Sunday, May 10, 2009

So THAT'S what they mean by 'tight group'

Not entirely satisfied with my performance at the shooting range yesterday, I went back today to see if I couldn't get tighter groupings.

I wasn't planning to blog about it ... until I did this.

Dang.
My first two shots were a little high and a little wild from wobble. I was jumpy. And I was sitting next to a guy shooting a .300 mag (irritating) with a whiny son (even more irritating).

One click on the scope to drop the shot a quarter inch, and I got my third shot close to where I wanted it - about an inch over bull's eye. I waited for the next ceasefire, slapped a Shoot-N-C sticker on the target, and went back for three more shots.

First one: Good - an inch above bull's eye and slightly left. Second shot right on top of it (and I found out later, right through the hole of my best shot from Round 1). I chortled gleefully.

Third shot - breathe calmly! - right where I wanted it, just touching the other two. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

I was gonna take three more shots, but why mess with that?

Moral(s) of the story:

1. I love my Savage American Classic .270 and my Bushnell Elite Series scope.

2. I love my Nosler E-tip non-toxic bullets (thanks to Phillip for that recommendation).

3. I love my new decaffeinated brain - it's easier to convince myself that there's no need to flinch just because the gun's gonna shove my shoulder a bit.

And I do believe that the demons who were standing on my shoulder whispering in my ear yesterday were standing in the line of fire today. And with shooting like this, that means they're dead.

© Holly A. Heyser 2009


R. Gabe Davis said...

I am impressed, shoot a grouping like that early in the day and work a word like chortled into a blog of the evening.

Albert A Rasch said...


What more need be said?

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.
The Range Reviews: Tactical.
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit.

tom said...

THIS is what more needs said, Albert. You know me, I don't mince words.

I could have been the guy who might have been at the bench near you with a .577 BPE or NE instead of a .300 Winny as the .300s are sorta popguns and I obviously have a small pecker so I don't like to shoot those little things in public on ranges as it may make people think I have a large pecker and then I'd be swamped with women:

Given: Nice shooting from a stable rest in a NON-HUNTING situation and Your Morals of the "story" are as follows:

1. You love your Savage American Classic .270 and your Bushnell Elite Series scope.

2. You love your Nosler E-tip non-toxic bullets (thanks to Phillip for that recommendation). They work really great when they blow up on hog ribs into dust and DO NOT PENETRATE A BIT. Buy a magazine, read it, throw it away, and Solids, TSX, A-Squares, and A-Frames still rule the roost.

3. You are only as good as the shots you can actually make in the field. Go lie in gravel wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts and fire ant piles and practice till you get the same group.

Then THE PICTURED GROUP will be a realistic group.

I welcome new hunters and I also kick them a bit when they think they have things sorted that they don't.

May you be able to make the same shots as well far from ranges and benches one day. They don't exist in the wild unless you are culling/hunting over bait from blinds and pre-manufactured shooting positions.

If I said anything offensive, take me up on the challenge of getting better instead of resting on laurels. Feel free to delete my comments, but take them to heart.

Most any decent modern hunting rifle will group like that if YOU don't screw up AT THE RANGE or reloading bench.

Best Regards and Happy Hunting,

Holly Heyser said...

Albert, what more need be said is this: I can't find any damn .270 snap caps in my local stores. Very irritating. I really want to follow your advice on that. (And the advice of many others as well, lest they read hear and think I wasn't listening to them.)

Tom, don't worry, I don't think I'm Super Pig Sniper or anything. But this is the best shooting I've ever done at the range. I know field shooting is a different game - I mean really, no shit. But having shot worse at the range and still done well in the field, this makes me feel pretty good.

I also must tell you that I am not an arrogant, pimply 17-year-old boy in need of a jackboot in the ass; I am a 43-year-old female new-ish hunter whose greatest hurdle is a lack of confidence. So while I appreciate your desire to let me know that indeed I am not perfect, rest assured, I am well aware of that. But hey, thanks for the reminder.

hodgeman said...

Don't worry- if your field shooting is even remotely that good you won't need a group- the first one will do the trick.

Good target shooting is a confidence builder and worthy time spent- congratulations.

Holly Heyser said...

Thanks, Hodgeman.

Phillip said...

I realize Tom is trying to play the wizened old curmudgeon, but to all his naysaying, I say, "bah."

The first step in gaining the confidence necessary to be a good field marksman is knowing that your rifle is up to the task... and the only way to do that is to dial dead zero from the bench. From the image on this post, I'd say you've done that. It shoots as well as any Savage I've seen so far... they're great rifles for an excellent price. You made a great choice.

YES. Field practice will make you deadly and I won't underrate it. Every hunter needs to shoot from field positions (without a benchrest). True enough, there are no benches or sandbags in the field, although the smart hunter finds the next best available rest before ever lining up the sights or touching the trigger. Offhand shots are for close range or combat... there's almost never a need to shoot offhand at game more than 100 yards away.

But all the practice in the world don't mean squat if you're never sure if it's YOU or YOUR RIFLE that can't hit the mark. If you know the bullet will go where the crosshairs lay, you won't spend all that time in your head worrying about adjusting or doubting yourself... you just shoot. Most of the misses I've committed and witnessed were the result of unnecessary adjustments because the hunter was either not familiar with what the rifle would do, or because they second-guessed the gun. A lot of folks who think they're experts don't appreciate that little fact.

As far as the ETips, my recommendation comes from more than a magazine can offer (and apparently more than Tom knows anything about), and that's live fire experience on big game with them... and I can tell you first hand they're every bit as good, if not better, than the TSX. You won't "powder" the ETips, even on the large bones. They pass right through, no different from the Barnes, although my impression so far is that they do a little more soft tissue damage if you don't hit the big bones, which is far more important to me. You shouldn't be aiming for big bones anyway.

Nuff testosterone for today, Holly... sorry about that. Stuff like this makes it easier for me to understand why you prefer the women-only range days. Who needs this crap?

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

You should be delighted, improvement is usually a function of comparing your most recent performance to the performance before that, and seeing the RATE of improvement. Confidence grows and ability grows with it. That's the function of feedback.


tom said...


I'm slightly younger than you and there is no testosterone involved. Just points to be made.

Hunting is hunting, bench rest is bench rest. They both have their place but don't let being good at one lure you into being complacent about the other.

GS pass through better than anything. All versions.

Up early because of phoners to Guateng before it's "tea time".

I more or less said NO INSULT INTENDED. I don't reckon I need to say that again or do I?

Range groups aren't real world groups. Scopes sometimes break at REALLY BAD TIMES even when they say Swaro or Leupold on them...quick detach mounts ARE A GOOD IDEA and you'll laugh at me about that until you have a broken scope, no irons, and may as well break out the camera.

My intent was NOT to demean. Read some of my write ups of loser liar manufacturers on the interenets and you shall read a very good reading of "demean".

Noslers suck on anything I want to shoot except deer. You pay for my hunts and lost game and I'll use Noslers. I just gave away 3 boxes of .338 loadings of them because I thought they suck. I use them in 6 and 6.5mm to blow up prarie dogs, but that is not DG is it?


tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Holly Heyser said...

Tom, I'm hardly complacent. If you read my comment carefully, you'd see that my biggest problem is lack of confidence. My shooting yesterday put me in a great frame of mind for my hunt this weekend, which was important to me. Your kick in the ass destroyed my joy of having done the best I've ever done at the range. Gee, thanks.

As for bullets and scopes: I'm not going to shoot at a running pig. And if my scope breaks, even if I could detach it, I wouldn't shoot a pig with open sights at any serious distance because I'm not good enough. I'm a new hunter who knows her limitations; I don't take any shot unless I'm 100 percent confident about it.

As for Phillip, uh, did you click over to his blog? He hunts plenty.

And finally, when you've pissed off a woman, don't call her "hon." You can insult and demean and patronize on your blog all you want, but you're in my house here, and my house rules are that this isn't the freakin' Jerry Springer Show where you get points for being rude.

If after all this you still don't understand why your comments here have been counterproductive, then you should probably refrain from further commenting on this thread. I don't have time to keep trying to explain this to you.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Holly!

I'm hoping you've found your groove there? (And I think you have)

At least now you know what your rifle's capable of and you know you did it!

All the practice stuff that everybody's talked about, well yeah, keep that up.

You can find .270 Win. Snap Caps by going to A Zoom's website (or maybe from Midway if you prefer)

Regards and good luck this weekend,
Bill C.-Orygun

Anonymous said...

After all the angst, that's a great group. That's where I would quit for the day, too. Been there, glad you ignored them demon critters.

Give yourself an Atta-Girl again for me. And good luck with the pig hunt this weekend.


Phillip said...

I started to craft a witty reply to poor, misguided Tom, but instead I decided to offer up this fable.

I was passing by a schoolyard one day, when I spotted an excited gathering of children. With my curiosity aroused and nothing better to do, I meandered over to see what the excitement was about.

The focus of the group was a pair of boys, 12 years old or so, and as I got closer, I could see that they were turned to face a four foot wall that ran along the sidewalk. Each of them had his developing manhood in his hand, and was aiming a stream of urine at the bulwark.

As I watched this little spectacle, I realized that it was a contest and each boy tried to piss higher on the wall, with the ultimate goal being to actually launch his stream over the top. It appeared to be a dead heat, as each stream climbed higher and the cheers got louder. Finally, with a mighty effort, one of the boys managed to get it over the edge, at which point the gentle breeze blew the broken spray all over the contestant.

He turned back to the crowd, jubilant and covered in his own urine, shouting, "I won!"

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

sportingdays said...

Nice shooting Holly. I'm still waiting to see a grouping like that on one of my targets!

Is there anything more fun than getting a new gun?

For me, this is one of the most challenging aspects of hunting to explain to nonhunters, many of whom get the hunting/food thing but not the gun thing.

How do you explain our gun-love to the nonhunting public? Should we not bother?

Holly Heyser said...

Interesting question. I'm definitely not one of those people who loves guns for the sake of guns. A gun, for me, is a tool. I just love it when the tools I spend hard-earned money on work well.

But you're definitely right about the non-hunting public not understanding - I can't tell you how often I see and hear comments that suggest having a gun gives us infinite power over animals. In reality, it just makes up for the fact that we're poorly equipped predators, being somewhat slow and vertical.

Holly Heyser said...

My apologies to all my blog readers who are actually familiar with South African slang. I was not, until a few minutes ago.

For the record, I will not tolerate bigotry or slurs of any kind on this blog. If there is a certain kind of person you don't like on this planet, keep it to your self, or stay away from this blog.

And while you're at it, keep in mind that while disagreement is welcome, incivility is not. Period.

gary said...

Good Grief - and you've only been shooting how long? I think I'll send Sue and her new .257 Weatherby down to take a few lessons.

Very well done.

Holly Heyser said...

Shooting a rifle seriously? One year. Before that, I'd go out and shoot my Krag once in a while, but dang, I was lucky to hit the paper with that thing.

But if you send Sue here, send her for the food that HAGC cooks, because I'm about a light year from teaching anyone anything. You might not get her back, though. Boyfriend's food rocks.

Blessed said...

Nice shooting Holly!

Practice does make perfect and self-confidence does make it easier to make good shots in the field.

Good luck this weekend.

Josh said...

Great shooting, Holly!

As for Tom, I wrote a long piece to him, but then I went and read his blog and, wowee, that answered a lot of questions. As do the number of comments at his site.

Also, who would demand "proof" of killing shots on pigs from a guy who writes the "Hog Blog?"

I'm just really wowed by your shooting. It's awesome, and your thought processes are cool to read, too.

Holly Heyser said...

Thanks, Josh. Now I just have to hope the planets align out in the field next weekend. It's going to be ... very, very interesting. An unusual hunt. More on that later, of course. But for now I'll just say there should be ample material for blogging.

As far as the shooting goes, I think I'm most intrigued by the coffee thing. That's partly because I'm invested in the idea that kicking the habit did something good for me (besides sparing my liver the daily trauma, radically improving the quality of my sleep and making me a little nicer on the freeway).

But truly, kicking caffeine has changed a lot, and if it's improved my ability to calm down at the most crucial moment - with an animal in my sights and my finger on the trigger - it'll totally be worth it.

And if it's all psychosomatic? Who cares. If it works, it works.

All I know is I want to be a good shooter, and shooting a group like that is a good start, so I'm happy.

tom said...

Anybody can write a blog, even "the hog blog". Doing so makes nobody god. It means you write a blog. Congrats. The number of comments on my blog is limited because I usually have commenting TURNED OFF as I don't care to moderate them.

I once had a person telling me extensively how i should shoot my .375H&H Magnum Encore pistols the way he shot .45ACP in the 60s in the USMC. Wasn't very useful.

Some people write blogs. Some people engage in trade related to hunting. Some people get removed from my blog roll. Like what you like. If you can't make the shots in the field it still matters. If bullets don't perform, it still matters.

Gunblast man never met a gun he didn't like or a bullet he didn't like and gets LOADS of hits.

If the only people that come around my place are people of similar interests, my feelings aren't hurt.

If you need a "lady's day" to shoot I think you are silly. Lady's tees are closer on golf courses because of generally lesser upper body strength. Women, in general, have better fine muscle control and tend to do well at target shooting. Hunting isn't bench rest.

I've said all that needed saying and I'll refrain from further reading or comment here. Making big Encores go BOOM is more interesting than arguing with people that MISS THE POINT.


Phillip said...

I wouldn't rise to this, except I'm fairly sure Holly will remove both of these posts and I don't blame her. It's filthying up her house... and I apologize to her now for what I'll add to the mess.

Tom, your ignorance is showing.

It's one thing to bluster and blow on a blogsite were nobody really knows you. It's easy to talk like a big man about big guns with people you never have met, and likely never will.

Here's Holly doing her best to improve as a huntress, and doing a great job at it too, I might add, and you blast off on her with some ultra-macho B.S. about how she isn't any kind of hunter until she's laid in a pile of fire ants in her shirt sleeves or some such foolish crap. You do realize that kind of tough-love bluster only works in Chuck Norris movies, right? How many piles of fire ants have you laid down in? Did you stay there long enough to shoot your gun?

By the way, I have laid in fire ants and I guarantee I got up out of there as quick as I could. The hell with shooting a deer or pig... I'll get another chance.

This isn't combat infantry training, amigo, it's hunting. Get real.

I don't need to defend my own knowledge or experience from some blowhard who doesn't know an ETip from a Ballistic Tip, and who doesn't realize that many of us here actually know one another personally.

You've got no credibility here, my friend. You could have, but whatever there was is pretty well shot now.

But you are dead on about one thing, Tom. Anybody can have a blog.

hutchinson said...

After reading Phillip's last comment, I must say I feel humbled and privileged that in spite of my sometimes contentious commentary, you've all be gracious enough not to give me the boot when I've posted here. I do see it as an honor when people of dramatically differing opinions accept others in the fold. And I thank you for that, taking into consideration what Phillip wrote about this being a community of people who, for the most part, know each other.

Of course, the Internet(s) [sic] tends to produce this false illusion of community and unity, where people can drop in without much thought for boundaries. It's public, it's a blog, here I am. And that's precisely how I found myself here. I consider it remarkable that I actually found a forum where, in spite of my feelings about hunting, I would choose to return and read. It says so much about you, Holly, and about the rest of your friends who grace these pages. I can pretty much guarantee that I'll never abide by the same philosophies or ethics with respect to the Kingdom Animalia, but my respect goes out to you all nevertheless. Especially as I see more and more of the antithesis -- both on the Net and in the field. You genuinely are anomalies, as I wrote earlier.

I'm off again on a field excursion so I won't be pestering you all for a while. If I do come back, I'll try to give you ample warning with an introductory post of appeasement. In the meantime, just wanted to give some props where they're deserved . . . in the face of this particular public debate.

Holly Heyser said...

Fancy meeting you here, Hutch! I was going to invoke you as a model of civil disagreement, and look, there you are.

Enjoy your excursion and we'll see you when you get back.

mdmnm said...


I wouldn't worry too much about snap caps. The chance of a broken firing pin is low. Further, the part is readily available, cheap, and easy to replace. I have dry fired thousands of times without breaking a firing pin. For that matter, the military has made dry firing a big part of their riflery training for a century or better, with no problems.

Good luck and more good groups.

R. Gabe Davis said...

Wow who knew Holly taking some shooting practice would generate all this. I would take it as a compliment.....I wish enough people read my blog to attack me.... Maybe I will go target practice tommorrow.

Josh said...

Amen, Envirocapitalist! Also, I second mdmnm. That gun will last a lifetime, even without snap caps.

Phillip, you are too nice. It ain't ignorance.