Tag Archives: david tubb

RELOADERS CORNER: The Value of Accuracy

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Can you take a focus on accuracy too far, or never far enough? Here are some thoughts on why better accuracy (really) matters…

Glen Zediker

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Anyone who has ever read one of my books knows the extent of tickiness that can be involved in handloading. Competitive shooters also tend to get pretty wrapped up and sometimes entrenched hopelessly in technical rifle details. All these things we do are done in the hope of better accuracy: smaller shot groups.

Why bother with tickiness? Well, the answer (always) depends on the level of tickiness afoot and on the level of reward we get from it. No other answer makes any sense.

Accuracy always matters. If you do something different or new in the handloading process and see better shot groups, that no doubt was worth it. Ultimately, it was worth it. It might have been upgrading tools, experimenting with components, one or more case prep steps you hadn’t tried before. It’s still always a payback over the expense, time, and effort. But. It’s another level, attaining another level. It’s stepped up. I’ve compared all this to other endeavors where attaining that new level forever eclipses the old. But then there’s also the time and the effort. When I load ammunition, I consider its purpose. I do not turn case necks for ammo that’s going through my old SP1 on a Sunday afternoon of tin can hunting with my sons. For that, I’m interested in volume and function: the best way to load a lot of .223 Rem. with bulk-packed bullets and ball gunpowder, and with the fewest number of steps. We need a lot of ammo because we have eradicated entire species of discarded objects.

But, let’s for the rest of this assume that the sole purpose is the smallest group sizes we can get, day in and day out. That’s easier to talk about and make sense of, because, no doubt, there are factors that influence it, and I do know what they are.

I’ve always judged accuracy by group size. No shock. Most people do it thataway. I’m also way on more concerned with the worst group my combination shows me than I am the best group. Not everyone views that the same. When it gets down to it, though, I want to know what the worst shot I can anticipate might be because that information is very valuable in adjusting for the next shot. Now I’m talking about shooting for score in a tournament.

I picture a circle that outlines the group size I warrant for my rifle/ammo combination. For my own purpose of clarity, I call it “the accuracy cone.” This circle gets bigger the farther I’m shooting. Shots outside that circle need correction, shots inside that probably don’t. Yes, no, I don’t always launch a perfect shot. So honesty matters, objective evaluation of the shot break.

Group ilustration
You are always shooting a group! You might be aiming at one point but you’re shooting a group. The aiming point is really the center of the group. That’s a “zero,” by the way, or that’s how to zero, but this is straying beyond the levee here. This drawing is a representation of the importance of smaller group sizes. One of the biggest helps that great accuracy provides is that it’s clear when there’s need for sight correction, and when there isn’t. The smaller circle the ammo covers on a target face, the more defining sight corrections can be. If that’s not clear: A perfect shot break on a correct sight setting at 600 yards from a 1 MOA combination means that a shot 3 inches left, right, up, or down away from target center is still a “perfect” shot, even though the perforation point was imperfect. With a 1/4 MOA combination, we’re defining “perfect” with more certainty, because “imperfect” is anything outside 1 inch of target center. Follow? This isn’t just theory.

Mathematically-oriented people may tell you (and I understand this) that testing with 3-round groups provides accurate feedback of a round’s performance. It has to do with probabilities and such. However! I believe too much in luck, or as Buddy Dave calls it, “The Bullet Fairy.” Math-folk will further tell you that the more rounds fired the bigger the shot groupings will become. I’ve seen many instances where that wasn’t true, where the first two or three rounds defined the outer edge of what ultimately became a 10-shot group. I can’t argue with math, but I can argue with myself to the point that I want to see more rounds, and more groups, before I cook up a big batch of a component combination and call it good, or call it “match ammo.”

If you are a competitive shooter, better accuracy helps you get all the points you hold for. We can’t, any of us, ask for more than that. If you are a varmint hunter, it means a close miss may become a hit. The smaller the target the more it matters, or the smaller the goal area on a target is. Aim small, miss small. So let’s miss smaller… Examples can continue, and they might involve a trophy elk in New Mexico, or something even more important to stop in its tracks. It’s doesn’t really matter if the target is 10 feet away, or 10 yards, or 1000 yards, a more accurate firearm is a more effective tool. You can’t miss! Or you sure don’t want to.

accuracy cone
This equals that. Accuracy, on-target group size, is a “cone” that gets wider, expands across distance. A 1/2-inch 100 yard gun is not a 5-inch 1000 yard gun. It shoots bigger than that. However! A solid load-test group like this one David Tubb fired at 288 yards held up on down the pike at 1000. Tip: velocity consistency is a key to keeping a group together at extended distances.

LAST WORD
The value of accuracy is undeniable, but the value of time and effort and expense does indeed have a limit. No, I don’t do “everything” possible to my ammo to make it perfect. I have found a few things that really help, things that are reasonably (by my standards) good paybacks. Another tip: Get a good barrel! Honestly: that gets the most from whatever you do, or don’t do, to help the cause.

This article is adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information on that and other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

SKILLS: “Approach” Offhand Shooting Like a Pro

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Learn how to “shoot on the move” to improve your offhand shooting results. Here’s how!


by Glen Zediker


Firing a rifle off your hind legs can be a devilish venture. It’s tough to hold the sight still, or at least hold the sight still for long enough to get together all the other elements of a good shot: sight on target center, correct breathing status, deliberate trigger break. Not when the sight is bobbing and shaking around, darting on and off the target, and mostly off. A more firm hold, increasing muscle tension, can help some, or sometimes, but that’s not the answer. Not when there’s fatigue involved, and especially not when it’s breezy. Finishing off a center shot when the wind is blowing is a challenge.

offhand skills
Instead of being a slave to the unwanted but unavoidable movement inherent in a sight, take control of it, direct it, and use it. Drive the gun onto the target and take the shot. The movement and the shot funnel in together. It’s tough to get past the “freeze and pop” sort of tactic that a lot of folks use. Again, the sight is always in motion, and if it’s dead still for an instant, in the next instant it’s going to move. Don’t let it get away from you…

All good shooters work on their hold. “Hold” is the static portion of a shot where the sights are on the target. Working on the hold always seeks a goal to reduce the movement of the rifle at rest. But there’s always movement… So, if you can’t beat it, use it. This next idea is not universally adhered to by all top-level shooters, but it dang sho works for some of our best. He didn’t necessarily invent it, but David Tubb, 11-time NRA High Power Rifle Champion and winner of over 40 NRA Metallic Silhouette Rifle titles, uses an “approach” method to fire all his standing position shots.

It’s pretty simple, but, as with many things, details increase the scope of a technique. So, what it is, is, deliberate movement of the sight onto the target, firing the shot when the sight touches on target center. “Shooting on the move.” Don’t wait until the sight sits still on the target. Move it in, take the shot. But it’s not a rapid swing across, yanking the trigger as the sight streaks across the target. It’s a small, deliberate, controlled movement, and “controlled” is the key word.

Keys to warming up to and exploiting shooting from an approach are, first, that the natural point of aim has to be dead-solid-perfect. Since the sight is deliberately being started away from center, looking to a point that’s not on your natural point of aim, driving it then into center is arriving at the natural stopping and resting point for the sight. That’s very important. Another key is maintaining a strong focus on the sight. You already know where the target is, so eliminate that element of your attention. The closer you can learn to watch the sight, the sooner you’ll master this technique.

To use an approach to best advantage, the approach distance and direction needs to be the same each and every time. We’re following a deliberate pattern to get the sight to the target. Take the shot as the sight is going into the target, not after it’s gotten there and the next move is for it to twitch out and away from the target. It is, no doubt, a matter of timing! The sight has stopped as I break the shot, and it’s for a very brief time. But it has stopped. Just follow the bouncing ball… Fire when it lands. That’s the way I think of it.

Using an approach strategy reduces the time needed to complete a good shot, and it also condenses that time into a schedule, in a way of looking at it. It becomes a routine. This goes a long way toward battling fatigue, and reduces the number of “restarts” following over-held attempts. This is important in competition where we’re firing 20 shots in 20 minutes. That’s a strain, or it is when we’re trying to put them all in the 10-ring.

So how far off the target to start the sight? That varies a whopping lot, and the answer, as anticipated, comes from experiments with an eye on making this determination. I start pretty close, others start a good way off the target. I don’t think it matters as long as, as also anticipated, it’s something experimentation has shown works best for you.

approach sequence
This illustration shows a breakdown of Davd Tubb’s approach method. Total time elapsed: about 3 seconds. Now, I go the opposite direction: I start my sight on the right edge of an aiming black (at 200 yards it’s a 13-inch-diameter circle), take up the first stage in the trigger, and move it over. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, bang. To be very specific, I also start it a little high and bring it across and slightly down on a diagonal. I do this because, one, it’s the natural “wobble pattern” I tend to see in my static hold, and, two, it helps guard against the high shot I am prone to endure sometimes. All that comes from a whopping lot of practice.

I’m kind of “wound up” in my offhand position. I use a lot of hip twist to get my elbow down on my hipbone for support. I’m twisting toward my left, so I start the rifle off to the right. That way I’m winding in rather than spinning out. Others, like Tubb, tend to approach from the left because they prefer a more natural “uncoiling” direction.

A calm trigger break is crucial. That’s not slow or gentle, but one that evokes no anxious moment or sporadic reflex. The finger just presses back.

This is where the previously discussed advantages of a good two-stage trigger, and one with additional overtravel, show their values. Both provide a “ready-to-go switch” waiting on a shot green light. The extra overtravel means you don’t have to be delicate pressing the trigger back; the rifle won’t be disturbed like it might if the trigger stopped abruptly.

With experience, and a few experiences where you see that this, indeed, “works,” it’s possible to narrow down the approach to a short amount of time.


The preceding is excerpted from some materials I have worked with David Tubb to develop and publish. For more insight, articles, and tips, visit DavidTubb.com, and also ZedikerPublishing.com

Shooting Skills: Take a deep breath…

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…then let it out and read this to learn how to maximize on-target accuracy and consistency…


Glen Zediker


We’ve talked about what I call the “true fundamentals” of shooting. Put the sight on the target and pull the trigger without moving the sight… And we’ve talked about some of the mechanics, like natural point of aim, sight picture, and the trigger itself, that combine to assist this goal.

david tubb
Holding still sometimes takes more thought, and effort, than we might realize. Shooting well is a truly multi-faceted task that shooters like 11-time National Champion David Tubb have attended to through miniscule details, like being aware of the physical state continually while performing.

Another crucial and largely unknown element is controlling breathing. Right. That thing we do to stay awake and alive. Breathing can be a calculated technique among competitive shooters, and that is because the state of the body in the framework of making a shot is a defining element in the effectiveness of the shooting platform. That platform, by they way, is you!

I’ll break it down, and then offer a few suggestions on how to incorporate a better understanding of the dynamics of maintaining human oxygen supply.

When we are breathing when doing nothing in particular but living, we’re not taking the deepest breaths we can when we inhale, and we’re not expelling all the air we had when we exhale. We’re also not breathing in and out, in and out, in and out in constant successions. We breathe in to a comfortable level. Hold that a bit. We breathe out to a comfortable level. And then we hold that state for a bit. Then we very naturally breathe in again. These cycles are on a balanced rhythm, and a relatively shallow cycle. It’s a lot different than when we’re doing something strenuous, like running.

So. To fire a gun from our most stable state, make the trigger break in what shooting coaches call “the natural respiratory pause.” That’s the state between exhaling and inhaling. From a “human machine” standpoint, that’s when the body is most calm and stable.

breathing cycles for best shooting
Learn to use the natural pattern of your breathing to experience the most effective (steadiest) hold. When we breathe normally we don’t inhale as much air as we can hold and then blow it all out, and we also don’t breathe continually in and out, in and out. Rather, we simply inhale and exhale to levels that are comfortable to us. Take aim and fire the shot when you have reached what some call the “natural respiratory pause,” or the natural resting point prior to inhalation where we are “using” the oxygen we have retained.

It’s a narrow window. That window of opportunity varies widely depending on a lot of factors, but some experience dry-firing will show you where you stand.

When the body needs more oxygen, there are a few symptomatic results that get in the way of a steady hold. There are more eloquent ways to say it, but we get “the shakes.” The wobbles, the heaves and hos. It’s an unmistakable sensation. Visual acuity also diminishes. And, also, since we’re trying to finish something important (hit the target) anxiety takes over when we’re not getting cooperation between target and sight locations. Essentially, there’s an urge to slap the trigger and “get it over with.”

Do not “take a deep breath and hold it…” That supplies oxygen, to be sure. But it also creates tension in the body. Trying to keep that breath held has as bad an effect on stability as does trying to not breathe back in.

Breathing during a shot continually changes the location of the sight. Try it and you’ll see. Filling the lungs, emptying the lungs, both change the posture. From prone, it’s easy to see the effect on the vertical location of the sight. This, by the way, is the root of the “consistency” element of breathing. It’s very important to the goal to fire shot after shot after shot onto the same point.

Firing shots in succession, keep breathing, just time the shots with the natural pause. For a Rapid Fire event string in NRA High Power Rifle, which isn’t all that rapid (either 60 or 70 seconds to fire 10 rounds) I take a breath between each shot, and then settle down to my holding point. Now. Really rapid succession, like bam-bam-bam, it’s possible to fire quite a few well-directed rounds off of one pause. If that’s not enough, experiment with learning to take very shallow breaths in and out during the duration of the hose-down. I’ve used that “tactic” on very windy days when the standing position hold was a tad amount fluctuating, to avoid frequent restarts. It “works” for a couple of attempts to get a breakable sight picture, before muscle fatigue sets in.

Speaking of: there’s no question that the better physical condition someone is in, the better able they’ll be to extend a steady hold. Pulse also factors mightily: a beating heart moves the rifle. This is really evident shooting prone from a sling-supported position. A regular breathing pattern with no overt highs and lows combats heart rate increases. Taking in huge amounts of air prior to mounting up a rifle actually can backfire; that often causes a “spike” in body movement about 15 seconds afterward. Pulse quickens and becomes more intense when oxygen levels drop.

Main point here is do not “over-hold.” When you’re out of air, you’re out of time. Break it down, and start it again.


For more shooting tips and articles visit ZedikerPublishing.com; all are free to download.