Wow! Is this what normal people see when they shoot? I can’t believe how much I have been missing all this time!
I think I should probably start at the beginning…
It is 4am on a Saturday. I am exhausted but too excited to go back to sleep. Our new Centra sights arrived yesterday and I was up late last night installing my outriggers, leveling my sights and harassing my very patient shooting-guru friends for advice. Through the window I can see the sky turning that transparent bluish yellow that promises a beautiful clear day.
I check my phone. Despite the encouraging sky, Metservice is insisting that it will rain. And gale. Trees and powerlines are falling over everywhere.
Today is supposed to be the big day where we road trip to Cheltenham range and try out all our new gear and get some wind zeros. Downpours and hurricanes are NOT the ideal conditions for this.
I try to get back to sleep but the temptation to constantly refresh the weather forecast is too great. I settle in for some long hours in the company of the rain radar.
I actually dreamed about these sexy wee things…
4 hours later…
Metservice finally came to the party and by the time we were up and knocking back coffees as if they were beer bongs in a student flat, the forecast was just for strong wind. Bathed in the crisp winter sunlight, we scrambled together our neglected and cobwebby gear, cleaned up our rifles, made a few finishing touches on sights and outriggers and headed off into the
sunset mid morning Saturday traffic.
The drive to Cheltenham was mostly uneventful apart from two things.
- The distant dark dismal clouds became less distant and rather more looming as we drew closer to our destination.
- We discovered that in our new range vehicle, the various frequencies of our favourite radio station have been pre-programmed in geographical order between our house and the Cheltenham range… This is why you buy cars off shooting buddies!
After a warm and sunny trip, we arrived early and the weather had become quite dreary and clearly very windy. When we were warmly greeted by the locals, we were informed that as well as the 600 yard shoot, people were already down at the 100 yard firing point getting their zeros. Would we like to take part? This was a bit of a silly question… OF COURSE we would! We hardly ever get a chance to shoot at anything less than 300 yards and I was feeling very apprehensive about getting a zero at 600 in the current wind conditions.
Jared had already boresighted his rifle at home and was confident of his zero.
Bull 5 – Slightly up and to the right. Jared fired a second shot to confirm and left the mound with a smile on his face.
Meanwhile, I had been bore sighting and was not feeling pleased. My elevation was spot-on but wind-wise, there was a 15-ish minute discrepancy between the bore and the sights. I decided to fire a shot anyway. 100 yards on a 600 yard target… what could possibly go wrong?
After discovering my face was only about 1mm away from the rear sight and having a brief panic attack about losing an eye, I
closed my eyes courageously kept my eyes wide open and pressed the trigger.
The good news: I never noticed that I was using my left eye, my elevation was excellent and I did not get my eye gouged out by the sights.
The bad news: My shot was 15moa to the right as I expected. Bugger.
I fired another to confirm and shot through the same hole. After a brief discussion, we decided it could be an anomaly of outriggers at short ranges and made a plan to further investigate at 600 yards.
Here I am feeling pretty nervous in my new setup!
At first I was very excited. The target was lined up in my sights… the target was lined up in the bore… perfect.
Ah… not so great. Target 5 is lined up in my sights and Target 6 is lined up in the bore. I am a bit fed up at this point so I screw on a mile of windage to align the two and decide to go for it. If I can’t get a sensible zero, at least I am going to get used to shooting with my left eye!
Feeling intimidated by the wind, the outriggers, the new sights, the new position, the lack of a coaching knob, and just generally feeling tired and rusty after several months off, My first shot was a miss. This is not what I needed and I did not know what to do. It could be elevation in either direction or it could be wind in either direction. My boresight had looked great. Jared helpfully suggested that I needed some more wind and grasping at any sort of encouragement, I screwed on about 6 left and fired another shot.
A 1 on the right. AWESOME! On the target. Just. I readjusted and settled in for the shoot.
The result was pretty good! I actually can’t comment on what the wind was as my sights were on about 22 left at this point but I am informed that it was between 4 and 6. I did get caught in a drop-off but I am stoked with my waterline all things considered!
47.4 which includes a couple of windage shots.
My second shoot wasn’t so amazing. The tilt of my head and body means that my sights were way too close to me and I got walloped in the face quite badly while firing my sighters. This caused me to be a bit of a flinchy McFlinch-face for the rest of the shoot (the shots at 5 o clock are very typical flinch-shots from me). I wasn’t quite comfortable in my position either but I put that down to trying to not get hit by the rifle!
46.1 wasn’t a bad result considering…
Jared had a couple of good shoots but had a battle with the wind.
- The new sights are amazing. New and clean and exciting. Jared is overwhelmed by the control the 1/4 clicks gets him.
- I am lost without a coaching knob on my wind knob. I really need a tactile indicator to know where my windage is at. This was compounded by going from half MOA clicks to quarter MOA clicks and not having a zero reference.
- The outrigger concept works. I just need to figure out what is the problem with the wind zero. Currently, if I leave the zero how it is (at around 15moa off factory zero) , I will only have about 15moa adjustment to the left which definitely will not be enough!
- I need to get the rear outriggers adjusted for head tilt which is something that never occurred to me before getting them built. They need to be adjusted 20mm up to compensate for head tilt and 20mm forward to compensate for body angle.
- Seeing with my left eye is amazing! I can focus on the flags AND the target… No blinder needed. I do not even know how to start explaining this but suddenly my eyes aren’t fighting each other anymore and I just feel… comfortable. (Apart from anticipating a smack in the face that is!).
- I expected to have to re-train myself to see with my left eye. I have been training my right eye to be the dominant one for three years so I expected some sort of adaptation period. No such thing. My eyes and brain heaved a huge sigh of relief and slipped straight back to how they feel comfortable. It took a total of one whole shot to figure it out.
- I lost a shot to wind – a 3 I think. While shooting I saw the flags drop when I shot and then pick up immediately after. If I had been shooting with my non-dominant eye with my dominant eye blinded, I would only have seen consistent flags – I would not have seen the drop-off. I would have had no clue why my shot went out to 9 o clock. Just being able to see actions, variables and consequences means my shooting ability will improve very quickly and that I will understand what is happening out there rather than just guessing
All in all, we had a successful learning experience. I suspect I top scored TR for the day which is nice and unexpected!
And it didn’t even start raining until the drive home.
We couldn’t leave my outrageous wind zero alone so we did some further investigations…
Everything was pointing towards a flaw in the outrigger concept. A 15-20 MOA discrepancy between the factory zero and actual zero is quite extreme. We checked and re-checked everything. We even turned the outriggers upside down to check for non-parallel machining.
I decided that parallel outriggers would never work and they need to be offset. An argument with Andre (my outrigger guru) and some trigonometry laid this idea to rest.
(When I say trigonometry, I mean: A diagram, “SOHCAHTOA” scribbled on an envelope, tears, a tantrum and a Google search for an angle calculator.)
It turns out that 0.7moa is the maximum windage offset of parallel 60mm outriggers at 300 yards. Clearly this is not the problem.
A small brainwave led me to boresighting without the outriggers. The zero was exactly the same… Bugger! There is something unusual with my rifle. It took a 2 hour road trip, a good sleep, a rifle club AGM, an argument, a rifle dissection and a couple of beers but Jared finally figured it out.
Have a look and tell me what it is (mine is on the left)…
You know how I said in the last post that we had replaced every last thing that we possibly could on our rifles? Well I lied. It turns out that I have a non-standard sight block. Both the outrigger zero and the non-outrigger zero came straight back to centre when I put Jared’s block on my action.
I even had look at my old sights to makes sure… yep! The scale is has been moved by about 15moa! Look at where it is in relation to the screw. It is obviously not a new thing on my rifle (I never noticed on these sights because they have a much wider range of adjustment so I can still get 20moa out of them if needed). Having said that, I actually vaguely remember filing the inside of the slot so I could move the scale further to the left at one point.
We are both very glad that this mystery has been solved. We are now making inquiries about acquiring a standard sight block.
We are also impressed by how perfect the outriggers are. They are absolutely superb! They are so well machined that no matter which way up we used them, the zero didn’t change. Unfortunately, I need the rear outrigger re-engineered because I naively didn’t allow for head tilt but I am sure the new one will be just as amazing.
It is 9pm on a Sunday. I am exhausted but reluctant to go to sleep…