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Thread: Shooting paper vs. rocks, bottles, chew cans , etc.

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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    Default Shooting paper vs. rocks, bottles, chew cans , etc.

    So it's always surprised me, that sometimes when shooting I have a hard time getting good groups on paper, but I can shoot at fist sized rocks, bottles, chew cans, and any other " target" with unerring and consistent accuracy, even at long ranges.... Anyone shine some light on this? Discovered today that my fiancé is the same way with her rifle......



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    Member Lone Wolf1's Avatar
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    Totally unscientific opinion, but it probably relates to your mental focus. In archery, I call it "aim small -- miss small". Your eye/brain may wander more when you are shooting at paper, but a small, isolated target forces you (consciously or unconsciously) to really focus. Like in archery, a common error is to shoot at an "animal" instead of aiming for a single hair. Like I said -- just an opinion.

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    I found that too. I bought a box of the 4" orange clay pigeons last time when I went to the range. I would switch between shooting paper and then busting the pigeons set up on the bank. It actually seemed to help my shooting on paper. I think what helped was giving my eyes a chance to relax and not focus so hard and thus give them a break. Being relaxed is one of the biggest keys to shooting good groups and it's easy for me to get tense after 4-5 groups on paper.
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    When you aim in on the target you are seeing the wholetarget which is generally much larger than the round black dot in the center ofthe target that u should be focusing on. When you aim in on the rock or shoalcan your eye focuses on a much fine point of aim. This is a common mistake whenshooting, train you eye to focus on a particular spot on the bull eye if it isthe 12 o'clock position or 6 o'clock and a just from there. Another problem shootersget into is they do not do there follow through after each shot. It’s a lazyhabit that a lot of shooters get into or forget.

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    I kinda come at it the other way- Shooting small, reactive targets offhand makes me a better shot overall. A hit is instantly visible with no looking at "groups" and trying to figure out which shot had gone where. Your reflexes and coordination respond like crazy and in no time at all you'll scare yourself how small a target you can hit how far away. I've pretty much lost interest in groups, other than for sight-in and load testing. Once the gun is sighted in with its best load, I get the heck away from the bench. If I want a rest, I use a field position- even at the range.

    The mention of clay birds inspires me to pass along the most fun shooting game I know of. We use balloons rather than pigeons, but blow them up to the same size. Cut five 4-inch holes in a sheet of cardboard, mount that and shove a balloon into each hole. They're the easiest "reactive" target to mount I know of and cheaper than cheap.

    Start shooting at 50 yards, 5 shots offhand. If you hit them all, move back 5 yards, and if you miss any stay right there and do it again. Pretty quick all your shooters are moving back surprising distances. Our best day ever there were 4 of us shooting, and all of us got past 175 yards before stalling out. I won't tell you how far back the winner got, because you just will not believe anyone can hit 5 shots offhand so far back on 4" targets.

    Use your caliber and rifle (or handgun) of choice. But bring lots of balloons. And lots and lots of ammo. It's really addictive.

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    I see all this as a matter of "instant gratification". There is precious "gratification" in seeing a white hole appear in a black piece of paper - - - or conversely, a black hole appear in a white piece of paper. For most of us, that is. But hitting can, a bottle, a melon, a clothes pin, or almost any other reactive object, instantly produces a small thrill of accomplishment. The results of each shot is instant, is dramatically observable, and is unquestionably rewarding. Even those who only watch are rewarded with the results. Remember when you were quite young? You would pass up a million paper targets for a few cans or bottles. Just my $0.02 worth . . . . . but I think that's the basic reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    I kinda come at it the other way- Shooting small, reactive targets offhand makes me a better shot overall. A hit is instantly visible with no looking at "groups" and trying to figure out which shot had gone where. Your reflexes and coordination respond like crazy and in no time at all you'll scare yourself how small a target you can hit how far away. I've pretty much lost interest in groups, other than for sight-in and load testing. Once the gun is sighted in with its best load, I get the heck away from the bench. If I want a rest, I use a field position- even at the range.

    The mention of clay birds inspires me to pass along the most fun shooting game I know of. We use balloons rather than pigeons, but blow them up to the same size. Cut five 4-inch holes in a sheet of cardboard, mount that and shove a balloon into each hole. They're the easiest "reactive" target to mount I know of and cheaper than cheap.

    Start shooting at 50 yards, 5 shots offhand. If you hit them all, move back 5 yards, and if you miss any stay right there and do it again. Pretty quick all your shooters are moving back surprising distances. Our best day ever there were 4 of us shooting, and all of us got past 175 yards before stalling out. I won't tell you how far back the winner got, because you just will not believe anyone can hit 5 shots offhand so far back on 4" targets.

    Use your caliber and rifle (or handgun) of choice. But bring lots of balloons. And lots and lots of ammo. It's really addictive.
    I agree with Sweepint rather than seeing a big paper target, you concentrate on a smaller object. Never was too much into paper targets.. Yrs ago, I tied up half a dozen plastic quart oil cans between a couple posts for the grandkids to shoot at with the pellet gun. Gave them a "rabbit sized" target, and they knew when they hit one because it wiggled or swung. A couple yrs ago I bought one of those 22 targets on a rod. has about a 1" round target on the top and about a 3" target on the bottom. if you hit either target it spins on the rod.. Nailed that rig to a tree stump out at the cabin, and it has been a great source of entertainment as well as practice for me and the kids and the grandkids.

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    When i was a young kid, we had one of those old barnyard animal targets, you hit one and it popped right back up. Hours of entertainment. And really good rewarding target practice. Also, my dad trained me to shoot with both a peep sight and scope using golf balls, at ranges from 20- 300 yards, we would " drive" the balls farther with every shot using a bull barrel .22. Man that was a ton of fun.



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    People should not be shooting at bottles and rocks. Every time i go to the range in Valdez I am stepping on broken glass, sharp plastic, shot up brass and all kinds of crap. Use disposable things. Ritz Crackers, animal crackers, something that will degrade. One of the basic rules to that you don't shoot hard surfaces. I remember a video somewhere of a guy getting hit by a .50 cal. that came back at him. What ever you shoot if it does not degrade you should pick up so we don't look like slobs out there.

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    I recall reading an article many years ago, so the details are fuzzy, it was about some kind of military training exercise where they used bb guns to hit aspirins tossed in the air, until they could do it, every time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunt&FishAK View Post
    So it's always surprised me, that sometimes when shooting I have a hard time getting good groups on paper, but I can shoot at fist sized rocks, bottles, chew cans, and any other " target" with unerring and consistent accuracy, even at long ranges.... Anyone shine some light on this? Discovered today that my fiancé is the same way with her rifle......

    IMO there is a huge difference in trying to produce super tight groups, and just trying to hit an object. Face it, most of us try for the coveted minimum 1" groups at 100. And if you can get pretty close to achieving this, then it shouldn't be much of a problem at hitting a 4-5" object even at 200+ yards as all it would take is a graze to "kill" it....right?

    Basically, when you strive for 1" groups at 100 yds, you are essentially trying to figure out what your bullet will do at greater distances. You are trying to figure out some pretty detailed information there. In doing so it is "possible" to inflict a fair bit of pressure upon yourself. When you just try to hit something, no matter where you actually hit it, it's fun.....the pressure's off. So I have to agree that relaxation is key to good shooting......
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdubbin View Post
    I recall reading an article many years ago, so the details are fuzzy, it was about some kind of military training exercise where they used bb guns to hit aspirins tossed in the air, until they could do it, every time.
    We were taught that back in 1969 in the Army. Instinctive shooting with no sights. I think we used little disks of some sort. But yea, it was certainly taught to us.

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    I think some people don't shoot as well as they think they do when shooting "things" instead of targets. With targets there is a record of where each shot went...good or bad. If you shoot a bottle (I haven't since childhood) any hit "near" the bottle that breaks it is a hit...dead center. You might hit the ground in front of the bottle and still break the bottle. You might just hit the edge of the bottle and it's still a broken bottle. When you hit a paper target on the edge, well you almost missed and there's a record for all to see.

    As a side note: I never saw my Grandmother shoot at any type of target other than an animal she wished to kill. She was an excellent shot.

    Agree with Dave...clean up whatever you shoot with or at.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    IMO there is a huge difference in trying to produce super tight groups, and just trying to hit an object. Face it, most of us try for the coveted minimum 1" groups at 100. And if you can get pretty close to achieving this, then it shouldn't be much of a problem at hitting a 4-5" object even at 200+ yards as all it would take is a graze to "kill" it....right?

    Basically, when you strive for 1" groups at 100 yds, you are essentially trying to figure out what your bullet will do at greater distances. You are trying to figure out some pretty detailed information there. In doing so it is "possible" to inflict a fair bit of pressure upon yourself. When you just try to hit something, no matter where you actually hit it, it's fun.....the pressure's off. So I have to agree that relaxation is key to good shooting......
    That's it, right there.

    Also, you may be able to see the larger target better, and that MAY help.

    However, I don't think you can prove the consistancy of your gun unless you shoot paper groups from a good rest.

    What BB is saying sounds like fun, and should help one's shooting. I shoot off-hand regularly, weekly, many shots.

    It's a humbling experience, but like I said, it SHOULD help.

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    Making a group on paper is more difficult than "plinking" at objects. Most of the time when the can "jumps" or moves, we haven't actually hit it, but have impacted the ground in front of or directly under the object. An aluminum can will barely move with a direct hit. I believe it is because there is hardly any resistance to the passage of the projectile. Almost like paper.
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    I shoot several times a week in a controlled environment and I see your example quite often when shooting paper. I watched a fellow shooter consistently hit a 9 inch target while shooting in the standing position. He was excited. His expectation for success is far different then some of my shooters. I feel like a failure if I can't hit a bull or a 9 on a target the size of a 22 caliber bullet. Consistent shooting is based on the shooter, the gun, and your ammo. You'll shoot consistent if all the variables are reproducible and if you can control the mental game involved with precision shooting. Paper doesn't lie...... and hitting a soda can tells many lies, especially when it comes to how accurate of a shooter you are. That being said: Practice makes you more competent and confident when the moment of truth comes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunbugs View Post
    Making a group on paper is more difficult than "plinking" at objects. Most of the time when the can "jumps" or moves, we haven't actually hit it, but have impacted the ground in front of or directly under the object. An aluminum can will barely move with a direct hit. I believe it is because there is hardly any resistance to the passage of the projectile. Almost like paper.
    Absolutely True. I was shooting at a can one time, and it looked like I was hitting it all the time, BUT, it was laying on the ICE, and I couldn't shoot that Ruger Bearcat that well. I was hitting all around it and the splattering ICE was knocking it every whichaway.

    It sure was fun though.

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    The hard part for me is keeping track of each shot if I'm not checking through strong glass after each trigger pull. But I need to know where each one went when working in any field position rather than a bench. Best alternative to balloons we've found for ranges that don't allow lots of trip to the butts are "rimfire" style targets with multiple bulls on a sheet intended for one shot each. The regular 25 yard smallbore targets will eat your lunch pretty quick as the range stretches, but there's another one that's better. Don't recall the order # but it has five bulls about 4" each per sheet. Those are perfect for longer ranges. You can still "infer" your group size if you feel you need a group, but one shot per bull is a bunch better or tracking individual shots for guys like me that aren't using high power scopes, binocs or spotting scopes. With low power scopes or open sights the single shots per bull are priceless.

    Saying all that, the balloons are still a whole lot more fun. Since they're in the cardboard up off the ground, there's no cheating with ground hits, and no waiting around until the end of a string to see where each shot landed.

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    Something the kids and I do is on a breezy day is shoot (or try to) balloons that are let loose on the ground. It's a blast. I do it a lot with a pistol and it really helps my accuracy.

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    Good Idea, BB.

    I'll try it.

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