Last week we talked about the importance of cleaning your rifle so you could get a good group. Now let’s talk about sighting in your rifle. The first shot after cleaning your rifle will be a flier, so you might as well take your first shot in the dirt. But for real, mark it so you don’t include it in your group.
Cleaning your rifle was just one of many factors that can affect your accuracy. One of the biggest factors will be determining which ammo that your rifle prefers. There are some generalities — for instance a .30-06 usually prefers a 165-grain bullet — but today in my Mossberg Patriot Revere I got a 1 1/4-inch and a 1 3/8-inch groups with some Swift A-Frame 180-grain ammo.
I always recommend calling the manufacturer in case by chance they will tell you what ammo shoots best in your particular rifle. But also don’t be hesitant to call the ammo manufacturer. They’re usually always helpful whereas the rifle company may be hesitant to recommend a particular brand because they don’t want to alienate any ammo companies.
Let me back up a second. I’m going to assume that your scope is secure and you’re using a high-quality scope like Riton Optics. If your scope is loose or your scope is broken, then that’s another set of kinks thrown into the mix.
You’ll need a steady table and chair to shoot from and some sandbags. Lay your stock on the sandbags, not your barrel. You don’t want anything touching your barrel. I’m not saying you have to have a trigger job. With a lot of concentration, you may be able to still get a decent group with a bad trigger but why spend 100 percent of your concentration on getting a good pull. Just get a Timney Trigger or have your gunsmith work on your current trigger.
In the last year, I have come to favor targets with an orange square. That way I can lay a crosshair on the horizontal and vertical lines and be right on. If your target has a 1-inch white circle, subconsciously you’ll think you’re OK if your crosshair is wobbling anywhere in the 1-inch circle. If that’s the case, then if your rifle is capable of shooting a 1 1/4-inch group then add on the other inch and you’re shooting 2 1/4-inch groups. Make sense?
And of course, wind is always detrimental to obtaining a good group. Not only does it affect your bullet while in flight, it can also make you wobble.
I’m not saying that it is totally imperative but I tricked out a couple of 10/22s and put on a Boyd’s stock. They fit me so comfortable and snugly that I don’t waste one ounce of focus on if I’m holding my rifle correctly.
Then back to the trigger. Make sure you take a deep breath, let out half and then start squeezing the trigger. It should surprise you when it shoots off.
If you flinch, obviously it will adversely affect your shooting. There are two big items that can make you flinch. Recoil and noise. For shooting on the range, I wear double ear protection. Foam ear plugs and then some good ear muffs. While hunting, you’re probably not going to wear bulky ear muffs. Check out the Clarus Pro enhanced hearing protection by Silynx. Not only do they protect your ears but they have hearing enhancement features that shuts off if there is a loud report.
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.