What a Difference a Proper Zero Makes

I was invited by a good friend, Larry, to participate in an annual fun rifle shooting contest he puts on for friends and fellow parishioners at his church on July 4th.  He got the idea some years back after hearing or reading about Appleseed and the idea of a rifleman being able to shoot to a 4 moa standard.

Larry’s contest format is, I think, in some ways superior to the AQT that Appleseed uses.  A total of 20 rounds from four positions, offhand, kneeling, sitting and prone.  Five rounds from each position in ten minutes.  The target is a 4” circle printed on a piece of 8 ½ x 11” paper.  A hit on the circle is a point.  Anything off the circle is not a point.  Hit or miss is, in many ways, more meaningful than a scoring progression of hit quality, especially if you’re interested in attaining a certain standard of accuracy.  The record is 12 points.
Bipods were allowed but I didn’t use one.  Most in attendance didn’t.
Here’s my target:

003- resized

My goal was a happy face with a boom mic.  Pretty good huh?  Actually, for those of you interested in honesty, I was actually trying to get hits in the black.  I scored 8.  I did not win.  I believe the winner scored 11. 
Note the vertical string to the right of the black.  The grid lines are half inch.  Now note that 2 clicks of left windage would have likely given me 5 more shots in the black, which would have been a good thing for my fragile ego (you know, ’cause 8 + 5 = WINNING).  Also note the location of this group, which I fired about a week later:

10 shots

What can I infer from this?  Accuracy can be more important than precision.  Accuracy comes from having a good zero and compensating effectively for conditions that may affect it.  Compensating afterwards is not effective.  Compensating during would be marginally more helpful.  Knowing your system well enough to compensate before would be a very good thing.  The winner did a better job of that than I did.
Congratulations Howard!

I did adjust my zero 0.75 MOA left.

10 thoughts on “What a Difference a Proper Zero Makes

  1. Good shooting.

    This looks like a fascinating concept. Was it shot at 100 yards?

    More questions:
    – Bipods allowed, but what about propping on a mag for us AR15 shooters?
    – For kneeling, was it essential to sit on the rear leg? (RS, you probably know why I am asking this!)
    – Scopes permitted? I’d like to do it with my ACOG, but will surely do it with my irons, too.
    – Sling permitted?
    – What is the shot scored if it is half in the black and half out?

    • Hello Sir,

      I’ll do my best to convey the answers as I understand them.

      -100 yards, yes.

      -I’m about 90% certain that the mag propping was allowed. I may have seen someone do it.

      -I want to say that you probably would have gotten away with your kneeling position, especially since you have a pretty good reason for using it. I had thought about asking if Rice Paddy Prone would have been an acceptable substitute (it would have rocked!) but I thought it better to challenge myself in the spirit of the competition and not be “that guy”.

      -Scopes, of course! (or irons if you like them better)

      -Slings, (the answer comes with a French accent this time, like a Grey Poupon commercial) “But of course!”

      -Okay, scoring edge shots is where I’m a little murky. I didn’t have any of those “marginal hits” on this occasion. A gentleman was there just to score. I heard that he was a stickler. If it were me, anything touching counts, and I’d use my handy dandy USPSA RO bullet diamter template over it just to be sure, but alas, it was not me scoring. I would have rather been shooting anyway.

    • I wanted to add that I think the lack of rules was able to work because there were no lawyers there trying to game the course of fire. Everything is better without lawyers. Larry isn’t the type to let his comp be gamed anyway. His eyes are wool free and he’s always the first one up in the morning. Chuck Norris tried to mess with him once. Once.

  2. Thank for the update.

    I hear ya on the gaming. Seems there are two major ways to count a score:
    a) any part of the black is touched and it is counted (AS uses this, I believe)
    b) the center of the hole must be “in the black” to count (“Fred” uses this on some of his games in his “Rifleman” packet).

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