different amounts of bag “squeeze”. His hold eliminated the side push, but variances in squeeze technique and down pressure caused the vertical string. When he kept it consistent, the gun put successive shots through the same hole.

-Third had a heavy cheek pressure. This settled the gun down vertically, but this also side-loaded the rifle. The result was almost no vertical, which is why this shooting style produced too much horizontal shots.

The Final Shot
Stop thinking about that load, self-analyze yourself, adjust your shooting style and see if that affects the group size on target. The moral of this story is always have another experienced shooter take your rifle for a run.
In this testing, each time they changed out “shooters”. The shot groups changed significantly. They went from a huge round group, to vertical string then to horizontal. So getting a second opinion is a good thing.

All three shooters were quick to diagnose problems in their shooting styles, and then refine their gun-handling. As a result, in a second go, they all shot that gun better, and the average group size dropped from 0.5-0.6 inches into the threes — with NO changes to the load.

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So that was cool, there was no need to alter the load. Switching shooters demonstrated that the load was good and the gun was good. The skill of the shooter(s – Indian) proved to be the limiting factor in terms of group size.