Great gun, lousy shooter or lousy gun, great shooter?

Discussion in 'Main Message Board' started by Badbob, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. Badbob


    Apr 20, 2013
    As a newbie to be precision shooting I'm finding it frustrating trying to produce cute little one hole groups. I think I got all the right gear and my reloading process is sound but time at the shooting bench has been proven tough. What is your advice to new shooters?

    I'm really curious is a lousy shooter can shoot a proven gun/load well? Or if an amateur shooter will never produce decent groups even with great gear?

    Conversely, will a great shooter lock down a good load and tighten up groups even on a mediocre or production gun?

    I know anything worth doing is worth doing well. Over time my groups are getting smaller, .001" at a time, as I hone my reloading and shooting skills and improve my gear (an AnD scale was a quantum leap for me over the GemPro).

    Kind of a rant . . . kind of phishing for reassurance. Thanks for reading. BB
  2. Hohn

    Hohn Silver $$ Contributor

    Jul 16, 2019
    Hi BB-- fellow new precision shooter here. I've been able to produce some decent ragged hole groups from a production AR15 with handloads.

    So I think think that even a novice shooter with adequate (not necessarily top shelf) gear can do well if the load is tuned to the rifle.

    A rifle can never outshoot the shooter. Nor can the the best shooter in the world make a terrible rifle/load group well.

    It really boils down to which is the limiting factor. I think you'll find that you don't have to spend a huge amount of money to realize that the shooter is the limiting factor. And then you'll start to get a feel for when your gear is limiting you.
  3. R.Morehouse

    R.Morehouse Gold $$ Contributor

    Nov 24, 2012
    The wind will blow a shot into the group as well as out. If you don't start out with a good shooting load & gun you will not know if you're really playing with Mother Nature or it's just another flyer in a flawed system........All the money spent on the gun and load development to play in the wind........I Like It..:cool:

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  4. ronsatspokane

    ronsatspokane Gold $$ Contributor

    Sep 20, 2014
    This site is frequented by some of the top national and international shooters, the Forum Boss being only one (if you saw the results from the Southwest nationals this year). I'm not one of them but I've been lucky enough to have some of them hand me my ass over and over again the last couple of years. What I've noticed is that they are very focused on ballistic science, equipment and technique. Knowing the behavioral characteristics of your chosen caliber, its weaknesses and strengths in a variety of conditions and distances is a good starting point. Squeezing every ounce of accuracy out of your equipment via selection and modification is the necessary next step. Insuring that the setup and shooting technique are contributing rather than detracting from accuracy is the next step. Once you feel good about that, the biggest challenge of all is next. Pulling it all together in a competitive environment given changing conditions. That is where the good shooters appear to stand out. Some of these folks seem to have wind reading abilities that approach a super natural power. That takes a lot of hard work and trigger time so keep reading, watching, learning and shooting. You'll improve.

    I've been reading, watching, learning and shooting and have made improvements. Not enough to run with some of these folks but this year will be different... I'm sure of it. :)

    Forum Boss: It was Jay Christopherson, definitely not me, who won F-Open at Berger SWN this year. Jay is our System Admin (server supervisor), but I'm a different fellow. The burdens of this site are so great, time-wise, that my competition days are few and far between now. But I have competed in a variety of disciplines.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2020
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  5. divingin


    Jan 17, 2017
    You're taking two variables and trying to get to a single point. I helps to look at a single variable at a time. It also helps to have realistic end results.

    A good shooter will be able to shoot a rifle closer to it's accuracy potential than a poor shooter.

    A good rifle/load combination will have a higher accuracy potential than an off-the-shelf rifle with random ammunition.

    A really good shooter will still shoot crappy groups if that's all the rifle/ammo will do.

    A really crappy shooter will most likely shoot crappy groups with whatever rifle they have to shoot.

    From a bullseye pistol perspective, most match pistols are not particularly more accurate than other guns. They are, however, radically more expensive. Most of that expense is paying for features that make it easier to get good shots. Better fitting grips, better triggers, better sights; none of them make the gun more accurate, they make them easier to be accurate. I'd assume that, to an extent, precision rifle is similar (though I also think better rifles are inherently more accurate than lesser rifles, hence the "to an extent".)

    What exactly did the scale do for your shooting? If it didn't tighten up your groups, then there wasn't any quantum leap.

    That said, good equipment and sound procedures and practices do help in eliminating variables that contribute to error. I wouldn't call that a quantum leap, just one less thing to wonder about if that's causing errors.
    topclass2017 likes this.
  6. Burnt Powder

    Burnt Powder

    Nov 15, 2019
    How good is good. Nobody can shoot a poor rife and poor loads well unless it’s a stroke of luck. Same luck is involved with a poor shooter getting good groups with a good rifle and ammo combination. To consistently shoot good groups you need a good rifle and ammo and a good shooter, or you have to lower your expectations of what good is.
  7. VaniB


    Apr 6, 2008
    Some more info from you, perhaps?? I'm surprised that nobody here has yet asked you what rifle and caliber are you shooting? What distance? What equipment are you using? (ie; rifle rest, bipod, sandbag?) And what size shot groups would you be satisfied with? ...and do you fire 3 shot or 5 shot groups??

    I personally will only fire 5 shot groups at 100 yards, for which 1/2" groups make me content, and 1/4" to 3/8" make me very happy. I have years of reloading experience with some of which I've learned the hard way. I also don't compete.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
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  8. VaniB


    Apr 6, 2008
    ....but to sum it up without knowing more from you OP;

    You need to start out with a one hole rifle, if "one hole" is really what you want. (and make sure that your scope is mounted properly.) Then once you have that, everything else is up to YOU, and that means you seek consistency. "Consistency" with your rifle, loads, shooting equipment, and your shooting style and the environment. Just for one example; case neck tension will make the difference between a 5 shot .125" group for me, and a 5/8" group. So too will the individual weight of the bullets, so I weigh them. Etc, etc, etc. WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF "CUTE LITTLE ONE HOLE GROUPS". lol
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
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  9. Coyotefurharvester


    Aug 11, 2017
    Last fall I finished 2 22-250's, 1 each for my buddy and me. Both shot into "1" hole at 100 yards with 3 factory and hand loads. I told my buddy "you have no excuse for missing". Well he missed 6 coyote in a row. Shooting at night, New night vision scope equipment, lights. From his truck, he is a paraplegic, cancer survivor, and blind in one eye. I went to hunt with him, had him shoot a couple times, the rifle wouldn't group well. I asked him if he checked the night vision scope screws, yes they were "tight I used a quarter". Well I checked with my torque wrench, loose. Showed him how to adjust the digital scope, no more misses with several 200+ yard shots. He is a very experienced Hunter, but the worst thing I did was tell him no excuse for missing.
  10. Rsadams


    Sep 5, 2015
    Practice , Practice and Practice if you have the time and of course the money... Practice till you need that super hand load because if you can't shoot to the rifle/pistols and ammo capabilities then there's no need to spend the time on it till you get to that point...

    Most good pistol and even shotgun shooters shoot more in a week than a person that say shoots alot shoots in a month... Instead of 500 rounds a month their shooting that much in days... Days equal weeks and weeks equal months etc... I got a chance to be on a skeet range with a guy who is a sponsored shooter and has shot in the world championship of sporting clays and was told he shoots at least a flat per practice session... Sometimes more probably 5 days a week.... I simply can't afford to shoot at that pace... He said his sponsor pays just his entry fees , 10,000-12,000 a year and he buys his own ammo to not take advantage...
  11. Alguapo


    Dec 11, 2016
    My 2 cents. I'm not a competitive shooter. I have been reloading since 1957 . Started with my father out in the garage at age 7. I have become a more accurate shooter over time. I am a varmint hunter currently shooting between 3000 to 7000 rounds a summer on ranches and public land in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. It is an interesting game this accuracy thing. Lots of variables that can change at any given time. So many variable that it can be mind blowing. I guess what I'm trying to say is are you ever really happy with your accuracy. Are not we all after that 5 shot group that measures .000 ! But I love this game and that's what matters. Now Golf I just don't understand at all !
    New Gun likes this.
  12. Forum Boss

    Forum Boss Administrator

    Sep 9, 2009
    Honestly it is kind of difficult to discuss this topic unless you provide a photo of your rig along with:

    Barrel specs (factory vs. Custom)
    Are you shooting from bench or ground?
    Does rifle have a stock suitable for accurate shooting (e.g. wide fore-end or fitted with a F-TR type wide bipod)?
    Are you using high-quality match bullets in Lapua brass?
    Are you using wind flags?

    I find most folks, if they want to tune their skills, would be well-advised to shoot rimfire at 50 yards for a few months.

    Additionally, it's really pointless, in most cases, to search for serious accuracy with a factory barrel in a $100 stock, placed on a $30 rest. I do NOT know if that is the case here -- but that's the point. The OP has started a thread without even telling us the chambering ... or the type of gun, or the barrel maker, or the scope, or the rest... you get the idea.

    That's sort of like saying "How fast can my car go at the drag strip" without telling us if it's a 40-year-old Ford Pinto or a 2020 Corvette ZR1.


    One thing I can say -- we have witnessed almost complete novices produce sub-half-MOA groups. These were young people, with almost no gun experience, who were shooting full-boogie benchrest guns. Unlike most guys at the range, these teens LISTENED to instructions, did what they were told, and shot really well.


    This group was shot by a young lady, with almost no shooting experience (story link above):

    Three shots, quarter-MOA at 350 yards:

  13. daleboy

    daleboy Gold $$ Contributor

    Mar 27, 2017
    That is quite some shooting by that young lady ,great article . You nailed it when you mentioned "Listened" , that is a major part of this sport .Many folks ask questions,but not so many listen to the answers .
    hpshooter likes this.
  14. INTJ

    INTJ Gold $$ Contributor

    Feb 10, 2018
    There really isn't an reason why someone with average shooting skills can't shoot a rifle to its potential from bench. Shooting from a rest while prone is a close second. Other shooting positions require more practice to master.

    The bench is best place to find loads. It eliminates almost all the shooter induced variables. That said, you must have a stable rest, position the rifle consistently, and be consistent in your technique. That is not hard to learn but it does take a little practice. Note that shooting benchrest competition is very different from casual bench shooting or developing loads for hunting or plinking rifles.
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  15. Falfan2017

    Falfan2017 Silver $$ Contributor

    Apr 2, 2018
    I think a nice f class or br rig with high quality loads off a nice rest can be shot well by just about anybody on a calm day. I’ve had a couple guests with my gear with me at club matches with 0 experience and they can do fine off a rest.
    Bipods and sling shooting take a lot more practice and riflemanship or riflewomanship as of course does offhand

    I think it goes something like this if you’re off a rest

    1. Rest/ bag/ stock fit and set up
    2. Barrel
    3. Load
    4. Bullets
    5. Everything else
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
    dgeesaman likes this.
  16. INShooter

    INShooter Gold $$ Contributor

    Jun 30, 2012
    You have received some very good advice so far in this post. I would like to add a few more that I have learned or hope I have by shooting SR competitive BR for the past 20 years.
    First off it takes very good equipment in every aspect to shoot consistent one hole groups. Second rate stuff will not cut it.
    Second thing is that even the very best in equipment and shooter skills struggle at times. If at all possible attend some matches even as a spectator. You can see actual results not internet claims. Almost everyone gets lucky at some point and shoots a "wallet group".
    Third a shooter can never achieve consistent one hole groups by short cutting quality practice WITH WIND FLAGS. The very best equipment will NOT out shoot the wind. Flags are a MUST have!
    I guess most of all, you must have the will to do what is required to get there. View it as a journey and not just a short term project.
    Practice, practice, practice!
    pingunit likes this.
  17. ronsatspokane

    ronsatspokane Gold $$ Contributor

    Sep 20, 2014
    OK. I thought Jay was acting in that role. Between him, Todd, Keith, Praveen and a number of others I get handed my ass at every match on the west side. It'll be different this year... I'm sure of it...:)
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  18. praveen

    praveen Gold $$ Contributor

    Sep 20, 2014
    well.. you could listen to all these awesome suggestions OR instead just shoot a 6 Dasher. It pretty much shoots itself.
    Highpower-FClass, mike a and Dub like this.
  19. INTJ

    INTJ Gold $$ Contributor

    Feb 10, 2018
    I also have different expectations for each kind of rifle and or application. I have to do most of my load development at short range, usually 200 yds. Here is what I need from each of these guns, consistently, for each to do well in its application:

    1. My 6BRA LR/BR gun: Under .175 MOA 5-shot groups

    2. My 300 WSM LR/BR gun: Under .3 MOA 5-shot groups

    2. Any big game rifle from .270 to .458 Lott: .75 MOA 3-shot groups

    3. A dedicated long range big game hunting rifle: .5 MOA 3-shot groups

    4. If I ever got serious about a varmint rig: .5 MOA 5-shot groups

    5. 348 Win or 45-70 Lever gun with open sights: 2 MOA 3-shot groups

    6. M-1 Garand: 1.5 MOA 5-shot groups

    7. Large caliber Double Rifle: 2" at 50 yds
    VaniB likes this.
  20. 6.5x47

    6.5x47 Gold $$ Contributor

    Oct 14, 2014
    If you shoot without flags you're just guessing anyhow
    WyleWD likes this.

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