Keep yer shirt on, Tool. No reason to get all wired up about it. And if you'd take the trouble to look at the groups, you'll also see that my shooting abilities, even with windless conditions, are not of the sort that justifies prize mopping on a Worlds. I'm improving, but not nearly as good as I used to be... and even then I wasn't at Worlds prize mopping level.
Yes, I have been thinking long and hard about how the shooter's peace of mind can contribute to a result. And it's not the first time - I am convinced that I'd be shooting a lot better if the bottom of the tin would say 4.51 than if it would say 4.52, even if the same pellets were in the tin
This explanation, however, does not cover why I was shooting groups the size of a 10 pound note all of a sudden, because I was not aware I was shooting with a different pellet. I was seriously worried my rifle had broken, and was already contemplating getting the chrony out.
While I agree that pellet selection is a dark art, a substantial part of which is probably in the mind, and it is hard to see how 0,01mm could make a difference, what I saw in the past, and what I am seeing again, is that a rifle that shoots quite well with one pellet, goes completely to pot with another. The funny bit being that there was seemingly no single reason for it going to pot, not even a reason that could be explained psychologically
- if I would have known that I was using 4.52, that might have explained it, but I was not aware of that.
Yesterday's practice session was, of course, not even close to a controlled experiment. The only reason why I went back and picked up the correct tin was to see if I could end the practice session on a somewhat less depressing note, because I was seriously worried.
So, this morning in the car, I thought of an interesting experiment. Person A (not being me) takes two identical (new) tins, a 4.51 and a 4.52. The stickers are removed, and the tins are marked in a way that does not suggest a particular order (say, an O and a zero), so that person A knows which is which and person B (being me) has no idea whatsoever.
Person B (being me) then sits down and shoots groups from both tins. What will they look like?
Since I have no access to an indoor range, this experiment can only be performed when the conditions are right, enough time is at hand and the stars are properly aligned. But I will probably do it in the near future; curiosity has got the better of me.
If anyone has any other suggestions for things I might want to try, please please pretty please with a cherry on top let me know.
Having said all that, how do YOU (without throwing a tantrum spiced with exclamation marks, please) explain the unacceptable group sizes in the first picture, keeping in mind that I had no idea that I was shooting with the wrong pellets?
You and I may not be capable of manually measuring a pellet's diameter, but trust me... manufacturing and automated tolerance control has gotten to a point where a proper plant can actually do it without having to resort to black magic. In camera manufacturing (and doubtlessly a lot of other branches of manufacturing as well), tolerances are expressed in single micrometers, so 10 micrometers shouldn't really be a problem.
Batch variation would be a better explanation.
Another might be die variation.
I'm not sure how this works... I'll see if I can do some research. But if the various sizes come from different dies... if they do, we may have discovered another variable that might play a role in pellet performance. I remember that Crosman used to mark on the box which die number their Premiers came from.
Lemme see if I can find out a bit more about this.
To put this in perspective, there IS a story (I got it from Nick when we were staying with him in 2001, so it's fairly old) that illustrates how faulty shooting is usually a short between the earphones.
At one time, Dave Monck and Nick Jenkinson were standing behind Richard Beaugie on the practice range. Richard didn't seem to be cooking, and was looking rather down.
"These new Bisley Long Range Golds are crap, I wish I still had the old ones."
Load, aim, aim, pull, "tink" on the faceplate.
"Oh ferchrissake, these new pellets are crap. I really wish I had some of the old ones left..."
Load, aim, aim, aim, pull, "tink", looking grim.
"Funny enough, I think I have a couple of the old ones right here", says Nick, fumbles in pellet pocket and brings a plastic zip bag with a couple of pellets out.
"You HAVE washed and lubed them, right?" asks Richard.
"... would I not?" asks Nick in a slightly aristocratic manner, left eyebrow raised.
"... aah, sure you would". Load, aim, aim, clank!
"Now THAT's better!" Load, aim, clank!
Richard turns around to restart the 'see that the old ones are much better' rant, and sees Nick and Dave seeking support against each other as well as against a moderately large tree, in order to prevent themselves from falling over in quiet, yet uncontrollable laughter.
It happened that just the other day, Dave and Nick had visited a shoot show, at which they had been given numerous pellet samples, which Nick had just stuffed into his pockets -- he didn't even remember what they were!