The Circle of Shots

The question:

Rifle related question. I have a shooter that has started a circle pattern of shots in standing, they are usually high 9’s and low 10’s. For the life of us we cannot really pin point what is causing it. It has gotten to the point it is frustrating her. Any helpful tips to give her would be greatly appreciated.

Our response:

These types of questions can be difficult to answer without diving deeper into a discussion with the original poster.

What we can gather is that the shooter is having a larger group that wanted, as the group is circular.  If the group was spread in a certain direction it would be slightly easier to ascertain the root cause of the problem.  Non-the-less we will work with the information we have to hand.

The causes that come to mind in the first instance  are:


Natural Alignment

A potential issue with the rifle.

If we cover the rifle issue first and foremost, does the rifle group as it should?  Without getting test rigs out this can easily check this by shooting from a rest which will reduce a significant part of the movement of the rifle as well as would be a great exercise for the athlete to undertake (it helps with reinforcing the “shooting when stillest” process).

If the rifle fails to group at this point, you need to give it a damn good clean, get it serviced or try other pellets.

Now we have covered the rifle lets look at the shooter.  In its simplest form, the shooting process is


Mount rifle

Let rifle settle

Squeeze trigger when rifle moving the least

Follow through

In order to achieve all those points, and accuracy natural alignment (or natural point of aim) needs to be on target.  If its not, then the shooter will always (with or without knowing it) pull the gun onto target, thus the hold deteriorates.  You can use a Scatt (or similar) or video footage to review if this is occurring with your athlete.

Finally the hold.  We need to remember that the gun should just “sit” there and we need to be relaxed as possible to achieve this.  If we are unbalanced, using muscles more than we need to or not making our position work for us then how can we expect to have a good hold.  (blank target exercises should be handy here)

Finally, after reviewing some photos of the shooting position (not posted here for anonymity)  we have the following observations that could be causing some issues.

Shoulders are too open to the target, this is causing the feet to counteract this movement and could be contorting the position.

The left forearm is too far forward, not only does this effect the equilibrium of the position, but the shooter will be having to use excessive muscular tension to maintain that position.  Muscles don’t like being held like that and will start to tell you that!

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