A common experience around firearms is the blame game. Is it the rifle or pistol that’s shooting crappy groups, or is it you? Too often it’s the gray matter behind the gun that is causing the problems, but the blame is put on the equipment.
Still, there are times when it really is the gun that is to blame. Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing if you are the cause of a problem, or if it is the equipment. When you are an experienced shooter, this determination gets easier as you have years of evidence of good shooting to fall back on. For the new shooter, this can be a difficult problem to solve.
There are a few steps you can take to help narrow down the culprit and save yourself some frustration. If you are shooting a new gun for the first time and run into issues, or your groups suddenly open up or move, here are a few ways to help identify the cause.
Check for loose parts
The most likely cause of a moving group or a group that opens up is loose sights. Check the front and rear sight or your scope and make sure they are tight. I have seen shooters not realize their sights were loose until their front sight or scope walks itself off the gun.
If you are frustrated at your performance, double check the sights before you get too upset.
The sights aren’t the only part that can come loose. Check that barrels are secure (on rifles) and for excessive slop in the action on pistols. Some rifles like the 10/22 can lose accuracy if the action screw (or any other mechanism) holding the action in the stock becomes loose.
These are easy things to check and are a good first step if you are having problems.
Have someone else shoot the gun
If the issue truly is the gray matter behind the gun, having another experienced shooter try the gun should prove it. Try to have someone you know is a better shooter try the gun, or just go for an increased sample size and get multiple shooters to try it.
An issue with the gun will become quickly apparent if no one else can shoot it better.
In the absence of other experienced shooters, shooting from a shooting vice or ransom rest is great alternative that takes any issues you may have out of the picture.
Shoot a different gun
Sometimes neither a rest or another shooter is available. When this happens, your best bet is finding another gun to shoot. Maybe it’s a completely different gun, or just another of the same model. If you can demonstrate the skills needed on a different firearm, you can either eliminate yourself as the problem or start narrowing down skills that might be specific to the gun you are having trouble with.
An alternate gun isn’t a perfect test, but whenever I feel like I’m doing horribly with a new gun, I like to go back to a known standard. I pick up something that I know I can shoot well to prove my technique hasn’t taken a vacation without telling me.
Poor results from your shooting can be very frustrating. Knowing how to resolve these issues quickly and calmly not only helps you get back to being productive faster, but it also eliminates unnecessary self doubt.
How do you identify whether an issue is you or the gun? Post a comment below and share.