Getting started in Precision Rifle Shooting. (Guide)

Jan 6, 2009
944
30
28
Charleston, WV
#1
Prone Supported Firing Position

The front of the rifle will rest either on a bipod attached to the stock or on a sandbag/pack placed under the front of the stock.

Use the non-firing hand to support the butt of the rifle. Place your hand next to your chest and rest the TIP of the butt of the rifle on top of your hand. Ball your hand into a fist to raise the butt of the rifle or relax your fist to lower the butt of the rifle. A preferred method is to use a sock filled with sand or a small sand bag placed in your non firing hand and squeeze it to raise the rifle butt and release the bag to lower the rifle butt. Using this sock or bag method lessens body contact with the rifle and can eliminate an added human variable.

Place the butt of the rifle firmly in the pocket of the shoulder. The shooter can place a pad in his clothing in the pocket of his shoulder to reduce pulse beat and breathing movement.

With the firing hand, grip the small or pistol grip of the stock. Using the middle through little fingers, exert a slight rearward pull to keep the butt of the rifle firmly in the pocket of the shoulder. Do not use a death grip on the stock. The harder you squeeze the more you will see your pulse in the scope. Place the thumb over the top of the pistol grip of the stock. Place the index or trigger finger on the trigger and insure it does not touch the stock and does not disturb the lay of the rifle when the trigger is pulled.

Find a comfortable position for your elbows that provide the greatest support for you and your rifle without creating a strain.

Place your cheek in the same place on the stock each time. This is called the stock weld. Changing your position changes sight alignment and will cause misplaced shots.

Aiming the Rifle

Begin the aiming process by aligning the rifle with the target when assuming a firing position. The rifle should point naturally at the desired aiming point. No muscular tension or movement should be necessary to hold the rifle on target. To check the Natural Point of Aim (NPA), you assume a comfortable, stable, firing position. Place your cheek on the stock at the correct stock weld and breathe, and entering the natural respiratory pause, look away from the scope moving only your eye and relax. Let the rifle drift to its natural point of aim, then look back through the scope. If the crosshairs remain on the correct position on the target, the natural point of aim is correct.

If the NPA is not correct, you must change your body position to bring the sights on the target. If muscles are used to bring the rifle to NPA, the muscles will relax when the rifle is fired and the rifle will begin to move to its NPA. Because this movement begins just before the weapon discharges, the rifle is moving as the bullet leaves the muzzle. This causes displaced shots with no apparent cause as recoil disguises the movement. By adjusting the rifle and body as a single unit, rechecking, and readjusting as necessary, you achieve a true natural point of aim. Once this position of established, you will them aim the rifle at the exact point on the target. Aiming involves three areas, eye relief, sight alignment, and sight picture.

Eye Relief

This is the distance from the firing eye to the scope tube. This distance is fairly constant with a scope. You should take care to avoid injury by the scope tube striking the eyebrow during recoil. You will want to be as far away from the scope that allows a clear sight picture.

You should place your head as upright as possible behind the scope with your eye directly behind the scope. This head placement allows the muscles around your eye to relax. Incorrect head placement causes you to have to look out the corner of your eye resulting in muscle strain, causing blurred vision and eye strain. Eye strain can be avoided by not staring through the scope for long periods of time and correct stock weld alleviates eye strain as well by maintaining consistent eye relief.

Sight Alignment

Sight alignment is the relationship between the crosshairs (reticle) and field of view. You must place your head behind the scope so a full field of view appears in the scope tube with no dark shadows or crescents. Center the reticle in a full field of view with the vertical crosshair straight up to ensure the scope is not canted. You can purchase anti-cant devices that attach the scope or base from $30-$100. Anti-cant devices insure the scope, as well as the reticle, are parallel to the pull of gravity on the bullet and directly above the barreled action. This slight mis-alignment can cause the bullet to deviate from its anticipated course.

Sight Picture



Sight picture is centering the reticle with a full field of view on the target as seen by you. Place the reticle crosshairs on what portion of the target you wish to hit. Let me reiterate here, a full sight picture! Shadowing in the scope can be an indication of many things. Improper cheek weld, head position, body position, improper eye relief etc. You want edge to edge clarity. In other words, you want to see the perfect black edge all the way around the sight picture with no fuzziness.
 
Jan 6, 2009
944
30
28
Charleston, WV
#2
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Breathing

You must exercise breathing control during the aiming process. Breathing while trying to aim, with the natural up and down motion of the chest, will cause the rifle to move up and down. Up and down movement occurs while laying down. Breathing movement can be side to side when sitting at a bench rest type table when your body is against the table. You must therefore accomplish sight alignment while breathing and finish aiming in your natural respiratory pause. You do this by inhaling, exhaling, and stop at the moment of natural respiratory pause before beginning to inhale again.

A respiratory cycle lasts four to five seconds. Inhalation and exhalation take only about two seconds, thus between each respiratory cycle there is a pause of two to three seconds. This pause can be extended a couple seconds without any special effort or unpleasant sensations. Vertical strings on your target may be a indication that your holding your breathe. You should fire during this pause when your breathing muscles are relaxed. This avoids strain on the diaphragm.

You should assume your firing position and breathe naturally until your hold begins to settle.

The respiratory pause should never feel un-natural. If it is too long, the body suffers from oxygen deprivation and begins to send out signals to resume breathing. These signals produce involuntary movements of the diaphragm which interfere with the shooters concentration and lack of movement needed to make a shot. Always break your shot at your natural respiratory pause.


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Trigger Control

Trigger control is the most important fundamental of sniper marksmanship. It is defined as causing the rifle to fire when the sight picture is at its very best, without causing the rifle to move. Trigger squeeze on the other hand is defined as the independent action of the forefinger on the trigger with a uniformly increasing pressure on the trigger straight to the rear until the rifle fires. Trigger control is the last task to be accomplished before the rifle fires.



Proper trigger control occurs when the shooter places his firing finger as low on the trigger as possible and still clears the trigger guard, thereby achieving maximum mechanical advantage. He engages the trigger with that part of his firing finger (middle of the pad of the last digit) that allows him to pull the trigger straight to the rear. In order to avoid transferring movement of the finger to the entire rifle, the shooter should see daylight between the trigger finger and the stock as he squeezes the trigger straight to the rear. He fires the weapon when the reticle is in a position to insure a properly placed shot, or when the reticle is on target.

As the stability of a firing position decreases, the wobble area increases. The larger the wobble area, the harder it is to fire the shot without reacting to it, attempting to influence the sight placement when the trigger breaks. This reaction occurs when the shooter:

1. Anticipates recoil. The firing shoulder begins to move forward just before the rifle fires, thus pushing the rifle out of line with the target.

2. Jerks the Trigger. The trigger finger moves the trigger in a quick, choppy, spasmodic attempt to fire the shot before the reticle can move from the desired point of aim.

3. Flinches. The shooter's entire body (or parts thereof) overreacts to the anticipated noise or recoil (jerks). This is usually due to unfamiliarity with the weapon.

4. Avoids Recoil. The shooter tries to avoid recoil or noise by moving away from the weapon or by closing the firing eye just before the weapon fires. This again is caused by unfamiliarity with the weapon and a lack of knowledge of the weapon's actions upon firing.

Trigger control is best handled by assuming a stable position, adjusting on the target, and beginning a breathing cycle. As the shooter exhales the final breath approaching the natural respiratory pause, he secures his finger on the trigger. As the reticle settles on the target at the desired point of aim, and the natural respiratory pause is entered, the shooter applies initial pressure to the trigger. He increases the tension on the trigger during the respiratory pause as long as the reticle remains on the desired point of aim to insure a properly placed shot. If the reticle moves away from the desired point of aim, and the respiratory pause is free of strain or tension, the shooter stops increasing the tension on the trigger, waits for the reticle to return to the desired point of aim, and then continues to squeeze the trigger. This is trigger control. If movement is too large for recovery, or if the respiratory pause has become uncomfortable (extended too long), then the shooter should whenever possible, release the pressure off the trigger and start the respiratory cycle again.

The trigger finger should be indexed at 90 degrees. For right handed shooters the finger nail should point to 9 O’clock for devil lefties 3 O’clock.

Follow Through

Applying the fundamentals increases the odds of a well aimed shot being fired. There are however, additional skills, that when mastered, make the first round correct hit even more of a certainty. One of these skills is follow through.

a. This is the act of continuing to apply all the shooter marksmanship fundamentals as the weapon fires as well as after the weapon fires. Follow through consists of:

* Keeping the head in firm contact with the stock (stock weld) upon firing and after firing.

* Keeping the finger on the trigger pulling all the way to the rear when and after the weapon fires.

* Continuing to look through the scope when and after the weapon fires.

* Insuring the muscles stay relaxed when and after the weapon fires.

* Avoid reacting to the recoil or noise during and after firing.

* Releasing the trigger only after the recoil has stopped.

* Coming off the trigger or rifle will cause a drastic deviation in accuracy down range.

* Supportive hand stays in place.

b. Good follow through insures that the weapon is allowed to fire and recoil naturally, and the shooter/rifle combination reacts as a single unit to such actions.

Calling the Shot

Calling the shot is being able to tell where the bullet should impact on the target. The shooter must be able to accurately call the shots. Proper follow through will aid in calling the shot. The dominant factor in calling the shot is, where ever the reticle is when the shot is fired. This location is called the final focus point.

Body Position

The spinal cord should be straight behind the rear of the rifle. Days when you laid offset or canted behind the rifle are over. One of the big reasons behind this is to negate recoil, spot your own impacts downrange, and become more solid behind the rifle. Legs should be spread wide into a “V” with your heels flat on the ground with toes turned outward. Spreading your legs creates a larger surface contact with the ground creating a more stabile platform. Heels flat keeps adds in our stability as well, using your toes will cause you to wobble and drift your body position because you’re subconsciously trying to balance the weight of your legs with your toes.
 
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Jan 6, 2009
944
30
28
Charleston, WV
#3
Bipods and Their Use

One of the biggest aids in long range accuracy in contributed to the bipod. Now before I go on about use and techniques lets understand not all bipods are created equal. If it’s not a Harris or Atlas bipod chances are you purchased an inferior product. The appropriate height is (Harris) 6”-9” with leg notches, swivel, and KMW pod-loc. (For Atlas just pick one that will mount your rifle, it’s an all in one unit.) Why is this correct bipod height? The closer to the ground we are the more stabile of a platform we create. 9”-13” or greater cause us to float behind the rifle. Leg notches allow us to adjust the height of the bipod in ½” increments. The swivel lets us take cant out of the rifle when shooting on uneven surfaces.

When using the bipod, we prefer to “load the bipod”. What I mean by this is to get into your shooting position and load your weight up behind the rifle. Arch your back upward and lift your upper body off the ground, while keeping the rifle firmly on in your shoulder pocket. Come straight back down. If done properly, you’ll notice that there is tension on the bipod, pushing the rifle slightly forward, while the bipod is pushing the rifle back into your shoulder. You are not pushing with your shoulder. You are using your entire body mass to achieve this.

Optics

Scopes range from $100 to $4,000, we hope you choose closer to the latter. We are not advocating that you rush out to buy a Schmidt and Bender $4,000+ scope to be effective in long range marksmanship. What we are saying is you get what you pay for. There is more to scopes than glass and turrets. The most important part of the scope are the internals and the consistency of them.

The Reticle

There are a plethora of reticles available on the market with many manufacturers offering several reticle options for one model of scope. It is important though that the reticle chosen will adequately meet the needs of the shooter and their intended use. Long-range tactical shooters often prefer a mil-based or MOA reticle over the more basic duplex reticle since it offers more than just an aiming point for engaging targets. Reticles suitable for long-range should be graduated with dots and/or hash marks to give the shooter additional reference points when estimating range and compensating for trajectory. That being said the typical target shooter or varmint hunter may not need all of those graduations and might prefer a simple thin crosshair with or without a center dot aiming point. Again, it all goes back to the intended use of the rifle and the scope.

Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) reticles seem to be most popular with low-powered fixed and variable powered optics, however they are also finding their way into some mid-range powered scopes. BDC reticles, like the one in the TA31F and Burris XTR 1-4, shine in situations where the shooter’s concern is getting rounds downrange quickly and relatively accurately. The most common issue with BDC reticles though is that they are often designed around a specific cartridge in a specific set of conditions. The ammunition and conditions the reticles are based around are typically quite different from what the shooter may actually experience so it requires the shooter to confirm their hold over points on the reticle at various distances. Some companies have made semi-generic BDC reticles, like the Nikon BDC 600 reticle and Nightforce Velocity Reticle, that can be tuned to a specific cartridge with the use of a ballistic program that gives the shooter both speed and accuracy from the reticle.

Whichever type of reticle is chosen though it should fit the needs of the shooter and the situations that they’ll typically find themselves in. A reticle that was designed for the F-class field suddenly starts getting used for tactical rifle competitions the shooter may find that it is too thin and will easily get lost in vegetation and changing light.

MIL or MOA

MOA Defined. MOA is an acronym for "Minute of Angle". This is an angular measure. There are 60 minutes to a degree and 21,600 minutes to a complete circle. Now that I have told you that, you can purge it from your memory because it really doesn't matter to us. What does matter to us, is that at 100 yards a "Minute of Angle" equals 1.047 inches. At 200 it equals 2.094". At 300 it's 3.141" and so on. Simply multiply 1.047 times the range in hundreds of yards. This is an angular measurement. The father you travel from the measuring point, the distance the angular measurement subtends becomes greater.

MILs Defined. Mil is short for milliradian. There are 6,283.19 milliradians to a circle. One mil equals ten centimeters at 100 meters. This is where the confusion frequently starts. There is nothing Metric about Milliradians. Again, this is an angular measurement. The father you travel from the measuring point, the distance the angular measurement subtends becomes greater. One Mil equals 1 inch at 1000 inches, 1 yard at 1000 yards, 1mm at 100cm, etc. Notice it works with metric measurements as well as with the Imperial system.

Applied to Turrets. The preference in tactical rifle scopes has been for 1/4 moa clicks. Some can be found in 1 moa, 1/2 moa and even 1/8 moa, but the majority are 1/4 moa. Previously you could only find milliradian adjustments on high end European scopes or custom built US scopes. Lately, this trend has been changing Falcon Optics, IOR Valdata, and a couple others now offer a Mil option on thier scopes. Most offer 0.1 Mil increments which equate to .34 MOA or 1/3 MOA clicks.

Why Mil/Mil? The most asked question these days seems to be, "What is the advantage to Mil turrets and a matching Mil reticle?" Let’s think about our normal shooting situation. You sight in on your target at 400 yards. You apply the fundamentals of marksmanship and fire your shot. You see the impact is 6" low. Now since you are 400 yards away divide 6" by 4. You end up with 1.5. Now you need to come up 1.5 MOA (approximate) so that's going to be six clicks on your 1/4 MOA scope. You dial in the correction and fire. Now you hit your target. That's not too bad. It's a little math, but nothing we can't do in our head without coming off the rifle.

Now let’s consider that you are on the same 400 yard line and this time your shot hits low again with your other rifle. This scope is equipped with a Mil-dot reticle and 0.1 Mil turrets. You observed that the impact was .5 mil low. You reach up, dial five clicks up on your elevation. The next shot is dead on. This is convenient, but not earth shattering.

Now let’s move away from the known distance range and all of its neat yard lines and paper targets. Let’s imagine we are on a hill out in the middle of nowhere. About 660 yards away you have a torso sized steel plate. You estimate the range and dial in your dope. You make your wind call, breath, aim, stop, squeeze and follow through. You see the slash of the round in the dirt in front of your target. In your reticle you can see that you were 1 mil low. You dial ten clicks up on your 0.1 mil turret and re-engage. This time you see the puff of the bullet disintegrating on the plate and then the satisfying "clank" echo back to you.

It was quick and easy. If you weren't using a mil reticle and mil turrets your math could have thrown you off if you weren't very close on your range estimation. If you got flustered because of a time limit your cognitive process could go to hell.

That's all well and good when you are shooting for fun, but what if you are part of a Marine Sniper team tasked to recon a weapons cache on the side of a mountain in some dirty corner of hell. Your LRF (laser rangefinder) died two days ago when you fell down the hill bouncing on your ruck and your map for this area sucks. You just moved into your FFP when targets of opportunity appear. You get a quick and dirty range estimate off of your guesstimate on how tall the targets are. You squeeze off your first round. Your spotter is watching the target trough his spotting scope. He sees the impact, calls out "point five mils up, point two mils right, send it!" without breaking position you dial in the correction, hold for wind and reduce the targets as fast as you can work the bolt. Your spotter did not have to do any math in his head, no worrying about anything other than "what you see is what you get". This is what our Marines currently get with the new Schmidt & Bender scopes and their mil based reticle and turrets.

So are mil turrets right for you? If you shoot known distance paper targets, it really doesn't make much of a difference. If you have a reliable LRF or are dead perfect on your range estimation and a math whiz who never gets it wrong, then they will be of little benefit. If you are like the rest of us who can sometimes flub a range estimate due to a moving target, mirage, weather, etc. and can sometimes goof up multiplication and division under stress then mil turrets with a mil reticle are a feature you should look for in your next scope.

Whichever you choose just make sure the reticle matches the turrets.

Parallax

Parallax is the apparent movement of the reticle against the target image caused by the target and reticle not being focused onto the same image plane. If a scope is not parallax free then the reticle will appear to “dance￾ around the target if the shooter looks through the scope and moves their head without touching the stock. Having a parallax free image means that the reticle will not move off of the point of aim no matter what the position of the shooter’s head is. Compensating for the effects of parallax becomes an important issue as the distance to targets increases and the magnification levels go up. There are typically two ways that manufacturers compensate the effects of parallax, either they use an adjustable objective or a side-focus knob. Each method is different in how they move the internal lenses to bring the target image and reticle into the same focal plane but they all achieve the same goal. The side focus knob can be easier for some to manipulate when in a shooting position while others seem to find the adjustable objective more forgiving if the dial isn’t in the perfect place. There are some scopes though, both fixed and variable powered models that have a fixed parallax setting, usually somewhere between 100 and 300 yards/meters. Having a fixed parallax setting means that at one specific distance the target image and reticle are on the same image plane. However, I’ve found that the scopes with fixed parallax settings tend to have a lower magnification level, typically below 10X, since the effects of parallax won’t be as pronounced. That’s not to say though that parallax has no effect on these optics if the target falls outside of the parallax free distance and the fundamentals of marksmanship aren’t adhered to.

When I start looking at new scopes, I generally like to have some sort of parallax adjustment on anything that is above 12X and that’ll be used at longer ranges. Having some sort of parallax adjustment will allow me to get a nice focused image on higher magnifications and allow my head some wiggle room if I can’t get perfectly behind the rifle in the field. I typically don’t have an issue with a scope if it doesn’t have any means of parallax compensation as long as the maximum magnification level is below 10X. I’ve found that below 10X parallax is definitely present, just not as pronounced as say on a 15X optic and the lower magnification allow for a target image that is still crisp and clear.



Scope Adjustments/Turrets

In the optics industry, one of the greatest evolutions in recent years is the development of affordable optics that have click values on the elevation and windage knob that match the reticle inside of the scope. For many serious tactical shooters matching the click values on the turret to the reticle inside of the scope is a big determining factor when selecting a riflescope. For many years, though, this feature was once only available on scopes that cost thousands of dollars and came from far-away lands. However, in just the past couple of years scopes from Bushnell, SWFA, Millet have come out with scopes that have mil-based reticles and 0.1 mrad knobs, all for well under $1,000. For those that don’t know, using a scope that has a matching reticle and click values lets the shooter make faster corrections and adjustments since what he sees through the scope are the corrections that he has to make on the knob. Optics with mismatched reticles and click values require the shooter to convert what he sees through the scope into an elevation or windage correction, which increases the chances for an error. Having a scope with matching adjustments and reticles also makes it a little easier for beginners since they won’t have to worry about any kind of conversion going from Mil to MOA or vice versa. Modern ballistics programs are also making it easier for a person to work in all Mils or all MOA increasing the user friendliness.

Scope Magnification


There are some considerations that have to be taken into account though when selecting the proper magnification range. One of those is, of course, the size of the target that the shooter will most likely be engaging and generally I’ve found that the smaller the targets get the more it helps if to have the magnification level go up too. However, selecting a high magnification optic also comes with some considerations of its own such as the effects of mirage and the field of view. Mirage is the distortion of light by alternating layers of hot and cold air, which can be the bane of a long-range shooter’s existence and his little helper all rolled into one. The higher the magnification range goes the more pronounced the effects of mirage are, which are distorted or obscured images of distant targets. I’ve seen IPSC-sized targets reduced to nothing by white blobs at 800 yards because of the effects of mirage. As you can imagine, this will greatly hinder the ability of the shooter to accurately hold off for wind or elevation corrections.

Another consideration that should be taken into account when selecting an optic is the field of view, which is what the shooter can see through the optic from one edge to the other at a given magnification setting. I believe there are some exceptions but in general if there are two scopes with equal objective lens sizes the optic with a higher magnification will have the smaller field of view. Why does this matter? Well, if the shooter is shooting benchrest competition or simply shooting steel at a fixed distance then having a small field of view doesn’t matter all that much. However, the shooter is engaging moving targets or targets that are at multiple distances then having a larger field of view will help to keep them from getting “lost” while following a target and/or searching for the next one.

Variable powered optics sort of help to mitigate these issues, especially those with higher magnification ranges, since the user can select a lower power that provides an adequate field of view and copes with mirage. The considerations above are why fixed ten-power optics were popular with military and law enforcement shooters for many years. The ten-power magnification was considered adequate enough for target ID, tracking moving targets, and reducing the effects of mirage. However, times have changed and better variable powered optics are on the market that allow the shooter to cope with these issue with relative ease.

First Focal Plane and Second Focal Plane Reticles (FFP and SFP)

The term FFP and SFP refers to the position of the reticle inside of the scope which can be very important depending on the type of scope and its intended use. FFP scopes have the reticle located at the front of the erector, which means that the subtension of the reticle does not change from high to low power. For tactical shooters, this means that the reticle can be used on any power to shoot at targets on the move, compensate for trajectory, or estimate the range to a target. Since the reticle is accurate at any power within the magnification range the shooter has one less thing to worry about under high stress situations. The only apparent downside to FFP reticles is that on the lowest power setting the reticle will be too small to effectively use the graduations on the reticle. Of course if the scope is dialed down to 3X or 4X chances are it’s not to get a range on something.

SFP scopes have their reticles placed towards the rear of the erector and are a very common arrangement with riflescopes here in the States. This means that when the shooter goes from high to low magnification the reticle will appear to remain the same size in relation to the shooter. This also means that the reticle is accurate at only one power, which may or may not be the highest magnification setting. With some practice, the reticle can be used on other, intermediate magnifications, but it is not as intuitive as using a FFP reticle. Scopes with SFP reticles are a good choice if the shooter is only target shooting on a “square”range or for a general hunting-type application where using the scope for trajectory compensation at intermediate power settings is not needed.
 
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Jan 6, 2009
944
30
28
Charleston, WV
#4
Range Estimation Formulas
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^This formula is used for a known target height (in inches) and reading your mil based reticle for a target distance in yards.


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If you have known MOA data and go to a mil scope you can just convert it by dividing by 3.44. So, if your 500 yard dope is 12 MOA then 12 / 3.44 = 3.48 or rounded to 3.5 mils so you dial up 3.5 mils and you will hit.

If you’re using a Mil based reticle with moa adjustment the conversion is 3.4377 MOA per mil so multiply 3.4377 times the correction (3.5 mils) and you find there are 12.03 (12) MOA in 3.5 mils. Since each click is 1⁄4 (1/8 click) of an MOA you would need four clicks per MOA (4 x 12 = 48) (8x12=96 clicks)

Realistically formulas are great and should be learned however drop charts are much faster!

Eye Relief (Again)

Another specification that I pay close attention to when selecting a riflescope is the amount of eye relief given for the scope. Having enough eye relief can mean all the difference in the world if you are shooting a magnum caliber rifle. For long-range bolt action and some semi-auto rifles, the eye relief should provide sufficient space between the ocular lens and the eye, with 3- 3.5” on high power being pretty common. It is also important with variable powered optics that the change in eye relief be minimal from high to low power. This means that the cheek weld can be more consistent when using the scope at various settings and in various positions. Some optics such as the 4X Trijicon ACOG has a shorter eye relief compared to other riflescopes since it has only 1.5” of eye relief. This is fine for soft recoiling rifles such as the AR-15, but on harder recoiling rifles this can become a painful issue. The amount of eye relief is also important when mounting a scope since the optic should be positioned so that when the shooter has a full field of view when positioned comfortably behind the rifle. Sometimes this requires a special mount or base but it really just depends on the rifle and optic set up.


Internal Elevation Travel

When selecting a riflescope it’s important to look at the specifications provided by the manufacturer and in particular the amount of internal elevation travel that is listed for the scope. The manufacturer usually lists the total internal travel as 50 MOA, 65 MOA, 90 MOA, etc. in the specifications and this is the amount of travel the erector has from stop to stop inside the scope. Some shooters mistakenly think that this number given by the manufacturer as “Total or Max Elevation” adjustment means that this is the amount of travel they have once they zero. This is rarely the case since when a scope arrives from the manufacturer, the erector is centered within the tube to provide the shooter the maximum amount of travel in order to zero. So if a scope is listed as having 100 MOA of elevation travel, which is generous for a tactical riflescope, it should have 50 MOA up and down. The total amount of internal travel is important because it can help the shooter select not only the right scope for the application but also further guide them when selecting the proper mounting solution so that the scope can be used to its full potential. It is important to keep in mind though that generally the higher the magnification a scope has, the less internal travel it will have also. This lack of elevation will sometimes require a sloped base in order for the scope to function properly and reach the distances that the shooter desires. Whether an optic has 100 MOA of internal travel or 50 MOA, I consider it a good idea for the shooter to at least get a 20 MOA base to mitigate the chances of not having enough elevation travel.


Scope Tracking and Reliability

After looking at what I intend to do with an optic, my budget, and some of the options that are out there, I begin to look at the reliability of the riflescope. When I talk about the reliability of an optic I not only mean its ability to withstand some abuse but also the accuracy and repeatability of its adjustments. More so than any other quality sought in a tactical riflescope this is the most important, because if you cannot trust the click values and its ability to return to zero after dialing in a lot of elevation then it is practically useless. It’s always a good idea to test the repeatability of the elevation and windage adjustments no matter how much the scope cost or the reputation of the manufacturer.
 
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Likes: sandwarrior
Jan 6, 2009
944
30
28
Charleston, WV
#5
Stocks/Chassis

You can have the greatest barreled action, scope, and trigger on the market, but if you have a tupper ware stock chances are your accuracy will greatly suffer because of it. These are only a few chassis options on the market. Chassis can range from $800 to $3,000.

AICS Chassis

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AIAX Chassis

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Ashbury Precision Chassis

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Drake Associates Chassis

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Kinetic Research Group

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Manners stocks now have the option of having a “mini” chassis molded into the stock plus a stocks that folds in half.

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Fiberglass and Composite stocks are still great stocks still used very heavily by military and competition shooters alike. We like to break these stocks up into two categories, “professional” and “budget”. McMillan and Manners fall into the professional category where HS Precision and Bell and Carlson (B&C) fall into the budget line. Both the McMillan and Manners are solid throughout their construction while the HS and B&C are filled with foam, hence why you don’t see these stocks with flush cups installed. McMillan and Manners will require you to pillar bed plus bed the barreled action into the stock to reach its potential for accuracy. Disregard the bedding if using a mini chassis with the Manners. HS Precision and B&C stocks have an aluminum bedding block meant to provide more accuracy. We have found these stocks still greatly benefit from skim bedding the barreled action into the stock. Bedding takes out any inconsistencies between the stock and barreled action and marries them to each other like a glove.
 
Last edited:
Likes: sandwarrior
Jan 6, 2009
944
30
28
Charleston, WV
#6
Wind Reading

The single most unpredictable element in long range shooting is the wind. There is always air movement even though you may not feel or see it. Wind can be determined from two departments, art and science. Art refers to monitoring everything between you and the target. The tree leaves moving, tall grass swaying and any other clues you see. Science refers to taking reading with a meter to be addressed below. Together, these two methods will give you the best tools to make a call on the wind. Mirage discussed blow is another tool to use; however, it is much harder to see compared to objects moving in front of you.

Wind is not constant. It is not side to side or front to back. It moves about the terrain around you. It is best to visualize how water would flow over a given terrain. Water and air are both mediums. The air will flow over hills and valleys just as a river flows over rocks, through bends as well as eddies. Chances are the wind will change as soon as you’ve made a wind call. You will need to be on the fly with your observations. Feel the wind. If you get a funny feeling that the wind is going to change, don’t shoot. Wait for your next respiratory pause to shoot.

There have been some discussions as to what area the wind matters most. The wind closest to the shooter since the wind has longer to act upon the bullet. The wind at the target since the wind has a greater effect on the bullet due to a diminished velocity. It all matters. Focus on the entire distance to the target.

Not all wind is acting equally upon your bullet once fired. Depending on the direction the wind it coming from, it can be classified as full-value or half-value. After you have determined a wind speed, check your ballistics for the corresponding wind drift. If the wind is nearly side to side, apply that full-value to your firing solution. If the wind is coming at an angle, apply the half-value to your firing solution.



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Mirage

Mirage is the distortion of light by alternating layers of hot and cold air. A prime example of this is looking over asphalt pavement on a hot, summer day. The image you see appears to be boiling. As you can imagine, this is nearly impossible to accurately shoot through. Mirage is best dealt with by reducing you scope’s magnification; however, it only reduce its affects on summer days. Even on cooler days, mirage is still present as heat is radiating off of the ground. Mirage can be useful in determining wind downrange. By estimating the angle the mirage makes, you can estimate wind speed. When the mirage is coming towards you or away from you, it is known as a boil. You are best not to shoot through a boil as the mirage is actually distorting the image higher or lower than it actually is. As a result, your point of aim may be higher or lower than it should be.



Environmental Conditions

Temperature. Temperature is one of the main influences on long range shooting. It influences the trajectory of the bullet, the temperature of the barrel and in some cases the ammunition we are using. Temperature is fairly easy to measure and predict. It has a moderate effect on trajectory.

Elevation. Elevation is another variable in conditions. It is the easiest to measure and predict. Elevations do not change without you moving, and we can fairly well determine what the temperature will be briefly into the future. It has a moderate effect on trajectory.

Pressure. Pressure is the air pressure around you. It can fluctuate easily without you knowing it. Since pressure affects the air density the bullet must travel through, it has a major effect on trajectory.

Humidity. Humidity is amount of water vapor in the air. Higher humidity does not equate to more dense air. It is actually the opposite. Higher humidity is actually less dense air due to the water vapor expanding. It has the least effect on trajectory of the environmental conditions.

Density Altitude. Density altitude (DA) is an altitude equivalent on a specific set on conditions involving temperature, elevation and pressure. It comes from the aviation industry where aircrafts will encounter different conditions in various airports and flying altitudes. It is used to determine the air density. As the DA rises, the air is less dense. Inversely, as the DA drops, the air is more dense. For shooters, this comes into play as ranges increase. In a higher DA, our bullet has a flatter trajectory because the less dense air allows our bullet to slide through the air more easily. It is possible to have a negative DA, especially in the winter time.

From a shooter’s standpoint, DA is much easier to equate a set of environmental conditions to a single number. 3,300 feet DA is much easier to use than 1,500 feet elevation, 78*F, 29.95 in Hg and 64% humidity. By taking notes on shooting from a day that the DA was 3,300 feet, you can also use the same set of firing solutions months from now when the DA is 3,300 feet. Many ballistic calculators and software now accept DA to input for your conditions. It is just much easier and quicker to use a single number.

Kestrel Meters.

Kestrel meters are popular in the long range shooting world. They give instantaneous and a history of environmental conditions as well as determining wind speed and direction. They range in price from $75 to $600. The 4000 ($250) and 4500 ($310) models will provide you with a DA reading. It is important to understand that these meters give you the conditions at the shooter. Conditions at the target are typically the same except the wind. You will need to use your wind reading skills to determine the wind downrange and at the target. These meters are an excellent tool to use to estimate and check the wind speed. With some practice, you will be able to determine the wind speed by the objects around you as mentioned before.

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Ballistic Coefficients

Whatever type of ballistics you use, you will need to know the ballistic coefficient of your bullet. A ballistic coefficient (BC) is a measure of the bullet’s ability to overcome air resistance in flight. It is a function of mass, diameter and drag coefficient. The higher the BC the more slippery the bullet is as it flies through the air. Most bullets for long range have a good BC. A higher BC will allow a bullet to retain its velocity aiding in trajectory, wind drift and retained energy. Ballistic coefficients are not set in stone. They will vary upon velocity. Typically, the faster the bullet starts out, the higher the initial BC is. As it begins to slow, the BC will be reduced some. This is very important when entering your bullet’s BC into ballistic software. When entering into software, you may come upon multiple drag models for a particular bullet. The most common are G1 and G7.

G1. The G1 drag model coefficient is the number usually given or displayed by bullet manufacturers. The G1 coefficient describes a blunt nose, flat base bullet. Most long range bullets are typically not of this form, but it can be used for trajectory calculations.

G7. The G7 drag model coefficient describes a long, sleek bullet with a boat-tail. It more accurately depicts a long range bullet. Ballistic software using a G7 coefficient usually yields a trajectory close to the actual trajectory.

Different Types of Ballistic Software

There are quite a few ballistic programs available online or on a mobile device. Some are rough and quick while others are detailed and complex. You just need to dig into a program and see how it performs for you. I prefer to use JBM Ballistics. It allows you to control all inputs and outputs. You can create your own range cards for different conditions even look up bullet lengths and stability calculations. It’s all there.

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Some commonly used ballistic software are: Field Density Altitude Calculator, Adaptive Quick Card, JBM Ballistics, Field Firing Solutions, Ballistic AE and Shooter. The quality of the information you enter will determine the quality of the outputs. Typical parameters are: bullet, BC along with drag model, muzzle velocity, distance to chronograph, scope centerline above bore centerline measurement (sight height), temperature, pressure, altitude and humidity. Always pay attention to units, and it never hurts to make sure the output makes sense.

Once could write a book on ballistics and software. In fact, Bryan Litz has quite literally wrote the book. When selecting any bullet BC or drag

model, you can refer to his findings to rely on solid information.



Chronographs

Chronographs are used to determine a projectile’s velocity. They normally use two sensors with a timer. The unit will compute the time it takes to travel between the sensors and provide you with a reading. They are fairly accurate, but some inconsistencies can arise. Lighting conditions, bullet turbulence and distance to chronograph all come into play. Generally, a chronograph’s reading is taken as gospel. They should not be. They are close but may not be the actual velocity. Different manufacturers allow different tolerances for their components within a chronograph. It is best to use the average reading from a chronograph to begin to develop ballistics for your rifle. From there, you can ‘true’ your ballistics by varying the velocity from known scope settings and environmental conditions. One key piece of advice, place the chronograph ten feet from the muzzle and in the shade (if possible) for the best readings.

Angled Fire

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Likes: sandwarrior
Jan 6, 2009
944
30
28
Charleston, WV
#7
Battery Free Ballistics and Rangefinder

FDAC (Field Density Altitude Compensator)

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Designed for use with all MOA and MRAD adjusting optics. This product was entirely conceived, designed, and validated by Adaptive Consulting & Training Services, LLC (ACTS). ACTS is a small business completely owned and operated by former USMC Scout Snipers.

The FDAC is an analog slide rule that displays elevation and windage firing solutions using density altitude (DA). It has two sides, side (A) calculates firing solutions in MOA (minutes of angle) and side (B) calculates in 0.1 MRAD (one tenth milradian, commonly referred to as “mils”). The front of the product has a density altitude calculation table, allowing the user to easily compute density altitude with acceptable accuracy in the absence of an instrument such as a kestrel or other device that measures density altitude. The user simply inserts the slide which is the closest to the muzzle velocity of his rifle, and then slides the internal firing solution matrix (the slide) until the current density altitude and the below listed firing solutions are visible in the viewing window. All firing solutions contained in the FDAC are calculated using the G7 drag model and Bryan Litz’s tested G7 ballistic coefficients. All data contained in the three slides are the results of an extensive two year live fire testing and validation project involving several military snipers, about 20 different weapon/optic.

Adaptive Quick Card (AQC)

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The AQC is designed to be the most simple, intuitive, and accurate tool available to estimate density altitude (DA) and calculate long range firing solutions for a large array of popular firearm calibers, bullet types, and muzzle velocities.

The AQC's design is an adaptation from the FDAC (Field Density Altitude Compensator) and was completely conceived, designed, and validated by a team of Marine Scout Snipers. The AQC is intended to simplify the process of calculating a firing solution, so that all users of all experience levels can quickly and easily engage targets in austere field environments, without the use of any additional devices.

The firing solutions found within the AQC are incredibly accurate and have been extensively tested at long range to ensure data accuracy and compatibility with the wide range of firearm and optics combinations used by today's military/LE snipers and long range shooting enthusiasts.



Mildot Master

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The Mildot Master in use is fairly simple. You measure a target of known height with the Mil scale in your rifle scope. You then match the target height on the sliding scale of the Mildot Master to the milled height on the body. You then look at the arrow on the scale labeled "TARGET RANGE" and bingo! Check your ballistic table, dial in the correction and fire. No more need to remember the Mil Relation formula or worry about your calculator breaking in the field.

The Mildot Master accommodates meters instead of yards by just turning the sliding scale over. There is even a place on the back to place your ballistic table.

One last cool feature that the Mildot Master has is a scale for reading the angle to target. If you have ever shot from high angles, then you know that this will cause your bullet to impact higher than it would at the same range over a flat line of sight. There is some trigonometry involved in working out the exact "corrected" range to the target. At short distances, it really doesn’t make a difference, but at long range and high angles it does. When dealing with extreme angles, the distance to the target is typically close due to terrain. Remember to use the elevation setting for corrected distance to target (along Earth’s surface), and the windage setting setting for straight line distance to target (measured distance).

On the back of the Mildot Master, there is an angle scale. You tie a piece of string and a small fishing weight (or rock, or whatever) to the rivet labled "PIVOT". Simply sight down the side edge of the Mildot Master to your target and read the angle off of the scale. Then flip the Mildot Master over and match the angle to the scale under "TARGET RANGE". That angle will correspond to the "corrected" angle on the scale. Dial in the scope correction required for the corrected range and engage.

Alternately, you can have your spotter measure the angle of the rifle barrel while you sight in on target.

The included instruction booklet goes into great detail on how to use the Mildot Master. It even includes practice problems.

While this may not be something that everyone needs, it is definitly worth the price. If you are a Military Sniper or a LE Sniper who may have to shoot over extended ranges this is a "must have" backup to your Laser

Torque Values

Most bolts and fasteners on a rifle have a recommended torque value. Pay close attention to the units when using a torque wrench. Foot-pounds (ft-lbs) and inch-pounds (in-lbs) differ by a factor of 12. Most people will have a foot-pounds torque wrench, but few people have an inch-pounds torque wrench. Most torque specs on a rifle are in inch-pounds. Here are a few recommended torque values.

Action screws into a chassis, fiberglass stock with pillar/action bedding and/or a bedding block: 50-65 in-lbs

Action screws into an un-bedded fiberglass stock or a stock with aluminum pillars: 40-50 in-lbs

Action screws into a wooden stock: 35-40 in-lbs

Scope base screws: 15-30 in-lbs

Scope ring cross bolt/nut: 50-65 in-lbs

Scope ring cap screws: 15-25 in-lbs

Barrel into action: typically 100 ft-lbs, but custom rifles will vary.

Note: These are typical values commonly found on most of these products. When you purchase a new piece of equipment, the manufacturer will include a torque value or they will list the information on their website.

When installing any of these components, you must take into account recoil. Most scope rails are equipped with some sort of recoil lug that hangs down into the ejection port of the action. When installing a scope rail, make sure the rail is pushed firmly forward. Scope ring lower halves must also be pushed forward against the lugs of a picatinny rail. It also helps to hold the ring half firm against one side as you tighten the bolt/nut. Scope ring caps should be installed using a ‘star’ pattern such as tightening lug nuts on a vehicle’s wheel. One difference is, when installing the barreled action into the stock, make sure the recoil lug is firmly against bedding or stock material before you torque those screws. It helps to get the screws started and stand the rifle up onto its recoil pad for final torque.

Scope Mounting

Some people think there is some voodoo involved with leveling a scope in the rings. From plumb bobs to a set of 3 levels, we’ve seen them all. The easiest and most accurate way is to use a set of feeler gauges. You can place these feeler gauges in between the scope’s erector housing and scope rail. Add or remove the amount of feeler gauges to take up the space between the two. Tighten the scope caps with the feeler gauges under the scope. This guarantees the scope is level in the rings and is level to the base which should be level to the action.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Fouled, warm bores are predictable. Fouled, cold bores as slightly less predictable. Clean, cold bores are even tougher to predict. Very seldom will you ever witness a long range shooter take an important shot on a target with a clean, cold bore. They want to have a layer of fouling in their bore to insure the shot they are about to take is as consistent as the shots they have taken previously.

You want to manage the fouling in your bores by routine cleaning. You do not want to clean a barrel squeaky clean. When you clean down to bare metal, you are removing all traces of copper and carbon that ‘smooth’ the bullet as it travels down the bore. This is especially true with factory barrels, and not so much as with hand lapped custom barrels. When you remove this fouling completely, you will have to deposit it back by shooting to regain the consistency. By removing most of the fouling, you will regain consistency is few to zero shots.

We seldom clean our bores. By seldom we mean, every couple hundred rounds or when accuracy falls off. The reason is because you can damage a barrel more by cleaning it than shooting it. Why would we unnecessarily clean of bore if it doesn’t need it? It only creates a risk of damaging your bore. With that said, we typically follow a set procedure to manage the fouling in our bores. Every 250 rounds, we will clean the carbon out of the bore while leaving the copper. This ensures we will retain our zero sooner while keeping the bore somewhat clean. Your rifle will be different. Pay attention to accuracy. If accuracy drops off for no apparent reason with a couple hundred rounds down the tube, a cleaning may be the trick.

Bore Guides

A bore guide is absolutely critical when cleaning a precision rifle. It ensures that the cleaning rod is held in the center of the bore while providing some additional stiffness to the rod by adding another point of support. It protects the chamber by usually sealing it off with O-rings. It protects the action and stock finish by shielding them from cleaning solutions. They are relatively in-expensive considering the insurance they provide. One of the best bore guides is the Lucas Bore Guide. It is a custom made bore guide to your cartridge, action and cleaning rod. It offers very good protection of the action, and precise alignment with its two-piece design. They can be purchased for about $60.

Cleaning Rods

A cleaning rod is also critical for cleaning. Gone are the days of the jointed cleaning rod. The segments can easily be off center allowing an offset of the rod pieces. This creates an ideal method to shave and scrape your barrel. Stick with solid one-piece rods. Dewey and Tipton stainless steel and carbon fiber rods are highly recommended. They offer the right amount of stiffness with ball bearings in the handle to glide along with the rifling. They come in various lengths and diameters. Just be certain to select one long enough when using a long barrel and a bore guide.

Cleaning Solutions

There are tons of bore cleaning products on the market. Most will do a good job. Some will do a great job. We like to use KG Products. They are ammonia-free and can be used to target carbon and copper separately. Please use caution when using any product with ammonia. Do not let ammonia based products stay in a bore for very long at all. It will etch the barrels and result in a great increase in fouling.

Patches and Jags

Have you ever seen someone clean their teeth with a stainless, copper or bronze brush? Then, why would you use it on your barrel. Stainless, copper and bronze brushes shouldn’t be used on precision rifles. Instead, use a nylon brush if you must. Stick to jags and patches with cleaners. Let the chemicals do the work. Never run a nylon brush or jag with a patch back and forth in the bore. Always push the rod to the muzzle in the travel of the bullet. Pay close attention to the crown. I never pull a jag or brush back through the bore. I will remove the jag and slide the rod back.

Chambers and Actions

We like to keep our chambers and actions relatively clean. Few good things can come from a filthy chamber and action…jams, pressure spikes, you name it. After a few shooting sessions, we will run a clean, dry cotton mop into the chamber and spin it by hand. This will remove any loose carbon or debris in the chamber. A quick wipe down of the bolt and action with a clean, dry rag is in order also. From time to time, we will swab out the lug recess in the action, but this requires a small tool to hold the swabs. Be sure to apply a thin layer of grease back onto the bolt lugs. You want just a dab, not enough to think it even does anything. This helps with galling of the lugs. Pull the bolt apart every so often to make sure all inner workings are clean of debris and are lubed. Use caution here, grease on the firing pin can draw condensation over time. Take the rifle hunting in the cold, and you may have a firing pin frozen in place. We like to use a light dusting of dry lube on the firing pin itself.

Data Books

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A data book is a book that holds a wealth of information about you and your rifle. From serial numbers to scope settings for a specific stage in a competition, a data book can keep it all organized. They are most helpful in storing ballistics for your rifle or DOPE, Data On Previous Engagement. You can log each of your shots in different conditions and refer back to them when in similar conditions. Multiple companies make them with multiple layouts. We recommend Impact Data Books. It is owned and operated by a former Scout Sniper and current competition shooter. He allows you to organize your data book to your specific needs. From target shapes to range cards, he makes all the sheets to track your shots in training and competition. He also uses a set of reference pages of useful info. One important piece of advice: garbage in = garbage out. Your data book is only as useful as the information you enter into it.





ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

8541 Tactical (www.8541tactical.com)

Shooting Voodoo (www.shootingvoodoo.com)

Sniper’s Hide (www.snipershide.com) Online training/ DVDs

Impact Data Books (www.impactdatabooks.com)

Mil-Dot (www.mil-dot.com)

SWFA (www.swfa.com)

JBM Ballistics (www.jbmballistics.com)
 
Jan 6, 2009
944
30
28
Charleston, WV
#9
Is this Tiberasaurus Rex? This is the most regurgitated group of posts ever created, to my knowledge.
Marc,
I see you didn't get the attention you wanted on the Facebook post you made. So you've decided to come here and flame on.

Is there something you can be helped with? Or, are you taking time out of your not so busy day to attempt at trolling?

Is this the attention you were after?
 

John D.

Sergeant
May 2, 2010
324
28
28
CT
#15
This is much appreciated. Only wish I found it earlier. It would have saved me time...and money....and anger about all the time and money I was spending. Thank you!
 
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