Long Range Starter Kit, Part Two

The first time I went to the range with my new Howa, I didn’t sight in the scope beforehand. I’ve never had a bolt action rifle, so I was unaware of how useful the “remove the bolt and look through the barrel” technique was. I figured I’d be able to get it sighted in at the range so quickly the prospect of doing so didn’t even bother me.

Well, it should have. My log from the day says:

First of all, I was shooting a new rifle fitted with a new scope. I had leveled the reticle with the Wheeler tool and done everything I thought was necessary to prepare. I did not think I would have a problem getting rounds on paper.

I cleaned the rod per Howa instructions, using Windex as a bore cleaner. That took approximately 20 rounds.

I could not get on paper. Next thirty twenty rounds completely disappeared.

I finally got on paper, but very erratically. (See below.) Switched out the target, and I was off the paper again. To this day I have no idea what happened.

Got back on paper in the last ten rounds, then called it a day. It was closing time.

The more I shot, the more I missed. The more I missed, the more frustrated I was and shot some more. I probably shot about 70 (!) rounds that night, which was a rookie mistake if there ever was one. The more I shot, the more the thin sporter barrel drifted off target. To top it off, despite having a 10x scope I had trouble seeing the holes–what few there were–in the target paper.

Obviously, I was way off and continuing to do what I was doing was not going to get me on paper again. I researched boresighters online, and came up with the SiteLite laser boresighter. The company makes laser boresighters for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and mostly Navy/Marine Corps aircraft guns. I found out that my scope was way, way off–about fourteen inches at 25 feet. No wonder I couldn’t hit anything.

My next trip to the range went a little better. I tightened up my shooting style, controlled my breathing, and did things slowly to avoid making mistakes. A lot of improvement. Here’s the first of three targets. By the third target, I was mostly in the 9 zone or better.

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First shot was at the bottom of the paper. Second shot was between the 8 and 9. Third and fourth shots went high, but fifth and sixth shots…well, those were very, very good.

My third trip out with the rifle, second target. Behold:

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I could be wrong, but my impression is that the shots highlighted represent .825 MOA. That’s the average distance of all five of the outer shots from the center. This has actually been a lot easier and faster than I anticipated. From here on out, I expect tighter, more consistent groups with every outing. I expect a lot of what’s necessary will be little things here and there, each of which adds a tiny bit to accuracy and consistency, the sum of which will result in smaller groups.I probably don’t need to shoot Hornady match-grade ammo. At 100 meters it probably doesn’t matter what I shoot. The good thing about shooting match ammo though is that it’s expensive and the cost slows down my rate of fire. With a thin sporter barrel I should not be firing more than a round every four or five minutes.

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