Sometimes I think gun writers have over the decades, done a great disservice to American riflemen by emphasizing shooting groups. The truth is shooting groups can be a great aid in marksmanship, or it can serve no purpose at all. The difference is in how shooting groups is viewed by the rifleman.
I know many shooters (including myself) have targets taped to the walls of their reloading rooms; they represent the best groups. The bad targets get tossed in the trash. Yet the purpose of rifle shooting is not to shoot the tightest groups. It is actually hitting a target, and the ability to do that is not enhanced by sitting at a bench and shooting group after group in an effort to get one worthy of hanging on the wall.
There are two basic reasons for shooting groups. The primary reason is to develop precise handloads or determining how well factory loads behave in specific rifles. The second reason is zeroing a rifle.
Let’s consider the first reason. Rifles shoot some loads better than others – that’s a rule. So, the effort in shooting groups with varying components is to find a combination that suits the rifle’s purpose. Let’s arbitrarily consider one-MOA groups as sufficient for varmint rifles, 1½ MOA for big game and for most paper or steel target competitions, and 2 to 3 MOA for most iron-sighted hunting rifles of any sort.
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January - February 2019