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What's your shooting routine?

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  • What's your shooting routine?

    I've been spending about once a week at the range and follow a routine that I've more or less settled into for lack of a better plan. What routine (if any) do you follow when you go shooting? Handgun routine? Long gun routine? What distances are you shooting? What are you trying to accomplish (e.g. working up a new load, zeroing, getting ready for hunting season, personal defense, etc.)?

  • #2
    Let's define the question to be more specific:

    There are many reasons for going to the range and many times one does different jobs depending on the equipment one takes.

    Routine handgun target practice is a different venture than sighting in a new scope, and preparing a rifle for hunting season is another set of routines than is firing a mil-type semi auto or a 12 ga slugger for defense.
    God, Guns and Guts is what made America Great


    • #3

      To narrow the inquiry: what do you do for target practice with your handgun? I realize that folks can have a number of different missions in mind when they go to the range (self-defense, bear-defense, competition, etc.) so it'd be helpful to hear what your interests are and if you tailor what you do at the range to focus on a particular mission.


      • #4
        Shooting routine

        This is a very good thread, for me , anyway, because I like to shoot.

        I think I am an accomplished marksman, rifle and handgun. I really don't work at it very hard now, keeping my skills up, I mean.

        This summer I shoot at our (F&G) beautiful indoor range twice a week, sometimes more if I have a student who wants to shoot some with me. I will expend about 400-600 rounds of handgun ammo each week, mostly 45 ACP. I shoot at about 15 yds (it is a 50 foot range) mostly, and at bulls eye targets and some silhouette, work on quick acquisition and sustained fire, for about an hour each session. Sometimes I will have a new pistol to tryout, or anothers gun to test fire for accuracy/functionality. I have about ten handguns here in this state and I have 16,400 rounds through a Les Baer 1911, that I bought in June of '04. I put 650 rounds through a new Kimber over a two week period before I gave up on it and sold it last week.

        Also once or twice through the week and on Saturday morning I shoot at a state outdoor range, with benches, usually at 100-150 yards. The range is only 150 , unless I go to the Burrough range which is usually too crowded for me. Outdoors I shoot a variety of rifles and at least once a week I shoot through a chronograph to test various handloads. Some big bore revolver and pistol is included on occasion.

        Rifles would include: 30-06, 30-06 Ackley, 300 WSM, 300 WM, 308 NM, 338-06, 338-06 Ackley, 338 WM, 375 H&H, 405 WCF, 416 RM. Plus an array of rifles loaned to me to test fire or develop ammo for which would include, 35 Whelen, 338 Ultra, 375 WBY, 416 Taylor, 458 Lott, 470 Capstick, 9.3x62 Mauser, 10.75x68 Mauser, 45-70 Gov't, 35 WCF, 38-55 Win, 40-70 Sharps st, and oh yeah, I almost forgot a 17 Remington.

        Handgun calibers would include: 9mm, 38 Spec/357 M, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 41 Mag, 44MAG, 45 Colt, 454 Cas, that I own and others on loan to me, for what ever purpose. They would include, 45 Win Mag, 475 LB, 500 AE, 500 S&W, and others.

        I usually shoot standing at a hundred or resting elbows over a bench top, but unless I'm working toward a specific accuracy goal I don't bench rest very much. Big bore revolvers are usually at 50 yards. Outdoors I usually go through from 150-300 rounds of ammo for the rifles and sometimes as much as 200 rounds of revolver.

        I like the indoor range because I can shoot year round there and recover my brass, so most autoloader pistols are fired there. I probably only fire 12,000 rounds of rifle per year, and 30,000 rounds of handgun ammo.

        Until I get to the 416 Remington or 458 Lott and bigger I don't take much notice of recoil or do anything special to abate it. I use a strap on PAST recoil pad then and sometimes with lesser calibers from the bench if shooting a lot of rounds. I have Pachmayer pads on my rifles of 338 WM and bigger, but nothing else, no mercury or muzzle brakes.

        Yeah, that's pretty much my routine and when I'm not shooting I'm handloading, of course, all of this shooting is handloaded ammo. Good shootin'.

        Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?


        • #5
          handgun/long gun

          Ok, when I go with my handguns I have two different systems. I have a Browning Buckmark .22 and a flipper target as well as a dueling tree. I know this gun is sighted in (as many a spruce hen can attest) so I am simply plinking at different yardages. Sometimes with a friend with a .22 we go head to head with the dueling tree or time ourselves with the flipper target. With larger handguns most of my training is tactical so I practice drills that I do at work (malfunction clearing, shooting in pairs, shooting on the move, etc...) not so much precision shooting.

          Long gun.....Seems like I am always fiddling around with the aim point of my rifles. I am rarely satisfied and end up spending a lot of time on the bench dialing it in. A couple of years ago I got a good bench rest which makes me even more anal about it! My problem is heating up the barrel and then my gun changes zero. I guess I need to have patience and let the barrel cool between volleys so I can be happy with it.

          The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


          • #6
            shooting routine

            Wow, open end question, I don't have all the guns that the moderator has, that is a wonderful collection!.
            Carry as much ammo as you can to the range, start with the light 22lr, shoot the heck out of the pistol and rifle, shoot for tight groups at the 25 yard mark, then shoot at longer ranges, 50-100yds, no bench shooting, only standing, sitting, kneeling, even prone. Throw out some small soda bottles, clay pigeons, hit them without thinking.
            You CAN hit a coffee can or milk jug at 100 yds with the pistol and the rifle, just keep shooting, relax, but focus.
            Bring out the centerfire weapons and again start short with the handguns then reach out to the 50 and 100 yard range, same positions.
            With the centerfire rifles shoot at 200 yards standing. I promise, if you can relax and allow your senses to focus on the basics you will hit the 4-6 inch gong or plate or or at 200yds.
            I have been hoping to get to another range with the 300 plus range, someday..............
            I have enjoyed mil-surp rifles for the longest time, great CHEAP way to practice the basics with iron sights. Pick out a rifle that the caliber is all over the surplus place, the 7.62x54r, the 8mm mauser, forget the Swiss k31, ammo is thru the roof.
            You can pick up a russian M44 or 38 or even the ridiculously long 91/30 for less than 125 the used Yugo m48 or 24/47 for less than 150.
            How about shooting a powerful cartridge in a basic bolt gun, for less than 11 cents a round for drop ship ammo case?
            Accurate, oh yeah, off bench the 48 shoots inside 2" with barleycorn sights and mil fmj ammo from the 50's and 70's. The m48 shoots same and is shorter/handier. Actually take them hunting when not on stand.


            • #7
              In Pre-Hunting Season Mode Now....

              Practicing up for my moose/griz hunt in September. I initially used a Caldwell Lead Sled when sighting in my rifle (Ruger M77 MkII S/S in .338 WinMag) with 225 grain Swift A-Frames (Remington factory ammo). Once the rifle was sighted in, it is more accurate than I can shoot it in hunting positions; so the rest of the weeks before my hunt will be spent on practice:

              - 2 shot sets sitting at 200 yard target, with scope on 6x
              - 2 shot sets sitting at 100 yard target, with scope on 6x
              - 2 shot sets offhand at 100 yard target, alternating between 1.5x and 6x
              - 2 shot sets at 25 yards, at 1.5x

              Why not longer shots? My range is only 200 yards; and for griz anyway, I'd much prefer a shot within 150 yards, as the need for a follow-up shot is likely, and I'd prefer not to be trying my follow-up shot on a moving target 200 yards out.

              Why two shot sets? Trying to practice a fairly rapid but accurate follow-up shot to simulate the hunting situation, as moose and griz don't frequently drop and die after 1 shot; I used to do 3 shot sets with my .30-06, but .338 ammo can get expensive in a hurry.

              Why not offhand at 200? If the target is 200 yards away, I should have time to find a rest.

              Why not 1.5x at 200 yards? Same answer as above - if target is 200 yards away, I should have time to find a rest and dial my scope power up.

              Why both powers for the 100 yard offhand practice? Because if I need to take an offhand shot at that range, there MAY still be time to dial the scope up as I am raising the rifle.

              Why the 25 yard offhand practice? Just in case we run into a griz and need to shoot quickly at that range; for that particular set, I start with the chamber empty, chambering a cartridge is part of the drill; I also shoot the follow-up shot as soon as I re-acquire the target in my scope, again trying to simulate the close-bear scenario.

              I have been shooting 32 rounds per session, 4 sets at each target. Takes a while to let the .338 barrel cool between 8 shot sets! But this type of practice has helped me get quite familiar with my rifle, and has also strengthened my confidence in my ability to shoot it well. I also practice reloading (and all shooting) while wearing hunting gloves, as I am rarely not wearing them when hunting in the Fall - everything I do is meant to simulate the hunting situation as much as I can possibly replicate it at the range.

              I enjoy my range sessions when structured this way! My familiarity with my rifle, and my confidence, grow with each session. But, there's always room for improvement, so if anyone has other techniques that they find helpful, I'm happy to hear them.

              Great idea for a thread!



              • #8
                Outdoor activity varies with the time of year, but my indoor routine is constant: Twenty rounds a night offhand for score with an air rifle and twenty rounds with an air pistol. I do it at home with a trap. The eye/hand/breathing coordination is good for everything else I shoot seasonally.

                Revolvers I shoot almost exclusively DA.

                Here's an interesting and fun exercize with rifles:

                Put a pie plate or 1-foot square piece of plywood out at 100 yards. You can also use a 6" target at 50 yards or a 3" target at 25 yards. Stand with your back to the target and the loaded rifle slung on your shoulder. When your buddy shouts go and starts the stopwatch, turn and mount your rifle offhand and keep shooting till it's empty and the clock stops. Now divide the number of hits by your time. It will give you new information about your skills when it comes to "bear protection." It's good training for any situation requiring quick shooting and accurate followup shots- like deer in tight brush.

                Same approach for revolver, but at 50 yards and DA.

                My favorite routine? Take your rifle/handgun/muzzleloader into a dry creek bed and shoot offhand to blow up rocks at varying ranges.
                "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                Merle Haggard


                • #9
                  my efforts are pretty simple.

                  handgun shooting @ 25yds 8" target repeatably offhand
                  44's or 45's with 300grn and over -hardcast

                  rifle shooting offhand,generally ranged with a rangefinder and practice
                  pleny of 30 cals on hand, a few .33's, one .375 and one .45-70(scout scoped)

                  when the river is high and debris of sort cruise by I aim small and hit small with handgun or rifle. Get a kick out of shooting my Marlin 922M with the little Alaskan Leupold 2x scope in the gravel pit shooting up small rocks at 75yds.- also I use this for harvesting beaver for good eating.

                  the only time I take to a rest is when zeroing in a firearm. I never buy factory fodder-only shoot my reloads exception being the 22mag.



                  • #10
                    Sighting in

                    Dunno if this is too academic for you guys or not (I'm not a gun nut by any means), but here's the routine I use for sighting in a rifle.

                    1. I use a rest, and don't touch anything forward of the trigger guard.

                    2. After I fire, I open the bolt and let the barrel cool for ten minutes. That way all my shots are out of a cold barrel.

                    3. If the barrel has been cleaned, I don't put much stock into where the first round goes.

                    4. I prefer to sight in for 200 yards.

                    5. I pad the heck out of the butt of the rifle if I'm shooting heavy stuff like the .375 or my .458. I'm not too proud to say I can't handle too much of a beating from those cannons; my goal is to see if the rifle can shoot straight. After that, misses are mine.

                    6. I don't shoot at running game, but I could probably use more practice at moving targets in case a wounded animal decides to exit the area.

                    These are some things an old rangemaster taught me back when I knew everything at the age of 20. It's worked well for me. Like I said, probably nothing new here, but maybe it will help someone.

                    Michael Strahan
                    Site Owner
                    Alaska Hunt Consultant
                    1 (406) 662-1791


                    • #11

                      Once I have a load developed for a rifle, I shoot mostly from the sit position at clay targets at 100, 150, 200 yards. Once I get that down, I shoot at the same ranges with NRA type bullseye targets, and measure groups. The paper doesnt lie. I also throw in some prone at various ranges, and off hand at 100 yards.

                      I also burn up allot of .22 LR's from field positions. Especially while waiting for a barrel to cool during load development. Im always working up a load for something. I guess I make it out 1-3 times a week.

                      Anyone interested in learning to become a better game shot with a rifle, I highly recommend Col. Whelen's "The Hunting Rifle", or one of Jack O'Connor's books.


                      • #12
                        What is your shooting routine?

                        I buy a new box of factory ammo every year to practice and sight in with. I buy another box for the hunt.

                        The weekend before the season opener I practice and get'er dialed in from all expected hunting positions. If I get her dialed in fast the 1st day, which is usual, for I have found I rarely have to change my sights from year to year, I save the ammo and fire one shot everyday until the season opens.

                        This way I am practicing the 1st shot over and over.

                        I do not clean my gun again or touch the sights until the season is over.

                        I am very careful with my guns after they are dialed in. They don't go bouncing around in the bed of a truck or in a gunrack on a ATV or Argo. I don't let others touch my gun or stack any of their gear on top of my gun while packing up for the hunt. Nobody touches my rifle.

                        I sight my rifles in dead on at 200 yards.

                        I have been hutning deer or smaller game with a 30-06 for 30 years. For deer an larger game within North America, I found the 300 win mag very effective.

                        My bullet of choice is the swift A-frame. And my rifles shoot best with Remington factory ammo.

                        I have tested all bullet weights and brands to see which ammo brand and bullet types is the most accurate in my guns. Once I figure that out, I shoot nothing else.

                        I have found in most cases in my gun collection, Remignton is the most accurate followed by Federal and Winchester.

                        At 100 yards I can shoot consitent 1" patterns with Remignton ammo while I am lucky to shoot 6" patterns with the Winchester ammo.

                        I am confident it has to do with the design of the bullets and the ammount of lead exposed on the tip of the bullet by design.

                        One small dent in the lead tip of a bullet can send it sailing off from your target. We know how soft lead is. If you dent the tip of a winchester and the lead tip has a flat spot on it, which usually happens for the tip of the bullet rides the top of the magazine as the bullet is worked into the shooting position.

                        The bullet spins as it travels down the barrel, once the flat spot hits the air and its travel is no longer controlled by the barrel, aero dynamic forces are developed and throw the bullet off target. Its different every time for the flat spots on the bullets are different.

                        Shooting winchester ammo is kinda like throwing a different shaped rock every time.

                        Hope this helps,

                        Good Hunting



                        • #13
                          I have a nice range with steel gongs, silouettes and paper target holders. I usually take a few rifles with me and shoot 3 rounds and grab a different one. sometimes from the bench, bipod, prone, off hand.....try them all. we have a long range ability of way more then anyone will mess with. it is a blast to shoot the gong at 6-800 yards and watch the vapor trail and delayed reaction for the sound.

                          pistol wise, defense guns get shot at a paper plate at varrying distances, and revolvers I try to be good out to 100yds....I shot an apple on a called shot with my 6" 44 mag at 108yds, wish that was the rule over the exception.

                          22lr, well we shoot them a bunch.


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