Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Training - Precision Shooting with a 22 cal. Rifle

I am NOT a precision shooter.  Honestly, I’ve spent little time on it.  I’ve taken one Precision Shooting Course, spent 20-ish hours of range work on it . . . and I have made significant improvement.  And I intend to improve this particular skill set.  That said, the cost of the ammunition can be daunting. 

 My go to gun for true distance shooting is my LM-308 as described in the course linked above.  I could easily “ring steel” at 500 yards.  The rub here is that becoming proficient at long range shooting using a .308 is more than a little pricey.  For example, just stock PMC 147 gr, FMJ-BT in 500 round lots runs around .63 cents per round.  If you use Hornady Match Grade . . . 168 gr hollow point boat tail, now you’re talking $1.20 per round.  Real money there.

 An alternative I’ve chosen, to work on the fundamentals, is to equip an AR-223 so that the optic, trigger and bipod are nearly identical to those on the LM-308.  This allows me to use .223 for range ammunition while I am plugging away of foundational stuff.  Now my per round cost PMC .223 55 grain FMJ Boat Tail drops to around 31 cents per round – much better!  Still, what if there was a cheaper way??  Enter the Ruger 10/22 Target Model.   I picked up mine several years ago with an attached bipod and a cheap Tasco scope.  I replaced the Scope with a Nikon Rimfire 4-12x40 BDC 150.  This emulates the Nikon scopes I have on both the AR-15 and the LM-308.  The trigger group in the target rifle also has a very similar touch and feel of the Timney triggers on the other two rifles.  All in all, not a bad surrogate to use while spending range time working on the foundation for precision shooting.  As for ammunition costs?  How about Remington’s “Bucket O-Bullets” . . . 1,400 rounds . . . for $81 . . . or .06 cents per round.  We’re talking 1/5 the price for a single .223 round.  Now we’re talking!

 So, what kind of work can you get done with the Ruger Target?  Can you achieve any real type of “precision”?  That’s what I wanted to work through tonight on my first range trip with the new scope attached.

 I started things out at 50 feet.  I always adjust windage on a new scope first, then elevation.  The key here is to remember that foundational items are exactly the same whether shooting the .308 or the .22.  My position on the bench, how I load the bipod, how I mount the stock, how I place my cheek on the comb, coming into the right position for full eye relief, placement of my finger on the trigger and the smoothness of the trigger press and finally managing my breathing so there is just the slightest of pauses on the bottom of my respiratory cycle as the trigger breaks.  These fundamentals are exactly the same regardless the weapon.  I use a target with 5 each 3-inch targets with 1-inch centers for working with Scouts and NRA Rifle Instructors.  It’s one I whipped up myself and is perfect for what I was trying to accomplish here . . . zeroing the rifle and then beginning some real work.  The following target is the result of my efforts and my final target at 50-feet before I moved to 50 yards.

 I was reasonably happy with the results.  The groups were 1-inch-ish and showed all the characteristics of responding to typical errors regarding trigger press, hurrying the shot, not managing my breathing . . . which is exactly what I am after.  So, I got some really good work done at a reasonable distance for not a lot of money.  Once I was satisfied with the rifle’s zero I moved things back to 50 yards.

One thing that was apparent with the first round . . . the .22 cal bullet hit 2 inches higher at 50 yards.  That was an easy fix, simply dialed things down 8 clicks and I was rolling.  Here too, if I did the foundational things well, my groups were less than an inch.  As you can see by looking at the targets I had flyers, obvious rounds where I rushed things and then a couple nice groups.  Bottom line, the Ruger Target with the Nikon Rimfire scope at 50 yards will be a great tool to continue to develop my precision shooting skill set at a significantly lower cost per round.  I like it!

 A few other things to keep in mind.  6 cent ammunition behaves like 6 cent ammunition.  I had the typical feed issues that I see with the 10/22 (though this particular rifle is in bad need of a good cleaning).  I had a half dozen misfires most of which worked OK if I simply reloaded them in the magazine.  I also had a number of failure to extract issues.  I’m betting on the cleaning to fix that.  I’d love to blame the larger sized groups on variations in ammunition given its cheap price . . . but I suspect it has much more to do with me than with the ammo.

 The other issue here is that a 10/22 does absolutely nothing to teach you about recoil management.  There isn’t any!  That said, the benefit in being able to shoot cheaply while working on your foundational skill set seems to be a good trade off.  I’ll periodically sent 25 – 50 rounds down range with the LM-308 and the AR-15 as well.  Then I can work on recoil management.

 So there you have it.  If you’re looking to work on your precision shooting skill set without putting a huge hole in your wallet . . . dig out your old 22.  Spiff it up a bit and take it to the range.  I think you might be surprised at how much good work you can get done!