New to shooting or an old hand, there is quite a bit of jargon to get your head around that is bandied about by shooters and idiots with shooting blogs online..... what... me???
Hopefully this glossary will help translate a few terms commonly used. In no particular order:
BULLET: A bullet. In our case usually a swaged piece of lead encased in a copper jacket so that it can be propelled at higher velocity than a pure lead or unjacketed bullet.
PROJECTILE: A bullet (or other object) that is in flight with the intent of causing impact at range. A bullet not in flight is a bullet, not a projectile. A bullet in flight is both a bullet AND a projectile
CARTRIDGE CASE: Commonly brass case that is formed to the shape of a cartridge chamber for the purpose of containing gun powder and bullet and primer in order to create a complete piece of ammunition, a round, or a cartridge.
P.O.A.: Point of Aim. Where you are trying to hit with your bullet.
P.O.I: Point of Impact. Where you actually hit with your bullet.
M.O.A.: Minute of Angle. An angular measurement approximately equal to ONE INCH over 100 YARDS. So, at 300yd, 1 MOA is around 3inches, at 500yd, it is 5inches, and so on. Rifle scopes generally have the elevation and windage adjustments set in 0.25MOA increments. Hence, one 'click' will be 1/4" at 100yd or 1" at 400yd.
Rifle optics are also made with adjustment turrets set at 1/8th MOA or in various increments of MilRad...
MilRad: Milradian. An angular measurement equal to 10cm (100mm) at 100 METERS. Rifle scopes will often have adjustments set in 0.1milrad. Milrad and MOA do not play nicely together. Pick one system for your optics and shooting and stick to it.
N.P.O.A.: Natural Point of Aim. When your rifle is pointing effortlessly at the bullseye. A natural point of aim is important in any kind of precision shooting. Your shooting position is what builds your NPOA. it is commonly said that you should be able to close your eyes and when they are opened your sights will be on the bullseye. If you have to re-adjust yourself or your rifle to get back on bull, you have not achieved your NPOA. A good NPOA is what allows the bullet to be released cleanly without torquing or influence from poor positioning during it's internal ballistics phase of delivery.
Internal Ballistics: What happens to the bullet between when the primer is detonated and the bullet leaves the barrel.
External Ballistics: What happens to the bullet between leaving the barrel and striking the target.
Terminal Ballistics: What happens when the bullet impacts the target.
Lets just forget about fancy rifles for a minute because the fact is that a good shooter with an average rifle is likely to out-shoot an average shooter with a good rifle. So, what is it that makes one person shoot better than another with the same rifle?
In essence, it comes down to three things:
Ok, so this may be a little over simplified but it does get a across the importance of attention to detail and ensuring every shot is released the same as the last. So, to expand those first three rules a little:
1/ Consistency of shooting position:
There are any number of "best techniques" propounded by different shooters and disciplines but the one common element they all aim for is the most steady, reliable and consistent shooting position possible. What ever position you choose to use is must be stable, comfortable for you to maintain for an entire shoot and as close to exactly the same from shot to shot as possible. If you are continually changing position then you will more than likely find that your POI (point of impact) continually changes as well. This does NOT equate to a good string of bullseye. Related to this is your equipment; rests, mat, etc. You need to be able to establish your shooting platform as close to exactly the same each time you prepare for a shoot.
2/ Consistency of trigger release:
While "pulling the trigger" may seem the simplest of tasks, if you do not achieve the trigger break the same as you did for your last shot, your POI is like to change. This might not be noticeable at 100yd or when you are out hunting but when you are attempting to place round after round into a 1/2 MOA 'X' ring at 500yd or even much further, every change in the way you approach that trigger can translate to lost points.
3/ Consistency of wind:
With out a doubt, once that bullet leaves the barrel, the biggest influence over its final POI is the WIND. Wind reading in long range precision shooting is probably the hardest thing to master and the biggest difference between an expert shooter and someone who can shoot well in good conditions. Being able to read wind changes from flags or environmental cues is key to high score at extended range. If a shooter can pick the average wind for current conditions and choose to break the shot wind that wind is blowing as close to the same as the previous shot, then it is likely (all other things taken care of) that POI will be very close to the previous shot.
This little article isn't intended as an instructional, rather as food for thought for novice and intermediate shooters as to what needs to be researched and practiced for them to improve their shooting. There is a tendency to want to buy a good score by upgrading gear but if you can't focus down on the small things, all you gear changes will simply keep you well outside the 'X'. Research, practice, find what works for you and keep it consistent!