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Thread: "Benchrest" accuracy vs. "Hunting" accuracy

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    Default "Benchrest" accuracy vs. "Hunting" accuracy

    I know this is probably going to start a river of s^*t but why is hunting accuracy so much different than benchrest accuracy? Shouldn't hunters strive to get the best possible accuracy they can rather than be satisfied with hitting a milk jug at 100, 200, or 300 yds? Granted not everyone feels this way, but I read a lot of posts on here when it comes to hunting rifles, bullets, powders, or accuracy where people will post something about "not trying for bench rest accuracy" and "1.5 M.O.A. is good enough for a hunting rifle." To me it seems backwards. Bench shooter shoot paper or steel, as hunters we are shooting at something "real" shouldn't we strive for the absolute best accuracy we can accomplish. It just seems that with all the discussions about "would you shoot something at this range" or will "x" bullet work on brown bear, moose, etc., and all the discussions about the ethics of shooting at "x" range people would be more inclined to try and get the most out of their rifles and loads instead of settling for "well I can hit a 6 inch plate" 6 inches is a lot of room for error especially if the animal you are shooting at happens to shift its weight forward/backward at the same time the shot goes off. They don't even have to outright move, just a weight shift and you are chasing a wounded animal. I know this is not going to go over well with some, but I expect there are some out there who have wondered the same thing and maybe can explain why it is okay for us as hunters to be satisfied with 1.5 inch groups at 100 yds and someone who shoots paper is satisfied until they are sub .5 inch. I enjoy reloading and trying to find the perfect powder,bullet, primer, seating depth combination for my rifles. If I am going to shoot something I want to know that even if it shifts its weight to a different leg my bullet is still going to kill it.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    A hunter should know his gun and limits the rest is respect.Do you get every bit of performance from your car like a stock car racer?
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    In my mind it has been more the difference between theoretical accuracy: off a bench with lead sled etc, VS real life accuracy: off hand, over a pack, breathing hard and so on. For me I would like 1" or less at the range, with a certain allowance for real life. Again this is just my personal parameters.

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    I get my my rifle on at the range on the sled, I know what it will do at teh range, but I personally don't care how far it will shoot, I know how far and what my MOA is in the field. I was never a fan of going to the range and going through boxes upon boxes of ammo. I get my tool tuned to what I need it to, 200yds max.

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    For a lot of us the gun is a tool not an accessory to dote over. I don't know much about guns, ammo, reloading, ballistics, etc... I know what my gun with a particular ammo will do and take that knowledge into the field with me and use it as I am contemplating pulling the trigger. This has resulted in many passed up opportunities but the respect for the animal should trump the need to sling lead.

    I never shoot from a sled at the range. I use the bench and that's it. When it's zeroed in to my liking I will do a group standing freehand to compare. Yes some folks are comfortable with a 6 inch group. We can't force them to get better. In a lot of situations a 6" group is meat on the table and that's what they are looking for.

    "Buck fever" is a problem some people have also. No amount of range time can cure it for some folks. I unfortunately experienced it for the first time last fall resulting in a small stain on an otherwise epic and unforgettable adventure.

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    I agree that there is a ton of difference between bench shooting and field shooting. However, you can practice field shooting at the range. I bench shoot until I find the right combination of stuff, from there it is all in field positions. I also like rock shooting in the mountain to practice range estimation and requiring you to use field rests. It can't simulate "buck fever" but eventually the repetition will put everything into muscle memory and when the "buck fever" hits your training takes over and your muscles do what they know.
    "No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy" - Unknown
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    Shooting/hunting, is no different than any other hobby, and people enjoy it to different levels of involvement. I totally agree that if someone is going to take longer shots ( which may be relative to the size of the game they are hunting ) than more time at a bench learning their equipment should be part of the process for ethics. For the most part though I think the majority of hunters use pretty good judgement on how far they should attempt a shot, with the equipment they have, and the knowledge they have of how to use it.
    Unfortunatley we have all run across the person that shows up for a hunt, with a variety of different brands of ammo, and have no clue what they are doing that makes one cringe....
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    It wasn't too long ago that hunting evolved from finding predator kills or striking game with rocks, arrows, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by MT_SLDR View Post
    I enjoy reloading and trying to find the perfect powder,bullet, primer, seating depth combination for my rifles. If I am going to shoot something I want to know that even if it shifts its weight to a different leg my bullet is still going to kill it. Bo
    Micromanaged target practice has its benefits... and therein lies the philosophical rub. Is the best bullet for your rifle the best bullet for hunting the game you are after? Is the set up going to kill the critter the best? Let us know when you develop the "perfect" or "best" combination.

    There are lots of factors for sure. Just seems that to combine buck fever, animal movement, hunting conditions, (and I'm sure the Heisenberg uncertainty principle fits into the equation also) .... and the "best solutions" are still subjective.

    Happy hunting!

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    Range time should get you comfortable with the weapon and know it's accuracy. Lighter rifles (.22LR) and pellet guns are nice to practice with for all the REAL life shot situations and they won't break the bank. Having said that, hunt-like practice is essential. Just ask an archer when they practice months in advance vs. a day before the hunt...you gain mental confidence when you practice correctly/real-life stuff.

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    The thought that a person needs a sub-MOA rifle to hunt big game is completely ridiculous. We all like the most accurate rifle available but darn few of us can shoot sub-MOA from any field position. I'm not usually satisfied with 2 or 3 MOA but I'm a rifle enthusiast. I've encountered few hunters that could shoot that well from any field position at all.

    I think as a group we're overly concerned with rifles that make tiny groups from a bench- nothing wrong with doing that but it rarely relates directly to success in the field. A man that can hit a plate at 100yds offhand, and at 200yds from sitting and prone on command regardless of fatigue, weather or lighting....can handle 99% of all the shooting chores a hunter will ever encounter.

    Its all a matter of matching the work to the tool...my grandad's 30-30 is (on a very good day) a 4 MOA rifle...and has killed more deer than most of us will see in our lifetimes. Mostly at 50yds or so.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MT_SLDR View Post
    I know this is probably going to start a river of s^*t but why is hunting accuracy so much different than benchrest accuracy?
    I love the pursuit of accuracy, but the plain, simple truth is that no one has ever lost an animal due to lacking .100 of an inch in accuracy and I've seen the top three competitors at several BR matches separated by barely that much.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    The thought that a person needs a sub-MOA rifle to hunt big game is completely ridiculous. We all like the most accurate rifle available but darn few of us can shoot sub-MOA from any field position. I'm not usually satisfied with 2 or 3 MOA but I'm a rifle enthusiast. I've encountered few hunters that could shoot that well from any field position at all.
    Couldnt agree more. Even if your rifle is capable of "only" 2 MOA that means it will shoot an 8 inch group at 400 yards. Or put a better way, it is capable of hitting within 4 inches of where you were aiming when you squeezed the trigger at 400 yards.
    I don't know anyone who can shoot that good from a field position at that distance.

    We aint huntin varmits up here. Take a trip to Birchwood some day and watch the other people shoot and you will learn quickly most guys only shoot off the bench. Funny though, I've never seen any benches while moose or sheep hunting.

    Most people who miss, miss because they don't practice, not because their rifle can only shoot 3 MOA. Don't get me wrong, I would love if all my rifles were MOA capable, but they arent, and I dont care.

    Heck, last two moose I shoot were with an iron sighted double rifle and one was 283 yards away according to the laser range finder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    The thought that a person needs a sub-MOA rifle to hunt big game is completely ridiculous. We all like the most accurate rifle available but darn few of us can shoot sub-MOA from any field position. I'm not usually satisfied with 2 or 3 MOA but I'm a rifle enthusiast. I've encountered few hunters that could shoot that well from any field position at all.
    So is that the hunters problem or the rifles. Maybe the hunter should practice more on his ablility. I am just saying that if it is okay to be "within 4" of where you aimed." , what happens if your aim is off? I think maybe people should start practicing their shooting from field positions more instead of shooting 3 shots prior to hunting season. As was said in an earlier post people take it to different degrees, if you know that factory ammo and your rifle are good to two hundred yards and you keep yourself to that distance then I am all for it. I highly doubt that the people keep themselves to that known distance though, especially when the trophy is in front of them but they just can't close that last little bit of distance. Anyone here that tells me they will pass up a "booner" on any animal because they are a little bit out of their comfort zone and there is no way to get closer is full of ****.
    "No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy" - Unknown
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Here in Wrangell the average hunter may leave the island for another town(big town) once every two to five years. The stores here sell cor-loc or winchester plain jane ammo.Handload would be nice but with no powder or primmers it don't work well,mail order bullets are easy.Example of hard to get is one store just got in about thirty new guns.Problem they only have ammo for half of them and in truth may never get ammo in for the newer chambering.As far as eating game goes I'll put my town against any south of Kotz.
    I don't think a person needs to shoot 98 of a 100 on the trap or skeet field to shotgun hunt either.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Quote Originally Posted by MT_SLDR View Post
    Anyone here that tells me they will pass up a "booner" on any animal because they are a little bit out of their comfort zone and there is no way to get closer is full of ****.
    I have passed up on deer, caribou, black bear, and moose that I considered to far away to shoot. Most likely they were 350 - 400 yards away. My son passed on a blackie last spring that was 7 foot plus because it was approximately 360 yards away verified by the range finder. Kudo's to him.

    A few of the blacktails would of most likely scored in the 105 - 115 range, and that is pretty big. A wounded animal will haunt a hunter for decades. Passing up a shot that you don't think you can make will quickly fade from memory. Guess I am full of ****

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    A few of the blacktails would of most likely scored in the 105 - 115 range, and that is pretty big. A wounded animal will haunt a hunter for decades. Passing up a shot that you don't think you can make will quickly fade from memory. Guess I am full of ****
    I shot a Whitetail once that I was sure was gonna score at least 165, I watched it for 3 days before I could finally got a chance to shoot it. When I green scored it, it was 141. Its kinda like fish tales when talking to hunters about animals they could have had. Not calling you a liar, maybe they would have scored 105-115 but I think the minimum for Boone and Crockett is 105-110, I think they could have been over judged.
    "No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy" - Unknown
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    "Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face" - Mike Tyson

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    It all adds up. 1/4 moa scope adjustment leaves you off, inherent inaccuracy of the rifle/load leaves you off a bit more, shooter error adds a bit more, range estimation throws it off a bit more and sighting system adds a bit more (except at exactly 2 points in the trajectory, the zeros). Wind adds a bit more.

    Sight it in "good enough," with a "good enough bargain load," in a "good enough" accuracy rifle, sight in for 8" Point Blank range because it's "good enough" for moose. Ignore the crosswind cause it's "close enough." Estimate range "good enough" for conditions. Let a shot loose that's "good enough" for that trophy you can't pass up when you rush the only shot your going to get, and there's one thing I can guarantee you, it ain't good enough. It's sloppy and reckless.

    There are plenty of factors we can't control, but we have an obligation to give the best we have to those we can.

    I'm not one to humanize animals, quite the opposite. It's not about anything we owe to them. It's about what we owe to each other and ourselves and that's always our best.

    Ask Uncle Ted about that .1" difference between hitting solid and recovering the game or missing just a little too much. How thin is an artery wall? I am positive thousands and thousands of animals have been lost over .1". Study anatomy and it's not a hard equation

    How many times have you heard a doctor say to somebody that was shot, "just a tenth of an inch this way or that and he wouldn't be here?"
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RainGull View Post
    It all adds up. 1/4 moa scope adjustment leaves you off, inherent inaccuracy of the rifle/load leaves you off a bit more, shooter error adds a bit more, range estimation throws it off a bit more and sighting system adds a bit more (except at exactly 2 points in the trajectory, the zeros). Wind adds a bit more.

    Sight it in "good enough," with a "good enough bargain load," in a "good enough" accuracy rifle, sight in for 8" Point Blank range because it's "good enough" for moose. Ignore the crosswind cause it's "close enough." Estimate range "good enough" for conditions. Let a shot loose that's "good enough" for that trophy you can't pass up when you rush the only shot your going to get, and there's one thing I can guarantee you, it ain't good enough. It's sloppy and reckless.

    There are plenty of factors we can't control, but we have an obligation to give the best we have to those we can.

    I'm not one to humanize animals, quite the opposite. It's not about anything we owe to them. It's about what we owe to each other and ourselves and that's always our best.

    Ask Uncle Ted about that .1" difference between hitting solid and recovering the game or missing just a little too much. How thin is an artery wall? I am positive thousands and thousands of animals have been lost over .1". Study anatomy and it's not a hard equation.
    Well said, sir.
    "No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy" - Unknown
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    "Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face" - Mike Tyson

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MT_SLDR View Post
    So is that the hunters problem or the rifles. Maybe the hunter should practice more on his ablility. I am just saying that if it is okay to be "within 4" of where you aimed." , what happens if your aim is off? I think maybe people should start practicing their shooting from field positions more instead of shooting 3 shots prior to hunting season. ...... Anyone here that tells me they will pass up a "booner" on any animal because they are a little bit out of their comfort zone and there is no way to get closer is full of ****.
    I believe the issue is the shooter. We have a plethora of rifles and ammo that are easily sub-MOA and people still don't shoot any better. I believe a hunter who shoots well from field positions with an "inaccurate" rifle is much better off than a guy with a sub-MOA rifle who only shoots from a bench. Personally, the only use I have for a bench is getting the rifle and scope into alignment...once done I never shoot from the bench again unless I have an issue.

    I pass on critters all the time because they're out of my comfort zone. I passed the best moose I've ever seen last year because it was 400yds, 10mins to dark and I had no way of getting closer. He was on a clearing in the middle of an alder jungle, tracking him through that tangle in the dark was something I could live without. Thought I would catch him the next morning...never saw him again. Still believe I made the right decision on that one.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    One distinction to be made is that a 'benchrest' rifle often has a blueprinted action and tight tolerances. That may very well lend itself to 0.25-0.5" grouping, but it does make for a fickle feeder when it comes to ammo. If you are rolling your own and using fire formed brass, trimming overall case length, weighing powder to 0.1 grains, etc.. you are good to go.

    However, the lack of ability to shoot off the shelf ammo could be a detriment on a hunting trip. It also reduces the likely hood of borrowing some ammo from a hunting companion and such. While I agree that hunting rifles should be accurate, I think there is some point at which dependability becomes an issue for field use.

    Much like comparing a stock Chevy V8 to a drag car motor. Of course the drag motor is higher performance, but it is rebuilt after every 1/4 mile as it pushes the limits to the extreme and looses reliability. That stock V8 may go 400,000 miles. Many hunters in many situations would be better off with a 1" MOA gun that will go bang 100% of the time in my opinion.



    -Dan

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