View Full Version : My accuracy theory

11-10-2004, 08:46 AM
Recently I have shot all my rifles to compare accuracy. Their accuracy ranges from about 3/4 MOA up to over 2 (an iron-sighted M1A). For general practice I use a 10" armor steel gong. The range at which I can consistently ring the gong from field positions is what I consider my effective range in the field. The interesting thing to me is that I can ring the gong the same with all of the rifles. In other words, within reason the degree of accuracy a given rifle is capable of makes no difference at all in field effectiveness for a big game hunter like me. MOA accuracy doesn't matter! Not to say that maximizing a rifle's accuracy isn't a worthwhile endeavor, but on the other hand there is no reason not to use a 2 MOA rifle if one desires.

11-10-2004, 09:19 AM
You would like Jeff Cooper's "The Art of the Rifle."

This should be read by every rifleman and hunter.

11-10-2004, 10:06 AM
That theory may have been reinforced at the 2004 Kifaru Rondy, where a number of shooters consistently nailed a ram silhouette at over 480 yards, with a variety of rifles. However, some of those rifles may have had less than MOA accuracy or very close to MOA, I don't know. You make a good point.

11-10-2004, 10:53 AM
I've heard that Townsend Whelen originated the quote that "only accurate rifles are interesting rifles". Regardless, I've always disagreed with the premise. I've owned a variety of rifles that haven't been particularly accurate; Krags, Win'94's, my Grandpa's Remington model 8 and the like, that I have derived immense pleasure from and were exellent at bringing home game. There are so many things that come into play in a game getting gun besides what moa it's capable of. Things like stock fit, sight picture, handling, trigger pull, balance etc. I enjoy iron sighted rifles, I have an 1885 with a vernier tang sight and globe front sight. It'll shoot sub MOA groups from the bench all day long but I don't hunt with it because it's long, heavy, slow to reload and its sights aren't conducive to snap shooting or low light situations. Again, so much depends on the type of hunting you do. Are you a long ranger, shooting 'lopes off a bipod at 400 yards or do you just sneak around in the woods of New England? My primary hunting rifle here in Utah is a tricked out .270 Win that shoots sub MOA with my handloads and I shoot it a lot so that I'm proficient with it, but I ALWAYS take an open sighted lever gun hunting with me in case I run into blizzard conditions or I end up in deep timber. Remember grasshopper, be at one with your rifle, that's what matters most! I'm not sure who said that.

11-10-2004, 01:31 PM
The timing of this post is very interesting, as I have been thinking exactly the same thing over the last several days. I have become accustomed to rifles that shoot less than 1//2" all day, and a few that will go under 1/4" all day. However, some of my favorite rifles aren't even close to these, and I have no problem hitting what I aim at in the field. I think once you get off that bench, other variables come into play and somewhat even out the field. As elmbow noted, stick fit, sight picture, handling, trigger pull, balance, etc., all come into play.

11-10-2004, 03:39 PM
What continent do moa live on?

David Walter
11-10-2004, 04:05 PM
I missed a shot because of being in the trees and having a scope on the rifle.

Fool me once shame on me, and all that.....

11-10-2004, 06:42 PM

11-10-2004, 06:45 PM
I agree with your idea of field accuracy. Being able to get ten shots out of ten into a 10" circle (I use paper plates) offhand is a fine field shot.

I sight-in my rifles very carefully with a rest shooting multiple 3-shot groups on a day with no wind and assure the sight screws/adjustments are tight and secure. That way the rifle is accurate in a neutral environment. You can take "kentucky windage" as the need dictates.

For general practice, I enjoy plinking and paper plate shooting. In the deep woods, where you are unlikely to bother anyone, wander along and shoot targets of opportunity, pine cones, branches, bark chips whatever at varying ranges. If you can hit or get close to these, you are likely pretty good. A ten-inch circle center-chest covers virually all major organs and blood vessels in anything you are likely to encounter in North America.

11-11-2004, 03:31 AM
The difference between 1 moa and 2 moa isnt much... but it can mean the difference between a clean kill, and a slow painful death.

That being said, Ive seen some rifles that when sandbagged could split hair on a gnats ass... but were so uncomfortable to shoot on the move that compairitivly inaccurate rifles were more likely to hit their mark.

for my money, Im looking for the rifle that can hit 1 moa to 1.25 moa, and is easy to handle. Anything more than that is gravy... anything less and Id question its business in the woods.

11-11-2004, 08:10 AM
I did read "The Art of the Rifle" and I agree. It is an excellent resource.

For me the great adavantage of shooting a steel target is the instant feedback, while the sight picture is still very fresh in my mind. No need to shoot a group, then look through a scope or walk over to see the target.

I got my easily portable armor gong from these people:


Very nice people, good service, good prices.

11-11-2004, 09:04 AM
Good one elmbow! Of course.

They're birds right?

11-11-2004, 09:31 AM
elmbow -- LOL /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

11-14-2004, 03:28 PM
From what position?

11-14-2004, 04:09 PM
In my experience, very few people can place 10 shots into a four inch circle at 300 yds. consistently with any rifle, from field hunting positions. Doing so in 30 seconds seems almost impossible and I don't see the point in even attempting to do this.

I think that being able to quickly hit an animal's vital zone with 1-2 shots consistently under field conditions is much more important in hunting; being able to hit the vitals of a charging animal at close range with speed is also crucial in some situations. Cooper and Whelen were military officers and military standards and procedures are not always best in the civilian hunting-wilderness world.

Also, any rifle that will consistently put five shots into 2 moa within 300 yds. and does not shift poi is all one needs for hunting big game. I do not like this shooting at extreme ranges on living animals, too much of this is just b____t and leads to wounded, suffering animals,I have witnessed this several times.

11-14-2004, 05:45 PM
For practice, I like to place a light colored object on the dirt backstop at the range. It is best to stake it down so it stays in place for more shots. Waiting for the range to clear, or just the gun to cool, I will practice with a .22 pistol or rifle.
It is about 130 yards to the backstop, and easy to spot .22 bullets striking. High power however, recoil recovery makes it difficult, and a spotter is necessary.
It is a great way to build up confidence for iron sight shooting.

11-14-2004, 06:57 PM
Do any of ya'll notice a difference in your ability to shoot accurately when at the range versus when shooting at live game?

I have the opposite of 'buck fever'. When I'm at the range with people watching, I tend to shoot more poorly than when I'm in the field and I have a live target in front of me.

When I have people watching, I tend to worry about my form, my hold, my timing, etc. When it's the real deal, and I'm looking down that barrel at the deer or hog, it's like the rest of the world fades away. I don't hear the rifle go off, I don't feel it kick. I don't make a concious decision to squeeze the trigger. I see the target, I make a decision to do it, and then things just seem to blur and happen by themselves.

I've been known to make some really fine shots on moving game, but I consistently get outshot at the range.

Anybody else like this, or am I just weird?

11-14-2004, 10:42 PM
I'll take Kutenay's premise one step farther and say that anyone would be hard pressed to place 10 shots into a four inch bull at 300 yards with any rifle, from any shooting position in 30 seconds or less. There may be folks who practice this type of shooting and can do it, i.e. thunder ranch types, but I'm not sure I see the correlation to hunting.
I have enjoyed reading Mr. Cooper over the years and credit him with his innovative combat pistol techniques. On his recommendation I bought the book "Scouting on Two Continents" by Bertrand Russell, enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone interested in the history of the American SW and South Africa in the late 1800's.
I bought a Savage Scout when they came out about five years ago and gave that concept a try. I concluded that it wasn't for me. I didn't like the balance of the forward mounted scope and didn't care for the limited sight picture it affords. I also felt like it was more fragile sitting out there. Additionally, I didn't see the need for the action being exposed. Just too specialized a weapon IMO. That doesn't mean it might not work for others so please dispense with slinging hate mail my way on the scout thing.
I believe his ideas for short handy rifles are appropriate and helped lead the way for many of the weapons we discuss on this forum. Particularly his 350 Rem Mag necked up to .375 although I forget what he called it.
Seems to me the best practice for shooting under hunting conditions is shooting under hunting conditions. Time on the range tests rifles and loads, not the shooter. Sitting on the ground with your legs crossed trying to hit a 4 inch bull at 300 yards is a real eye opener for anyone who thinks they're dead eye dick off the sandbagged bench.

11-15-2004, 06:20 AM
I agree on the "Scout Rifle" and I live in country that one would consider ideal for this configuration. Some of this is what one is used to and I have quite definite opinions on what works for me, where I hunt and shoot. I admire Jeff Cooper very much and know people who have shot with him and also admire him.

I have thought for many years that we tend to place far too much emphasis on small groups and long range and not enough on being able to consistently and quickly hit a 6" circle from a field position with our hunting rifles and loads.

I think that the book refered to was written by Capt. F.C. Burnham, not Lord Bertrand Russell, an avowed pacifist, socialist and philosopher; a man very much worth reading, even for "Conservatives". Burnham, however, was an interesting guy, one of those peripatetic adventurers that roamed the Globe, suitably armed, during "The Glorious Days Of The Raj"; if you tried that now, some "Warrior of Allah" would probably terminate you with his AK, the universial tool of the "Freedom Fighter"..........

11-15-2004, 10:19 AM
I think the ability to shot accurately at long range and having the arm to do it is great. I love highly accurate rifles and have a number of them but I don't use that accuracy and never shoot very far. I like to hunt with a rifle like bow hunters hunt with bows. Getting close great fun and nerve racking to boot. Those of you who can and do shoot at the longer ranges deserve respect for the time it takes to learn to do it properly but there are many of us who don't (by choice) or shouldn't try longer range shots. We should all really harp on the practice aspect and and lacking that disuade the weekend warriors from doing such shooting. Get me really close with an accurate rifle and I'll bring home the bacon every time. It is surprising how often you can get closer and even closer still. I pass on some animals but when one is in sight the intensity of the hunt is just begining and that intensity lasts for the time (sometimes hours) it takes to stalk as close as I need to be. I think maybe I'll take up shooting more accurately at long range for the skill and dicipline it requires but until I have the time to devote to it I'll stick with the under 50 yrd. stuff so as to not embarass myself too much. Thanks for the info on books to read (some I've already read). I hope our local liberal hunter hating library has them on hand but I won't hold my breath. Remember when viewed with common sense we can always use more of everything that makes us better at what we love to do (not limited to but including money, guns, gear, ammo, accuracy and time).

11-15-2004, 11:50 AM
Kutenay, thanks for the correction, it was Burnham not Russell.

one-eyed Bob
11-15-2004, 03:27 PM
I took Col. Cooper's rifle course and during the entire week, including sighting shots, there was not a bullseye to be found. One exercise involved walking a canyon trail with various steel plate targets arranged from 25 to 250 yards. An instructor walked behind with a stopwatch and you had 5 seconds to hit the target,from any position you wished, after it was sighted. There were 24 students or so and 8 instructors (of high quality) and they obviously were there because of their reverence for the aging guru whom I now esteem also. The reason for accuracy is for those long shots that may rarely be required and, especially, to eliminate one of the variables when practicing.

11-16-2004, 02:05 PM

You are one of the lucky ones who gets the proper addrenaline reaction.

I also believe that on the range (like in the field) only the first shot counts. I know lots of guys who can shoot into the same hole at any range, but they need 5-10 warmup shots first. I guess that is OK for varmit shooting, but doesn't cut it for anything bigger than a groundhog in my book.