10 Rifle Shooting Myths Exposed

If you are recoil-sensitive, it is always a temptation to let someone else sight-in your rifle, but it is much better if you do it yourself.

If you are recoil-sensitive, it is always a temptation to let someone else sight-in your rifle, but it is much better if you do it yourself.

Rifle Shooting Myth 6: I Always Let Someone Else Sight-In My Rifle

Some shooters who have a tendency to be recoil-sensitive may be inclined to let someone else sight in their rifle for them. This should, however, never occur. There are several advantages to sighting-in your own rifle.

First, it gets the shooter used to the recoil of the rifle, and, second, it familiarizes them with the gun. But aside from those very valuable advantages, it is important to recognize that differences in how people actually see things can effect where the bullets will impact on a target.

Different shooters shooting the same rifle and ammunition will quite often have their bullets impact at a different point on a target.

Rifle Shooting Myth 7: A Clean Firearm is a Better Firearm

It’s always good to clean your gun and keep it in top-notch shape. For shooting consistency, though, it’s best to foul the bore by sending a shot down the barrel prior to heading out on a hunt. Why? Typically the first shot from a clean bore will impact in a different spot than the follow-up shots. This was the case in the photo below, with the clean bore round printing high and to the left.

It’s always good to clean your gun and keep it in top-notch shape. For shooting consistency, though, it’s best to foul the bore by sending a shot down the barrel prior to heading out on a hunt. Why? Typically the first shot from a clean bore will impact in a different spot than the follow-up shots. This was the case in the photo below, with the clean bore round printing high and to the left.

How could anyone make an argument against firearm cleanliness? Well, I can think of only a single instance when a little dirt might be a good thing, and that is inside your gun barrel when it comes to heading out for a hunt.

One of the factors necessary for consistent shot placement has to do with the consistency of the firearm bore. Simply put, a round fired through a clean bore will almost always impact at a different point that those shots that follow—and that first shot is often the most important you will take in a hunting situation.

I have frequently found the amount of variation can be from about an inch all the way up to three or four inches at 100 yards. If you never shoot past 50 yards, this might not be an issue of concern, but, if you find yourself trying to pull off a shot at a record-book bighorn ram on that once in a lifetime hunt at 400 or 500 yards, it could easily become a substantial problem to overcome.

I like to remove all the variables I can and, in so doing, I always send a round down the barrel and foul the bore before heading out to hunt.

Rifle Shooting Myth 8: I Always Carry my Rifle Muzzle Down in the Vehicle

When traveling, it has become a common practice for many shooters to position their rifle with the muzzle down against the floorboards. I suppose most believe that placing their rifle in this position provides a degree of safety, but there is a problem in doing so.

The condition of the barrel crown is crucial to good accuracy. Floorboards, particularly in hunting rigs, are frequently dirty, and this dirt can easily result in a marring of the crown. A better way to carry a rifle in a vehicle is in a carrying case, but, sometimes a hunter likes to have their rifle more accessible (for obvious reason).

If you fall into this category, and as long as the rifle is unloaded with the action open and the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction and away from people, carrying it upright, muzzle towards the truck roof, simply makes good sense and can go a long way towards preventing damage to your rifle that can affect its accuracy.

13 thoughts on “10 Rifle Shooting Myths Exposed

  1. roysha

    I have rifles that don’t require a fouling shot and some that do, especially when shooting cast bullets.

    In regard to the yawing never stablizing, I disagree. In 1968 my best friend built a 25-284. He was shooting the 117-120 grain bullets and typically getting 3″ +/- groups at 100 yards with indications of the bullet tipping as it went through the target. The lighter bullets would barely hit the target. We tried all the little tricks we knew but to no avail.

    Bill Prator was one of our gunsmith instructors at Trinidad so we went to him for advice. He suggested that we try shooting at 200 or 300 yards then get back to him.

    Long story short, the groups at 300 yards were nearly identical in size to the groups at 100 yards. Prator’s explanation was that it was similar to a toy top when first spun, will wobble around then settle into smooth steady spin. He said that bullets react similarly since that is the purpose of rifling, to impose stability to the projectile, and if the projectile is pushed too hard for the existing situation the yaw can become quite extreme.

    I have since then encountered this situation only once more with a 240 Weatherby and it was not quite as extreme but definitely the same situation. In this case we just down loaded a bit and ended up with a very high dollar 6mm REM.

  2. bhp0

    I must disagree with you about the need to always foul the bore so the other shots will land in the same group. Over the last 60 years I have often oiled my bore after rigorous cleaning and then stored the gun muzzle down allowing the excess oil to run off. In most of my guns the first shot landed dead center in all the rest of the following shots.

  3. Spacegunner

    I completely agree with Mr. Tabor’s assessments on all but the “Twig” myth. Especially Myths 6 & 7.

    Good to see that someone actually tested and/or analyzed these myths, and presented them in easily understood explanations.

  4. Spacegunner

    This statement, “Of course, as the size of the object struck increases or the distance between the obstruction and the target is increased, you should expect a greater degree of deviation. The important thing here is that shooting through grasses and fairly light vegetation should not be problematic for a hunter, as long as the game is a reasonable distance behind the interfering obstacle.”, contradicts itself: “… or the distance between the obstruction and the target is increased, you should expect greater degree of deviation.” versus “shooting through grasses and fairly light vegetation should not be problematic …, as long as the game is a reasonable distance behind the interfering obstacle.” Which is it, and what is Mr. Tabor’s definition of “reasonable distance”?

  5. Spacegunner

    I disagree about the effect on the trajectory of a bullet after it hits an object based on my experience.

    My most recent “flyer” was caused by the bullet hitting a stout blade of grass inches from the muzzle of my Match Rifle, and “throwing” my shot into the 7-ring (as much as 10-15 inches, or 3-5 MoA) on an NRA SR3 target at 300 yards. The other 19 shots were well within the 10- & 9-rings.

    I was shooting a 68-grain BTHP Match bullet with MV of 3,100 fps.

    This article could encourage hunters/shooters to disregard obstacles, and possibly wound an animal with a deflected bullet.

  6. davey ditzer

    Regarding factory ammo vs. handloaded ammo accuracy; I found that generally, the runout of bullets in factory ammo is much larger than careful handloaders will accept and this can affect accuracy, especially beyond 100 yards. Careful handloaders strive for RO of less than .005″ with benchresters routinely getting .001″. The factory ammo I have measured ofter exceeds 010″ and this will show up on the target from a good rifle.

    Dave

  7. G Man Gunsmith

    The article is a collection of unscientific, vague, general conclusions that in the end mean absolutely nothing. There are plenty of articles written by ballisticians that either scientifically confirm or refute these findings. As far as the military still believing the “myths” regarding the .45 ACP; as a combat veteran with over 22 years of service, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that this is NOT a belief held by “the US military”.

  8. ltcjwb

    No, the .45 ACP will not knock a man down or spin him around like a top. When fired at close range, however, it will break bone and do serious damage to internal tissue. Been there, done that. And noone who knows what he is doing will use it at long range. It was designed for one purpose, and when used for that purpose, is an excellent cartridge.

  9. bhp0

    I will have to disagree with you on the statement that a gun will always impact differently if the bore is clean rather than fouled. Sixty some years of shooting has taught me that this is not always true as I have some varmint rifles in .220 Swift and 22-250 that impact exactly the same, regards as to whether the bore is clean or fouled

  10. bhp0

    In the early 1900’s came the greatest woman hunter that perhaps ever lived, Agnes Herbert, who wrote three fascinating books about her 3 continent safaris. She stated that the gun writers of the time did not know what they were talking about (sound familiar?). She was one of the first people who taught people to shoot with both eyes open to the howls of protest from the then current gun writers.

    She emphatically stated that large diameter elephant guns (which she used) killed no better than her small 6.5 mm Mannlicher rifle. And with legions of dangerous animals dispatched she certainly had enough experienced to know what she was talking about.

  11. CarvinX

    I prefer Leather. One of the least expensive leather IWB holsters I have for my concealed carry is very accessible and comfortable. Accessibility in my requirements for a cc holster is very high. Some of the more exotic style synthetics are great, especially for concealment but I have yet to find one that allows comfort and accessibility that my most inexpensive leather IWB holster provides.

  12. Blacklion66

    I hope no one paid the author for these so called myths? Several of which I’ve never heard of in the sixty five years I’ve been sending 22cal thru 90mm rounds down range.

    If the author was to take twenty rounds of 223 tracer and on a wet day fire them through the brush he would see just how full of holes his dowel theroy is. brush and twigs have a bad habit of growing at all angles :-)

  13. bhp0

    Quite a few years ago one gun writer finally got around to setting up a real life brush test along with a wooden dowel test. What he found out was the exact opposite of the previous long running myth that slow moving large caliber bullets got through brush better than high velocity small diameter bullets.

    Of course lets not forget the greatest gun writer myth of all time and that was that the .45acp knocks a man down or spins him around like a top or makes him disappear in a red puff of mist. It is still believed by the U.S. military.

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