What’s the moral of this story? Move your resting point forward and extend your accuracy.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the best solutions are the sum of agonizing problems mixed with bitter frustrations in life. The itching desire to consistently shoot accurately is no exception.
Here is how it all began:
My grandpa was a gunsmith, so I grew up liking and even loving firearms. I did my share of hunting and target shooting during my younger years. I’m the type of person who takes on a given topic and does it with a persistent intensity until I move on to something else. And then, I may stay away from that topic for years until something triggers in me that it’s time to revisit the given subject or activity. I’ve done this sort of thing all my life.
Sometime in early 2016, after being away from shooting rifles for more than two decades, I went out shooting with my buddy. At the time, I was well into my late 50s. “Oh boy,” was I in for a surprise! A man in his 30s is not the same as a man in his 50s! Not by any stretch of the imagination.
I could not keep the crosshairs steady; it did not matter how hard I tried. And we were not shooting that far out either. The targets were only about 140 yards out. At first, I was furious and thought the crosshairs were jumping all over the place without any rhythm or patterns. As my frustration faded, my curiosity rose. Upon closer observation, I realized that the crosshairs were not necessarily “jumping all over the place.” Instead, they seem to trace an almost an eight-shaped figure, like this “8”. It was getting interesting, so I decided to play around a bit and run some tests.
Taking deeper, slower breaths seemed to increase the overall size of the eight-shaped figure that the crosshairs were tracing over the target while increasing its width more than its height. Shallower and faster breathing seemed to decrease the overall size of the eight-shape figure while making it, relatively speaking, thinner (from left to right). And it all seemed repeatable.
I thought, “I am losing my mind; I am “seeing” things that may well not be there; I better take a walk and clear my head.” Meanwhile, my buddy is yelling, “why ain’t ya shooting?” “I’m trying to figure out something about my scope” was my white lie answer.
When I got back to the shooting lane, I decided to move things around. Though I was shooting prone earlier this time, I wanted to shoot flat but lower, with as much of my chest on the ground as possible. I thought, “well, maybe the more my body is grounded, the less I will move.” Anything to conquer that diabolical crosshairs’ dance!
To get as low as possible, I removed my bipod and rested the fore-end of my rifle on a shooting bag. Because I had a tapered fore-end, I put the shooting bag at the very end of it, right before the barrel, to get the rifle as low as possible (but I did not get my chest all the way on the ground because my neck discomfort reminded me how old my body is).
Nevertheless, voila! Suddenly the crosshairs were dancing a lot less than 20 minutes ago!
By now, my curiosity is going out at 100 miles an hour. “What on earth is going on here? My good-quality bipod is very sturdy. How can a mushy shooting bag be sturdier than my bipod?!” Scratching my head, buddy yelled, “are ‘ya gonna shoot?” “In a minute. Let me figure this one out“.
What changed here? What really changed? My attempt at getting my chest on the ground didn’t get anywhere. If anything, I am in a more uncomfortable position now, yet I’m more stable. “Hmmm. Think Daniel, think.” What changed? Well, before I took it out, my bipod was attached to an awkwardly located short Picatinny rail that was mounted closer to the magazine well than it needed to be. And that was the general location of the rifle where my resting point was placed. My resting point, though it was a mushy shooting bag, was almost 1 foot forward (at the end of my fore-end).
“Hmmm” and more “hmmm.” “Let me place the shooting bag where the bipod used to be” (about one foot closer to me and further away from the muzzle. “Dang!” The dancing crosshairs are back!
We were wrapping things up, and my buddy went, “you hardly shot today.“
So, again, what’s the moral of this story? Move your resting point forward and extend your accuracy.