On my first trip to the new range about a month ago I shot using a “non-designated” firing lane that takes up two sections of the range in order to get a bit more distance. I decided that it was more trouble than it was worth. It really was, because I dropped a magazine for my rifle (1 of 2) out there.
It took me 2 to 3 weeks for me to notice the magazine was missing, because so much other stuff was going on. A spare mag costs about $45, so I was really set on finding it and had no idea where it was. Finding it became an obsession. I thought it had to be in my rifle bag so I emptied it completely. Being empty, it’s pretty clear that nothing is in it, but I kept checking. Repeatedly. Obsessively. I did the same thing with my backpack, my sling making office/factory area, the living room, etc…
Eventually I did find the mag by doing a 2 person line search with a 6 year old (i.e. looked for it randomly with no help) after correlating the time I lost it with the time I was shooting at an odd spot at the range that I had not returned to since.
The important part of the story is the obsessive/compulsiveness that I picked up as a result. That’s what lead me, while checking my gun room for the 5th or 6th time, to reading the insert that came with my Atlas bipod that had the sentence fragment reading, “Engraving away from muzzle.” The next step was figuring out that my bipod had been mounted backwards for about 7 months. Maybe I had inadvertently stumbled onto the missing clue that was affecting my accuracy. Time to go to the range and finally be victorious!!!
I got a little bit ahead of the session there. The experiments of the day were:
-3 round cold bore “warm up” group
-5 rounds with bipod on correctly
-5 rounds with boards set up to eliminate panning of the bipod and to provide a
-5 rounds with the butt moved from the shoulder pocket proper
towards the center approximately 1.5” to 2”
Obviously the bipod orientation did nothing for me. That Atlas looks pretty much the same from either direction, since the legs can be set in four positions, unlike a Harris where the folding makes it really obvious. I did think that it felt like it “loaded” better when it was on right.
I keep noticing something I can do different, then thinking it will be the one thing that puts all the pieces together in the right order and makes it all “good”. I really don’t think that’s the case anymore.
The next experiment came from a minor gripe I’ve had about the Atlas, which stems from its “panning” (side to side rotation capability). It seems that it’s difficult to get the Atlas to set perpendicular to the axis of the bore. Even if the rifle is set up that way, the bipod tends to move unevenly on a non-uniform surface, which is to say practically all “real life” surfaces, upon firing. This was a lot worse when I shot a lot in gravel, which allowed the bipod to shift through it a lot more than dirt and grass. The gravel also would allow one side of the bipod to sink in more than the other. The combination of these conditions would often put the bipod at the full deviation of both its panning and tilting functions. It seemed like a support that would stop in one direction and allow free movement in the other could be detrimental to precision.
To eliminate the panning and tilting I brought a 1”x4” board, a small piece of plywood, a type of antique protractor, and some tent stakes.
I set the protractor arm to 0°, sighted down the arm from my firing position to the target with the 1”x4” flush with the bottom edge of the protractor. Then I held it in that position with the plywood under it and slightly protruding out towards me.
This contraption provided a uniform surface for the bipod to sit on and to be loaded against. I had thought that it would keep the scope on target through recoil, but it did not do that at all. The results on paper were encouraging:
Something else I had been wondering about was whether it would help to bring the rifle more inline to my center. When a started shooting scoped rifles a lot a few years ago I tended to keep the butt a few inches in from my shoulder pocket. This did not help my precision: