Preliminary Progress Report with the PBR-XP

-307 Rounds
-4 Cold Bore shots- all in the black of the target I was shooting.  The last one had 
     the  most significant deviation, slightly less than 1.5″ low.  Mitigating factors 
     may  include:
           -The last thing through the barrel was a blank round that had been fired 
             just over a week earlier.
           -The rifle had done a lot of travelling and had been exposed to a
             more humid environment.
           -The only bore cleaning I have done so far is with a boresnake.  I just 
             looked into the barrel and it looks like a copper mine.
-0 clean cold bore shots (see above)
-0 malfunctions
-The rifle’s zero and sighting system have been very consistent.  No surprises, 
     large or small.

 Cold bore shots:

2012-09-14 001 013

2012-09-29 001 005

In the first few months of the blog I was pretty good about posting 10 shot groups from various positions with the Sako 75.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that.  I have myself a little “pop quiz” with the FN to see how I’m holding up.  The main difference between when I used to do it versus this time is that I used to work my positions pretty hard prior to hitting the range and testing it.  This time my positional shooting is not at its sharpest.  In fact it was rather rust laden.
I set up six targets.  The positions I tested were bipod prone, unsupported prone with sling, crossed ankle sitting, rice paddy prone, regular offhand, and what I’ve been calling modified offhand.  I’ll throw up a comparison of my previous groups with the Sako.  Groups are at 100 yards unless otherwise noted. 
Bipod Prone
I reset my position between each shot by standing up, making sure I was square to the rifle, and getting back down.  My group:
2012-09-18 001 045
                     Could ‘ve been a contender… if only… just ignore those errant 3.

The Sako:
‘Bout the same size, but notice that more are crazy,as opposed to only 3 crazies with the FN, and the degree of craziness is much higher, like, say, paranoid schizophrenia. 
Big Ol’ Heavy Remmy:

You can see maybe 3 crazy shots here, but a much more high functioning level of insanity.
I’m willing to blame myself for the 3 errant rounds with the FN.  I’m also willing to blame the rifle in case blaming myself doesn’t work out.
Unsupported Prone with Sling
I learned something about the FN when using the sling in prone.  This was the first time I had tried it because shooting prone with the sling when there’s a bipod on the rifle doesn’t make much sense.  It’s more of a vestigial skill than a useful one, unless Fred’s dream of everyone being handed a rack grade surplus rifle with a sling somehow comes true.  Onto what I learned… the distance to the front sling stud is short, very short.  The result is that I can’t get the flat of my support arm to contact the ground.   I’m stuck with my elbow pointing on the gravel.  I realized again why people think prone is uncomfortable.  I also realized why tall people just wouldn’t listen when I told them to use the flat of the arm- it just… doesn’t… work when the rifle… doesn’t… fit!

I measured the location of the sling stud in relation to both the butt and the trigger.  First from the butt to the forward stud:
     PBR:     25.75″
     Sako:    29.5″ 
     M14:     29.25″

From trigger to forward stud:
     PBR:     12.25″
     Sako:    15.25″
     M14:      16.25″

Obviously there’s a significant difference, but it’s really only noticeable in prone with the sling, so it’s pretty much a non-issue unless I’m shooting an AQT or something that requires me not to use a bipod.

Elbow instead of flat of the arm, as I was able to verify, equates not only to more pain, but to less stability.  Here’s 10 shots on paper:
2012-09-18 001 042
Not great, but it looks better than 10 out of the Sako:
Again with the Remmy:
Cross Ankle Sitting
This is a pretty good position for me normally.  I felt like I was struggling with all the positional shooting to a degree.  The less stable the position was, the more I struggled.  What I really noticed was that the creep in the trigger, and it being a little heavier than what I have been using was giving me a frustrated feeling.
2012-09-14 001 021
2012-09-18 001 040
That’s pretty bad.  Here’s with the Sako from 300 yards:
Converting both to minute of angle, the Sako being about 3.6 and the FN being approximately 3.6/1.047 = 3.4.  I’d call it about a tie if I handicap the Sako for being at 300.
Rice Paddy Prone
I expected this to be pretty good.  It was frustrating. 
2012-09-14 001 022
If I measured it I didn’t take note of it, but the picture tells you what you need to know.  It was one of those times when the second mag lacks any semblance of concentration and blows the whole thing to (pick your expletive, I don’t use that language on the blog).
From the Sako:
3.6 MOA from the Sako.  This goes to show that in those less stable positions, a better trigger is more important that the rifle’s inherent precision, at least within reasonable limits.
OK, posting offhand groups is embarrassing for me.  Here’s the thing, try to find anyone else that will post them.  They are out there, but they’re few and far between.  My previous best with the Sako was 8.6” at 100 yards:
The FN gave me 11.5”, if I remember right.  See the little guy on the left that missed the target page?
2012-09-14 001 023
Modified Offhand
I’d been wanting to do a comparison on offhand vs. the modified offhand since I decided to switch to it.  I posted recently about the weight of the FN causing me to doubt whether I should abandon this in favor of returning to standard offhand.  My group was about 7” (I have no Sako comparison group):
2012-09-14 001 024
2012-09-18 001 035
It barely passes the blurry paper plate test:
2012-09-18 001 037
My shooting could have been better, but that’s always the case.  Looks like I’m putting trigger work on my list.  


17 thoughts on “Preliminary Progress Report with the PBR-XP

  1. Good stuff here. When you mentioned being embarrassed by your offhand shooting, I was reminded of Jeff Cooper’s axiom, If you can get steadier, get steadier. I think I also read somewhere that he figured he had taken at least half of his big game from at least a seated position. Shooting offhand sucks at best.

    Even so it still must be practised and improved. I have a buddy who can shoot ridiculously good groups offhand with his SVT-40. I cannot even get close, and it can be discouraging. He is a pretty strong guy, with a solid torso. I think that helps him a fair bit.

    ~ The artist formerly known as Anonymous

    • I would agree that strength and solidity in the upper (probably lower too) body is probably an asset.

      Do you think there will be a public outcry due to your name change? Will there be a major stylistic shift in your writing?

  2. Lots of offhand practice!!!!!!!!!

    As far as loop-sling-supported prone goes, it does not get used much due mostly to line-of-sight/fire obstructions, but I do not consider it vestigial, but rather something to prove out your skills, for when you don’t happen to have a bipod or handy field-expedient rest.

    Any really good rifleman should be able to shoot almost as well loop-sling-prone as with a bipod. Why? Two reasons: for when you don’t have a bipod/rest, and for developing the high skill level/technique understanding, which happens to also improve all your other shooting as well.

    Understanding/executing correct position and natural point of aim especially, understanding how the loop sling works best, and being extra-careful and extra-good in all aspects of performance (respiratory pause, trigger management, etc.), are all necessary to be an excellent loop-sling-prone shooter.

    Bipods can spoil or misdirect you. Too many shooters with bipods just flop down and start blasting, because they think that’s all they need, neglecting the finer performance arts of marksmanship. But if you don’t have a rest, boy do you have to perform at a high level!

    Too much bipod time might do you more harm than good. Now if you already are an ace sling/position shooter, no harm in going to a bipod/rest when you need that extra steadiness. What you know of position shooting will only help you use the rest better, it will not be wasted!

    Just my $.02….

    • I think that refining the bipod technique has as many nuances, and as many challenges, as the slung position. The sling almost makes figuring out a position easier, because it tends to give a gross indication of natural point of aim, where the bipod position is a matter of finding the natural point of aim, which is not so readily apparent, and tuning the position to neutralize movement during recoil.

      I would argue that a bipod is nice for a beginning shooter, because it brings the fundamentals of marksmanship to the forefront, rather than trying to learn to use the sights, trigger, breathing, while at the same time trying to nail the position down. The caveat is that it would be done under guided coaching with a purpose towards moving beyond it.

      Positional shooting is rather demanding in and of itself, a lot of which is just the positions themselves. Having a basic grip on the fundamentals before learning firing positions would, in my opinion, be advantageous and a lot less frustrating.

      You’re right that the bipod makes it easier to cheat and get hits with a substandard position. Some shooters may accept correction, realize their mistakes, and progress past the crutch. The ones that don’t are the ones that would have gone out anyway, and have more of a chance to get a bad hit, wound their animal, and probably blame it on the rifle.

      It’s tough trying to balance different disciplines that have minimal overlap and sometimes may present conflicting solutions. So I would agree that too much emphasis on the bipod is harmful to the other aspects of shooting. You can see some of that on the targets above, although most of them showed some marginal improvement.

      Maybe I was a little harsh with word “vestigial”. It is a useful part of learning. It also depends on whether you have a bipod or not. It’s an extra 12 ounces. I have a hard time telling the difference in weight. I keep it on and practice with it. Looping up is a second or two quicker, but if I’m going prone, I might have that extra time. Maybe not.

  3. Hey folks,

    The rifle book will tentatively be titled: “The Gun Digest Shooter’s Book of Rifle Marksmanship” and be released in paper & digital form around mid-March. It apparently has been edited (I got no calls to change anything) and will be going to the formatting group. In a month or so I’ll have a copy to proof-read.

    Handgun marksmanship book to follow in late July.

    • Oh, and it will be priced at around $20 or a little less, with discount price possibilities. 18 Chapters and 200 photos (they wanted 200, I started with about 75 to make me happy).

    • Heh well RS we’ll see. For me the next two bits of work are finishing and selecting the extra 115 (!!!) or so photos for the handgun book. At least I have some time for this, the rifle book deadline gave me only 2 weeks to come up the requested extra! Second, I have to come up with a promotion plan centered on the internet plus whatever personal/professional contacts I have/can come up with.

      Oh, and they’ll be doing a 6000 print run of each to start with, sales determining any further runs. Seems kinda small, I’d like to see about a million of each in circulation….that would spread the info around nicely, as well as giving me a retirement plan…;-)

  4. What is your rifles mission? that answer determines for me what it has on it ,what it weighs, caliber ect probably different answers for different folks,I still remember watching a hunter in heavy cover with long barreled rife ,huge scope and bipod Hmmm something wrong here either poor choice of area or poor choice in equipment . As Wilfred Brimley said in Crossfire Trail “you want a more harmonious outcome”

  5. after thoughts- what teaches trigger control better than offhand practice/or dry firing offhand
    was it cooper who thought if couldn’t hold a rifle by the stock wrist in extended arm position for a min it was to heavy?
    and did the Olympic training center discover that certain types of weight training causes tremor and now uses only static resistance

  6. Rawhider, yes it was Col. Cooper who said you should be able to hold your rifle one-handed at arms length for (I think) 30 seconds, if not it was too heavy.

    Don’t know about the Olympic center’s findings on that, but I could take a 20-min. drive over there and ask. 😛

  7. My rifle is nowhere near being a Scout rifle, except for maybe the length (40″ = 1.01 meters). I’m not sure why the one hand weight requirement was so important. I have trouble holding a pencil at arm’s length for 30 seconds (that was a joke, really. No, seriously, it really was). I don’t think that a rifle being a little heavy should make offhand too hard. I don’t think my ~12 pounder is too out of line. Balance is good.

    My rifle’s mission is to have a good balance of precision, power, portability, and shootability in whatever situation I find myself. Could have maybe done a little better for a lot more coin.

    I see how training to failure could train the muscles to shake, but I don’t really know if that’s the way it works.

    I like my gun. Trigger and the nut behind it need some work though.

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