Loop Sling vs Tactical Sling as a Shooting Aid

I’ve been running a prototype tactical sling that also allows for an easy loop sling, a la the RS-2. I think that the design is slightly too complex, and I’ve been considering eliminating the loop sling portion of it. Before I did that, I needed to see if a tactical sling could be used as a shooting aid to the same effect as a loop sling. I was hoping it would work as well or better so I would feel fine with eliminating the loop from and start with a new simplified prototype.

What I mean by using the tactical sling as support is that the sling goes from the buttstock, over the firing side shoulder, diagonally down across the back, under the support side arm, and attaches on the rifle’s hand guard. To use the 2 point sling as support in this manner the sling, which as a quick overall length adjustment is pulled taut. The effect is that the weight of the rifle is supported to some degree, although the geometry is not as simple and sound as the loop sling setup.  This does seem to provide quite a bit more stability than nothing at all.

I set up two identical targets on my board. I decided to use a sitting position. The field was completely muddy, so I used open leg sitting because I had a wooden block to sit on. The block was 98 yards from the target. My ammo was Federal XM193. I fired one shot per breath on for each group. I fired the loop sling first and took a slight break in between before shooting the tactical sling group.

Subjectively the positions felt about equally stable. In the scope I could see about twice as much movement in the scope with the tactical sling used for support.  Finding one’s natural point of aim with a loop sling is a cut and dried process.  In the tactical sling configuration I was not able to bring that to as finite a point.  With the loop sling most of the shots appeared to break with the reticle well centered. With the tactical sling about half of them appeared to do so, as there was a significantly larger “wobble area”. 

Loop Sling Vs Tactical Sling
Loop sling group on top. Tactical sling group on bottom.  The point of aim was the target immediately below the ‘157’.  My zero was obviously not on.  The extreme spread is illustrated by the black rectangle and the group’s center and deviation from the point of aim is indicated by the small crosshairs and black and white hashed line, respectively.

On paper, the loop sling group was clearly smaller, at 2.8 MOA. The tactical sling group came in at 3.6 MOA. One group each is not enough to tell me the whole story, but it was indicative of what I saw and felt behind the rifle. One position is not enough to be conclusive, but it was enough information for me to form a hypothesis.

The positive attributes of using the tactical sling for support are that it’s easier and quicker to use, and allows for normal weapon manipulation with the AR (support hand manipulation of the charging handle and magazines during reloads).  In a lot of situations that is enough to outweigh the precision of the loop sling.

The loop sling is a pain to get into when it’s worn around the body and does not allow for support hand manipulation of the charging handle. The tautness of the sling, which is necessary for support, also significantly changes the ability to get the correct eye relief, which is not the case with the tactical sling support.

I need to do some additional research to see if I can make the sling work in roughly this configuration, or if it would still be better to change it. The tactical style sling is very nice to use with an AR. The ability to instantly adjust overall length in a tactical style sling is a must. The ability to loop up with this rifle is more of a luxury, in my opinion, but it is apparently more precise a means of support than the tactical sling. I’ll provide an update when one is justified.

Close Range Performance Update

I had expected to show great improvement with my 7 yard hit ratio and times, as my practice had seemed to be very fruitful in terms of what I was seeing as far as changes over the course of the week. I had gotten a lot faster, and the consistency was coming in nicely. Daily work had brought me just a bit further every day. I had just figured out that applying some rearward pressure from the firing hand on the grip helped smooth out the presentation of the rifle, especially as it stops at the target. Heading out to the range I fully expected to see a vast improvement.

For whatever reason I had a really off day. It was cold out, not in the single digits like it had been, but not much warmer than that. I had recently discovered how much of a difference goggles make to shield oneself from the cold, so I was wearing them for the first time while shooting under these circumstances. By the time I made it to actually firing a shot, my feet were already way too cold. I was probably preoccupied and in a bad mood from other stuff that was going on. I probably just wasn’t moving or perceiving quickly.

Both my times and my hit ratio were drastically worse than before. At seven yards, my average time was 1.21 seconds. I only had two shots out of the 18 that were below my average time for the previous outing. My hit rate 13/18, was down by 17%.

At 25 yards my average time was about a half second slower and my hit rate was, I think, 7/18. I probably should have just stopped after the first shot or two, but I evidently have more in the way of persistence than I do brains.

Everybody has bad days. It’s obvious to me that’s all it was. I’m still improving in practice and will probably see that the next time I take it live.

Is Marksmanship At Odds With Field Shooting?

Most people assume that hitting a target is the same regardless of the setting, and that the type of shooters who can hit a target at 1000 yards with iron sights using a sling for support can hit anything inside that distance under any circumstance. During my involvement with Appleseed I met a lot of people who thought the ability to employ marksmanship under time constraints on the AQT gave them devastating combat powers (I might have hyperbolized that, but only slightly).  For the purposes of this article I’m defining marksmanship as skill in the pure act of shooting, divorced from any practical application.

It takes a bit of experience to understand that there are many, many things that are taken for granted during marksmanship practice that are huge variables in the field. These variables are so significant that even someone with great marksmanship skills could be rendered essentially useless without recognizing and compensating for them. Of the top of my head the biggest ones that stand out are terrain, distance to target, and the time the target will be available.

I have read that there aren’t many great field shots that are great marksmen and vice versa. They are only loosely related skill sets, in that they both involve shooting at and hitting a target. The question that comes to mind is how can they be reconciled. Are they necessarily at odds? I don’t think that’s precisely the case.

What is involved in field shooting? Basically it’s getting a hit as efficiently as possible. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly centered up X-ring hit (live targets don’t exactly afford an X-ring). I just has to put the target down. If the vital zone happens to be 16 MOA it just leaves more room to get an acceptable shot off more quickly without having to fuss things. If a second shot is required, it’s unlikely it will have to be placed with machine-like consistency in exactly the same place as the first shot. The shooter will more than likely have to track or reacquire the target in order to make a second shot, if necessary. It’s a dynamic process that involves adapting to changing circumstances on the fly.

Marksmanship practice demands consistently doing everything exactly right. Because of this it encourages the use of routines or even rituals. The shooter needs to maintain control over every aspect of firing the shot that he can, the wildcard that is left to work around typically being wind.

So we have extreme control in the marksmanship realm versus adaptability in the field. The problem in crossing over is that the control freak tends to fall apart when the illusion of control is lost. For example, the exclusive use of known distance ranges alone can instill a false sense of competence that can result in a sudden moment of shock when one realizes suddenly that he doesn’t know how far the target is. There was a point when I realized that’s a pretty good thing to know.

The field shooter typically only cares about practical results. If he has always brought home a deer, it’s unlikely he cares about having relatively poor skill in marksmanship. In reality he probably isn’t even aware of his lack of marksmanship skill, if that is actually the case.  The problem here is that he may be constantly on the margins of his capabilities, which reduce the probability of making consistent ethical kills in the hunting field, inducing an enemy casualty on the battlefield, or stopping a life threatening assailant in a self-defense scenario.

My own practice is constantly torn by these competing needs. The thing I constantly try to keep in mind is that no matter how good an aspect of my rifle shooting gets, it’s worthless unless it can be part of my adaptability to different conditions and terrain, and can be applied under time constraints and stress (physical or psychological). The tail shouldn’t be allowed to wag the dog. I can’t try to fit my circumstances into my schedule or shooting style, because my place is not master and commander of all that surrounds me. There are times to exert one’s will, and there are times to flow with one’s surroundings.

I’ve said before that the expert rifleman doesn’t choose his method. That decision is made for him by his environment. He simply has the skill to roll with that decision without thought, feelings, or a significant passage of time. He adapts to the situation like water filling a vessel. Liquid water has no shape of its own so it can adapt perfectly. I think that adaptability is key to ensuring that one’s marksmanship practice results in field functionality.

The other side of the coin is balancing the skills that one pursues. If all I ever worked at was making tiny groups, the other skills that I need to arrive at making a shot would never be developed. If I had no means of determining range to target, everything outside my point blank zero range is out of the question for me. If I was not skilled at locating my target, whatever that might be, my ability to hit it isn’t even relevant. If I’m fat and out of shape, everything else I do is probably compromised to some degree.

In summary, I do believe that it’s possible to be both a great marksman and a great field shooter, although I don’t think there are many out there who possess both qualities. It seems to me that the key ingredients for that recipe are to ensure adaptability to any possible shooting scenario, and to make sure that one’s skill set is balanced. That’s easier said than done.

Thanks for reading.


A Better Way to Measure: On Target TDS

Last week I posted my best attempt at wrangling together my last 6 groups of 10 rounds each to a single target. I did that in two ways, the mean point of impact of each group averaged together, and the extreme spreads of all the groups combined. Here are a few photos for a refresher:

Cumulative Mean 1-25-14/a>

Cumulative Extreme Spreads 2

As fate would have it I received an email from the creator of the program that I’ve been using lately to measure these groups, On Target. Jeff Block, who wrote the program, wanted to let me know of another program that he has, called On Target TDS (Target Data System). He sent me some instructions for how to compile my group on the latest version of this program, which I am trying on a free trial basis, which is available for download here.

Basically all I needed to do was to export each group onto a file, re-import it to On Target TDS, and it put all 60 rounds into a single group with the combined measures that I had posted earlier, but with greater accuracy:

Cumulative Group

There are still some features that I have yet to explore on this program, but so far it seems like it has some very useful features for those of us who really want to be able to examine what we are doing.  I’ll post on my explorations in greater depth as I plunge those depths.

Picking Up the Pace

Since I got my baseline live fire times for single shots at a 4” target at 7 yards and 25 yards last week, I’ve been steadily working to improve. Nearly every day I’ve spent at least a few minutes of dry fire with the Noveske and a target at 7 yards. The day I skipped was an unexpected 17 hour work day. I decided that sleep would be a more effective training aid that day. A few days ago I had to put some moleskin on my right middle finger where it contacts the receiver between the pistol grip and trigger guard, if that gives you an idea how rusty I am. That is with me wearing flight gloves during all my dry fire practice.

I had a few days early in the week when I used the timer for practice, but it was borrowed so I gave it back so I can borrow it again later. Right about that time, a metronome showed up in the living room/dining room area. A metronome is an excellent way to build up steady timing, smoothness and speed for a musician. I have learned that it also works with gunhandling.


Metronome… you’re still alive… my old friend. Ah, Metronome, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space, er, in the living room.

My goal, in terms of speed, for a hit at 7 yards is in the neighborhood of a half second or so from the timer beep. Ideally, starting from a relaxed low ready, muzzle pretty much down, butt only partially in the shoulder, body upright and relaxed, the beep would release me to move like a sear releases a hammer. I would locate the target and begin moving the muzzle to it. My thumb would deactivate the safety and I would place my finger on the trigger. I have a 2 stage trigger, so I’m looking to have the slack taken up as the dot arrives at the top of the 4” circle. As the scope image comes into the view of my right eye, the image of an acceptable sight picture would trigger my finger to apply sufficient pressure to activate the rifle’s trigger.

As I alluded to several years ago here, I don’t believe that it’s precisely true that “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. Smoothness is necessary, yes, but unless you actively pursue a quick delivery of any given skill, practicing slow is going to equal slow execution. That’s where the metronome comes in.

The metronome can be set for a specific speed of beats per minute (BPM). When I begin to work for speed, I find a baseline setting where I can perform the skill correctly and smoothly every time. After a few reps that are as perfect as I can get them, I might move the adjuster down the pendulum a couple notches to increase the speed. I’m trying to find a speed at which I can perform the skill only about a third to half of the time.  At this speed I will be outside my comfort zone and things will be happening faster than I can keep up with, but not so fast that I’m completely lost. After 10 to 20 reps at this speed setting, I’ll back the speed off to a setting in between the original “safe and smooth” setting and the faster “on the ragged edge” setting. What usually happens is that the setting in between is now safe and smooth.

As an example, let’s say I’m working at 2 beats per snapshot.  This means two beats of movement, which begins on a “zero” beat (it sounds like “one and bang” each word being a beat- “one” being a start signal). Just starting out, let’s say that I can get a shot off in a second for sure. We’ll call that 120 BPM. After a few reps at that safe speed to prime the movement, I might slide the adjuster down to 138 or 144. If I can do it perfectly there, great. I keep moving up in speed. If it’s too difficult, I’ll back it off to 132 or 126. As I get closer to the next plateau, I might find that I have a bit more trouble moving up in speed.

That’s pretty much how I started my week. Keeping in mind that the staring beat on the metronome is entirely predictable (if you got rhythm, like Johnny Cash), and it seems to be my nature to want to anticipate the beat a little, it’s necessary to get the skill down at a higher speed than I wish to perform it with a timer.  There is also the added reaction time to the timer’s beep. I’m trying to get this in less than a half second with the metronome, so that with the reaction time to the beep I’ll be near my goal. The last time I used the metronome I made it to a single beat snapshot at 132 BPM or so, which is 0.45 seconds. This was running not exactly at the ragged edge, but I just had a few nice reps where I was “in the zone”. This was at the end of my dry fire practice and I had a lot of energy to put into the practice. I started that practice in the area of 100 BPM, which is 0.6 seconds.

So how did that work out for me? I came to the range (meaning I walked out the back door a couple hundred yards in this case) on my first day off from work, completely cold, with no dry fire for the day. I had left a paper target on my 200 yard pallet, so I went there rather than putting a new one on the 100 yard pallet. I did not remember to re-borrow the timer, so I used the iPhone timer app. I did not remember to bring writing material, so I used the back of a RifleCraft business card (well prepared wasn’t I?). The 200 yard pallet is at the base of a hill, just slightly up from the bottom, so I was shooting up a slight incline. This was different than in my dry practice. Recollecting my practice up to that point as I walked to the target, my assessment of my ability was that I was faster than the last time out with real ammo and targets, but not as fast as I can be, and “wild”, meaning not as reliable in this skill as I can be.

I was standing near where the yellow circle is. Sorry for the lousy iPhone pictures. I forgot to bring a good camera with me. See a pattern?

Here are my times:

1. 0.97
2. 1.34
3. 1.09
4. 1.25
5. 1.21
6. 1.1
7. 0.91
8. 1.02
9. 0.77
10. 0.86
11. 1.25
12. 0.95 miss
13. 1.06
14. 0.86 miss
15. 1.16
16. 0.94
17. 1.12
18. 1.24


My mean time for all shots was 1.06, down by .23 seconds from last time. My mean time for hits was 1.07 seconds, down by .25 seconds from last time. There was quite a range of times.  I attribute the inconsistency in time to the “wildness” in the technique even in practice to that point.  The movement was just not very predictable.

My hit rate was 89%, up 16% from last time. Getting hits is just a mental game. I was determined to do better than last time. After the 2 misses, I resolved not to miss any more. I don’t believe the speed had anything to do with it. I knew I was already significantly faster so I didn’t worry about the speed after that. I probably have another 0.2 seconds I can easily shave in the next week. After that I’m going to really be working hard for minor gains.

I also did a mag of 18 rounds from 25 yards. This I have not practiced in dry fire. One glitch I had at shot 2 was holding at the top of the 4” circle, like I would do at 7 yards. I think I missed that one just high, although my shots are still under the crosshairs at that distance. I cannot see my misses to note them at 25 like I can at 7. Here’s how I did:

1. 1.28
2. 1.39
3. 1.51
4. 1.28
5. 1.56
6. 1.63
7. 0.28
8. 1.18
9. 1.32
10. 1.14
11. 1.28
12. 1.35
13. 1.32
14. 1.16
15. 1.27
16. 1.83
17. 1.28
18. 1.50

I used the same target as the 7 yard drill, hence the extra hits.

My mean time was 1.36 seconds per shot, 0.2 seconds faster than last time. My hit rate was 44%, which is 29% worse than last time. What do you get when you don’t practice something??? I was not used to the increased level of sight picture discrimination that this distance required, and I had worked regularly on something that is much faster and easier to get a hit on. The difficulty in getting practice with this skill is that I don’t have 25 yards indoors with proper lighting (I might have to think about that actually). I could use a scaled down target, but I want to have a hard differentiation between necessary sight pictures at these distances, so I don’t want to be holding POA/POI at 7 yards when I should be holding 2″ over the center of the target. I think it might scramble my circuits while I’m in the process of trying to hard wire them.

I now have 102 rounds through the Noveske and am having fun with it. I’m almost ready to put some scopes through their paces.

On Zeroing

Last month I bored you with all the 10 shot groups that I shot. Now I’m going to unpack all the thought processes that went on in my mind while I was in the middle of collecting that data.

First of all, in the past I was a little careless on my zero. I paid more attention to precision (group size) than accuracy (actually hitting the target). The problem with that way of doing things comes when you actually do want to hit something. That gets frustrating.

What can be more frustrating is actually getting zeroed. When I started out rifle shooting I used three round groups to zero. In reference to that method, have you ever had the feeling that your sights must be moving around, or that someone must have messed with your turret since the last time? Assuming quality scope mounting components (no, that’s not a good place to use a low bidder part) that probably isn’t the case.

It was John Simpsons “Sniper’s Notebook” (and several follow up conversations with John) that clued me into what just seems like common sense. Each shot is a random event. Your rifle does not shoot all the shots through the same hole. It shoots groups, no matter how small they are. Because the shots are random, you don’t know what part of the group the shot you fire next will be. It could be the one that goes right where the crosshairs go, or it could be the one at the edge of your rifle’s group. This leads to the next question… what exactly is your rifle’s group?

Let’s consider the system. Your rifle, your scope, your ammo all fit together to form a shooting system. Normally I put the shooter in there as well, because someone has to shoot the rifle (except for those pesky ASSAULT WEAPONS, they shoot innocent people of their own accord). Consider that you had a single lot of ammunition, and that the rifle could stay in the same range of barrel cleanliness and temperature as you would normally keep it and shoot it, and that you could shoot a 5000 round group of ammo at the same target on the same day and suck all the life out of your barrel (I get that it’s not plausible, just bear with me). That group would be the total population of the rifle’s capability. You would know that the center of that group is where the rifle’s zero should have been, and you would know exactly what you could expect to hit with your rifle even at its very worst with any one of those 5000 shots.  

The three round groups that I used to zero my rifle with in the past are not as large as that 5000 round group would be.  So how does one predict the size of that theoretical group without actually shooting it.  You just have to have enough rounds to have a statistically significant sample. That’s a good thing because it would be a drag to wear the barrel out to figure out what it’s going to do next (replace the barrel and start over).

Consider a shooting system whose potential group size is 2 MOA. Three rounds from the system could go anywhere, but it’s more likely that a round will land near the center of the theoretical potential group than its edge. That means that it’s not likely that the three round group will be indicative of what the rifle will do over the course of many shots. The three round group could very likely be less than a minute. If that’s the case, then the center of that three round shot group, although it’s within the center of the rifle’s theoretical total population group, does not have the same center as the rifle’s total shot group would. So if you adjust your sights based on that 3 round group, what have you done? You’ve just started the beginning of a long train of confusion, pain, lost work, crumbled relationships, substance abuse, arrest after arrest, until finally you die face down in a ditch. OK, maybe I exaggerated slightly.

It may be obvious that I spent some time obsessing over this issue. I started noticing that even my 10 shot groups started to wander. It became clear that to follow each new twist and turn of the group center would take me down the same road of zero chasing as the three shot group.

One thing that has been helpful is the On Target program. They have a free version but I went ahead and bought the full version.  You may have noticed that the recent photos of my groups have the holes plotted and measured with a text box delineating all the relevant numbers. Another thing it does is calculates the mean point of impact, the mathematical center of the group, which is a lot nicer than eyeballing it.

Getting back to all the groups I posted last month. I posted 7 groups in all. 6 of them shared the same turret setting on my scope. Here they are again:

1-6-14 10 Shot FGMM 100

&1-11-14 100 Yard 10 Shots

1-13-14 10 rounds 100 Yards

1-19-14 FGMM 100 yards

1-20-14 FGMM 10 shots 100 yards

1-25-14 10 Shot FGMM 100 yards

So there we have 60 shots, all with the same zero (assuming my scope has solid tracking and returns to zero properly). I don’t know if 60 will tell me everything I need to know, but it’s better than 3, or even 5 shots. Notice that each group analysis has a mean point of impact. I started wondering about halfway through this what would it look like if I went just a little farther down the rabbit hole.

I took the file that I use to print my targets from, and opened it on Paint.net. I plotted each of the 6 different mean points of impact that On Target generated for each group. I saved that file, then opened the image in On Target. I plotted the mean points of impact just as if it were a shot group so I could get a look at the mean point of impact for all the groups. Here’s what that looked like:

Cumulative Mean 1-25-14

If you look at the individual groups, there is quite a bit of variance. If you were to pick any random three shots out of the 60, it might look like my zero was quite a bit off. I don’t know if this is my zero actually wandering around due to tolerances or ammo variance, or ???, or if it’s just indicative that 10 shots is not quite a large enough sample to really get it nailed down.  What the cumulative analysis shows is that over the long haul, I seem to be pretty much zeroed. That didn’t really tell me everything I wanted to know.

After I had five 10 shot groups I wanted to know what the worst case scenario was for my group size. Essentially, I wanted to know my cumulative extreme spread. I plotted the worst shots from each group and ran them through On Target.

Cumulative Extreme Spreads 2

There are better ways to figure out hit probabilities than extreme spreads, but this was a nice way to look at the worst case scenario based on shots that I had actually taken.  Also, it seems to be a very happy group, and who doesn’t like that?

Coincidentally, the maker of On Target also has an upgraded version of the software called On Target TDS (Target Data System) that is meant to combine large numbers of shots into an aggregate group.  I’m going to be giving that a try soon to see if it saves me some work and makes the cumulative results a bit more accurate and easier to get to.

To sum up on this whole zeroing/shot group thing… while I have taken this rifle out and shot a four round 0.25 MOA group within the last few months…


…it really isn’t indicative of how the rifle is likely to perform.  There’s no way I would ever call this a quarter minute gun.  All the stars just happen to line up that day. It was just four rounds out of the last 3500 or so that randomly landed in nearly the same spot.  I should have bought a lotto ticket too.

What this has shown me is that, as John said during a conversation with him, it’s a convenient fallacy to say that the gun is “zeroed”.  It takes a while to even begin to get a handle on getting it close.  Having said that, at some point you have to have it in your mind that your gun is zeroed so you can go out, leave the minutiae behind, and use the rifle to do some good work.

Why go to all this trouble if my goal is only as modest as hitting a 4″ target within 200 yards?  I’ll explain later.  Thanks for reading.


Messed Up Positions

I’m soliciting opinions from y’all on what you consider to be the most challenging positions in terms of getting correct eye relief and a good sight picture. I’m thinking of non-standard shooting positions (other than sitting, prone, offhand).

Thanks for your help.

Fitting Myself Into the AR

I’m enjoying my experience delving into the AR platform. It’s not that it’s new to me. I have one or two rounds downrange with one AR or another. I think what it comes down to is that for the most part I just haven’t yet owned an AR that I really wanted to get to know that well. Part of it is probably that snobby phase I was that every serious rifleman knows that the .223 isn’t a serious round. The more experience I gain, the more I learn that a lot of biases only exist to provide an ego boost. I don’t really need an ego boost (already topped out), so I would rather figure out what actually works.

It’s an interesting transition from being merely competent with a gun to beginning work to get as good as I possibly can with it. I’m treading a lot of familiar ground, and it reminds me of a few years back when I was working to get good with the Sako 75. It takes a bit of time to fit into the set of controls and ergonomics until most of the inefficiency is worked out.

I find myself with a new appreciation of the layout of the AR now that I have some experience in learning to run rifles efficiently. The safety, for instance, is made so that the thumb ends up right where it should be upon deactivating it, and the motion can be done concurrently with placing the trigger finger on the trigger. It’s one of those things that is so obvious that I never really payed attention to it, but when looking at how to make things happen more quickly, eliminating gun handling “gaps” is the first place I look to whittle down time. It’s nice to be able to get the safety off at the moment the movement to raise the muzzle. Then the slack can be out of the trigger as the sights settle on the target.

One of the very short term tasks I have set out for myself is to get some time with some scopes I have on loan to evaluate them via how well I can perform with them. To get to that point I need to work through some of the familiarization dry fire and live fire to get to my first plateau with the gun.

One of the things I want to test is speed of acquiring and shooting a target at close range. To keep with my primary short term goal of hitting the 4” target from within 200 yards, I’m using a 4” circle as my target. I started out with some dry fire at a 4” circle at 7 yards. I just want to get the gun to come up consistently, then quickly. That’s taking a little bit of work. I figure I’m about a week and a half to two weeks before I hit a plateau on the speed of target acquisition.

I had imagined that I might be able to use some sort of semi-precise reticle holdover to compensate for the mechanical offset on the AR, which at 7 yards will put the point of impact right at the bottom edge or just under the target with a centered point of aim. I found out almost instantly that holding either at the top edge of the target, or a “line of white” hold (just being able to see past the target edge with the point of aim) was much more practical. 7 yards means fast, there just isn’t much time to do anything more than ensure a good sight picture, which is really an all or nothing (hit or miss) proposition. I hope that with a lot more experience I can translate that to a good hit with targets that are other than 4”.

I decided to get some baseline times for the one shot at 7 yards drill. I expected them to be not so great, and I wasn’t disappointed (which is to say that I fulfilled my expectations).

I just freehand drew the ~4” target.

It turned out after the fact that I did a pretty good job of estimating 4”.


1. 1.59
2. 1.31
3. 1.21
4. 1.37 (miss)
5. 1.35
6. 1.42
7. 1.36
8. 1.41
9. 1.04 (miss)
10. 1.26
11. 0.92
12. 1.22
13. 1.21 (miss)
14. 1.45
15. 1.19 (miss)

Mean: 1.29 seconds

Hit Rate: 73%

Mean time for hits only: 1.32 seconds

My magnification at 7 yards was set so that the targets appeared to be the same size through the scope as they were to the naked eye. I need to work out a consistent starting position, something more specific than just “low ready”.

I also figured I should try it at 25, which is the same distance and size of targets that I worked on snapshooting with a bolt action. At 25 yards I set the scope at 4x.


1. 1.62
2. 1.49
3. 1.48 (miss)
4. 1.75
5. 1.64
6. 1.54 (miss)
7. 1.42
8. 1.62
9. 1.46
10. 1.70
11. 2.26
12. 1.54
13. 1.10
14. 1.34
15. 1.51

Mean: 1.56 seconds

Hit Rate: 73%
Mean time for hits only: 1.6 seconds

I was only able to record the two misses noted. A third miss happened at shot 14 or 15, but in the process of recording times I couldn’t remember which one was which. I wasn’t able to see the fourth miss until I approached the target.

The last time I did snapshooting drills for record with the Sako 75 was in April of 2012 (results published in May). As with the second drill here, I used an approximately 4″ target at 25 yards.  My average time then was 1.49 seconds. My hit rate was 56%, and my average time for hits was 1.57 seconds. At the time I had pretty much been shooting the Sako exclusively for almost a year, and I felt like my snapshooting was dialed in pretty well. With the AR I feel like I’m still in the orientation phase and my times are similar with a much higher hit ratio. I was curious how low ready would fare in comparison to a port arms starting position. It seems like it works well.

One thing I noticed when doing these drills is how nice the long handguard of this rifle is for shooting.  The rifle is not heavy by any means, and the barrel profile is not very thick.  Even then, it seemed that because my support hand was farther forward than normal, the mechanical advantage my position had over the recoil was much more significant.  What was nice is that I wasn’t trying at all to keep the muzzle from rising.  It just seemed to stay on target through an exaggerated followthrough.

I was even inspired to break out the metronome for some gradual and measured increases in speed. Nothing gets me more excited than working with a metronome, and I think it will help me get some quick results.