A rant (of sorts), a new rifle....
Ok time for little bit of a constructive rant.
Something that really really grips me with this shooting malarkey is when someone purchases a new toy and doesn't go through the correct motions of testing/proving the effectiveness of their toy. I've seen countless people time and time again buy a new toy,use it for two weeks and declare it is a bag of nails. When in fact a lot of the time it's actually a perfectly good rifle, the user just hasn't gone through the motions to get the most out of it. Does this sound familiar???
Here's what I do with a new toy:
Chrono it, for the love of god get access to a chrono and do a long string, a simple scientific test to give a good indication of whether the rifle is producing acceptable output. Points to note on this are to make sure if the chrono you are using is affected by differing light conditions then make sure they remain the same throughout chronoing. Also make sure your muzzle is at a consistent distance and the angle of shot remains the same.
Do not get overly addicted to chronoing it is merely a way of checking rifle output, do not be overly fussed by ONE pellets velocity dropping by say 30fps-100fps I can almost guarantee you've not followed the steps above. If you are getting consistent low-high readings then I'd check your chrono batteries first and start again, also evaluate lighting conditions, is your air stripper effecting the chrono also, it can happen. Range time will also confirm/deny whether the chrono is lying! Obviously make sure your rifle is legal.
Acceptable spread over a string within the sweet spot (where relevant) with un-weighed pellets would be anything up to 20fps, in all honest people most of us mere mortals will not notice 20fps variation through a good barrel down range. I promise you that.
Initial Set up:
Without insulting peoples intelligence make sure everything on the rifle is tight (not too tight), nip all them bolts up inclusive of all scope mount bolts. It's amazing how many times this can account for a "rifle been a bag of nails", been there done it got several t-shirts! Also make sure the scope you are using is known to be a solid, reliable scope that you are extremely familiar with. It is also surprising how been unfamiliar with a scope can cause those mystery fliers.
Rifle Set up:
Make sure before going out on the range that the trigger is set up correctly and that it is predicable and precise, using a poorly set up trigger will not aid you in evaluating your rifles performance. If your rifle has any other adjustable features such as butt pads then make sure they are secure and correctly set up. I know it all sounds very basic but all these factors put together can cause lots of headaches and they are very simple fixes.
As mentioned above make sure it is a known variable, use one you know inside out. Also to re-iterate a main point make sure it's mounted correctly and the mounts are tight. I've seen people in the haste of wanting to try an new toy incorrectly mount a scope, take your time. Also ensure the eye relief is set correct for you, once again it surprising how much of a difference this can make, if you are straining to see through your scope you're putting excessive stress on muscles which result in you not been relaxed and not been as still as you can be.
If your scope has adjustable parallax make sure it's set correctly to the range your about to shoot when carrying out initial testing, believe me folks it makes a difference. something I do is I crank my magnification up as high as I can, this allows you to be as clinical as you can when shooting at paper.
When you are carrying out your initial testing use good quality targets, I personally use the SMK 5xbull targets. A decent quality card ensures that when pellets are going through the card they cut it cleanly, in my opinion group testing on anything other than this is pointless. shooting at pain marks isn't clinical enough.
Something I think is overlooked a lot is the actual position in which you choose to test your new rifle in. The best way in my opinion is either off a bench with a good steady front and rear rest sand bag type arrangement or instead of a bench the same set up but prone. Remember you are trying to PROVE the accuracy of your new rifle, not how good of a shot you are, by doing the above you are eliminating as many variables (YOU) as you can out of the equation. I will re-iterate choosing a good quality front and rear rest, it is essentially your launching platform for testing your rifle. Simply going prone next to a peg or sitting isn't still enough for extended testing, regardless of how good people think they are you CANNOT remain acceptably still (motionless) in these positions for periods of time.
Also ensure you are comfortable and relaxed in your chosen position (bench or prone), ensure you are not stretching or forcing yourself to hold the rifle motionless. You'll know when you are in the right position because it will be effortless to remain still.
I know it's hard to pick windless days but try and pick days to test where it's not overly windy, I also put wind indicators every 10 yards down range to give me an idea of wind patterns etc. they do genuinely help.
When shooting groups go for series of 5 shot groups, these give a good indication of achievable accuracy, have a small break between groups. Always shoot at the same mark for each respective group and try not to break position between shots, if possible try and load with your head in the exact same place on your cheek piece. By doing this your eliminating head position out of the equation. Clinical testing is all about removing variables from the equation.
Now this in my opinion is the biggest thing people overlook and is probably the biggest cause of people saying their new beloved is "a bag of nails". Lets get something straight here pellets are simply not just pellets, they are not the same as each other. By this I mean just because they are made by the same manufacturer doesn't mean they are the same pellet, the fact that they are the same head size does not make them the same pellet, the fact they are made in the same factory doesn't make them the same pellet. Pellets come in batches, to ensure you do have "the same pellet" you need to use the same batch, pellets from the same batch are (as a rule of thumb) the same pellet, that is it!
Different batches even from the same manufacturer produce very varied results, I can personally vouch for this and so can many others. Try and get hold of as many batches as possible for your initial testing and try them all! I give me rifle a quick pull through between batches, I also shoot say 50 shots from each batch, this is generally enough to gauge whether it is worth wile investigating using this batch for further testing.
When you've done your initial testing at your chosen distance and your happy with a few batches, go out to your maximum distance you shoot and repeat the same process, this should narrow the pellets down maybe just one batch that your rifle really likes.
Only when you've selected your chosen batch(S) should you try and see what they are like in the real world. Some pellets are fine when its still but when the breeze picks up they are inconsistent. Obviously all of this in this thread cannot be achieve in a day it takes maybe even months to select your right pellets and get your set up shooting satisfactory. When you are certain on your chosen batch of pellets go out and buy as many as you can! It may well of taking months to choose this batch so by buying as many as you can makes more time for actual shooting.
If you find yourself getting annoyed at any point during your testing the best thing to do is to put the rifle down and have a moment and then when you're more relaxed try putting more lead down range. Shooting when you are frustrated doesn't yield good results.
Be careful who you take your advice off of gents (and ladies). Be wary of the those that claim to be so called experts and listen to the advice of those who are the experienced shooters at your club.
The only reason I've took the time to write this is because I am absolutely convinced that many people who shoot don't actually know how to set up their rifle and test it properly. They then go on to say their kit is defunked, when in fact it is them that have failed to evaluate their rifles performance correctly.
Ok gents please don't take this thread as condescending it isn't meant like that. If even one person learns something from this it was well worth writing.
Pain is temporary, glory is forever!
Death is God's way of letting you know you failed P. Company.