Shooting for Accuracy
J N Morgan
Now I should probably start that I'm not a trained soldier, I've never taken any sort of formal 'classes' or 'courses' in shooting accurately, nor sadly have I ever been taught by a relative or friend on how to squeeze accuracy from my firearms. That said, I've reached 50m (55yd) with a pistol, and have rung an 8" gong at 200m (220yd) as well as an 18" gong at 300m (330yd). I've not tried beyond 300m yet, but I'm confident I could reach a man-sized target out to 400m (440yd). Some people who read this will probably have better accuracy than I do, and I welcome your comments below to hear about your own personal bests as well as how you manage to get the most from your shooting. For now, I'm going to share the things I've learned that have aided me in reaching this degree of accuracy thus far.
For accurate shooting with a pistol, the best accuracy I've probably ever managed is a 2.5" group at about 10-15m with 4 shots from my Hi Power made in Nazi-occupied Belgium back in 1943 or 1944. Never have been able to pinpoint the year; it's not on the pistol itself. That was all with different points of aim. I was shooting at an indoor range at a paper target with zombies on it, three of them, who were of varying sizes due to being at varying percieved distances. The final one was the 'farthest' one, the smallest one, who's head was probably around the size of a quarter. At 10-15m, it's not particularly easy to hit a quarter, especially with a pistol.
I had four shots left, and when I fired, it was probably 3" to the left. This was either due to the rear sight needing to be drifted, or more likely, I had 'not enough finger' on the trigger which was pushing the firearm left ever so slightly upon firing. If you have 'too much finger' on the trigger, then it would nudge the pistol to shoot right, but I digress. I compensated for this horizontal dispersion by aiming SLIGHTLY to the right, but not enough. Then again, then again, and if I had a fifth shot I'm sure I'd have pegged that zombie right in the dome. How did I get so much accuracy even though I never had any formal training, though? Not only that, but from a decades-old pistol? Here's how, and it's pretty simple.
Focus on the sight picture, specifically, the front sight. If the target gets a little bit blurry, and the rear sight, that's ok, but make sure you have a nice, crisp front sight that's beautifully square with the rear sight. That's a big part of it. Now next is that a problem with losing accuracy is anticipation of recoil; normally when you want to fire, your finger will yank the trigger back, and while doing that your brain is already knowing that recoil will be coming so in the LAST possible instance JUST before the shot is fired, you'll jerk forward. This will disrupt the aiming just before the trigger is finished being pulled, which can cause the round to deviate from point of aim. Here's how to keep from anticipating recoil, and it's quite cliche.
Puuuuuull the trigger. Nice and slow. Focus on the sight picture, keep steady as can be, puuuuull, puuuuull, puuuull, until the firearm just goes off. Let it almost surprise you, and that's the point; you don't anticipate it. After the shot is fired, instead of pointing the barrel downrange automatically like normal, you might find yourself holding the pistol post-recoil while the barrel is slightly pointed at an upward angle because you weren't already pushing forward for the recoil. That lunge forward when you go about firing the pistol but it doesn't go off, whether it's because of the safety being on or the trigger being slightly heavier than you expect, that's a tell-tale sign of anticipating recoil. Anticipating recoil will help get a quicker follow-up shot, but it will negatively affect accuracy, unless maybe you've got a lot of practice and training under your belt.
So in focusing on the irons, specifically the front sight, and slooooooowly squeezing the trigger so the shots 'surprise' me, I managed to get a 2.5" string of four shots at about 10-15m with four entirely different points of aim. The method of getting accuracy from a rifle is quite similar.
With irons you focus on a good sight picture, specifically focusing on the front sight. Sloooooowly squeeze the trigger until the shot surprises you, and though it's slow-firing, it will squeeze out as much accuracy as possible. If you've got an optic, it can help, but there's nothing special in a scope that sends magic into the action to make it sturdier, to make the rifling sharper, to make the firearm steadier, or any BS like that. It's still just a rifle, but now you can see the target a little bit easier at the cost of slightly more weight and bulk on your firearm. Get that bead or crosshair or whatever where you want it, slooooowly pull the trigger, and just let the firearm go off. Using this method, I managed to use my 1942 M91/30 Mosin with early-50s steel-cased laquor-coated Polish surplus (probably made for MGs rather than rifles), and run an 8" gong at 200m as well as an 18" gong at 300m. The Mosin was a standard straight-bolt rifle more than likely, once upon a time, because the 3.5x PU scope was a replica. Not an original. So essentially a standard Mosin but given a bent bolt and a replica of a simple WWII optic, and in my inexperienced hands managed to get a fair bit of distance out of it.
These are a few things I've learned in my brief shooting 'career' as it were. Sadly it has been quite some time since I've gotten to hit up a shooting range but it was with these little 'tricks' that I managed to do such, what I would consider, impressive shooting. Obviously for someone with decades of shooting experience and/or actual formal training, it's nothing special, but for me I was presently surprised at what I could accomplish. Oh yeah, and when I mentioned shooting at 50m with a pistol, that was with an old shot-out P38, all-matching, with a bore that barely had any rifling left in it. Took my final 8 shots at the perhaps torso-size paper target, and as I recall I got somewhere between 3-5 hits. This was months if not over a year before I did the Hi Power shooting at the indoor range. The P38 was at an outdoor range. Anyways, hope you found this interesting, and I hope it comes in handy on your next trip to the range if you didn't already know these little tidbits!
If you enjoyed this stuff and would like a bit of firearm-related reading material from someone who actually knows firearms, some reading material where you won't be rolling your eyes at a mag being called a clip or vice-versa, then you can check out a few of my books if you like.
Living amongst the Dead (Realistic zombie survival novel, Jim himself was quite a fan of it! You can check his review on the Amazon page!)
Paperback $7.99USD and Kindle/eReader FREE*
(*March 28-29. After that it'll be $0.99)
Firearm Valhalla (Somewhat post-apocalyptic gun-porn novelette, only about 50 pages)
Paperback $4.99USD and Kindle/eReader $0.99USD
Living amongst the Dead: Dark Days (Sequel to Living amongst the Dead, brand spankin' new novel!)
Living amongst the Dead: Dark Days (Sequel to Living amongst the Dead, brand spankin' new novel!)
Paperback*+ $9.99USD and Kindle/eReader $2.99
(*Paperback might not be available on Amazon until March 29-30. eReader/Kindle version IS available.)
(+Paperback presently available on the CreateSpace website below.)
(Guest Article End)
Shooting well at long range requires a.) well loaded ammunition (consistent powder load), b.) a knowledge of how to shoot in the wind (amazing the effect of it over 100 yards), c.) good range finding skills d.) a person who knows how much hold-over is required for the range of the target. If you lack any of these skills, LUCK is one helluva help in that regard.ReplyDelete
If you want practice, shooting at milk jugs on a flat surface (with SAFE BACKGROUND) will help you as quickly as possible. Always nice to know how much front target blade in rear sight notch for maximum distance shooting is needed.
And NEVER think you are better than you actually are. Accept your limitations. If 200 yrds is your max, don't ever take a shot after that.Delete
Okay, PA fans, I spent my own money buying the sequel mentioned above and if you enjoyed the original in the series you'll get your monies worth on the next one. I'm only half way through and I'll finish it tonight, and include a pre-article note tomorrow if you want to wait for my VERY short review. But for now, it rocks, yo! If you haven't gotten the free first book, what in the name of all that is sweet and holy are you waiting on? Good friggin Christ on roller skates, does the author need to come to your house and read it to you?
Most definitely, and I hear that's why you can get much better results out of handloaded ammo than you can from commercial stuff. Put meticulous care into having each individual casing contain the same amount of powder and it should help with consistency, I hear. I use the Lyman 500 powder scale, no batteries necessary, and it's accurate to .1gr. Can't say I'm too experienced at shooting in situations of high wind, I'm afraid, and I'm still working on being able to judge distance. Clearly there's a lot of skill to master yet before I can be like the legendary Simo Hayha :P
@James M Dakin
You know good and well from the email I sent you that I'm pleased as spiked punch that you're digging the sequel, and I say again; thanks for the kind words, man. That review you wrote for the first Living amongst the Dead on Amazon earlier this month still brings a smile to my face every time I see it. Still feeling a bit too under the weather to tackle my 6th book right now but it'll probably be a third novel in the series. You're a huge inspiration for me to keep writing!
Get 100% better before you tackle the next one, and let me know when done and I'll be the first to buy a copy ( just keep the price at $3, mmkay? )because I know it will kick ass.Delete
I trust by '100% better' you mean in regards to my sickness, right? lol Thanks, and by the way, you were the first person to buy Living amongst the Dead: Dark Days. As for the next sequel, no worries, I have no intention to go above $2.99, and I'll be keeping my first four books at $0.99. Thanks again for the kind words. That second book basically came about because you inspired me to finally dust it off from having not laid eyes on it since September, thinking that I went in the wrong direction with it. Likewise, my 6th book will probably be yet another Living amongst the Dead book just because you motivate me so heavily. I can't wait to get healthy again and start writing!Delete
I did mean the being sick, but beware that the "can't wait to start writing again" is also a sickness and one you'll be stuck with for life ( like malaria or herpes ). My crowd of minions might want more zombies, I'm good with whatever you want to put out there.Delete
Not an Ex-Soldier, Not much of a hunter, Enjoy my time at the range so take whatever I say with a grain of saltReplyDelete
Years ago I fired my first gun from a fox hole. A legit M16. I was a young lad and my father being the boss had me attend an Army Open day.
I asked if I could shoot the balloons they'd set up. Sure they said. Round one was to the left, round two hit the tree just above the Balloon. "Err, you can't shoot the balloons." They were set up for the life fire demonstration. Round Three hit the metal silloute target. The Range? 500 meters. That's no lie. I could put rounds on the target at will on semi-auto. Auto - I could not control. But yeah, in a foxhole with the rifle rested you were in real trouble.
Next up was the FN Mag-50 on a bipod. 100 rounds. Again, easy as pie putting lead onto whatever I wanted.
I don't know if I could do that with my Mauser today.
I have read that shooting skills degrade over time if not maintained. Perhaps that's for sniper level accuracy. I can't be sure. But 308 / 30-30 works well within 100 meters ;-)
Very cool story. Can't say I've actually tried 500m before but I can't wait for when I can. Provided it's a man-sized target, I think I could manage it. At the very least, 1 hit within my first 5 shots as long as it's a full sized rifle or minimum a .223. Maybe even 5.45x39. with 7.62x39 or .30-30 I think I'd want to stay within 300m considering how I am, though I'd like to try a man-sized target at 400m with 7.62x39 someday. With an SKS of course, or perhaps a CZ-858 (civilian version of vZ.58 assault rifle) with the 18.5" barrel.Delete
I can remember plinking with my M1 Carbine though. Was shooting with a combination of speed and accuracy, basically pulling the trigger the SECOND the sights were on target. Maybe a shot per second? I think the distance was 50m, which is quite reasonable, and I was standing. Seemed like all shots went within about 10-15" or so, which I was quite proud of. If I were prone, I could probably rattle off shots twice or even three times as quickly while having similar accuracy or greater.
Found, on page 410, an interesting price comparison for ammunition in Abyssinia in 1906. 80% of the people had French Gras rifles (which is a very good weapon, also survivalist-wise, no wonder they loved it in that environment)
One Thaler (silver coin) could get you either of those :
- nine new cartidges
- ten new cartridges out of their packaging but with the primer still protected by paper
- fifteen that had been circulating for a while and not in great shape
- twenty that have been reloaded
- thirty empty cartridge cases
Nice to keep in mind the real value trade wise.Delete
Cool stuff! Would be nice to know how much One Thaler back then was in dollars nowadays. Probably quite a bit of money, I dare say. 1906... so the French have had the 1886 Lebel Rifle (first smokeless powder rifle on the planet) for 20 years, PLENTY of time to replace their single-shot rifles, and maybe by then they were also working on Berthiers. Though then again, Berthier (pronounced burr-thee-yey, basically) might not have come about until closer to WWI.Delete
The M1886 single-handed just about made every other Military rifle in existence obsolete. With smokeless powder and FMJ bullets it was higher velocity, flatter shooting, and also didn't cause a big cloud of black powder smoke with every shot. In being a repeater it could pump out rounds fairly quickly.
However, it could only be reloaded one round at a time making it VERY slow to reload; couldn't accept clips. Its tube mag wasn't ideal for spitzer (pointed) bullets which came about later in the 1890s or so, but they altered the base of the cartridge to prevent the tips of bullets from detonating cartridge in the tubular mag. Its action was also quite clunky; not as inherently smooth as a Mauser or Mosin, let alone a Lee Enfield (Lee Metford came about in 1888 just 2 years later). So although it was INCREDIBLY good in 1886, within 5-6 years it was one of the worst bolt-actions of developed nations. YAY HISTORY! Seriously though, the French have an AMAZING history of arms development. Every gun owner and/or firearm aficionado should be thankful of the French on a regular basis for all they did to contribute to small arms and ammunition development.
The French invented mayonese. They also came out with the bayonet. So, my vote is for the Frogs all the way.Delete
They also invented the bikini!Delete
@J N MorganDelete
According to this research paper, the weapons trade was organised by France in order to bribe Abyssinia so it would leave its adjacent Djibouti colony / strategic base alone.
Also, the same research paper tells us that mercury-based primers deteriorated often. Abyssinian slavers would buy these batches and re-primer them, resulting in acceptable ammo at very low price.
JN-and what did the English give us? Kidney pie?Delete
Ave-I had never heard of that problem with mercury primers. Good to know.
Interesting stuff, never knew about any of that. Though I've heard of casing ruptures being a thing back in the day, and that's why Jim's not too huge on Mosin rifles because there's no vent holes. Nowadays ammo is generally high enough quality to where case ruptures or blown-out primers are practically a non-issue.
Heeeeey now. The English gave us .303 British, the Scots gave us the Lee Enfield rifles (James Paris Lee was born in Scotland, lived in Canada a long time, and moved to the US later in life), Ireland gave us Guinness and awesome drinking music, and oh, you know apple pie? "As American as apple pie", they say. Well I hear it was actually the English that invented apple pie and it was the English who brought it to America, so how about that? It was also the British Empire, lead by the English, that enabled so many countries (including Canada, United States, and Australia) to be English-speaking.
If, say, Spain had taken over the land that is now Canada and the United States, then we'd probably be speaking Spanish just like the Mexicans! I dunno about you but I quite enjoy the English language :P The English (and also a Welshman and one American) gave us Monty Python so there's also that. The American member was the artist, also the guy who directed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. No doubt all his time spent in England had influenced his style and sense of humour decades before he tackled FaLiL.
Oh yeah, and by the way, I got another 1000 words written for the third LatD novel, so I'm at 2500 in total, but man, this damn flue or cold or whatever is really putting me through the ringer. Only seems to be getting worse thus far, but can't be much longer before it's on the retreat. My white blood cells are firing off a machine-gun like mad-minute with the Lee Enfields at the blackguards as I type lol FOR KING AND COUNTRY!
P.S. I'm totes the King B)
Okay, I'm completely embarrassed. How they hell did I forget to credit the English with the Smelly? I guess my brain is clogged up with all that mayonnaise. In my defense, if that is possible, I think I was focused on early Industrial Age or prior inventions.Delete
No worries, man. But yeah, I was surprised that you didn't mention the good ol' Lee rifles. Mayonnaise is certainly badass though. By the by, got another review or Living amongst the Dead. Sadly, not ideal. 2/5 stars, but sounds reasonable enough. Seems like he thinks I just got my info off Wikipedia or something, thought I introduced the female character too soon, and though that the first sex scene was rather sudden like I just tried to throw in a fantasy scenario while I was writing. Stopped at the end of chapter two. Hoping to get in contact with him to hear him out, but not going to accept the offer to let him help me edit the book to improve it. Living amongst the Dead is staying as-is.Delete
Reading a lot of these hack job books out there, I go to the reviews and wonder if we've just read the same thing. So many think crap is good or that well done is bad. I'm more and more of the opinion most people aren't worthy of opinions. Unlike theirs, mine doesn't smell like my ass :)Delete
In the post-1945 western world, mayonnaise is killing WAY more people than Lee-Enfields...ReplyDelete
Take that, arteries !
Ha! That means the French are far better at killing, also :)Delete