Chasing That Last 1% of Performance…

…From the 50th Percentile.

We all have to deal with finite amounts of time and resources to allocate to those things that we deem worthy.  It would make sense then that it should be a priority to invest those limited commodities as wisely as possible.  We want the most bang for the buck.

From what I’ve seen and from personal experience, when it comes to improving the ability to use a rifle to hit things with bullets, people tend to use their time, effort, and money unwisely.  I have wasted plenty myself.

The basic problem is a failure to consider return on investment.  How much are you getting for what you put in?  I have been willing to invest a lot of time and effort into improving my shooting.  Think of the Soviet Union and their military budget.  That has been me.  I rarely considered the cost of my input.  If I thought it might be possible that I could squeeze anything more out of my performance I was willing to make the sacrifice.

That approach could make sense for a certain segment of shooters, namely those who represent the top shooters.  The one little issue with that is that’s not going to be appropriate for most of the shooters out there.  By definition, for there to be top shooters, the rest of us have to be worse than them to a greater or lesser degree.

I have always had the problem of wanting everything to be right, all at once.  I just don’t like the idea that I could be doing it wrong.  The reason that’s a problem is because not all things are of equal importance.  Some of the things we fuss over may not make a difference at all, except in terms of the preferences of different internet forums or communities.

In most disciplines and in most products there is a “sweet spot” in which value is maximized.  Take rifles, for instance.  A $1000 dollar rifle may be twice as good quality wise as a $500 rifle, but a $5000 rifle will not likely be five times as good as the $1000 rifle.  It’s just minor details, quality control, finish work that looks nice, maybe better options, etc.  The way that many of us approach our practice is like putting in the $5000, and not even getting the basic functional product, but only the minor details.  Those minor details don’t translate to increased function without a foundation to place them on, and it only makes sense to put in that extra work if you’re good enough to appreciate the difference.  Think about it this way- if you still have room to improve your follow through and trigger control, is weighing cases and neck turning a wise investment of time?

I’ve come to the conclusion that most of us can get the greatest value and satisfaction from our shooting relative to what we put in by making modest expenditures of time, effort, and money in the areas that have the greatest effect on final performance.  In fact, I believe that expending too much time and effort in an inefficient manner can reduce performance and is likely to reduce one’s level of satisfaction with the outcome.  I think that it would lower one’s satisfaction even if performance is maintained or even slightly increased, due to the paltry return on investment.  I’m not going to make suggestions with what you do with your money.  Check with your spouse on that one.

I think the most bang for the buck areas of practice are standing, trigger control up to the command break, getting control of balance in all positions, and shot timing.

10 thoughts on “Chasing That Last 1% of Performance…

  1. This is exactly the lesson that I have now learned. It took me 3 years to figure it out. I spent a lot of time, money, frustration, and effort to learn, but now I know. To truly understand something, you have to obtain personal experience with the subject.

    It is not all bad however, as I can now spend my time and effort wisely. I don’t have to take advice from someone else. I want efficiency, economy, and quality in all areas of my life. We have to achieve the total package; health, wealth, quality relationships, self sovereignty.

  2. “I think the most bang for the buck areas of practice are standing, trigger control up to the command break, getting control of balance in all positions, and shot timing.”

    To which I would add having a really deep understanding of the loop sling, and consistent gun mount/cheek weld/eye placement behind the sights.

    Good post.

  3. Well, I get to be the first to respond to this one.

    “From what I’ve seen and from personal experience, when it comes to improving the ability to use a rifle to hit things with bullets, people tend to use their time, effort, and money unwisely. I have wasted plenty myself.”

    Ditto, so have I.

    “The basic problem is a failure to consider return on investment. How much are you getting for what you put in? I have been willing to invest a lot of time and effort into improving my shooting.”

    Let me add to that, the purpose, more or less practical. For most people, unless they’re dedicated long range competition shooters, or snipers, long range shooting simply is not practical. In fact, even for the professional snipers in war time, depending on terrain, long range sniping may not be practical. Think of German and Finnish snipers during WW2. I think I read from “A Rifleman went to war” by Herbert McBride that German snipers did not think very highly of long range sniping. They thought that any sniping beyond 200 yards was not worth the effort and risk a sniper had to take. Also they would be a lot more variables one would have to contend with, especially the wind, from different directions, temp (very relevant in winter), and ballistic curves for the long range sniping. Instead they concentrated on extremely precise shots at close (by the usual American standard) range. Basically a head shot within 200 yards.

    Btw. Finnish snipers were even more close range focused. Many of their famed snipers shot at the enemy within 100 yards. Considering the performance of the German and Finnish snipers, something to think over.

    Of course, much of the conflict took place in the forest, so that has something to do with that, but then that’s what happens in real wars.

    “Think of the Soviet Union and their military budget. That has been me.”

    One could apply that logic to U.S. budget as well to a lesser extent. Does U.S. really need to spend money in updating small arms? With the exception of snipers, the usual infantry small arms are not really that efficient. The future of the infantry belongs to smart grenades, especially, mini or micro version, and mini or micro version of the drones.

    The same with air power. U.S. can use low flying drones (eventually autoflying version) carried on tanks, basically smaller, land-bound version of aircraft carriers

    This would save a lot of money and lives as well, but too many people are hiding their personal interest under the guise of patriotism.

    For the average joe, the use of rifle is the purpose of the hunting. For that he would need a rifle that could hit the shoulders and heart of the running deer and drop the deer. That’s the kind of accuracy he/she would need, nothing more.

    “In most disciplines and in most products there is a “sweet spot” in which value is maximized. Take rifles, for instance. A $1000 dollar rifle may be twice as good quality wise as a $500 rifle, but a $5000 rifle will not likely be five times as good as the $1000 rifle. It’s just minor details, quality control, finish work that looks nice, maybe better options, etc. The way that many of us approach our practice is like putting in the $5000, and not even getting the basic functional product, but only the minor details. Those minor details don’t translate to increased function without a foundation to place them on, and it only makes sense to put in that extra work if you’re good enough to appreciate the difference. Think about it this way- if you still have room to improve your follow through and trigger control, is weighing cases and neck turning a wise investment of time?”

    Try telling that the guns and ammo manufacturers.

    “I think the most bang for the buck areas of practice are standing, trigger control up to the command break, getting control of balance in all positions, and shot timing.”

    I agree totally. I think electronic aids also would help a great deal, especially for the city dwellers.

    https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/effective-dry-fire-practice/

  4. YES and YES to both the above
    There is a bunch of Heresy out there that I subscribed to for years and now after years of “wasted” time I no longer do the following the list includes cleaning primer pockets,weighing brass, turning necks,spinning loaded rounds to check concentricity ,weighing on scales each charge instead of just using a really good powder measure. I shoot with a fellow shooter that does all the above It takes him a couple of hours to load a box of shells “Really” It is all headspace the 6″ between the ears <me thinks

    • Yep. I get that reloading is fun, but support functions have a way of overriding primary functions, and that just ain’t right.

  5. Since the best practice, dry, is free and no one pays for my hours any longer, I should be a perfect shot, as soon as that comes to the top of my procrastination pile. Good thought that needs lots of sharing, in rifle the rifle only means so much, the ammunition so much, and the day to perform is only so much, but the human being is going to always be the greatest part of the shot. And that human is well known as the weakest link in so many things.

  6. Pingback: Break Break | The Everyday Marksman

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