There is a Story afoot . . .



A story has attacked me . . . not sure where it's from, but I have been posting chapters as they come out of my fingers. Yes, I am still posting on firearms training and my new topic of basic prepping - all links are to the right of the blog, newest posts first on the lists. Feel free to ignore the story posts - they usually start with a chapter number. But, feel free to read the story as well and comment on it - I like how it's turning out so far! Links to the various chapters are at the right under . . .

The Story

Bill

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Training - Prep For Your First LR Shooting Competition

 

The decent down the rabbit hole continues. Jim See has formed an Iowa Precision Shooters group with the intent of holding precision shooting competitions in our region. Our first one is November 7th. There will be 6 stages, 3 prone and 3 from improvised barricades. Each stage will require 8 – 10 rounds with time limits of 90 to 180 seconds. There was no indication of the ranges but the max range for the shooting venue is 800 yards . . . should be interesting. I sense my tail is about to slip below the surface!

So I want to take a few lines to share my prep for this event. And, I want to take a short detour to share why I even bother to share it . . . or anything else on this blog for that matter. Then we’ll get to the “meat”.

I had an interesting conversation with a shooter/trainer whose opinion I value. They are direct, honest and detailed when I look for feedback. They have been kind enough to evaluate coursework I’ve developed and I found their AAR to be of real value. As we chatted some interesting words came out of the Bluetooth earpiece . . . “You know, you’re rare in our industry . . . very few will offer their work up for such evaluation.” I pondered that for a bit – sadly I suspect the evaluation is true.

As instructors I believe we must challenge ourselves . . . on the range, in the classroom and it what we choose to develop and offer to prospective students. If we can’t answer the where’s, whys and how comes . . . honestly we have no business offering anything to a student. Since I focus on the “new and inexperienced” shooter most of what I offer is basic or foundational. One of the quickest – and perhaps the most uncomfortable ways – is to hold yourself up to your peers for review and evaluation.

And another is to share what you’ve learned, how you’ve learned it, what your thoughts are, what your opinions are . . . so others can learn from your mistakes and successes. And that, good reader, IS the purpose of this blog . . . so you can learn for both my words and experiences – it’s as simple as that. Back to the title of this post – preparing for your first LR precision shooting meet.

The Gun

It needs to be both precise and accurate, at least 1 MOA and reliable.  I described my current LR gun here as I prepped for my first LR Shooting Course. As you can see it’s a 16” carbine – not a typical choice for a LR weapon. But, it’s what I have and what I will use for this next year because it’s real purpose is a longer range defensive firearm.

The Gun

I have upgraded the scope to a Prostaff 5 with a Mil Dot reticle. It’s certainly not a $2,500 piece of glass but I am more than satisfied with it as I begin learning this new skill.

At the end of the day I was able to shoot a couple of sub-MOA groups and a solid MOA group with the level of accuracy I wanted. I’m satisfied it will do the job . . . now we’ll see if I can.

100Y Zero Target

As described above I’ve added a Timney trigger, a Harris bipod, Vortex scope level . . . it’s as ready as I know how to make it.

Rear Bags

The whole idea is to separate your muscles from the gun. By doing this you reduce unwanted tremors that reduce your precision. One of the tools used to do this are rear bags. This looks like one of those “options” that you can easily go crazy on. Already I’ve tried a half dozen. I’ve added a couple for this match . . . the Weibad Mini Cube and Todd Tac Bag. They are used to help you “build your position” to make sure your weapon is as stable as possible. Honestly, this is one of those areas I’m still working my way through . . . we’ll see how it goes on the 7th.

Flatline Ops Rear Bag   Wiebad Mini Cube Rear BagWiebad Todd Tac Bag

Ammunition

Consistency is the key . . . a consistent position, consistent trigger press, consistent pull weight and a consistent cartridge. While I have reloading gear for the .308 I’m not “there” yet to load a consistent cartridge for the match. The alternative . . . match grade ammunition. My choice is the .308 Hornady 178gr BTHP.

Range Time

THIS is where I’m lacking . . . heavy sigh. I’d love to spend a couple hours each week on this particular skill set. Sadly, real life has a tendency to poke its nose into my fun. But, that said . . . if I focus on the fundamentals of sight alignment, sight picture, reading the wind and trigger press – I am hopeful I’ll not make a fool of myself. Again, time will tell.

Dope

“Dope” is the fundamental adjustments you will need to make to your scope to adjust for bullet drop and windage (the biggies) and a whole host of other things. It’s specific to your barrel, bullet, speed and direction of the wind and the distance to the target. This is my dope for my particular round for this match. The advantage of having this info printed out is that should my Strelok Pro fail on my Android . . . I have everything I need. I also suspect glancing at the sheet will be quicker that punching in the data . . . again, we’ll see.

Clothing

The last piece here is the same as any coursework – dress for the weather. It’s supposed to be in the upper 40s to low 50s with 60% chance of rain. We’re gonna have weather . . . dress for it. It’s as simple as that.

So there you have it – I’m as ready as I’m going to be. The thing I’m really looking forward to is simply the learning opportunity. There are 20+ shooters signed up. Each will have their own thoughts, ideas, methods . . . untold opportunities to learn. Should be fun.

AAR to follow, hope to get enough photos to give you all an idea of how it went. To hold you over a bit here is a link to the Precision Rifle Series 2014 Finale . . . some pretty good shooters there! Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Training – Accidental, Negligent, Complacent, Ignorant, Stupid

 

On the evening of Friday, October 16th Cody Deneault and his pregnant wife went to the movie theater in Salina, KS to celebrate his birthday. In his pocket was loaded and UNSHOLSTERED handgun. I’m sure you know where this is going . . . during the movie he stuck his hand inside his pocket to adjust its position . . . and shot himself in the leg.

From the news article’s interview with him . . . (Links to the news story and another blog’s thoughts are at the end of this post)

Let’s chat a bit about this incident and the “mindset” of Cody Deneault in the aftermath of the event.

Accidental

  • arising from extrinsic causes
  • occurring unexpectedly or by chance
  • happening without intent or through carelessness and often with unfortunate results

Negligent

  • marked by or given to neglect especially habitually or culpably
  • failing to exercise the care expected of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances

Complacent

  • marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies

Ignorant

  • destitute of knowledge or education,
  • lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified
  • resulting from or showing lack of knowledge

Stupid

Lest some think I am riding atop my high horse, I too have experience an unexpected discharge of a firearm causing a lifelong memory as intense as if it happened this past weekend.

It was in the opening weeks of pheasant season in Michigan. My dad had passed away 6 or 7 years earlier and my mom was intent that I would be able to go hunting if I so desired. On the day in question she rushed home from her job at the post office, we loaded up my dad’s full choke 12ga Browning semiautomatic shotgun, hopped into the car and drove to a 20 acre plot of land we owned so I could walk the fields for a bit before it got dark. This was my first time hunting with the 12ga and, frankly, I was unfamiliar with how it worked. I figured out how to put 3 or so rounds in it, I knew enough that I should put it on “safe” before I started walking and I did know about “safe directions”. What I didn’t know was . . . which way was safe? When you could see the red band . . . or when you couldn’t?. To me, at age 12-14 what made perfect sense was that if I could see red . . . that would STOP the trigger. You know stop signs are red . . . right? So, before we headed into the field I thought I would test my theory. I pressed the safety so I could see the red band, I was smart enough to know what a safe direction was, I positioned the butt stock firmly in my crotch . . . I know, I know . . . the home of my future progeny . . . and pressed the trigger fully expecting to not have the trigger go anywhere because . . . red band . . . stop sign . . . it all sounded so reasonable in my head when I worked it out.

Imagine my utter shock when Goliath of Old Testament times appeared out of nowhere and promptly kicked me in the balls with his number 50s!!! I was stunned!! I was breathless!! My mom, being entirely clueless of my balls-on science experiment, hollered over to my row . . . “Did you shoot one honey?!?!?” I must confess I never told her this story though if she’s looking over my shoulder I hope she knows how much I loved her for taking me hunting and that she is having a good chuckle with my dad over my story.

So in that instance, I had a purposeful discharge of a firearm, in a safe direction to wring out an experiment because I was ignorant. Stupid perhaps, but I’ll stick with ignorant simply because everything was done with purpose and in a safe direction. On the plus side . . . I’ve never forgotten the lesson . . . ever! And, was still able to have a great son and daughter a few years down the road so no lasting damage was done.

“Hunt for Red October” Admiral Josh Painter: “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.”

As Admiral Painter put it . . . if we allow the way we handle our defensive firearm to get out of control . . . if we are carless . . . if we are complacent . . . if we are stupid . . . we’ll will be lucky to leave this life with the same number of holes with which we entered.

You carry a loaded defensive handgun to protect your life, the lives of your family or someone in your charge. And while we all hear of the “21 foot rule”, the “2 second rule” and a host of other “rules” surrounding our ability to present our defensive handgun quickly enough to stop a threat . . . the FBI boils it down in a slightly different way. Approximately 86% of all engagements happen within 12 to 15 feet. Up close and personal. Working to be quick enough to engage a real threat at that distance should be the goal of all of us.

So in Mr. Deneault case . . . what went wrong. Let’s look at how he characterized his “misshap”.

  • “I think I either bumped the trigger or pushed it the wrong way or something and it went off,” Cody said.
  • “I’d say my biggest mistake here was probably I didn’t have a holster,” he said. “And that is on me, for sure.”

There was no accident here . . . bumping a trigger . . . pushing it the wrong way . . . is not an accident when the weapon is buried in your pocket, you are seated in a theater and the lights are out. Oh . . . and this little gem . . . “my biggest mistake here was probably I didn’t have a holster” . . . that is NOT an accident . . . that is negligence, pure and simple. What lead to this?

I suspect complacency played no small part. “I was in the military!” “I’m a law enforcement officer!” “I’ve been shooting all my life!” These statements attempt to characterize the shooter as someone skilled in the use of a handgun. Actually military service or LEO experience does little to guarantee the shooter is experienced in the use of their handgun. In fact, I fine that most in these categories spend little range time getting real work done – most focus on “qualifying” . . . and little else. I suspect Mr. Deneault fell into this trap convincing that his military time suddenly gave him skills that he’s actually spent little time on.

Ignorance certainly played a role here. Had he taken any serious coursework regarding defensive carry he would have – at the very least – insured that he had a proper holster for his pocket carry and that he was reasonably proficient in drawing it smoothly and quickly. Ignorance can be a killer . . . did you take advanced work this year? Did you take any coursework this year? How’s that range time coming?

As reluctant as I am to use a more coarse term . . . Stupid easily applies here.

  • given to unintelligent decisions or acts
  • acting in an unintelligent or careless manner

The choice to pocket carry without a holster that covers the trigger is certainly an unintelligent decision and making such a decision is undoubtedly carless. In reading his responses to the reporter it is apparent he has learned little from this experience. I would not be surprised to see his name in the paper somewhere down the road in some very similar circumstance.

He good news? He shot himself . . . and not his wife, or unborn child, or anyone else in the theater. And I pray a light goes on somewhere that will lead him to more training and to a place where he takes his responsibility of carrying a defensive weapon a bit more seriously.

Bottom line . . . don’t be stupid!

http://concealednation.org/2015/10/cody-deneault-has-an-excuse-for-why-his-gun-went-off-in-a-movie-theater-the-other-day-it-was-an-accident-whoops/

http://www.kwch.com/news/local-news/accidental-shooter-in-salina-theater-knows-guns/35953350?ver=9

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review - MAGPUL DYNAMICS - Precision Rifle

 

Rabbit holes can be challenging. My current quest, as I’ve covered in a couple posts, is one of becoming a good long range shooter. This means that my goal is to shoot my AP4 to the level of its capabilities. It has proven to be capable of sub-MOA work and can reliably produce a group 1 MOA plus or minus 1/10. That’s my goal, to do this upon demand.

I also hate to look stupid or unskilled . . . I know you’re all shocked! So, as with all things I jump into (and believe me there’s a ton of topics that grab my attention from Astronomy to Wilderness Survival) I jump in with both feet, hit the books, hit the “classroom” and – in today’s world – I look for solid coursework on the Internet (think Udemy or Creativelive for example) or on DVD. In my review of Jim See’s long range shooting course I linked to MAGPUL DYNAMICS “The Art of The Precision Rifle” as one of my source materials for course preparation. If you are poking your nose down this particular rabbit hole and looking for some good foundational material, you could do much worse than this $38, 5-DVD, 10 hour set of coursework. Honestly, it’s a no brainer – send them your money, wait for the brown truck of happiness and enjoy!

   Cover (Large)   Back Panel (Large)Inside Panels (Large)

So, I thought I’d take a bit of time and do a review of this set of coursework.

The primary players on for the majority of the video are Todd Hodnett, Chris Costa, Travis Haley, Steve Fisher, Mike Olivella and Caylen Wojcik. Todd Hodnett is the President of Accuracy 1st – a company specializing in training long range shooters (both civilian and military/LE) as well as selling products to assist the shooter.

At the time of filming Chris, Travis, Steve, Mike and Caylen were instructors for Magpul Dynamics. Magpul Dynamics has morphed into Magpul CORE and still offer the Long Range 1 course that seems to follow the first 2 DVDs of this material.

Caylen Wojcik continues to work for Magpul as their Director of Training for Long Range Shooting. Steve Fisher now acts as a Trainer/Business Consultant in his company Sentinel Concepts. Mike Olivella is currently a Trainer/Coach for SOLKOA Inc. in Florida. Chris Costa left Magpul in 2012 and founded Costa Ludus LLC specializing and weapons and tactics training. Finally, Travis Haley also left Magpul and founded Haley Strategic, offering a broad range of training and custom equipment.

The course work was divided into a five disc set, each focused on multiple topics. I’ll list the contents of each and then give you my thoughts on its individual content.

DISC1 – Course Part 1 (142 min)

 

  • Intro
  • Rifle Setup
  • Zeroing
  • Reticles
  • Truing
  • Ballistics
  • Cold Bore vs Clean Bore
  • Trace

DISC 1 focused on the foundation – the rifle, its configuration, the equipment tacked on it (bipod, stock, scope, rear bags), zeroing the weapon, building your position behind the gun, loading the bipod, the various Reticles available and a ton of little bits and pieces of wisdom that Todd Hodnett has picked up over the years teaching this type of coursework. The range was setup through a valley in Texas. Targets ranged from a couple hundred yards to a mile. I’d say most the shooting was done between 400 yards and 1100 yards. DISC 1 is worth the price of admission along just for the amount of info presented regarding the weapon and the shooters position.

DISC 2 – Course Part 2 (133 min)

 

  • Broken Scope Field Zero
  • Accuracy 1st Wind Formula
  • Wind Course Part 1
  • Wind Course Part 2
  • Wind Course Part 3
  • Wind Course Wrap Up
  • The One Mile Shot
  • Mindset
  • Wrap Up

The focus of this entire DVD was wind, wind, wind, wind, wind . . . While mild winds have little effect on a 100 yard shot, push that shot out to 300, 500, 800, 1000 yards and you bullet can easily be pushed left or right distances larger that the width of your entire target. By observing surrounding grasses, indicator flags, mirage an estimate of the wind speed and direction can be made. Then, either by experience, ballistics tables for your particular bullet and cartridge or through the use of a Ballistics Calculator a “hold” can be developed so the reticle can be used in such a way to allow the “hold” to account for the speed of the wind and its direction insuring that your bullet still strikes your intended target. Honestly, in watching the 3-part wind course and experiencing Jim See call the wind during his long range shooting course . . . this is much more an art form than a purely computational problem. I suspect I will be putting many more rounds down range before I am anywhere near comfortable with this particular stretch of the “rabbit hole”.

The distances they were shooting were pretty darn impressive. The weapons ran the gamut from a .338 to a .308 carbine. It was a pretty impressive 2 hour display.

DISC 3 – USMC Fundamentals (126 min)

 

  • The Sniper
  • The USMC Sniper
  • LE Sniper
  • Tools of the Military Sniper
  • Data Books
  • Exercises
  • Quick Reference Drills

I wonder how many long range shooters visualize themselves as a sniper on over watch. The reality is that actually shooting is but a very, very small part of a sniper’s job. Much of it revolves around data gathering, acting as a spotter for artillery, mortar fire or close air support. And, on occasion they take out a designated target. That said, the shooting process, the preparation, the training, the mindset was well laid out and is certainly applicable for the civilian long range shooter. It was also noted that many of the requirements for a military sniper carry into the law enforcement community. In fact, given that law enforcement snipers operate in a community environment their requirement for precise shots is significantly higher.

Some time was also spent on Data Books. These are used as direct feedback to you, the shooter, to evaluate your level of training, your understanding of what exactly you are doing on the range and to provide solid data on the performance of your particular weapon. Secondarily, they provide good documentation that you are serious about your training.

DISC 4 – Gear (97 min)

 

  • Bolt Action
  • Semi-Automatic
  • Ancillary Gear
  • Rifle Optics
  • Muzzle Accessories
  • Support Equipment

This DVD drilled down much more comparing bolt action weapons to semi-automatic weapons. It covered rear bags, bipods, shooting sticks, tripods, hand held weather stations, rifle scopes and various reticles, muzzle breaks, suppressors and various support equipment. There is no shortage of gear you can spend money on. There was a lot of solid information, well thought-out discussion and ideas you might want to review before you head to the gun store.

DISC 5 – Bonus Features (93 minutes)

This disc filled in any remaining blanks that I could see. They covered cleaning, unconventional positions, long range trajectories and ways you can push yourself as a long range shooter.

Obviously, to get through the entire set of discs you are looking at 10 hours. The majority of the “meat” is contained in the first two discs, but that in no way implies that you should take a pass on the remaining three. I found real value in each disc, each lesson and each shooting example.

So, would I consider this a long range shooting course? No, not really. But for me, a data geek, it was nice to have some of the terminology, the basics and a general idea of a direction before I took Jim See’s long range course. None of the information conflicted with Jim’s approach. And, I did feel like it gave me a bit of a leg up since I’d never shot at the distances Jim asked of us.

“The Art of The Precision Rifle” is well worth your time and the $38 that Amazon is asking for the product.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Training - Dry Fire - An Update

 

Dry Fire: The act of drawing and engaging a “threat” with an empty firearm for the purpose of refining your skill set.

It’s beginning to lean into the corner turn between fall and winter with a full return to warm, comfortable range days some 5 months in the future. Oh, it’s still pretty darn nice out at the range here in Iowa – it was 70*F today . . . but promises of mid-40s and lower in the next few weeks leads me to believe it might be worthwhile to revisit my indoor dry fire range, chat a bit about the purpose of dry fire and to lay out some of the tools I use.

The definition is mine . . . dry fire is the act of drawing your unloaded (checked 3 times and still aimed in a safe direction) defensive carry weapon and engaging a threat with 3-5 rounds high center mass with a slow and safe holster at the end of the drill. Or, perhaps with a precise shot to the head or some other called box or threat. You can get real work done on every aspect of your draw and engagement with the exception of recoil management . . . it is well worth your time.

Safety. I have, at times, heard the words . . . “I know it’s empty, I’ve dropped the magazine – but, just to satisfy you, I’ll rack the slide one more time!” And, I’ve observed the genuine surprise of their face as they rack the slide and eject a live round on to the floor. It’s a reminder that there are NO SHORTCUTS to safety – rack your slide 3 times to insure that your defensive weapon is, indeed, empty.

At the same time, make sure there is NO AMMUNTION in the room! That includes the backup magazine you carry on your person. There should be nothing around you but an empty gun and empty magazines.

Set up your “range” so when you “fire” at the targets, you are pointing in a safe direction or into a “berm” that can handle the discharge of a live round.

Consider a LaserLyte round. I’ve reviewed their full system in the past – and still use their target with my SIRT pistol, but their cartridges are an excellent tool to provide a visual indicator of your sight alignment, sight picture in your everyday carry weapon – and to insure that your chamber does not have a live cartridge in it. The only disadvantage to these “rounds” is that you cannot use them for multi-round engagements; you will need to work the slide each and every time unless you have a DA semiautomatic pistol.

I am very fond of the SIRT pistol, which I reviewed here. I have the Glock 17 look-a-like and have probably sent thousands upon thousands of rounds “down range” with them. I bought the 3-pack for use in my coursework – another great benefit to these particular training aids. As you can see in the review, they fit my carry holster just like my daily carry weapon, have the ability to change magazines and provide a solid laser indicator of where the “round” hit. The slide is not operational, nor – obviously – is there any recoil management issues. But, for working on the speed of my draw stroke, clearing my cover garment, the accuracy of my first round hit (and follow-up hits sans recoil) and allowing me to practice magazine changes without damaging a real magazine by ejecting it on to the floor – there is no training tool out there that is better in my opinion.

The cost of a pistol and a couple magazines is $200-ish. While that may seem pricy – in today’s market this is equivalent of around 1,000 rounds of Blazer 115gr FMJ ball ammunition – the ability it provides you to build a “range” in a spare room, the elimination of travel time to and from the range, the ability to grab 15 minutes of range time pretty much any time you wish – and the prospect that ammo may once again become as rare as hen’s teeth some time down the road – I’ve decided that my investment in a SIRT pistol has been well worth it!

Finally, here’s my “range”.

Dry Fire Wall 10-14-2015 (Large)

It occupies about 1/3 of an office wall and has “evolved” over the past couple years. It has everything from a dot torture to outlines for IDPA targets out to -200 yards. It also has the LaserLyte target as well. It allows me to do everything from simple draw and engagement drills to more complex cognition drills. A handy way to mix this up is to build 5-minute drill sets on your cell phone’s audio recorder. You can find an example here. (To save it on your computer simply right click on the screen and select “save as”.) There are 10 ea. 30-second “drills” in this example. On the “UP!” command send 3-5 rounds to the high center mass of your selected target. On a “ONE” or a “SQUARE” or a “HEAD” deliver a one-round precise shot to the designated box/number. (This also works on a live fire range if you have one of the blue tooth ear pieces or a blue tooth speaker available). So in the 30 seconds you must draw, engage your target, scan and assess your situation and then holster your weapon. 5 minutes is easy to slip into your routine a couple times a day and by building your own 5 minute drill sets and then using your shuffle capability in your phone, you can come up with a dry fire drill set that is NOT boring and will challenge you. Give it a try.

So how do your approach your dry fire time? Well, just like you would a live fire trip. Have a plan. What do you want to work on? Accuracy? Dropping the time of your draw stroke? Your magazine change? Single or multiple target engagements? Headshots with a family member held hostage? Dot torture? Frankly, with the exception of recoil management – there is simply no limit to what you can work on.

Don’t take shortcuts. It can be all too simple to just work from a high compressed ready or a low ready and not integrate a draw from your holster. Answer me this . . . if this “range time” is supposed to help you win a gun fight . . . how many of you walk around with your defensive weapon at the high compressed ready? No shortcuts. Remove your carry weapon and spare magazine from your person and store it safely. Or, prepare it for use by dropping the magazine and clearing the chamber . . . rack the slide 3 times!! Then, I would strongly suggest you insert a LaserLyte round to make sure there can never be a live round in the chamber until your session is over.

Use a timer. It will only give you a draw time, but it will provide some level of uncertainty when you will need to draw. Depending on which weapon you are using, it may record your first round being “fired” . . . or not. I find the PACT Club Timer I use typically will not record my SIRT pistol’s trigger press. That said, the randomness of the timer has value IMNSHO.

Record your dry fire training. While no holes are made . . . the time you spent is real training time. Should the worst ever happen and your find yourself in court I believe there is real value in having a log that shows you have a history of taking your firearms training seriously.

Have goals. Cleaning Dot Torture. All rounds within the sensor target on a LaserLyte electronic target. Work your magic on Todd Green’s FAST drill. Record your results – so you know where you came from and so you gain confidence you can get to where you want to go.

Does this take the place of your live fire range time? Obviously not. But, it can be a very economical and convenient way to get good work done when you simply can’t make it to the range this week . . . or month . . . or quarter . . . or year . . .

Dry Fire . . . It Does A Shooter Good!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Just the Basics - Accuracy and Precision

 

 

Accuracy

  • Exactness.
  • The ability of a measurement to match the actual value of the            quantity being measured.

Precision

  • The state or quality of being precise; exactness.
  • The ability of a measurement to be consistently reproduced.
I’ve started . . . and I mean just started . . . down the rabbit hole of long range shooting. My current weapon of choice for this endeavor is a Panther Arms AP4 .308.
20151003_151341 (Large).
I’ve described it to varying degrees here, here and here. The last link has a title of “Training – Long Guns . . . and shooting the accurately . . . Part 1 – What does “accurate” mean?” Accuracy is simply part of this equation . . . there is also “precision”. So let’s spend a bit of time defining “accuracy” and “precision” and their place in the shooting community – particularly long range shooting.

Accuracy is the more flexible of the two terms because it is up to personal interpretation. If you take a walk through my last article referred to above – there actually is a place for “close enough for government work”. If you are talking about the arena I spend most of my time in, defensive shooting, you must be accurate enough to get combat effective hits on a defined threat as quickly as possible. This comes under Rob Pincus’ idea of a “balance of speed and precision”. It typically shakes out as 3-5 rounds, high center mass in an open palm sized group. Anything within that area will have a real effect on the threat’s ability to continue their attack on you. There is no need to take the amount of time it would take to make sure all the rounds created the smallest group possible.

What if your required POA becomes “the head shot”? I talked about that at length here. Now the size of your target has been reduced to something the size of a silver dollar. Here you must move past the level of defensive accuracy and place a “precise” shot to the ocular cavity. Something requiring a much higher level of skill.

So what does this look like on a target? Well, it looks something like this . . .

First let’s examine a target that shows a lack of both accuracy and precision.

20151003_154614 (Large)

Notice there is no pattern, no groupings . . . just a bunch of holes on a piece of paper. Now, given that the paper was placed at the 100 yard line, there is some level of accuracy and precision . . . but it is far below what we are looking for. The AP4 is capable of 1.00 MOA give or take a couple of tenths. When we achieve that, we are “there”.

Second, let’s look at a target that is “accurate” but not “precise”.

20151003_154559 (Large)

Notice that in both instances the rounds are within a 4” square (with one flyer), but their overall groupings are far wider that the 1 MOA of the gun. So while the groups are accurate – they are NOT precise.

Third, let’s look at a target that has “precise” hits but lacks accuracy.

20151003_154458 (Large)

Notice that target 1, with the exception of 1 flyer, there are 2 three round groups that are sub-1 MOA but the groups are high and left of the desired target – the 1 inch square in the center. These groups are VERY precise with one being less than ½” . . . yet it is NOT accurate.

Finally, let’s look at a target that is both Accurate AND Precise – within the capabilities of the weapon.

Notice that on target 2 the 4-round group is almost exactly a 1 MOA sized group, the capability of the gun. And, it is much more centered on the desired target, the 1 inch square in the center of the 4 inch square. The group is both Accurate AND Precise.

In the long range shooting environment – whether hunting, shooting competitively, defensively or using your skill as a designated marksman or sniper in the military – there are many instances where your ability to be both accurate and precise are required. And that ability like so many others requires good equipment, good instruction and trigger time.

Only YOU can take yourself to that level. I must admit I am enjoying walking down this rabbit hole much more than I thought I would. I suspect it will find its way into my range work on a regular basis and that a couple of firearms will find themselves upgraded to accommodate this new path.

In fact it was an upgrade to the AP4 that brought about the range session that created the targets shown. I was unhappy with the scope I had used in the long range shooting class. So, I upgraded to a Nikon Prostaff 5 with a Mildot reticle and a Nikon M-223 mount. I wish I could have afforded some of the $3,000+ scopes that were in the class . . . but I have enjoyed my marriage for too many years to break in a new wife at this time in my life. The short story is I was very happy with the performance of the Prostaff 5 and also with its price point. I’ll do a review of it in the not to distant future.

There is value in adding accurate and precision long range shooting skills to your skillset. It does not need to cost an arm and a leg and, you will learn far more about being deliberate, about ballistics and how a gentle breeze can affect your shot than you ever imagined! Enjoy!!