Achieving Practical Accuracy

by Bob Londrigan, published in Front Sight Magazine, January 2004

If you followed the advice presented in my last few articles, there’s a good chance you now have your gun running quite well.   That being the case, we are now going to look at an issue that can affect your scores as much as a reliable gun – accuracy.  We are going to look at “practical” or “applied” accuracy.  This is the ability to hit an exact spot on the target under match conditions.  It encompasses the actual mechanical accuracy of your gun, plus features that aid the shooter in achieving accuracy. 

 Before you start making changes, test fire your gun to see what type of groups it shoots.  I prefer to sight my gun in offhand because it more closely resembles what I will be doing in a match.  You may, however, choose to shoot from a rest for a more accurate assessment.  If you are not getting consistent groups, check the vertical stringing.  If your groups are a lot larger top to bottom than left to right there is a good chance that your barrel is not locking up consistently. Check for binding at the back of the hood or the sides.  If your groups are inconsistent, first make sure the problem is not your shooting technique.  If your technique is solid, you could be getting hits on the compensator or jackets may be peeling off the bullets.

Let’s begin by looking at mechanical accuracy issues in more detail.  For the game we play, a gun that shoots three to four inches at 25 yards is probably sufficient.  But since it’s always better to hit exactly where you are aiming, a gun that shoots under an inch will get you better scores.  For your gun to perform at this level of accuracy it must do the same thing every time it cycles.  The following factors affect how your gun cycles, and as an added side effect they will also improve reliability:

When your gun achieves mechanical accuracy, then you can start working your way up to where you are shooting to your gun’s potential.  Shooter aid issues include anything that you can do to your gun that will speed up shooting accurately.  Realize that shooter aid issues affect the deliverable accuracy of your gun as much or more than mechanical accuracy.  Therefore, it’s important to tune your gun with the following shooter aid issues in mind as well:  

Once you and your gun have achieved a high level of accuracy, you’ll begin seeing your scores go up.  But to maintain this performance level, you’ll need to continually monitor your accuracy.   Sight-in your gun at each range session.  If your zero starts to move from one session to another, make sure you find out why before it causes you problems.  If something is cracked or worn out it will sometimes show up first as a decrease in accuracy.  As I’ve stressed before, you want to locate any problems in practice and not at the match.    

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