April 06, 2007
The Program: My Foolproof Method To Cure Mediocre Shooting
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
WHAT YOU NEED
No. 1 on the list is a good .22 rifle (click here to find the right one for you) , as close as possible to what you use for big-game hunting—not some piece of junk that you got at a tag sale, but a serious, accurate firearm. It should be wearing a scope, a good one.
Next comes the ammo. In order to do what follows, you’re going to need every bit of accuracy you can muster, so you’re obliged to buy at least half a dozen different boxes of ammo (skip the hypervelocity stuff, which I’ve never seen shoot really well). Get high and standard velocity, solid and hollow point. If you’re of an adventurous state of mind, you can try out the various brands of match-grade .22 ammo available, but many times I’ve found that plain-vanilla .22s shoot best.
Shoot five-shot groups from a bench at 25 yards with each box. Eventually you’ll see that one type of ammo is much more accurate in your rifle than anything else. Get at least a brick of the stuff, which is 500 rounds.
Last on the list are targets. You are after either the NRA 50-foot Rifle Target (A-36) or the NRA Rifle Silhouettes Target (TQ-14), which are printed by the National Target Co. (nationaltarget.com). The former has a dozen bull’s-eyes about the size of a silver dollar. The latter reproduces the four iron targets used on actual silhouette ranges—chickens, wild pigs, turkeys, and rams, five of each to a row. Both styles are $9.80 for a package of 100.
WHAT YOU DO
Post your target sheet at 25 yards. The choice of shooting positions is up to you, provided that you dedicate at least half of your practice to the offhand position, which is by far the hardest and one that comes up in the field a surprisingly large percentage of the time. You can shoot kneeling, sitting, or any way you please as long as you don’t use a rest.
If you’re shooting at the bull’s-eyes, give yourself five shots at one bull, taking the absolute minimum amount of time to shoulder the rifle, find the bull in the scope, put the crosshairs on it, and fire. With the silhouette target, take one shot at each little critter in a single row. Your goal in this regimen is speed as much as it is accuracy. Squeeze the trigger no more than five seconds after you shoulder the rifle.
Score yourself (see score sheet below) after every five rounds. A hit anywhere in the bull’s-eye counts.
I find that if I’m really concentrating, 12 bulls (or 12 rows on the silhouette target) is about all I can handle in a session before my mental focus wavers and the crosshairs start jumping uncontrollably. You may find that this drill is less discouraging if you move closer than 25 yards at first, and you may not want to shoot up a whole target.
Over the course of a month or more (or 500 rounds, whichever comes first), I can get to the point where I put either four or five hits on every bull on a target. If you can do that, go sight in your centerfire rifle, because you are ready for anything the wonderful world of rifle hunting can deal you.
How To Score Yourself
0-1 Hit: You’re Bill Heavey
2 Hits: You have lots and lots of work to do
3 Hits: Not bad
4 Hits: About as good as I can do a lot of the time
5 Hits: Deadeye