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This SMALLBORE Business

How about checking to see if the rear sight moves correctly? Backlash is quite common in rear sights, where absolutely nothing happens when you turn the knobs, until it takes up in one fell swoop and moves the zero about six clicks!

I can tell you, I have never started a new match with a barrel that was not spotlessly clean. I made sure my barrels were never fired over previous fouling and cleaned them religiously. The same thing applies to the benchrest shooters. You just never see them fire a shot out of a barrel that was not clean. These guys DO know what they are on about and that in itself is good enough for me…. Check all your gear, your shooting clothing as well. The elbow pads on the coat are often a source of form loss (particularly for a full bore shooter where recoil is more severe). Make sure they do not creep, or slip from position.

The shooting sling that borders on crap is another source, does it stay where you put it? Is it deteriorating, or separating? Check the rivets in case they pull through and leave you with nothing on the upper arm. How about a glove you can spit peas through? One of the best I have seen was a fore-end rail that fell off the rifle!

Does the trigger creep before it reaches let off settings? I have also seen a complete trigger drop into the bottom of the trigger guard (in a severe case!) as well as a trigger bar that was so loose it effectively gave the release something like four first pressures…. Not bad for a single-stage release system!

If all the above are OK, then you can bet your Doc Martens the problem lies with the ammunition compatibility. Probably groups as big as the eight- ring or worse! Perhaps your pet batch of ammo either froze in an aircraft hold, or became really hot, which happens quite a bit in Australian summers. I always kept my Tenex in Styrofoam cooler bags through the heat of Australian summer months. Tenex does not like 40 plus degrees C, and R50 is even worse…

Finally, as I indicated above, make sure the lens of your shooting specs has not rotated out of axis, If it is there is usually mark on the side of the lens that lines up at 12 o’clock on the shooting frames. This can often give you the collywobbles if the prescription is there to combat astigmatism in your eyesight. (There are so many shooters with this problem.)

Have you checked your weight lately? Is it up a little or perhaps under? The fact that you may have either put on, or lost weight, can severely affect the best of the positions - particularly prone!

Too much weight around the tummy can drastically alter the position of the rifle in the forward geometry. The recoil is affected and thus the return to aim on recoil which is so important in prone shooting because effectively the position is much higher than normal. It does not take a lot either! When this happens, it is virtually back to the drawing board and learning to shoot all over again. Your coat fit is affected and with it the sling length and adjustments.

Breathing is clearly affected and in severe cases the blood-pressure problem produces a hold similar to the Krakatoa earthquake. You will find you can no longer hold the ten-ring because the position you worked on for so long just does not do that anymore….

If you have lost weight, the biggest problem with this is the sling length and tension is severely upset. It is loose and often results in pulling the forward hand back from the hand stop in an effort to gain some support for the rifle. This is a common tell tale when you feel the rifle is flopping about, does not line up with the natural point of aim, with a recoil that wobbles like a bag full of fighting cats…. Alarm bells! Ding, ding, ding!

So, readers, it is suddenly time to look and probably go right back to basics and believe me, fishing, or tiddlywinks may look pretty inviting when going through form-loss for no apparent reason.

Remember, the most important measurement in shooting is directly between the ears!

Brooksie. 68

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