Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

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Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by mikemyers on 7/22/2017, 10:11 pm

This may or may not be an interesting story.  It actually does have a point, but that comes later.  I hope it’s correct and not a fig newton of my imagionation…
 
 
Several years ago I was shooting a S&W 357 Highway Patrolman, with 6” barrel, trying to tighten up my groups.  With the help of lots of people, mostly on The Highroad Forums, I learned what to do, and my groupings continued to improve.  Still, I was puzzled why I had a big group, when I thought I was doing everything correctly, and the gun was pointed at the (blurry) center of the target as I watched the front sight.  If I physically aimed the gun a little to the right or left of the bullseye, the holes should only be off a little.  I didn’t understand why my shots were so far off.  Then I had an idea, and did some math.
 
I drew the gun from above, with front and rear sights.  Then I drew the target a distance away.  I assumed the distance from the front sight to either of the “blades” of the rear sight was incorrect by 1/10th of an inch.  Let’s say the sights were six inches apart.  Mathematically, at 60 inches (five feet) to the target (ten times the distance between the sights) any error at the target would be ten times the 1/10” error on the sights, or one inch.  At 15 feet, three times further away, the error would be three inches.  So, my grouping on the target would be +/- three inches, for a six inch group.  In other words, a tiny 1/10th inch error in the gap between the front sight and the rear sights, would be magnified into a huge error on the target.  That error could come from not lining the sights up perfectly, or an error from my trigger push.  Until I did the math, I didn’t really understand how important it was for that gap around the front sight to be equal on each side.  If I’m correct, then all the books that say to stare at the front sight are missing the point.  It’s the gap on either side of the front sight that is so critical (and the tops of the sights, for elevation). 
 
 
This got me to wondering about red dot sights.  When I tried one a couple of years ago, the dot acted like it was drunk, bouncing around all over the place.  How in the world could I ever “look” at the dot when it was so unstable.  It was very annoying to say the least.  But, when I was thinking about it, where the dot happened to be is where the gun had to be aimed at that instant in time.  So, the “spread” of the pattern of the dot was indicating me a poor grouping.    
 
 


I was reading on the Bullseye website earlier today that it’s better to focus on the target, and try to center the wobble of the dot over the target.  Until one of you points out an error of this reasoning, it all makes sense to me right now.  If the dot is wandering all over, so is the aim of the gun, and that’s where the bullets will go.  Anything a shooter can do to decrease the wobble zone will improve the groupings proportionately.  (And if the shooter could do the impossible, reduce the wobble to zero, as if he was a gun rest, the groupings would be determined by the gun and the ammo, not the shooter.) 
 
 
I used to wonder why my groupings using iron sights were worse than I thought they should have been, and why a red dot can dance all over.  I knew the front sight had to be centered between the rear sights, but I never understood how critical that was.  As to taming the red dot, I figure it’s a matter of lots of holding drills, lots of dry-firing, and looking at the target, not the dot, and trying to adjust the gun so the path of the red dot as it dances all over is centered over the target as much as possible.
 

So – does this make sense?  Am I missing something?  It was all very fuzzy in my mind, until I took a piece of paper and actually drew things from above.  Then it was if a light was turned on, and I finally really understood.  Maybe to all of you this is obvious and trivial, but I never understood the reasoning until I drew it.  Or am I still missing something?
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by james r chapman on 7/23/2017, 7:03 am

Your getting the picture.
That's why it's so important to see the front sight.

Dots, 50% say focus on target
50% say focus on Dot.
It's what works for you.
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by Jack H on 7/23/2017, 7:27 am

When your wobble is large, you should look at the dot and keep your efforts and mind more at the gun to keep it aligned and stable relative to your eye.
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by james r chapman on 7/23/2017, 8:26 am

Jack H wrote:When your wobble is large, you should look at the dot and keep your efforts and mind more at the gun to keep it aligned and stable relative to your eye.
an excellent observation and advice!
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by mikemyers on 7/23/2017, 12:53 pm

james r chapman wrote:Your getting the picture.
That's why it's so important to see the front sight....

That's what I mean, and what I didn't realize before.  When I absolutely knew that my front sight was perfectly clear, and I was focused on it, and I was very careful to push on the trigger as best I could, the rounds were not where I wanted them to be.  Once I got the spacing on either side of the front sight equal, it wasn't so important that the front sight was exactly in the middle, my accuracy improved greatly.  

None of this made any sense to me until I drew it on a piece of paper, and then it became obvious.  For me, seeing the front sight clearly was not the goal, just what was necessary in order to observe the gap on either side of the front sight - and the tops of all three.  

I think most people learn to do it naturally, as that's what it takes to get better.  For me, it was a puzzle why I was struggling.  The tiniest error in the gap makes a huge error on the target, and several of my guns have such a large space on either side of the front sight, it's difficult, or should I say, was difficult, for me to get it right.  Now that I understand it, it's much easier.
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by Chris Miceli on 7/23/2017, 1:00 pm

sight alignment, sight picture, accuracy and precision.
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by JD Mahan on 7/23/2017, 1:21 pm

I was always told it's the difference between angular error (sight mis-alignment) and linear error (wobble).

Back when I still shot open sights (AP), I shot my best when I wasn't even really aware of the bull; I just focused intently on sight alignment, and trusted my stance and hold to be close to my aim point.

Sometimes it would feel like no wobble, because I wasn't seeing any fixed reference. When I was shooting well 30 or so shots would absolutely be pure sight alignment, I wouldn't have any memory of seeing the bull. The others, not as much. I peaked in the low 560s

Hope this helps, if I could actually do it more consistently, I'd still shoot open sights

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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by dronning on 7/23/2017, 1:49 pm

Don't forget about trigger, grip, trigger, anticipation, trigger and not finishing the shot when assessing shots off call.
- Dave


Last edited by dronning on 7/24/2017, 8:23 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Modified to emphasise trigger importance)
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by Jack H on 7/23/2017, 10:38 pm

JD Mahan wrote:I was always told it's the difference between angular error (sight mis-alignment) and linear error (wobble).

Back when I still shot open sights (AP), I shot my best when I wasn't even really aware of the bull; I just focused intently on sight alignment, and trusted my stance and hold to be close to my aim point.

Sometimes it would feel like no wobble, because I wasn't seeing any fixed reference. When I was shooting well 30 or so shots would absolutely be pure sight alignment, I wouldn't have any memory of seeing the bull. The others, not as much. I peaked in the low 560s

Hope this helps, if I could actually do it more consistently, I'd still shoot open sights

This is exactly as I was taught by LtC Miller.
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by Mightyheb on 7/24/2017, 8:01 am

MIke,

My bullets don't go where they are supposed to because I believe the target keeps moving when I shoot.  I need an excuse and that seems to work best. lol!   seriously this site is full of useful information. I have been shooting Bullseye for only a year and people on this site have made it very easy. As my coach Brian Zins and Dave Salyer say "it is all in the trigger"  if you pull or jerk the trigger the bullet will not go where you want it to. Just dry fire like there is no tomorrow and you will be blown away with the results. Good luck
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by Magload on 7/24/2017, 8:28 am

Most of the time the bullet does go where you have told it to go.  The problem is at least for me is where I am telling it to go is not really where I want it to have gone.  The bullet has no mind of it's own and some times I think when I look at the target that neither do I.  Don
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by BE Mike on 7/24/2017, 8:58 am

mikemyers wrote:
james r chapman wrote:Your getting the picture.
That's why it's so important to see the front sight....

That's what I mean, and what I didn't realize before.  When I absolutely knew that my front sight was perfectly clear, and I was focused on it, and I was very careful to push on the trigger as best I could, the rounds were not where I wanted them to be.  Once I got the spacing on either side of the front sight equal, it wasn't so important that the front sight was exactly in the middle, my accuracy improved greatly.  

None of this made any sense to me until I drew it on a piece of paper, and then it became obvious.  For me, seeing the front sight clearly was not the goal, just what was necessary in order to observe the gap on either side of the front sight - and the tops of all three.  

I think most people learn to do it naturally, as that's what it takes to get better.  For me, it was a puzzle why I was struggling.  The tiniest error in the gap makes a huge error on the target, and several of my guns have such a large space on either side of the front sight, it's difficult, or should I say, was difficult, for me to get it right.  Now that I understand it, it's much easier.
That's just one of the fascinating things about the game. It is really fun to see the "light come on". You have found the difference between sight alignment and sight picture. If I were to place the importance of fundamentals , I would have to say trigger control is tops, sight alignment is next and follow through. Sight picture? It just gets me into trouble. BTW, I didn't list all of the fundamentals. I know that top shooters, who use a red dot look at the target. I never could get the hang of it. I put the dot in the center of the scope. I would say that the outer ring of the red dot was to me the rear sight and the dot, the front sight. Trying to adjust the dot to the center of the black with the wrist is asking for disaster. When the "light comes on" write it down somewhere you will refer to it.
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by mikemyers on 7/24/2017, 10:18 am

Mightyheb wrote:MIke,

......Just dry fire like there is no tomorrow and you will be blown away with the results. Good luck
That single piece of advice has probably helped me more than everything else combined.  I read about it here years ago - there is a thread here, with a link to the video.  Dry-firing multiple times a day, for probably four years now, has gotten my non-group of eight inches down to almost two inches (at 15 yards), and it keeps improving.

http://www.bullseyeforum.net/t4607-keith-sanderson-s-dry-fire-training

He says for every shot at the range, one should dry-fire 100 "rounds".  I am simulating dry-firing with probably 300 "rounds" a day, maybe 5 days every week, and I want to spend at least one day at the range every week firing between 25 and 50 rounds (five targets with 10 rounds each), which I save to see how I'm changing. 

Most people don't believe me when I tell them how useful this is, but for me, my gun feels lighter, my hands are MUCH more steady, the red dot is much more civil, and so on.  

(Until last week, I have only been concerned with group size.  I figured points and scoring would improve as my groups improved.)
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by Rob Kovach on 7/26/2017, 3:46 pm

I think it's way more important to understand why your shots go where you want them to go. Those other shots are not memorable.
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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by Froneck on 8/12/2017, 8:51 am

I think it's the other way around, I would think that most of us understand why a shot went where we wanted it to go. Simply put we followed the fundamentals and procedure needed to make a good shot and see the results. It is when all those things are seemingly done and good shot is called and expected but it's not that should be understood. Granted some good targets are memorable but some bad are too. I can remember the match where I shot a 96-9X slow fire. Yet can't remember where I shot my first 100 slow nor my first 100-10X slow fire.
 Dry fire is one of the best training methods! When Adam was switching hands and shooting left handed he did a lot of dry firing, uses a revolver to dry fire timed and rapid. I recall watching a video (don't remember the link) that Sanderson was talking about shooting and the amount of dry fire he's doing. He had a pistol with electronic trigger to allow sustained dry fire and mentioned how many times the mechanism would function before the battery was dead, it was in the thousands and went on telling how many batteries he would use dry firing.

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Re: Understanding why bullets don't go where we want them to go...

Post by mikemyers on 8/12/2017, 10:03 am

I dunno.  I can see both points of view.  I think I would agree mostly with Rob, as if I fully understand why my "good shots" were fired, I can try to replicate that over and over.  

It's usually more obvious to figure out what went wrong with a bad shot, but to correct the problem, one has to know what he should have done better.  

I guess everyone has a limit, based on their capabilities at that moment in time.  I have a pretty good idea of my own limit as of today, and to me, the first step in improving what I can do, is to get to where 95% of my shots are within that capability.  (There always seems to be one wild shot, probably from nerves...).  

Or, in simple terms, if I got 9 shots in the 10 ring, and one shot in the 8 ring, I would much rather understand what I did with those 9 good shots, than whatever caused the "flyer".   (...and I should add, that the "good" shots keep improving as I read more and more advice here, and from a fellow in this forum who sent me some wonderful advice on how to improve.)  It wasn't just what he said, but from understanding why those ideas were so good.


Everything I just wrote is incorrect, if there is a problem with something, leading to bad shooting.  In that case, to solve the problem, one has to identify the problem.  That's different.
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