It is a common assumption that wind reading is the key to long range shooting. However this is not the full story. Reading the environment and making a cold wind call really only happens for the first shot. For the majority of the match, we are building from our previous shots. Every shot is a true indication of the wind, and a chance to learn something about the range.

The true challenge of shooting in the wind is to learn on the fly how the wind indicators in the environment relate to where the bullets are going. We need to focus on what is relevant, differentiate random scatter from actual wind changes and keep the group centered.

Having a more accurate rifle might save you the occasional point, but longer aggregate scores are decided by whether you can keep track of what’s happening during the key moments when the wind changes quickly and everyone else is dropping points.

How you keep track of relevant information and make decisions on each shot defines your strategy.

Every shot we fire in a match provides valuable information. We know where the bullet landed, what was on the sight, and the hold, so the exact setting needed to center that shot is clear. This is the “true” wind condition and is accurate within the natural grouping ability of the rifle. Along with the wind indicators at the time, this is what we have to work with to make an optimal decision for the next shot.

To record every detail and run precise calculations would not be practical. Instead, we develop strategies to simplify the problem and focus on specific key points that we think are the most relevant. Knowing what to focus on and what is safe to ignore is a skill developed through experience.

Every shot we fire in a match provides valuable information. We know where the bullet landed, what was on the sight, and the hold, so the exact setting needed to center that shot is clear. This is the “true” wind condition and is accurate within the natural grouping ability of the rifle. Along with the wind indicators at the time, this is what we have to work with to make an optimal decision for the next shot.

To record every detail and run precise calculations would not be practical. Instead, we develop strategies to simplify the problem and focus on specific key points that we think are the most relevant. Knowing what to focus on and what is safe to ignore is a skill developed through experience.

Think about the strategy you use. Do you write anything down? What details do you remember on each shot, and what do you filter out? How do you decide what to focus on? Every routine has tradeoffs, and your methods have developed through experience in the most common wind conditions you encounter.

When the rare, particularly challenging conditions arise, we have less experience to fall back on, and the strategy that works well most of the time may not be appropriate. We often lose the bigger picture and need a few shots to get back on track. This is when matches are won or lost.

A strategy designed to make the best of the worst situations will allow you differentiate yourself from others and post higher aggregate scores in the long run.

When I first started shooting for score back in 2014 I was taught the Plot-o-matic method on day 1. As far as I knew, this was simply how you shoot. It made perfect sense to me and it was to my surprise that the vast majority of shooters are not familiar with the method. My strategy is now my competitive advantage and the key to how I am able to do so well relative to my experience level.

I have hosted workshops and training sessions specifically to teach this method to my fellow shooters. We tend to copy those who win, and once I started winning, people started listening. Those who have adopted it with an open mind have drastically improved their scores and have said they can’t imagine shooting without it now.

The Plot-o-matic was originally developed in the 80’s by George Chase (coincidentally also from New Brunswick, Canada) in order to better manage the centering of 2 minute groups from open sight target rifles of the day. While it provides an advantage for any style of shooting, it is extremely useful for F-class. The smaller the target, the larger the relative wind changes, and the greater the benefit to higher precision.

I have hosted workshops and training sessions specifically to teach this method to my fellow shooters. We tend to copy those who win, and once I started winning, people started listening. Those who have adopted it with an open mind have drastically improved their scores and have said they can’t imagine shooting without it now.

The Plot-o-matic was originally developed in the 80’s by George Chase (coincidentally also from New Brunswick, Canada) in order to better manage the centering of 2 minute groups from open sight target rifles of the day. While it provides an advantage for any style of shooting, it is extremely useful for F-class. The smaller the target, the larger the relative wind changes, and the greater the benefit to higher precision.

The fundamental concept is to maintain a visual plot of all the previous shots relative to a fixed scope setting. It is not simply a plot of the shot impacts on target. It doesn’t show the score, and it doesn’t show your mistakes. It shows where each bullet would have landed if you had held center and fired blind without touching the sight. It shows exactly how the rifle is grouping and how the wind is affecting your shots, regardless of anything you did, or didn't do, to your scope.

When shooting with a plot, your mind is completely free to focus on observing the wind indicators and trying to understand them. You don’t have to remember or think about anything else. The plot shows you exactly what you need to know to make an informed decision.

Most importantly, the plot helps keep reality in context when the wind gets out of control. When you lose a few points and need some help, the plot might show you patterns that you missed or allow you to change your approach on the fly. You never have to start over with wild guesses, and you can always recover from confusion.

Consider the everyday exercise of zeroing a hunting rifle. You know you’re going to need to center a pretty large group to ensure an accurate zero.

One method is to simply leave the scope alone, and fire some shots into a group. Hopefully that group is on paper. Then measure the center of the group, and adjust your scope at once. Technically, this method is very efficient.

Many new shooters actually fire multiple convertible sighters at the same scope setting, trading the potential value of the sighter for the convenience of being able to center two shots at once. This is not a good strategy if you care about points.

If we cared about each shot landing as close to center as possible, we would want to make adjustments on every shot. As you may know from your rifle zeroing experience, trying to keep track in your head is pretty tough, or even with a piece of paper.

One method is to simply leave the scope alone, and fire some shots into a group. Hopefully that group is on paper. Then measure the center of the group, and adjust your scope at once. Technically, this method is very efficient.

Many new shooters actually fire multiple convertible sighters at the same scope setting, trading the potential value of the sighter for the convenience of being able to center two shots at once. This is not a good strategy if you care about points.

If we cared about each shot landing as close to center as possible, we would want to make adjustments on every shot. As you may know from your rifle zeroing experience, trying to keep track in your head is pretty tough, or even with a piece of paper.

A typical procedure when zeroing a rifle is to keep adjusting one shot at a time until you think you are close, then fire a few more shots at the same setting until you have a group, then make one final adjustment to center that. It works, but you’ve fired 3 or 4 more shots than needed, and the adjustments are not optimal.

In a match, we don’t have the luxury of an extra box of ammo. Convertible sighters have value, and they should not be thrown away. It's possible to make optimal adjustments on every shot and maximize the score, but it requires more than a piece of paper.

Using the plot, we can make precise group centering adjustments on every shot, without getting confused. This is exactly what is needed in a match, assuming for now that wind is not changing.

The actual plotting tool is made of two layers. First, there is a target. Like a typical paper plot sheet, this target has rings which match the actual target we shoot on, and is scaled according to the distance. I use a magnetic whiteboard with printable magnetic sheets, but you can use paper on a clipboard.

The actual plotting tool is made of two layers. First, there is a target. Like a typical paper plot sheet, this target has rings which match the actual target we shoot on, and is scaled according to the distance. I use a magnetic whiteboard with printable magnetic sheets, but you can use paper on a clipboard.

In front, we place a transparent plastic sheet with printed hash marks around the edges representing 1/4 moa adjustments. The transparent sheet is held in place with magnets, and it lays flat on the target with no space between for parallax error.

With a dry erase marker, we write the expected sight setting where we think we will need to be to center the group. For windage, this is our expected average wind condition for the match. For elevation, it is best to read the number which is actually written on the scope dial. For simplicity, we will assume zero and zero to start.

Next, we fill in a few windage and elevation values to represent other sight settings. Write the numbers backwards, increasing left and down, and you will see why in a moment.

Now, double check that the hash marks are aligned with the target and the sight settings match. Hold center, and fire. Wherever the shot lands on target, we plot that shot, relative to the target rings, on the top sheet.

This shot landed about 1.5 moa left and 0.5 moa low.

So we would like to center this shot. By centering the shot, we maximize the chance of the next shot landing in the center as well. So we slide the plot up and right in order to place this shot directly in the middle of the target.

We can see by the hash marks that 1.5 Right and 0.5 Up are aligned with the target, so we adjust our sight to exactly these values.

Now it's time for a new shot...

Shot #2 landed a little high and right. We didn’t over-correct, this is simply a random two-shot group. The best we can do from here is center the group, so we shift the plot slightly down and left.

This setting, 1 1/4 Right and 1/4 Up, centers the two shots exactly, so this is what we want on the sight. If we had fired both shots at this setting, this is where they would have landed. This optimizes the chances of the third shot landing in the center as well.

Do you remember what setting we fired shot #2 with? Do you remember exactly where shot #1 landed on target? It doesn't matter. As soon as it's accurately plotted, we can forget those details and focus on the next shot.

So then we fire a third shot...

Whoa, this one is low. There's nothing we could have done to predict that. In the absence of any other information, we perfectly centered shots #1 and #2 and this is purely the grouping of the rifle. We lost a point, but without knowing the future, there was no better adjustment that could have saved it.

Now we have a decision to make. How should we correct after this shot? This shot landed 3/4 moa low, so maybe we should at least come up 1/2 moa?

Let's shift the plot up 1/2 moa and see how the group looks at that setting.

Well, #1 and #3 are centered pretty well, but #2 is way out the top at this sight setting. Clearly this would be an over-correction. It obvious to us, because we can visually see the entire group relative to this sight setting, but without a plot this would be an easy mistake to make.

So let's slide back down 1/4...

This looks to be the best we can do. All the shots are at least touching the second ring, and our group is fairly centered. Let's fire shot #4 at this setting.

We're in, but that was a close one. Low and right.

You might be further tempted to raise the elevation by 1/4. #3 was very low, and #4 is still low. This type of situation can cause disagreement in a team setting. However, with the plot, there is no dispute that #2 is high, and raising the group would bring #2 outside of the scoring ring. This perspective on the past will save points when your rifle is shooting a realistically sized group at long range.

Also notice that we don't need to think about the actual numbers that are going on the sight. We make a visual decision, then simply read the hash marks and make the sight match.

Let's bring it left 1/4 and shoot again.

Now we have #5 on the left edge. We are bouncing around the second scoring ring, missing the inner, but we can see that the group is filling in and #2 no longer looks out of place at the top. If we center this, we can have fairly high confidence that further shots will land inside.

How should we center this exactly? We have a few options...

Comparing the three windage options, it looks like the group in the middle is better centered. The problem is, this requires a 1/8 moa adjustment. If we have a sight with 1/8 clicks, or can hold accurately, we can take advantage of the increased precision. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing a point out either side.

You may think 1/8 clicks are pointless, but with a plot, the first time you say "ah, close enough" and lose a point just outside the line, you will know who's fault it was. The plot allows you to see exactly how the group should be centered, and 1/8 adjustments made for the right reasons will save points.

Once you are used to group centering with a plot, and fit it into your routine, shooting in light wind conditions becomes very straightforward. The plot tells you exactly what to do and you simply run through the motions, gaining a point or two over everyone else because you made statistically optimal decisions at every step along the way.

It may sound too easy, but it needs to be, because all of your brainpower will be needed for wind reading. The plot will allow you to focus entirely on interpreting the wind indicators on the range.

Let's start with a group of four shots, which is centered pretty much at zero. All of a sudden, a strong wind builds from left to right. This is a new wind condition, so we have to make a wind call.

It may sound too easy, but it needs to be, because all of your brainpower will be needed for wind reading. The plot will allow you to focus entirely on interpreting the wind indicators on the range.

Let's start with a group of four shots, which is centered pretty much at zero. All of a sudden, a strong wind builds from left to right. This is a new wind condition, so we have to make a wind call.

Instead of thinking in terms of a 1, 1.5, or 2 moa wind change, we use the plot as a visual reference and think about how the wind will shift the group as a whole. Based on experience, we imagine the round group might move as far as the dashed circle.

We slide the plot sheet to the left, to position our best guess of where we think the bullet will go into the center of the target.

Seeing the original group relative to our new setting provides a sanity check that this decision is reasonable. The amount of adjustment isn't pulled out of thin air, it is made in the context of the size of the target and the group.

With the plot in position, we read 1 3/8 Left from the windage scale, put that on the sight, and fire shot #5.

Wow! The wind was even stronger than expected. We lost a point, but it's OK. This shot tells us that the true wind condition was 2 Left, and we just have to reinterpret the wind indicators in light of this new information.

We can forget our previous wind call of 1 3/8 Left. That's old news. Now we just need to decide where the next shot will go, knowing that this one needed 2 Left.

In the absence of any other changes, we might imagine the group centered around this shot.

There are always many factors that go into the decision. Mirage, other targets, or the slightest gust of wind could nudge your estimate one way or the other. The key is to never be making wild guesses. Visualize the range of possible outcomes in the context of the plot, and then center that on the target. This will ensure that the adjustment you make is exactly as aggressive or conservative as you intend it to be.

Oops! Looks like the wind died down and we missed it. Either that, or shot #5 was just a short-lived gust of wind. We have to interpret the wind indicators on the range and try to figure it out.

Suppose we notice that the flags have lowered slightly, which explains why #6 is to the left. Now we have a story that makes sense. We might imagine a relation between the plot and the flags that looks something like this:

Until something odd happens, this is our working theory. We might refine it as a few more shots come in, but in general, we can make confident decisions keeping in mind this mapping between flag appearance and position on the plot.

Shots #7, 8, and 9 generally form a group around #6. We might have made adjustments on every shot, or we might have left the sights alone. In any case, the plot is telling us that the true wind condition is fairly stable.

After every few shots, it's important to look back at the plot with an open mind, and try to identify a pattern you might have missed. The sooner we recognize that we have a stable wind condition, the sooner we stop making micro adjustments and over-complicating the situation.

Your plot is your sidekick. It records the true wind conditions on the range, does all the calculations for you, and has a perfect memory. It will make sure you never make any truly terrible decisions. When you start to feel lost, it will be there, ready to show you the way. The plot has your back, so you can focus on everything else.

If you've been shooting for a while, you have a routine. You think a certain way, you shoot at a certain pace, and your methods are practiced. Your routine is how you avoid silly mistakes. If you really want to mess someone up in a competition, give them some advice.

Your routine is also probably pretty similar to how others around you shoot. We tend to learn through experience, and as a result, methods common in one country might be completely different than in another country.

Plotting is worth it. Trust me. Whether you are just starting out or highly successful in competition, there is no better way to improve your score. It will also help you become a better wind reader. If you plan to continue shooting for more than two years, you might devote the next year to learn to fit the plot into your routine in a way that you are comfortable with.

The primary criticism of the method is that it takes too long. It's better to shoot fast through a stable wind condition. This is absolutely true. A bunch of shots plotted on top of each other are not providing any value.

In fact, the plot can be used in many different ways. You can carefully design your shooting procedure to get the benefit of the plot without taking any time away from watching the flags and pulling the trigger.

Suppose you have been watching the flags, the mirage, and other targets, and you're pretty much ready to make a decision. What do you do?

**Method 1: Adjust the plot before you shoot.**

This is how you should learn. It takes the most time, but it's foolproof. Don't worry about speed; keep the plot accurate at all times and focus on learning how to make decisions using it. Once you are comfortable and not making mistakes, then modify your technique to improve speed.

**Method 2: Adjust the plot after you shoot.**

Make adjustments on the scope, but only update the plot after you shoot, while the target is down. This is a practical way to keep the plot in sync but not waste any time managing the plot when you should be thinking about the next shot.

This is the method I used at the Worlds. For this to work well, it's critical that you aim and fire quickly. When the wind is changing, it's more important to see the changes before you fire than to break perfect shots. Learn to adjust the scope without losing your aim. Then you can afford to click the scope before letting the shot go.

**Method 3: Hold off for small changes.**

The obvious weakness with the previous method is that it requires clicking the scope before pulling the trigger. This hybrid method lets you break quick shots without clicking the scope, while also keeping the scope in sync with the plot.

Only hold off for adjustments from the previous shot, and then immediately translate those corrections into scope clicks. The plot will remain accurate. When the wind makes a sudden change, you will have some time, so go ahead and make larger changes on the scope.

**Method 4: Hold off for almost all changes.**

If you are dead set on holding off on the target, then this method is for you.

Your routine is also probably pretty similar to how others around you shoot. We tend to learn through experience, and as a result, methods common in one country might be completely different than in another country.

Plotting is worth it. Trust me. Whether you are just starting out or highly successful in competition, there is no better way to improve your score. It will also help you become a better wind reader. If you plan to continue shooting for more than two years, you might devote the next year to learn to fit the plot into your routine in a way that you are comfortable with.

The primary criticism of the method is that it takes too long. It's better to shoot fast through a stable wind condition. This is absolutely true. A bunch of shots plotted on top of each other are not providing any value.

In fact, the plot can be used in many different ways. You can carefully design your shooting procedure to get the benefit of the plot without taking any time away from watching the flags and pulling the trigger.

Suppose you have been watching the flags, the mirage, and other targets, and you're pretty much ready to make a decision. What do you do?

- Shift the plot and turn the scope dials at the same time. Always keep the scope and the plot in sync. Never move one without the other.
- Just before you shoot, double-check the scope and the plot to make sure they still match.
- Hold center and fire. See the target go down.
- Wait for the target to come back up, and plot the shot.

This is how you should learn. It takes the most time, but it's foolproof. Don't worry about speed; keep the plot accurate at all times and focus on learning how to make decisions using it. Once you are comfortable and not making mistakes, then modify your technique to improve speed.

Make adjustments on the scope, but only update the plot after you shoot, while the target is down. This is a practical way to keep the plot in sync but not waste any time managing the plot when you should be thinking about the next shot.

- Glance at the plot as a reference, but don't touch it.
- When you decide what to do, reach up and click the scope.
- Hold center and fire. See the target go down.
- Look at the scope to verify what setting you fired with.

- Immediately shift the plot to match the scope setting that was just used.
- Plot the shot.

This is the method I used at the Worlds. For this to work well, it's critical that you aim and fire quickly. When the wind is changing, it's more important to see the changes before you fire than to break perfect shots. Learn to adjust the scope without losing your aim. Then you can afford to click the scope before letting the shot go.

The obvious weakness with the previous method is that it requires clicking the scope before pulling the trigger. This hybrid method lets you break quick shots without clicking the scope, while also keeping the scope in sync with the plot.

- Initially, the scope matches the plot.
- Reference the plot and make a decision, but don't touch it.
- Hold off for the necessary correction, and fire.
- Immediately click the scope to match the hold used, and shift the plot.
- Plot the shot.

Only hold off for adjustments from the previous shot, and then immediately translate those corrections into scope clicks. The plot will remain accurate. When the wind makes a sudden change, you will have some time, so go ahead and make larger changes on the scope.

If you are dead set on holding off on the target, then this method is for you.

Decide on your initial scope setting, in this case 1 Left, and draw a crosshair on the plot at this position. This is your aim point. Shift the plot as needed and simply aim where the crosshair is pointing.

If the wind changes and you need to adjust the scope, erase that crosshair and draw another one where you are setting the scope. You can draw a smaller X so that it is easier to erase and redraw. Technically, this method is equivalent, but you must ensure your plot sheet is printed accurately and you aim exactly where you should in both elevation and windage.

When you need to shoot fast, and the wind isn't changing much, there's no benefit to plotting every shot on top of each other. You can simply draw a circle representing a group at a specific wind condition and just keep shooting until something changes.

You can also use dots instead of numbers. This encourages you to treat every shot equally instead of valuing only the recent shots. Although, it can make it harder to follow wind changes over time.

You must be able to trust the tracking in your scope. If you suspect your scope is not tracking, go to the range and test it, and send it back for repair. Your scope is a critical piece of your equipment, and if it's not working properly, then it becomes your limiting factor whether you adjust it every shot or only every 5 shots.

The key value of the plot is to have all the relevant information you need at the worst of times. However you choose to use the plot, make sure you are getting the benefits when you need them most, and not just making it easy on yourself in the typical case.

I use a plot which is 16" wide, and I have 8 moa on either side of center to work with. Depending on the conditions you normally shoot in, you may need more or less resolution and range. The larger your grid, the easier it is to plot accurately and adjust quickly while shooting. However, if the wind changes exceed the limits of your plot sheet, it can create an awkward scenario.

Here are some real-world examples of my plot sheets. Try to follow the numbers in order and you will see how the true wind conditions were changing on the range. Imagine the adjustments that would be needed to save each point.

The sighters are labeled A and B, and the first on score is 1. Along the top is the score. Remember the actual shot impact on target is not recorded, only the true wind condition, so the score will only give you a rough idea of whether I was able to correctly adjust for each shot.

Here are some real-world examples of my plot sheets. Try to follow the numbers in order and you will see how the true wind conditions were changing on the range. Imagine the adjustments that would be needed to save each point.

The sighters are labeled A and B, and the first on score is 1. Along the top is the score. Remember the actual shot impact on target is not recorded, only the true wind condition, so the score will only give you a rough idea of whether I was able to correctly adjust for each shot.

The wind conditions can vary wildly on the range, and you never really know what's going to happen once you start shooting. There might be 3 or 4 challenges that present themselves during a string, some involving the flags, others the mirage, and others where you have to simply center and hope for the best.

The plot brings all situations down to a common reference frame. Every shot is approached the same way: decide where you think the next shot will go relative to everything that happened so far. You'll save a few points from precise group centering, a few points from better interpretation of the wind, and a lot of points from avoiding a train wreck.

If you've come this far, I hope I've convinced you to give it a shot. Start by practicing the basics. Then focus on designing a routine around the key benefits of the method, not trying to cram a plot into your existing routine.

There is only one commercially available plotting tool on the market that I am aware of (EZ-Graf) but I would not recommend it for F-class. Here is an easy way to build your own:

While these concepts may be applied in various ways, I'm convinced it will improve the level of competition in the sport over time. Approach with patience; it won't become natural overnight. After plotting for three years, the thinking process is second nature to me, but I know I have practical weaknesses in my routine and I'm still trying to find ways to optimize.

]]>There is only one commercially available plotting tool on the market that I am aware of (EZ-Graf) but I would not recommend it for F-class. Here is an easy way to build your own:

- Buy a Quartet whiteboard from Staples for $15. They come in various sizes and are fairly easy to cut and customize. They also come with magnets and a dry-erase marker/eraser. You can't have enough of these markers.
- Trace your paper plot sheets and redraw the target rings, with a thick center line, without the grid. Tape this to the whiteboard.
- On a clear plastic transparent sheet, draw hash marks around the edges to match the grid size of your plot sheet. Then cover the marks with clear tape so they won't rub off.
- The magnets are used to hold everything in place while you are shooting. The Quartet magnets are not very strong in heavy wind and it's better to use two rare earth magnets.
- When it rains, you'll need to switch to a grease pencil.

While these concepts may be applied in various ways, I'm convinced it will improve the level of competition in the sport over time. Approach with patience; it won't become natural overnight. After plotting for three years, the thinking process is second nature to me, but I know I have practical weaknesses in my routine and I'm still trying to find ways to optimize.

It was also wonderful for business. A large proportion of the 400 shooters in attendance relied on the AutoTrickler to save hours of time loading their ammo for the event, and were not shy about telling their friends. Orders were coming in non-stop, and it was great to put a face to the name of so many customers.

In this article I will recall the good, bad, and ugly of my experience. For each match, I have a visual plot indicating the rough difficulty of the conditions and my ability to deal with it. I hope it provides some insight into how I approach the game, and maybe you can learn from some of the mistakes I made along the way.

It is important to understand that the plot shows the TRUE correction required for each shot, not where the shot actually landed. It is a visualization of the difficulty of the match. My score, 73 with 5 V's out of 75 with 15 V's, indicates my ability to handle the difficult conditions.

In this example, the true wind condition on the range varied between 1 and 3.5 minutes. Shot #8, circled in blue, is quite a bit to the right of shot #7. This indicates a large change happened on the range. As you can see on the row of scores on the top, I lost a point (4, instead of a 5 or V). For the next three shots (yellow), the wind condition was stable at 3 minutes, and I scored 5, 5, and V, meaning I correctly adjusted and they were landing in the center.

Basically, if the plot indicates a large spread, it was a particularly difficult condition to shoot in. With a true wind spread of 2.5 moa, I was able to read, adjust, and shoot all but two shots (#8 and #12) within the 1 moa circle (the second smallest ring). This was one of my better results.

In the morning of the first day of the Nationals, at 700 meters I fired 73-6. While it sounds high, this is actually not a great start. My load for the Jacks is not going to shine at short range in light wind. Now I was in 62nd place, but it's only two points.

For the rest of the day the wind was much more interesting. At a tricky 800m I fired 69-3 which was good enough for 5th place, my highest single finish of any match for the week. There was a 3 minute change between my two sighters. If it wasn't for my plot, I would certainly have had a harder time with this one, as most others did.

The first 900m was a real wakeup call. My 60-1 was 112th place on that match. The wind went crazy, changing 2 minutes at a time, multiple times, and I couldn’t figure it out at all. I realized afterwards I made two major mistakes.

For one, I was taking too long between shots. The wind was changing very rapidly and I was thinking too much, letting the wind change to something completely different than what my partner just fired in. I should have, together with him, shot faster to get more value from each other’s shots.

Secondly, I was looking at the flags for wind strength but missing subtle direction changes. The wind always seemed left to right and consistent strength. I considered the flags unreadable and was trying to focus on the mirage. Usually 1 minute changes are obvious in mirage but the sun was getting low so the mirage was nearly gone.

The angle of the flags was actually swinging from 15 to 45 degrees, which is not clear from the perspective we were shooting from unless you are specifically looking for it. It just didn’t occur to me and probably cost me 10 points. I wasn’t about to make that mistake again.

For one, I was taking too long between shots. The wind was changing very rapidly and I was thinking too much, letting the wind change to something completely different than what my partner just fired in. I should have, together with him, shot faster to get more value from each other’s shots.

Secondly, I was looking at the flags for wind strength but missing subtle direction changes. The wind always seemed left to right and consistent strength. I considered the flags unreadable and was trying to focus on the mirage. Usually 1 minute changes are obvious in mirage but the sun was getting low so the mirage was nearly gone.

The angle of the flags was actually swinging from 15 to 45 degrees, which is not clear from the perspective we were shooting from unless you are specifically looking for it. It just didn’t occur to me and probably cost me 10 points. I wasn’t about to make that mistake again.

After a few beers and a good night sleep, day 2 began with a 71-4 for 20th. The wind changes were small, but quick, and I was fighting with it. I should have waited a few extra seconds to shoot at the right time with more confidence. The Jacks were helping, but I shifted around too much and talked myself out of a couple of points.

The 800m was an windy shoot, firing 69-2 for 15th. This is my favorite condition, where I can do relatively well because of my strategy. The wind changes are challenging, but not crazy, and a few points are saved by a mix of optimal group centering, and making precise, careful adjustments for good reasons.

The final 900m was very tough, starting at 4.5 minutes and trending all the way down to zero. I was able to read most of the changes, but completely missed others. The wind kept changing just as I fired. In this scenario, I should have shot more quickly after making a decision, because the wind can change while I'm staring at the crosshair. My 65-3 was 78th place, but only 5 points behind 10th place. When it's rough, it's rough for everyone.

My final position in the grand aggregate for the Nationals was 18th out of 175. That was 19 points behind first place, but only 6 points behind 5th. Having lost so many points to avoidable mistakes (that I learned from) and still being within arm’s length of the top gave me some confidence for things to come.

My final position in the grand aggregate for the Nationals was 18th out of 175. That was 19 points behind first place, but only 6 points behind 5th. Having lost so many points to avoidable mistakes (that I learned from) and still being within arm’s length of the top gave me some confidence for things to come.

On the next day was the Lum team match, in which I coached our team from New Brunswick to 7th, out of 22 teams. We finished 1 point behind Canada FTR and 2 points ahead of KP Ballistics (who I would soon be shooting with).

In case you are not familiar, coaching a 4-shooter F-class team match is not like coaching in other sports. There are two jobs: coach and shooter. The shooters bring the rifle and ammo, aim, and pull the trigger. That’s it. The coach does everything else. The coach is in the unique position to plot, read the wind and make every sight adjustment, for every shooter, all day long. There is no better way to practice long range shooting than to make 180 decisions without spending a dime on ammo.

The Worlds got off to an interesting start. The first match at 700m was pretty easy, and I fired a 75-9. I felt happy with that, until I realized it was a 58-way tie. Tough crowd.

At the 800m, I fired 71-3 which was great considering the spread in the wind. However, heavy rain rolled in and the rest of the day was cancelled, including this match because it was not yet completed for all relays, so my score was deleted.

So after the first day there were over 100 people within 1 point of the lead. Essentially nothing had happened yet.

So after the first day there were over 100 people within 1 point of the lead. Essentially nothing had happened yet.

We started at 800m this time. I shot very well here, scoring 73-5, and all 15 shots were within 1/2 minute elevation which was nice to see. This score was worth 7th place, and I was still in a tie for the lead overall.

The next 900m was pretty rough. It started out well. On #5 I thought I saw a big change, made a big correction, and it turned out to not be real, so I lost 2 points right there. This was followed by a string of 7 shots where I lost 5 points just outside the edges to small wind changes.

Then for the last three shots, the wind really did drop from 4 to 2.5, and then again down to 1. I saw those changes, and lost 2 points that could have been many more if I wasn’t paying attention. My score was 66-3 for 27th place. Apparently it was tricky for everyone and I was behind only a few points in the aggregate.

Then for the last three shots, the wind really did drop from 4 to 2.5, and then again down to 1. I saw those changes, and lost 2 points that could have been many more if I wasn’t paying attention. My score was 66-3 for 27th place. Apparently it was tricky for everyone and I was behind only a few points in the aggregate.

Next was another 900m. Something weird happened here, but having the plot helped keep things under control. There was no mirage, the sun was going down, the temperature lower, and the sight picture was clear. After having fired the previous match in the sun with heavy mirage, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my elevation.

My first sighter was 1/2 moa low, so I adjusted up, which is perfectly reasonable. My second sighter then landed 1.5 moa above the first! With a perfect sight picture, one of these shots is clearly a flier, but which one?

With nothing else to go on, I centered the two sighters on the plot and hoped for the best. My first on score was high, so I lost a point. I concluded the first sighter was the flier and proceeded to ignore it.

It was the right call, as the group ended up forming 3/4 higher than where it was from the previous string, which agreed with everyone else’s experience, and no one seemed to have an explanation.

The wind was fairly light but there were some small changes, and I fired a 69-2. This was 57th place for the match, but only 3 points behind 3rd. It actually moved me up in the aggregate.

After two days, I was only two points behind the leader, in 9th place.

My first sighter was 1/2 moa low, so I adjusted up, which is perfectly reasonable. My second sighter then landed 1.5 moa above the first! With a perfect sight picture, one of these shots is clearly a flier, but which one?

With nothing else to go on, I centered the two sighters on the plot and hoped for the best. My first on score was high, so I lost a point. I concluded the first sighter was the flier and proceeded to ignore it.

It was the right call, as the group ended up forming 3/4 higher than where it was from the previous string, which agreed with everyone else’s experience, and no one seemed to have an explanation.

The wind was fairly light but there were some small changes, and I fired a 69-2. This was 57th place for the match, but only 3 points behind 3rd. It actually moved me up in the aggregate.

After two days, I was only two points behind the leader, in 9th place.

The next morning, for the first of two 900m 20-shot matches, something truly odd happened.

I fired my first shot, a V. So far so good. Then my partner missed the target. He didn’t challenge the target marker, so I fired my second sighter, a 5. I converted both, and now I had two good shots on score. My partner turned his scope a full revolution and fired a 1 on the far right edge of the target.

His scope must have been out a full revolution, but now he was on target. So we thought we were OK.

I fired my next shot, 4. Down one point, and I couldn’t really tell why. My partner then fired another miss. How could he miss, after hitting the paper?

Keeping myself in focus, I fired another 4, but again, I couldn’t figure out why. There was a lot of time passing, and the mirage and wind were doing weird things that I was not able to see. Again, he fired another miss, and I fired yet another 4. Now I’m down 3 points. I know I'm in serious trouble.

Finally, after his fourth miss, I remembered a rule where if you fire 4 misses in a row you have to stop shooting and let your partner continue. I confirmed with the range officer, and then I was free to shoot by myself.

I knew exactly the situation I was in. I stopped plotting, stopped looking at flags, and stopped thinking. I just shot at the middle of the target, again, and again, and again, 15 times, losing only 1 more point. I finished with a 96-9.

By this time my partner had figured it out. His first sighter actually hit the target, but the marker didn’t find it, only to find that bullet hole after his second sighter, which actually missed. It really goes to show how things can go sideways fast when a few simple errors add up in the wrong way. He was allowed to finish, shooting reasonably well after he was on paper again.

I fired my first shot, a V. So far so good. Then my partner missed the target. He didn’t challenge the target marker, so I fired my second sighter, a 5. I converted both, and now I had two good shots on score. My partner turned his scope a full revolution and fired a 1 on the far right edge of the target.

His scope must have been out a full revolution, but now he was on target. So we thought we were OK.

I fired my next shot, 4. Down one point, and I couldn’t really tell why. My partner then fired another miss. How could he miss, after hitting the paper?

Keeping myself in focus, I fired another 4, but again, I couldn’t figure out why. There was a lot of time passing, and the mirage and wind were doing weird things that I was not able to see. Again, he fired another miss, and I fired yet another 4. Now I’m down 3 points. I know I'm in serious trouble.

Finally, after his fourth miss, I remembered a rule where if you fire 4 misses in a row you have to stop shooting and let your partner continue. I confirmed with the range officer, and then I was free to shoot by myself.

I knew exactly the situation I was in. I stopped plotting, stopped looking at flags, and stopped thinking. I just shot at the middle of the target, again, and again, and again, 15 times, losing only 1 more point. I finished with a 96-9.

By this time my partner had figured it out. His first sighter actually hit the target, but the marker didn’t find it, only to find that bullet hole after his second sighter, which actually missed. It really goes to show how things can go sideways fast when a few simple errors add up in the wrong way. He was allowed to finish, shooting reasonably well after he was on paper again.

Going into the final match, most of the top competition had already fired on the earlier relay an hour before. I needed a 95 to win the World Championship. Just one good match. No problem – if the winds are light. It was now all in the hands of the wind gods.

The wind wasn’t going to be easy today. After four shots, I was down 3 points. But now I had bracketed the wind. With a plot like mine, this is the best situation you can be in, having 18 shots to go and already knowing what the major extents of the wind look like.

I followed mirage speed up and down, and for the next 9 shots I made 9 straight correct adjustments. This was some fine shooting.

Then, out of nowhere, my 12th shot flew way left for a 3. I couldn't see any reason why. I adjusted partially, but lost a point on the other side as my 13th shot landed right back into the original group. So, at this point, I figured it was a one time thing, and moved on.

Then, #14 also went left, next to #12, and I lost another point. Now I am confused. Lightning doesn't strike twice, so I'm missing something.

Then I saw the wind pick up, but after having two shots on the left I played it safe. Alas, #15 went far right. From that point on, I couldn't make any sense of what was happening. Mirage speed alone wasn't working anymore, and none of the other indicators seemed to agree with where the bullets were going.

I remained focused and I didn't make any other mistakes. The plot kept me within safe limits. The only problem was that I just couldn’t find the right indicator to explain the windage errors. Something happened halfway through where things went from making sense to making no sense.

Sometimes the mirage at the target, which is what you see through a rifle scope focused at the target, moves in a different direction than mirage which is halfway down range. This closer layer of mirage is independently visible if you focus a spotting scope at a nearer distance, and it can really indicate a change that you wouldn’t otherwise see. This might have been what was happening, and now I know to watch for that.

Overall, I finished 9th in the grand aggregate, 6 points behind the leader. I learned more in this one week of shooting than the rest of the year. Technically, I can now say I’m top 10 in the world, but in reality, the race at the top was incredibly close and it easily could have gone either way for everyone in the top 15.

For the Worlds team matches, Kenny Proulx did an excellent job coaching and we finished 2nd out of 14 teams primarily due to his consistent wind reading. As well as shooting, I assisted through the process, plotting and analyzing every decision to learn and help when I could. Kenny can see the smallest changes in the mirage and make correct 1/8 wind calls on a regular basis. We followed gradual wind shifts up and down, scoring the highest team V-count as a result. It was a great experience and a great finish for the week.

If I had to do it all over, knowing what I learned from the experience, I would add a spotting scope to my kit. A spotting scope can be focused on mirage at a different distance, and after coaching a few hundred shots I know that is a critical piece of the puzzle on these large open ranges.

My plotting methods are definitely a huge advantage for consistently maintaining decent scores in variable conditions. It helps me visualize what's happening and strike a precise balance between conservative adjustments and risky wind calls. I found there was plenty of time to keep the plot up to date while my partner was firing, except in the one case where I shot by myself.

The 200 Jack bullets provided a BC advantage, as my plotted wind shifts were usually slightly less than others and I didn’t lose as many points to minor wind errors as I did at the Eastern’s. However, I was not satisfied with the accuracy of the load in general. I believe the decision to switch from the Juggernauts 3 weeks prior was the correct one, but neither load was ideal.

Over the last few weeks, I have been testing many different things as I work towards deciding what I should do for my next barrel. I’ve been hooked by the high BC bug and I’m still searching for the right combination of accuracy, velocity SD, and long range consistency to carry me into the next year of competition.

In my next article I will discuss shooting strategy. I have already written most of it, so it won't be a long wait this time.

]]>My plotting methods are definitely a huge advantage for consistently maintaining decent scores in variable conditions. It helps me visualize what's happening and strike a precise balance between conservative adjustments and risky wind calls. I found there was plenty of time to keep the plot up to date while my partner was firing, except in the one case where I shot by myself.

The 200 Jack bullets provided a BC advantage, as my plotted wind shifts were usually slightly less than others and I didn’t lose as many points to minor wind errors as I did at the Eastern’s. However, I was not satisfied with the accuracy of the load in general. I believe the decision to switch from the Juggernauts 3 weeks prior was the correct one, but neither load was ideal.

Over the last few weeks, I have been testing many different things as I work towards deciding what I should do for my next barrel. I’ve been hooked by the high BC bug and I’m still searching for the right combination of accuracy, velocity SD, and long range consistency to carry me into the next year of competition.

In my next article I will discuss shooting strategy. I have already written most of it, so it won't be a long wait this time.

As it turned out, I was fortunate enough to take home a bronze medal for 9th place in the individual FTR competition! Shooting with KP Ballistics in the Rutland 4-man team match, we achieved a 2nd place silver medal, out of 14 teams. It was an incredible experience, and a wonderful finale to a year of anticipation.

I haven’t written a blog article in quite a while, but I have a great story to share. I decided to start over and change bullets 3 weeks before the competition, and it’s been a roller coaster of load development. Let me explain why, and then you can tell me if you think I’m crazy.

I've been pretty busy over the last few months. The business continues to grow, and AutoThrow production has been ramping up quickly. There’s also a match every weekend. Burning out was a possibility, so I planned ahead. My rifle, my load, and my strategy have been stable for quite a while. I made the most of every opportunity to practice, and focused heavily on time management.

When Kenny Proulx asked me if I would shoot on his team (KP Ballistics) for the worlds, and try out his new 200 Jack bullet, I agreed, but I wasn’t expecting to let it affect my focus. In this game, the smallest detail can turn things upside down fast. Changing anything last minute seemed out of the question.

When Kenny Proulx asked me if I would shoot on his team (KP Ballistics) for the worlds, and try out his new 200 Jack bullet, I agreed, but I wasn’t expecting to let it affect my focus. In this game, the smallest detail can turn things upside down fast. Changing anything last minute seemed out of the question.

Like myself, Kenny is a Canadian shooter who developed a great product first, then started a business based on belief in that product. He has a technical mind, and shares my philosophy on the science of shooting. I decided to help him out by developing a load for the bullet, writing about my experience on this blog, and shooting the Jacks for the team match.

On paper, the Jack is a 200 grain 30-cal bullet with a BC of 0.357. Like many other shooters who have considered switching to it, I exercised cautious reluctance. Initially, there is a “too good to be true” element to it, since the BC of the new Berger 200-20x is only 0.328. How could a one-man startup from Quebec produce a higher performing bullet than Berger, from scratch?

The Eastern F-Class match was held in Ottawa in early July. It was no secret that this match served one purpose: practice for the worlds. The experience was essentially identical, from the course of fire right down to what you eat for breakfast.

I shot my standard 185 Juggernaut load. I fared pretty well overall, finishing 13th out of 40. For the most part, I was able to follow the wind changes pretty well, but I lost a lot of points just outside the corners of the 5-ring. I just couldn’t keep them in the center. Every shot felt just outside my reach in all directions, and it was frustrating.

Over the long drive home, I came to a realization. I was not on a path to winning the world championship. Somewhere along the line I had settled, and I’m losing too many points.

With a 185 Juggernaut and an SD of 6.7, I’m at a disadvantage right out of the gate. My target is just a little bit smaller than everyone else's.

Exactly three weeks before the start of the main event, I fired the first 200 Jack through my barrel.

First I calibrated the Two-Box Chrono with three Juggernauts, just to make sure it was aligned properly. Then, the first shot with the Jack at 42.5 grains read 2574, and it put a hole in the paper. I looked at the bullet hole and said to myself, “here we go”. Either this would be the answer to all of my problems, or the beginning of a colossal mistake.

First I calibrated the Two-Box Chrono with three Juggernauts, just to make sure it was aligned properly. Then, the first shot with the Jack at 42.5 grains read 2574, and it put a hole in the paper. I looked at the bullet hole and said to myself, “here we go”. Either this would be the answer to all of my problems, or the beginning of a colossal mistake.

One shot at a time, I raised the charge up to 45 grains until the BR2 primer flattened at 2730 fps. There’s my pressure limit. Surprisingly, this occurs at the same powder charge as the 185. These bullets can apparently be pushed faster than you would otherwise expect from a 200 grain bullet, which is a nice start.

Then I backed down to 44.5 grains and fired 18 shots. Here are the velocities:

- 2711, 2713, 2708, 2715, 2711, 2712, 2714, 2715, 2712
- 2709, 2717, 2714, 2707, 2711, 2709, 2720, 2711, 2718

What this string of numbers represents to me is hard to describe.

Long range performance starts and ends with velocity consistency. I have fired around 4000 rounds over chronographs in the past 3 years, all in search of consistency.

Not every rifle is capable of laser accuracy. For that, you need some luck. My load has never been particularly amazing. What I had was good enough to work with, and I focused on a process to make the best of it.

This string of 18 numbers represents potential. After all this time, my rifle may be capable of a flatter long range load than I’ve ever seen. Now I can see a path to winning.

18 shots was enough to get me excited, but this was only the beginning. I needed to find the limits and understand the patterns. As always, I fire a few shots at a time, moving through various velocities and seating depths to learn as much as possible about how the bullet works.

Over a range from 43.0 to 44.5 grains, velocities remained very consistent. At higher pressure, velocity starts to jump up, just like it does with the 185. It's comforting to find that, with either bullet, the velocity consistency profile over powder charge is similar.

Over a range from 43.0 to 44.5 grains, velocities remained very consistent. At higher pressure, velocity starts to jump up, just like it does with the 185. It's comforting to find that, with either bullet, the velocity consistency profile over powder charge is similar.

There’s no question that the 200 Jack can produce more consistent velocities overall than the 185. I would guess this has to do with the shorter bearing surface. Less friction with the barrel may have a two-fold effect of increasing muzzle velocity as well as consistency.

After realizing that the pressure/charge/velocity relationship was the same as the 185, I felt confident selecting 44.2 grains (2680 fps). At this point, a simple substitution of bullet had reduced my elevation spread due to velocity at 900 meters by 43%. I couldn’t ask for any better than that.

With velocity more than taken care of, it was time to turn my attention to group size. With the SD being so great, I don't need any better than 1/2 moa to maintain waterline at long range. Shouldn't be that hard, right?

The pattern did not seem like what I am used with the 185. Usually, I expect to see a random scatter that grows and shrinks slowly as you move toward or away from a wide optimal range. A one-hole group didn't jump out at me. Clearly this is new territory, and I have to figure out what’s going on fast.

Common wisdom is that some bullets are “easy to tune”. The 185 Juggernaut is one of those bullets. It has a tangent ogive, meaning there is a smooth transition from bearing surface into curvature. This shape will tend to straighten itself in the rifling. It also has a long bearing surface which fits the bore tightly and keeps the bullet rotating around the proper axis.

A higher BC comes at a price. If you want a bullet with a higher BC, you sacrifice some of that self-straightening and can expect a more sensitive relationship between seating depth, runout, and accuracy. The Jack is the first time I’ve used such a bullet, and I had to figure this out on the fly.

I knew the right answer was somewhere in the 5 to 25 jump range. Jamming produced fliers, and the velocities also shifted. Jumping any more than 25 turned the rifle into a shotgun. Between 5 and 25, the groups all looked the same.

The problem is that 3 or 5-shot groups are very misleading when the best load is not obvious. The situation is clear - I need to fire another 50 rounds or so to narrow in on the optimal jump. Normally this is not a problem, but I was running out of time.

Over the next two weekends I travelled to matches in Nova Scotia and PEI, firing 100-150 rounds mostly between 300 and 600 meters, all at the wrong seating depth. I took a guess, and each weekend was a slap in the face.

Some of the groups were excellent, but I also lost a lot of points I shouldn't have. Wind conditions were light, so there were only a few points between the leaders. At the longer distances where velocity starts to matter I would catch up relative to the others, but not enough to win.

The brass I was using for these matches was brand new, as my intention was to fire-form 400 to prepare them for the worlds. They had been expanded and neck turned, and there is a lot of runout at this point, up to 4 thou at the neck. With Juggernauts that’s not a problem, but I knew the Jack may be more sensitive to straightness.

Some of the groups were excellent, but I also lost a lot of points I shouldn't have. Wind conditions were light, so there were only a few points between the leaders. At the longer distances where velocity starts to matter I would catch up relative to the others, but not enough to win.

The brass I was using for these matches was brand new, as my intention was to fire-form 400 to prepare them for the worlds. They had been expanded and neck turned, and there is a lot of runout at this point, up to 4 thou at the neck. With Juggernauts that’s not a problem, but I knew the Jack may be more sensitive to straightness.

I had numerous people tell me I was crazy to change bullets now, and should get my head screwed back on before the worlds. It was a rough time, but I knew what I was doing.

I had numerous people tell me I was crazy to change bullets now, and should get my head screwed back on before the worlds. It was a rough time, but I knew what I was doing.

What would you do? If you had to choose one load right now, which bullet would you use?

This is not an easy question to answer. I thought about it for some time, and ran some calculations to prove the comparison.

On one hand, the Juggernauts produce less random dispersion, and in light wind conditions I can rely on the last point of impact as a good read of the true wind. The problem with this is that there are 200 other people shooting excellent rifles. If the wind changes are light, somebody is going to clean every target, and probably win the match by 1 point. I have to expect difficult wind conditions to have any chance of winning.

Most people would look at the groups above and say that's terrible, there's no way it could work well at long range. In fact, that's not true. Since my chrono is capable of measuring it, I know the SD is very low, and this tells me the groups are going to stay pretty much the same size as they travel to 900 meters.

If you are able to understand a load in terms of dispersion and velocity indepedently, then you can completely predict its performance at any distance.

This is not an easy question to answer. I thought about it for some time, and ran some calculations to prove the comparison.

On one hand, the Juggernauts produce less random dispersion, and in light wind conditions I can rely on the last point of impact as a good read of the true wind. The problem with this is that there are 200 other people shooting excellent rifles. If the wind changes are light, somebody is going to clean every target, and probably win the match by 1 point. I have to expect difficult wind conditions to have any chance of winning.

Most people would look at the groups above and say that's terrible, there's no way it could work well at long range. In fact, that's not true. Since my chrono is capable of measuring it, I know the SD is very low, and this tells me the groups are going to stay pretty much the same size as they travel to 900 meters.

If you are able to understand a load in terms of dispersion and velocity indepedently, then you can completely predict its performance at any distance.

Adjacent to where I always test there is a 1000 meter tree tunnel, with electronic target, that hardly ever gets used. It's great for shooting for fun, but for load development it's not nearly as useful as a Two-Box Chrono and a piece of paper at 100 meters.

The major advantage of the Jacks is 25% reduced wind drift compared to the 185. It’s just too much of an advantage to pass up, and if the wind is particularly difficult, as it usually is in Ottawa, it trumps all other concerns.

The practical advantage of a higher BC in difficult wind is that the wind changes seem a lot less for you than for everyone else. Every time you just catch the edge of the 5-ring, you would otherwise have lost that point. Those points add up quick. That’s all there is to it.

Of course, if I could solve the dispersion problem I would have the best of both worlds. I just had to run some calculations to prove to myself that I wasn’t crazy to abandon the devil I know.

The day after losing the PEI provincial by two points, I went to the range to figure this out once and for all.

I had been shooting 25, 20, then 17 jump to date, noting slight improvement as I moved closer to the lands. Process of elimination told me 15 jump was my last hope.

I had been shooting 25, 20, then 17 jump to date, noting slight improvement as I moved closer to the lands. Process of elimination told me 15 jump was my last hope.

The groups were pretty rough. For the first time, I felt scared. I was running out of time, but more importantly, out of numbers to try.

I pulled out all my targets and looked at them very critically. 5 jump was bad, this is clear. I had fired all kinds of decent groups at 15 and 20 jump, and 15 was better which is why I eventually settled on 17.

But wait! I had only fired 3 shots at 10 jump. I had no other data inside of 5 and 15 jump. I had been steering away from it based on those 3 shots alone.

This is not the first time I’ve made this mistake. I will sometimes get steered in a direction based on a preliminary result and then solidify an assumption in my mind over time, based on no additional data. As much as I try to keep an open mind, interpreting results and deciding where to go next is hard to do objectively.

Now we're talking! In that moment, I suddenly understood exactly what was happening. At least, I had a theory that made sense of everything I have been seeing.

The bullet clearly doesn’t want to be jumped. In general, brass expands and releases the bullet at about 2500 psi, and the bullet has moved only 1 thou at this point. “Jumping” is literally that; the bullet is unsupported. If it does not straighten itself, that bullet is in for a shaky trip down the barrel.

However, it also doesn’t like to be jammed, or even too close to touching the lands. Velocity increases by around 10 fps, and the groups are not good. I can’t explain why, and it doesn’t seem to happen with the Juggernauts. From 8 jump up to 30, the velocity has settled.

So the answer is simply to shoot from 8 to 12 jump, where the velocity is stable, and the bullet is straightest.

I loaded the last 10 primed cases I had at 10 jump. In the time it took me to load, a thunderstorm had rolled in. The shack I was loading in was shaking, the sky was dark, and it began to pour rain hard. I needed to shoot! I covered my rifle and ammo as best I could and proceeded to fire my final groups.

The wind was incredible. The first 5 shots are in order, left to right. The wind blew the first shot almost an inch to the left and then progressively slowed down. But elevation was holding steady!

It's not one hole. It doesn't have to be. As long as these groups are repeatable, with the incredibly low SD, I know that group will maintain at long range. In any case, it's the best I have so far.

If you can fire 40 shots within 1/2" at 100 yards, and the SD is 5.0 or better, with a good bullet, you have a load capable of winning the F-class world championship. That's all I needed to see.

On Sunday, I loaded 500 rounds at 44.2 grains, 10 jump, as well as some backup Juggernauts just in case. Thanks to the Auto-Trickler I could do it all in one sitting. Then I packed the car and headed to Ottawa the next morning.

The moment the last ammo box closes, the time to think about load development is over. Competition presents entirely different challenges. The only thing within my control now is where the barrel is pointed when I pull the trigger. I have to focus on thinking clearly, staying relaxed, and processing as much information as I can.

I’ll save the story of my experience in Ottawa for another article next week! I’ll break down my shooting process, plotting methods, wind reading, where I lost points, and what I learned that I will be carrying forward in the future.

All of these questions have answers. Last week I built a statistics calculator, but there were no instructions. This article concludes the series on statistics with an explanation of my iterative load development philosophy, and how to practically apply simple statistics to make sense of your test results.

If you haven't read my previous articles, this one will be very helpful to read first.

Most of the time, we shoot groups of 3 to 5 shots each. Intuitively, we know that one group doesn't mean much, so we look at the big picture to understand if there is a conclusion to be drawn. We observe many groups at the same time, and try to get a feeling for whether they seem 'good' or 'bad'.

We can't put a number on a feeling. Our brains are wired to make simple, emotional, yes or no decisions. In a split second, we evaluate what we see, form an opinion, and then resist to change it. This is great for human survival (and makes for lively forum threads), but not so useful for tuning a rifle. To get the most from your efforts, you must train yourself to think objectively.

The key to finding a good load before you burn out your barrel (or your patience) is iterative testing. Try something, make a statistical conclusion from that test, and move on to try something else. If you can measure powder and seat bullets at the range, you can work through the entire process in one day. The cost of portable reloading gear will pay itself off almost immediately.

The first step is to identify what doesn't work. If you fire 5 shots and the group is big, you can pretty confidently rule out this load. The ES, SD, and your intuition would all agree - better steer clear of this one.

Why? It's only 5 shots! The reasoning is that the relation between a sample and its population is asymmetric. It's more likely that a bad load will produce a small group than it is for a good load to produce a large group. We exploit this and it's why iteration works.

The 90% confidence intervals for a 5-shot group are -35% and +137%. This diagram shows how a large 5-shot group is very likely to be bad, so you can rule it out. However, a small 5-shot group could be good or average. It's not so easy to prove a load as it is to disprove it.

We must speak in terms of probabilities. No test result is definite. If you have one large 5 shot group, it is within the realm of possibility that those 5 shots were extremely unlucky and the best load for your rifle is hidden within it. However, statistically, that chance of that is low, and you would have a greater return on investment trying something else.

If you've tried everything you can think of, and all you have is a paper target full of big groups, then it's time to take a second look at everything else. Are you shooting well? Is your scope tightly mounted? Is there something wrong with your barrel? Try a different bullet / primer / powder. Go back to the basics. It only takes one problem, and it's better to find it sooner than later.

To be clear, this process is not contrary to ladder testing, OCW, or any other load development technique. All data is just data, and it should be analyzed statistically. The objective with iterative testing is to only keep testing a load that has not yet already been ruled out. This is a simple matter of efficiency.

Go ahead and fire some groups, and use the ES to judge them. Try whatever comes to mind. There's nothing wrong with this. You are just looking for promising leads. When you think you've found something good, fire a couple more of the same load and see if your fortune repeats itself. Then proceed with verification.

Once you happen across a load that appears promising, **don't stop there**. This is a mistake we make all too often. If you don't consider statistical confidence, you are setting yourself up for a disaster, or worse, a year's worth of mediocre performance that could so easily be avoided. Trust me... I speak from experience on both counts, and it's a hard lesson.

This is where we break out the statistics. The objective is to put a number on the chance that this load will work again in the future. For that, we calculate an SD and a confidence interval, which you can read about in my previous article. The more shots in the sample, the smaller the confidence interval, and the more likely the sample SD is to match the true SD of the load.

SD vs ES is an age-old debate. You may be surprised at my position on this. I'll use whatever method gets the job done. ES, SD, and confidence intervals are tools in the toolbox and value comes from knowing which to use when.

Here's a rule of thumb:

How many shots do you need? Well, you need to choose a confidence level that you are happy with. If you choose 85% confidence, then you are accepting that there's a 85% chance that the true performance of the rifle is within the interval we are about to calculate. It could be worse, or it could be better. The confidence level you are comfortable with is a personal trade-off between accepting some risk that your results are not accurate vs. investing more time and money to keep testing.

This is where we break out the statistics. The objective is to put a number on the chance that this load will work again in the future. For that, we calculate an SD and a confidence interval, which you can read about in my previous article. The more shots in the sample, the smaller the confidence interval, and the more likely the sample SD is to match the true SD of the load.

SD vs ES is an age-old debate. You may be surprised at my position on this. I'll use whatever method gets the job done. ES, SD, and confidence intervals are tools in the toolbox and value comes from knowing which to use when.

Here's a rule of thumb:

- Use extreme spread to rule out a bad load with 5 shots.
- Use standard deviation to prove a good load with confidence.

How many shots do you need? Well, you need to choose a confidence level that you are happy with. If you choose 85% confidence, then you are accepting that there's a 85% chance that the true performance of the rifle is within the interval we are about to calculate. It could be worse, or it could be better. The confidence level you are comfortable with is a personal trade-off between accepting some risk that your results are not accurate vs. investing more time and money to keep testing.

For group dispersion, we are interested in measuring the distance of each and every shot from the natural center of the load. You can do this is at home, with a ruler. The natural center is not your point of aim, or the center of each group, but the center of an imagined overlay group that includes all shots at that load. The distance from this point to each shot, in MOA, are your data points. Maybe someday there'll be an app for that (wink wink).

In practice, I don't recommend measuring each and every bullet hole of every group you fire to the millimeter. This is what I did with Damon Cali's data, because I had 35 essentially random groups to analyze and I could not comprehend it otherwise. If you test iteratively, you will narrow in on a good load, and you may not need such a thorough process at the verification stage.

What I do recommend is visualizing overlay groups. As I demonstrated through this experience, an overlay group allows you to view all the data without the bias of which shots were in which group. If you can construct these quickly, it can save you from heading in the wrong direction. Understand that groups are normally distributed, and that you should expect a tight cluster in the center. Good overlays will look a lot better than bad overlays, and it's easier to tell the difference by eye with 20+ shots.

In practice, I don't recommend measuring each and every bullet hole of every group you fire to the millimeter. This is what I did with Damon Cali's data, because I had 35 essentially random groups to analyze and I could not comprehend it otherwise. If you test iteratively, you will narrow in on a good load, and you may not need such a thorough process at the verification stage.

What I do recommend is visualizing overlay groups. As I demonstrated through this experience, an overlay group allows you to view all the data without the bias of which shots were in which group. If you can construct these quickly, it can save you from heading in the wrong direction. Understand that groups are normally distributed, and that you should expect a tight cluster in the center. Good overlays will look a lot better than bad overlays, and it's easier to tell the difference by eye with 20+ shots.

With an overlay group, you can estimate the SD as 1/4 of the extreme spread, as long as the group appears to be roughly circular and normally distributed. If you have a flier way outside the group, this would skew the ES more so than the SD so it should be weighted less. While crude, this will allow you to calculate confidence intervals.

Once you have a SD and a number of shots, even if it's rough, you have everything you need to calculate a confidence interval. This interval, at your given confidence level, tells you the range of SD that this load is actually within. The true performance is a single number, you just can't know it exactly. If you fired more shots, you would estimate it more accurately. How many shots you need depends on how small you would like that confidence interval to be.

Proper statistical measurement is much more important for shot velocity. At 600 yards and beyond, velocity variation dominates, and reducing your velocity SD will have a significant impact on your performance. A tight group is nice to have, but at long range, it pales in comparison to your velocity variation.

Minor changes in your load can have an impact on your velocity SD. Every time I go to the range, I record my velocities, and I may notice the SD has been creeping up over the past few months. This prompts me to think about what may be different now - whether it's a new lot of powder, the cases are getting old, or a temperature shift in the seasons. Managing your SD requires maintenance, and it's time well spent.

The Two-Box Chrono was designed specifically for this purpose. It reduces random error to insignificant levels. Less error means a lower SD, and a smaller confidence interval. You'll notice more consistent SD measurements day to day, detect changes in your SD sooner, and be able to observe the effect of changing something with less shots fired (as I will show below).

To calculate the SD of a sample, simply plug the numbers from the chronograph into the calculator. The sample SD is the actual SD of this group, while the confidence interval is the likely range of SD of your load itself (given only this sample as input).

If you have more data, you can shrink your confidence interval and get a better estimate of your true load SD. The most important takeaway is to understand that the SD has a confidence interval in the first place. Just because you fire 20 shots and measure an SD doesn't mean you will get the same SD next time.

Suppose you fire ten 5-shot groups, all at different powder charges and seating depths. 3 of the groups are good, so you repeat them. Now you have 65 shots on paper, but only 5 or 10 shots of any one scenario from which to do analysis on.

With only 10 shots at a given load, you can't really draw a statistical conclusion, because the confidence intervals are too large. However, you have fired 65 shots, and if they could all be considered, that would be plenty of data to give you some confidence in.

The problem is they are not equal. However, if we apply some assumptions, we can go ahead and group them, and take advantage of the combined data.

With only 10 shots at a given load, you can't really draw a statistical conclusion, because the confidence intervals are too large. However, you have fired 65 shots, and if they could all be considered, that would be plenty of data to give you some confidence in.

The problem is they are not equal. However, if we apply some assumptions, we can go ahead and group them, and take advantage of the combined data.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I operate with a working assumption that seating depth will not affect velocity SD, and powder charge will not affect group size, within reasonable limits. It's just a theory, but it hasn't let me down yet.

With this assumption, you can combine all the data at one powder charge, regardless of seating depth, into a measurement of velocity SD. You can also consider all the groups at one seating depth as the same group, and overlay them visually. Remember that the assumption is just a theory, but go ahead and take advantage of the free statistics if you think it helps you iterate towards the best load.

This working model also allows you to focus your efforts. If your groups are large, try changing seating depth, not powder charge. If your velocity SD is large, try changing powder charge, not seating depth. If you try 10 different powder charges all at the same seating depth, you may end up with 10 bad groups and all that data is obsolete as soon as you realize seating depth was the problem. This is what happened to Damon Cali, and also what happened to me.

There's another trick to combining data. As you increase powder charge, velocity will increase predictably. For me, it's about 50 fps / grain. If you fire groups at slightly different powder charges, you can combine them into a single sample as long as you adjust the data accordingly.

For example, to combine a group fired at 44.0 grains with one fired at 44.2, I might add 5 fps to the first group and subtract 5 fps from the second. This would provide twice as many data points representing 44.1, and allow higher confidence on that measurement.

Up to this point, we have focused on measuring individual samples. Measuring improvements on the other hand, is about comparing two samples. We have two samples, and we need to know if they are statistically different. More precisely, how likely it is that the two samples came from different populations.

If you fire two groups, they will be different. Always. The question is how different. Are they different enough? Would that difference be repeatable? Is it enough warrant a change in the load?

With statistical testing, we can ask questions like:

To compare the averages of two samples, we use the T-test. To compare the variation between two samples, we use the F-test. These are magical formulas that are quite complicated, and I only understand enough to build a calculator that gives the right answer.

To compare two samples, you need two things:

You need a lot of data. Beg, borrow, and steal data from other groups. For example, if you shoot a ladder at 10 different charges, you may only have 5 shots at each charge, and you can make no statistical comparisons considering each group as independent. However, if you combine data, may be able to say that everything from 44 to 45 is better than from 45 to 46.

Here's an example. Suppose I fire 10-shot groups at 44 and 45 grains. I measure an SD of 6 for one and 8 for the other. Does this represent a significant improvement?

If you fire two groups, they will be different. Always. The question is how different. Are they different enough? Would that difference be repeatable? Is it enough warrant a change in the load?

With statistical testing, we can ask questions like:

- Is 45.0 grains better than 44.0?
- Is 30 jump better than 10 jump?
- Should I neck size or full length size?
- Does this primer produce a smaller SD than that primer?
- Is this new lot of powder hotter than the old one?

To compare the averages of two samples, we use the T-test. To compare the variation between two samples, we use the F-test. These are magical formulas that are quite complicated, and I only understand enough to build a calculator that gives the right answer.

To compare two samples, you need two things:

- Lots of data in each sample.
- A large relative difference between them.

You need a lot of data. Beg, borrow, and steal data from other groups. For example, if you shoot a ladder at 10 different charges, you may only have 5 shots at each charge, and you can make no statistical comparisons considering each group as independent. However, if you combine data, may be able to say that everything from 44 to 45 is better than from 45 to 46.

Here's an example. Suppose I fire 10-shot groups at 44 and 45 grains. I measure an SD of 6 for one and 8 for the other. Does this represent a significant improvement?

Answer: No. There's only a 59.6% chance these groups are from different populations, so we've learned very little. Two random 10-shot groups with SDs of 6 and 8 would occur fairly often even from the same load. The confidence intervals are overlapped. We need more data.

Now we can ask the question, how many shots do we need to fire to prove such a difference with 90% confidence?

Now we can ask the question, how many shots do we need to fire to prove such a difference with 90% confidence?

Answer: 35 shots for each group. If you relax your confidence level to 75%, you can get away with 18 shots per group, but you are gambling. It's a question of return on investment. How much is more confidence worth to you? You might get lucky, or you might find yourself back at square one next week.

Suppose I've been shooting all year and my elevation is pretty good, but maybe it could be better. Maybe with another day at the range, I could tweak the powder charge, or try small primers. My SD has been around 7 all year, so as a goal, I hope to measure a 16% improvement in SD, from 7 to 6.

I'd like to have 90% confidence in the result. After all, I plan to shoot about 800 rounds of this load in July and August alone (3 provincial matches plus the Nationals and Worlds for F-class). It might take a full day to perform this test, so I'll aim to only have to do this once.

Is it worth my time to try?

We can predict what it would require to find this result, even before going to the range. Let's make sure we bring enough ammo so that it's even possible to achieve this. Otherwise it's a doomed exercise.

So the question to ask the stats calculator: if I fire two groups, and one measured an SD of 6, and the other 7, how many shots must those groups have to be 90% confident the difference is real?

I'd like to have 90% confidence in the result. After all, I plan to shoot about 800 rounds of this load in July and August alone (3 provincial matches plus the Nationals and Worlds for F-class). It might take a full day to perform this test, so I'll aim to only have to do this once.

Is it worth my time to try?

We can predict what it would require to find this result, even before going to the range. Let's make sure we bring enough ammo so that it's even possible to achieve this. Otherwise it's a doomed exercise.

So the question to ask the stats calculator: if I fire two groups, and one measured an SD of 6, and the other 7, how many shots must those groups have to be 90% confident the difference is real?

The answer: 116 shots. From each group. Well that's not realistic. It kind of puts things in perspective when you look at it that way. I don't really feel like shooting 232 shots just on a hunch that I can make an improvement.

So therein lies the problem facing many long range shooters. You find a decent load quickly, but making an improvement is statistically very difficult. You can try to get lucky again, but it's a cycle of trial and error.

Now let's consider the chronograph. Random error increases the SD of both groups, decreasing the relative difference between them, and therefore requiring more data to make a comparison. With a more precise chrono, maybe we can ease the pain.

Let's say I was using a chronograph with an inherent SD of 3.5 fps, which is reasonable number based on Applied Ballistics' testing of the Magnetospeed, Chrony, and others. Most shots would be within +/- 7 fps.

So therein lies the problem facing many long range shooters. You find a decent load quickly, but making an improvement is statistically very difficult. You can try to get lucky again, but it's a cycle of trial and error.

Now let's consider the chronograph. Random error increases the SD of both groups, decreasing the relative difference between them, and therefore requiring more data to make a comparison. With a more precise chrono, maybe we can ease the pain.

Let's say I was using a chronograph with an inherent SD of 3.5 fps, which is reasonable number based on Applied Ballistics' testing of the Magnetospeed, Chrony, and others. Most shots would be within +/- 7 fps.

The random error SD of 3.5 actually means my observed SD of 6 would have to come from a load with a true SD of 4.87. The ammo is always a little better than the chronograph says it is, because it can only add error over time. It would also increase a true SD of 6.06 to 7. That means, to observe the same 16% improvement at the chrono (7 to 6), my ammo would actually have to improve by 24% (6.06 to 4.87)!

If I had a perfect chrono with no random error, I would need to fire only 59 shots of each group to see the 16% improvement I am hoping for, not 116. That's still a lot, but it's half the shooting.

Now let's say we used the Two-Box Chrono with an error SD of 0.5 fps. That same load with true performance of 4.87 would be observed as 4.90, and a load at 6.06 is observed as 6.08. The number of shots required in this case would be 60. Just one more shot.

It's hard to make an improvement in a good load. The relative differences are small and a lot of shooting is required. Fine tuning is possible, but only with a good chronograph and an understanding of the statistics that are controlling your fate.

Play with the calculator to get a feel for what difference in SD with what number of shots will give you a positive result at the confidence level you are comfortable with. You'll see there are realistic scenarios that produce 50% confidence or less, where you'd be better off flipping a coin.

When I learned how to use the F-test I knew it was the key to making sense of the madness, to avoid going to range and coming home with a non-result. It completely changed my perspective on how to approach and plan tests.

Any test where variance is measured and compared, where confidence is not considered, could be very misleading. About 99.9% of information you find online falls into this category. Now you know how to make sense of whether it's really meaningful.

I used to load 10 or 20 shots of two, three or four different scenarios to compare. The results seemed significant at the time, and I thought I was learning things about reloading that I couldn't find answers to elsewhere. I've punched thousands of holes in paper and filled two books with test results.

Now I know that all I was doing was learning how little I knew about what I was doing.

Now, I go to the range with a plan that has a reasonable chance of success. I test iteratively, looking for quick clear answers most of the time, but knowing that easy answers are just suggestions. I never say anything for sure until I'm ready to test it properly. I limit my extensive testing to when I have a very specific goal in mind.

Any test where variance is measured and compared, where confidence is not considered, could be very misleading. About 99.9% of information you find online falls into this category. Now you know how to make sense of whether it's really meaningful.

I used to load 10 or 20 shots of two, three or four different scenarios to compare. The results seemed significant at the time, and I thought I was learning things about reloading that I couldn't find answers to elsewhere. I've punched thousands of holes in paper and filled two books with test results.

Now I know that all I was doing was learning how little I knew about what I was doing.

Now, I go to the range with a plan that has a reasonable chance of success. I test iteratively, looking for quick clear answers most of the time, but knowing that easy answers are just suggestions. I never say anything for sure until I'm ready to test it properly. I limit my extensive testing to when I have a very specific goal in mind.

Keep it simple. I only care about my group size and SD for one rifle, for one summer, with one powder, one bullet, and one primer. My reloading procedure has been basically fixed for 2 years. I focus my energy on charge and jump and keep everything else constant. Otherwise... the madness will return.

Wind reading and shooting strategy is also important. It is something I focus on at different times. Load development is homework. The more you put into it, the easier it is to follow the wind (because the rifle is more accurate), the easier it is to learn the flags, and of course the less points you lose to elevation.

Please feel free to post any questions in the comments. Good shooting!

You can use this with velocities or point of impact measurements. Read the previous blog article first to understand how the population matters, and next week I will cover many example scenarios to show how these calculations can save you from wasting time and ammo in the future.

I have been very busy lately, with development of the new AutoThrow trickler add-on nearing completion and also creating a video for the Two-Box Chrono. I promise... I'll write the new article next week. In the meantime, run some of your old data through the calculator, and have fun with it!

He fired 175 shots on paper, and visualized the 5-shot group sizes as a contour plot to determine the optimal charge and seating depth. As you can read in his article, it is an effective way to identify the smallest group and any trends.

I thought it would benefit from a measure of statistical confidence. To rely on the results, you need to know you've fired enough shots. Further, I thought by analyzing each shot individually, rather than the ES of each 5-shot group, it might lead to some deeper insights.

I contacted him for the raw data and performed my own analysis, then wrote a guest blog article, which you can read over at his site, Bison Ballistics. In this article, I use many statistical tools to show how a deeper view of data can lead to unexpected discoveries and a more accurate load.

This opportunity presented itself so I took a short detour from my plan to show you exactly how to apply these concepts for yourself. You can look forward to that article very soon!

]]>I contacted him for the raw data and performed my own analysis, then wrote a guest blog article, which you can read over at his site, Bison Ballistics. In this article, I use many statistical tools to show how a deeper view of data can lead to unexpected discoveries and a more accurate load.

This opportunity presented itself so I took a short detour from my plan to show you exactly how to apply these concepts for yourself. You can look forward to that article very soon!

However, you can predict the most likely outcome, and precisely describe the chances of it being high or low, left or right, fast or slow.

Many people shy away from statistics because, well, math. It seems complicated and unnecessary. On the contrary. It is a way of thinking that hones your intuition and helps you make better decisions.

Using no equations whatsoever, I'm going to show you how to think statistically about every shot you fire. Just by understanding the relationship between a sample and a population, you can learn how to predict the future.

Many people shy away from statistics because, well, math. It seems complicated and unnecessary. On the contrary. It is a way of thinking that hones your intuition and helps you make better decisions.

Using no equations whatsoever, I'm going to show you how to think statistically about every shot you fire. Just by understanding the relationship between a sample and a population, you can learn how to predict the future.

Suppose I was to roll one six-sided die, once. What will be the outcome?

You could take a wild guess, but you would most likely be wrong. You could also say "I have no idea", but of course there is a better answer.

You could take a wild guess, but you would most likely be wrong. You could also say "I have no idea", but of course there is a better answer.

We know the result will be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, and (unless the die is loaded) the chance of each result is equal. So the most accurate response would be to list the possible outcomes and probabilities.

You might say that I'm asking the wrong question. If I were to ask how the die outcomes are generated in the first place, then the answer is clearly "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, with equal probability".

This is called a "uniform" distribution because the chance of each possible outcome is equal.

Now it doesn't matter if I roll the die or not. We can now describe every die roll to ever take place in the future, because we understand the underlying mechanic. And that's a lot more interesting than the outcome of any one roll.

You might say that I'm asking the wrong question. If I were to ask how the die outcomes are generated in the first place, then the answer is clearly "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, with equal probability".

This is called a "uniform" distribution because the chance of each possible outcome is equal.

Now it doesn't matter if I roll the die or not. We can now describe every die roll to ever take place in the future, because we understand the underlying mechanic. And that's a lot more interesting than the outcome of any one roll.

Each time I roll the die, I get a result. The future is transformed into the past. What was once a distribution of probabilities is now a specific value. This is a "sample".

Each die roll is independent of any other roll from the past or future. Contrary to the belief of many gamblers, a die doesn't change how it works just because I rolled it a few seconds ago. The die just doesn't care.

You can measure a sample. A data set has an average and an extreme spread, with formulas that involve plugging each number into a calculator. This is all very straightforward and tedious.

What we really want to do is predict the future. The random process itself, the underlying distribution that samples are taken from, is called the "population". This is what actually controls our fate.

True power comes from measuring and describing the population. If we understand the population, we can predict what future samples will most likely be. Not each sample (that would be nice), but the expected distribution of all future samples.

Each die roll is independent of any other roll from the past or future. Contrary to the belief of many gamblers, a die doesn't change how it works just because I rolled it a few seconds ago. The die just doesn't care.

You can measure a sample. A data set has an average and an extreme spread, with formulas that involve plugging each number into a calculator. This is all very straightforward and tedious.

What we really want to do is predict the future. The random process itself, the underlying distribution that samples are taken from, is called the "population". This is what actually controls our fate.

True power comes from measuring and describing the population. If we understand the population, we can predict what future samples will most likely be. Not each sample (that would be nice), but the expected distribution of all future samples.

If we were to roll the die a few times, we would get some random numbers. The die will probably produce one outcome more often than another. It's very unlikely that 6 rolls will produce exactly 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Just as each die roll is unpredictable, a small sample does not always represent the population.

However, as we keep rolling, the collection begins to take shape. Only then is it safe to conclude that the underlying distribution is uniform. If you aren't convinced, you can always keep rolling and see what happens.

Your rifle also has a random process that drives it. It's not as simple as a uniform distribution, but it does have a way about it that can be described. If the rifle could talk, it might tell you what that is.

The rifle talks to us by generating samples at $1 a pop. If we want to know how it truly works, we need to play its game. With enough samples, we can try to measure the population, but it can be expensive.

Have you ever fired a few groups and concluded that your rifle is accurate or your velocity spread is low? Have you ever compared two loads to see which was better? Have you ever given someone else reloading advice based on your test results?

If so, then you inferred something about the population from a sample. We have all done this. Whether you drew the correct conclusion or not depends on statistics, not how desperately you wish for a positive result. The rifle just doesn't care.

The rifle talks to us by generating samples at $1 a pop. If we want to know how it truly works, we need to play its game. With enough samples, we can try to measure the population, but it can be expensive.

Have you ever fired a few groups and concluded that your rifle is accurate or your velocity spread is low? Have you ever compared two loads to see which was better? Have you ever given someone else reloading advice based on your test results?

If so, then you inferred something about the population from a sample. We have all done this. Whether you drew the correct conclusion or not depends on statistics, not how desperately you wish for a positive result. The rifle just doesn't care.

The first step of measuring the population is to have a way to describe it. The population is not just a number - it is a distribution of all possible future outcomes and probabilities. How can we define this in some meaningful, concise way?

With a uniform distribution, the extreme range makes sense. You only need about 30 rolls to be 99% confident you have correctly found the range 1 to 6, and this completely describes the population.

Unfortunately, rifles are not so simple. The energy of the primer, case volume, energy of the powder, weight of the bullet, and neck tension all affect the initial launch of the bullet. The dynamics of the barrel, bullet spin, and how the bullet was engraved affect the initial trajectory. After leaving the barrel, the bullet tips and turns and then stabilizes in a new direction, and then is further disturbed by air fluctuations.

With a uniform distribution, the extreme range makes sense. You only need about 30 rolls to be 99% confident you have correctly found the range 1 to 6, and this completely describes the population.

Unfortunately, rifles are not so simple. The energy of the primer, case volume, energy of the powder, weight of the bullet, and neck tension all affect the initial launch of the bullet. The dynamics of the barrel, bullet spin, and how the bullet was engraved affect the initial trajectory. After leaving the barrel, the bullet tips and turns and then stabilizes in a new direction, and then is further disturbed by air fluctuations.

It's fair to say there's a lot of random variables at play, each with their own mysterious random processes. How can we ever begin to describe the nature of the overall population that controls point of impact, or even just muzzle velocity?

It turns out nature gave us a trick. We start by doubling down on our die analogy.

If you've played board games, you may know that 7 is the most popular roll when adding two dice. The outcome of one die is uniform between 1 and 6, but it's somehow more likely that two dice add to 7 than any other number. Why? Because there's more ways to get 7 than any other (1+6, 2+5, and 3+4).

It turns out nature gave us a trick. We start by doubling down on our die analogy.

If you've played board games, you may know that 7 is the most popular roll when adding two dice. The outcome of one die is uniform between 1 and 6, but it's somehow more likely that two dice add to 7 than any other number. Why? Because there's more ways to get 7 than any other (1+6, 2+5, and 3+4).

With only two dice, we see that the probability near the mean is higher than at the extremes. Even though both parts are uniform, the combination is not.

With three dice, the distribution starts to look like the well-known bell curve. This is the aptly named "normal distribution".

With three dice, the distribution starts to look like the well-known bell curve. This is the aptly named "normal distribution".

The more independent random variables in the system, the more it follows this distribution. It doesn't take much complexity for the bell curve to emerge, and it's no coincidence that almost every random process in nature works like this. It's simply how the math works out.

A normal distribution is an ideal that fits most data most of the time, but it does not represent the nature of extreme events. Real world processes generally have limits and edge cases controlled by unpredictable factors that happen very rarely.

For normally distributed sample data, the extreme spread is a misleading measure of the variation because it ignores the bulk of the data and focuses entirely on whether extreme events happened to occur in that sample.

We should instead be focusing on describing the results that are most likely to happen again. We need a metric which best represents the variation that we care about describing, and takes all the data into account. This is the "standard deviation" (SD).

For normally distributed sample data, the extreme spread is a misleading measure of the variation because it ignores the bulk of the data and focuses entirely on whether extreme events happened to occur in that sample.

We should instead be focusing on describing the results that are most likely to happen again. We need a metric which best represents the variation that we care about describing, and takes all the data into account. This is the "standard deviation" (SD).

The standard deviation defines variation by describing where most the samples taken from a population should be. From the mean, about 2/3 of future samples should fall within +/- 1 SD, and 95% within +/- 2 SD.

As you collect more and more data, the measured SD of that sample becomes closer and closer to the true SD of the population. In contrast, the extreme spread will always grow with sample size, as more and more extreme events occur over time. It's easier to measure, but it's not nearly as reliable as the SD.

So now we understand how to describe the population distribution within the rifle. It has a shape and a size. Now how do we actually measure it in practice?

With a rifle, we have no choice but to guess what the population is from the samples it provides. The larger the sample, the more likely we are to have correctly measured the population. This is called "confidence".

Let's play a game. I'll be the rifle, and you try to test me. Your first 10 shots have velocities of:

I generated these numbers from a normal distribution, but I'm not going to tell you what the true mean and SD of the population was. All you have to go from is this sample. Your best guess based on this data would be that the population mean is 2749 and SD is 9.2.

Now, do you think you've got it within 5%? 10%? Or would you like to keep shooting.

Most would say 10 shots doesn't sound like enough. If you had 10 more, and the result of the second group was similar to the first, then maybe that's enough to make you feel more confident.

The second group does not agree with the first. From this sample alone we would have to say the population mean is 2756 and SD is 6.6. The SD has decreased by almost 30%.

Am I trying to trick you? I promise you nothing has changed with the rifle. It's not neck tension, bad primers, or a flier. It just happened.

Now what? How about we combine both groups into a single 20-shot sample. The mean and SD of that is 2753 and 8.8. Surely that must be closer. When do we stop?

I'll break the suspense. The true mean and SD of the rifle is 2750 and 7.0. You were pretty close on the mean, which is typical, but the SD is a different story. It's a lot more difficult to measure variation than most people would assume.

Now I'm going to let you fire 80 more shots to round out a 100-shot group. Now with all that data and what would surely be a sore shoulder, the best guess is 7.42. This isn't even within 5% of the correct SD!

The real solution here is to actually calculate the confidence intervals. You can choose the level of confidence you are comfortable with, whether it's 70%, 80%, or 90%. Then you know what kind of variation to expect and how many shots you need to be confident in a result.

With a rifle, we have no choice but to guess what the population is from the samples it provides. The larger the sample, the more likely we are to have correctly measured the population. This is called "confidence".

Let's play a game. I'll be the rifle, and you try to test me. Your first 10 shots have velocities of:

**2750, 2757, 2732, 2739, 2748, 2750, 2766, 2753, 2742, 2755**

I generated these numbers from a normal distribution, but I'm not going to tell you what the true mean and SD of the population was. All you have to go from is this sample. Your best guess based on this data would be that the population mean is 2749 and SD is 9.2.

Now, do you think you've got it within 5%? 10%? Or would you like to keep shooting.

Most would say 10 shots doesn't sound like enough. If you had 10 more, and the result of the second group was similar to the first, then maybe that's enough to make you feel more confident.

**2751, 2747, 2771, 2752, 2756, 2752, 2760, 2763, 2757, 2754**

The second group does not agree with the first. From this sample alone we would have to say the population mean is 2756 and SD is 6.6. The SD has decreased by almost 30%.

Am I trying to trick you? I promise you nothing has changed with the rifle. It's not neck tension, bad primers, or a flier. It just happened.

Now what? How about we combine both groups into a single 20-shot sample. The mean and SD of that is 2753 and 8.8. Surely that must be closer. When do we stop?

I'll break the suspense. The true mean and SD of the rifle is 2750 and 7.0. You were pretty close on the mean, which is typical, but the SD is a different story. It's a lot more difficult to measure variation than most people would assume.

Now I'm going to let you fire 80 more shots to round out a 100-shot group. Now with all that data and what would surely be a sore shoulder, the best guess is 7.42. This isn't even within 5% of the correct SD!

The real solution here is to actually calculate the confidence intervals. You can choose the level of confidence you are comfortable with, whether it's 70%, 80%, or 90%. Then you know what kind of variation to expect and how many shots you need to be confident in a result.

The above chart shows the confidence intervals as a percentage of the measured sample SD. For example, if you fire a 20 shot group and measure an SD of 10, there's an 80% chance the true population is between 8.4 and 12.8.

If you shoot long range competitively, you'd probably like your SD to be in the 5-7 range. How many times have you heard people say what their SD is? It's easy to say what the SD of any sample is - a simple calculation. But to say what the SD of your rifle and ammo truly are without recognizing confidence would be wishful thinking.

If you shoot long range competitively, you'd probably like your SD to be in the 5-7 range. How many times have you heard people say what their SD is? It's easy to say what the SD of any sample is - a simple calculation. But to say what the SD of your rifle and ammo truly are without recognizing confidence would be wishful thinking.

The same goes for group sizes. Great rifles shoot large groups sometimes, and vice versa. You never really know for sure until you have statistical confidence.

All the above 5-shot groups were generated from the exact same population. This is a likely result from a full day of testing - even if absolutely nothing changed about your load!

Just because you changed something for one group doesn't mean the result you see is because of that change. More often than not, you are just fooling yourself with samples that just happen to be different.

The amount of testing you need is all about balancing the cost of more bullets against the risk of your results being incorrect. Set out to answer simple questions, and then statistics will tell you exactly where you stand and what you need to do.

All the above 5-shot groups were generated from the exact same population. This is a likely result from a full day of testing - even if absolutely nothing changed about your load!

Just because you changed something for one group doesn't mean the result you see is because of that change. More often than not, you are just fooling yourself with samples that just happen to be different.

The amount of testing you need is all about balancing the cost of more bullets against the risk of your results being incorrect. Set out to answer simple questions, and then statistics will tell you exactly where you stand and what you need to do.

Every time you look at two test groups and say which is better, whether it's accuracy on paper or velocity spread, you are answering a statistics question that can be calculated. If you have the right tools to answer that question correctly, then you will be able to make better decisions about what to do next.

It's not just about firing more shots. It's about understanding what to expect, and planning your tests so that you can walk away with confidence. Even 20 shot groups can be useless depending on the scenario, and the best of us make this mistake all the time.

Next week I will focus on the ways you can actually apply these concepts to improve your shooting. Some ideas I have to discuss:

]]>It's not just about firing more shots. It's about understanding what to expect, and planning your tests so that you can walk away with confidence. Even 20 shot groups can be useless depending on the scenario, and the best of us make this mistake all the time.

Next week I will focus on the ways you can actually apply these concepts to improve your shooting. Some ideas I have to discuss:

- How best to measure group size (hint - not extreme spread).
- How many shots is enough?
- How to compare two groups to see which is better.
- How to design and plan tests that won't end up being a waste of time.
- How to actually calculate confidence intervals. I will try to build an online calculator myself, because I can't find one that does what's needed.

I fired a match at 600 meters last Saturday and wasn't happy with the grouping. I was using roughly the same load I had been last year which performed well, but whether it was the warm weather or a new lot of Varget I started in December, something just seemed off.

Many times I have gone to the range with a plan, left with a conclusion, but by the next morning after running some numbers, there were still open questions. This time I decided not to leave until I was happy, period. I need confidence in a load that will take me through the summer, and I'll do absolutely anything for it.

I brought 110 cases primed with BR-2, and everything I need to measure powder and seat bullets. It's essential to bring what you need to load at the range. It only takes a few shots to identify a bad group, but you'll need many, many more to prove a good one.

You may notice the Autotrickler is missing. For range days where I only load 5 at a time, it's faster to use a manual trickler than to automate. I always use my scale, but screw a Hornady plastic trickler to the wind panel base which is convenient and light.

You may notice the Autotrickler is missing. For range days where I only load 5 at a time, it's faster to use a manual trickler than to automate. I always use my scale, but screw a Hornady plastic trickler to the wind panel base which is convenient and light.

Today I set up two Two-Box Chronos and a LabRadar. My secondary objective was to collect data from all three and try to measure the precision of the LabRadar. Unfortunately the LabRadar only recorded 5 shots until it gave an error that the "transmitter frequency is out of range" and would no longer arm.

For the Two-Box at 15-foot spacing, I just needed a pillow on one end to get them level. With crude but reasonable alignment they reported as expected, with a consistent difference of 9-11 fps for almost all shots.

I use Berger 185 Juggernauts with Varget. For my targets, I aim at the circle and the bullets land on the cross, so my sight picture is always clear. The distance is about 115 yards, so 1 moa is a bit larger than the distance from the circle to the cross.

First I fired some leftover ammo from last match, where I had loaded charges of 43.6, 44.0, and 44.4 at 13 jump. This result confirms my suspicion that the groups are less than impressive.

First I fired some leftover ammo from last match, where I had loaded charges of 43.6, 44.0, and 44.4 at 13 jump. This result confirms my suspicion that the groups are less than impressive.

My interpretation of these groups is that they all belong to the same population, meaning I believe the 44.0 group is coincidentally small. The group just so happens to be low. I've already shot two matches at 44.0 and the result was mediocre, so I believe it was just chance that 7 shots fell in the bottom part of the group.

Velocities of these groups look reasonable. I usually have an SD around 6, and no shots show anything outside of expectation. For now, I will simply collect velocity data until I have anything statistical to say, and keep an eye out for outliers.

At this point I should explain my underlying theory of how rifles work. I have working hypotheses that, within reasonable limits for pressure and jump:

- Group size is primarily dependent on seating depth (jump)
- Velocity SD is primarily dependent on powder charge
- Group shape is a statistical illusion. Size is all that matters.

This model allows you to separate and measure the variables independently, rather than having to test every load combination for both SD and group size. It drastically reduces the amount of data you need to have statistical confidence in a test result.

This theory requires a heavy, target barrel. Barrel whip is significant factor for hunting rifles and AR-15s, but changing velocity will not move your POI around with barrels typically used in F-Class.

I plan to elaborate on this in a future post, but for now, just think of it as a heuristic to aid in decision making. Whether it's actually correct or not doesn't matter at the moment, as we are just at the range trying to find something that works, and any theory that gets us there faster is welcome.

Back to the challenge at hand, clearly changing jump is prudent, because the group size needs to improve. I haven't tried jamming these bullets, and many people say, in general, touching the lands is a good place to start. For charge, I felt last week that 44.4 held the tightest elevation at distance, so we might as well try going in that direction and see what happens.

Now we seem to be getting somewhere. Here are two 10-shot groups at 5 jump and 2 jam. Velocities are falling in line between 2791 and 2817, having an SD of 6.

This is encouraging, but what happens if we keep going? Increase both jam and powder charge, find where things fall apart and then we know the limit to stay away from.

So I increased the charge to 45 grains. Four shots are tight, but one spiked up to 2843 fps and flew way out of the group! The primer had some distinct cratering, so I think I found the pressure limit, and now I know what not to do.

Now that I found the upper limit, I was curious: what happens if I still touch the lands but bring the charge way down to 43.0 and 43.5? It's a good idea to test all sorts of ideas to learn how your rifle behaves, even if you think you've found something you like.

Well that's quite unexpected. Velocities are consistent, but the groups are ugly despite being near the lands. Remember, I assume powder charge should not affect group size, and being near the lands seemed to produce tight groups. One of these assumptions must be incorrect.

To get to the bottom of this, we can go back up in charge, say 44.3. If the groups are still good, then maybe we have to accept that powder charge caused the large groups. If they are bad, then we must add this data to the earlier result and perhaps touching the lands is not so special.

This looks a lot like it did before. Not bad, 20 shots around 1/2 moa. Unfortunately my theory about the nature of rifle accuracy takes a beating, as this seems to confirm that 44.3 produces a different group than 43.5.

I could pack up and leave now, having fired 40 shots between 44.3 and 44.5 at +/- 5 jump. I'd leave with what appears to be a 1/2 moa group and question that my theory about powder charge and seating depth is wrong. I wouldn't say I'm over the moon with this result but it's surely acceptable.

At this point I asked myself a question. If I fired one more group, do I feel confident that it would be just as good? Or am I scared that more testing just means more chance of finding out it's not actually good at all?

Intuitively, we don't want to "push our luck". But that kind of thinking is counter productive. A load is what it is and more testing is always a good thing.

So, with plenty of primed cases left and not much else to do today, I fired 20 more shots into three groups:

Throughout this string, I was thinking, "okay, this isn't great but I can live with it". Until fate grabbed onto the very last bullet and yanked it so far outside the group that I could barely comprehend what had happened.

I walked down to the targets and just sat there on the ground, thinking, and staring at the paper. I labeled each group and racked my brain for an interpretation that explains the result.

We have 59 shots in a group I was willing to accept, plus one that speaks a different language. I don't believe in fliers. Fliers are statistical outliers which are an expected part of a normal distribution. When you have a shot like this in 60, it screams at you that something is wrong. I can only make so many excuses for a so-so load before I have to face the fact that this is not actually "good enough".

Here's what those 60 shots look like, overlayed into a single group:

Now we see the truth plain as day. This load sucks. That "flier" on the right simply joins a low shot as well as the top right corner shot that we didn't think about without the context of all the data together.

Calling that one shot a flier and accepting that result with false confidence would have been a huge mistake. We are only human after all.

Still sitting on the ground at the targets, I looked for something new I hadn't tried yet. Realizing that 'at the lands' is actually bad, every group so far is ruled out, and the only thing left to try is more jump. If that doesn't work, I'm in serious trouble.

In other news, my theory about charge and seating depth being independent is brought back to life! Disproving the theory required that 44.3 was good at the lands while 43.5 was not. The world is beginning to make sense again.

Calling on some superstition, I loaded my trusty charge of 44.0 that got me through 2016, and pushed the bullets out to 23 and 28 jump.

Aha! This feels good. Now I will change to 44.3 to take advantage of all the velocity data collected so far, and keep going out to 33 jump to see if I'm at a limit:

From 23 to 33 we have amazing 5-shot groups. At this point I only have 10 primed cases left, so I loaded 44.3 and 25 jump for verification. I felt a lot more confident this time around that these last tests would confirm the load rather than ruin it.

Success! The last group (9) is wider than the others, but there was quite a bit of wind later in the afternoon and it seemed to be pulling the first four shots in that group progressively to the right. Then, for the fifth shot, suddenly mirage appeared, the wind dropped, and the last bullet popped back into the middle (which is the left of this group). If I had more cases I would have kept shooting, but I'm pretty confident this was the case here.

Overlaying all the shots for jammed, 13 jump, and 23+ jump, we have these combined plots. The hash marks are 1/4 moa.

I came to the range with 13 jump, and settled on 25. The elevation spread is about 3/8 moa, and that's through some mirage. That's about as good a result as I could ever hope for.

I settled on 44.3 grains after confirming consistency up to 44.5, with problems appearing at 45. More velocity is better so I'd rather shoot 44.3 than 44.0, all else equal. I should be in the 2780 fps range, which is great for these bullets.

Have we statistically proven an improvement? Based on the group size from 13 and 25+ jump, there is a 99.8% chance that they are from different populations, meaning the observed difference is extremely unlikely to be random chance. That calculation uses the F-test, which I will cover in detail later.

This graph groups the velocity SD across powder charges, and displays an 80% confidence interval (based on number of shots). This is something I plan to dive into on a future post, but at first glance we can see the SD is fairly consistent across the full range, with the exception of the 5 shots at 45.0.

For 104 shots from 44.0 to 44.5, the SD is 6.7, with high confidence. With this load I can expect an 95% extreme spread of 0.87 moa at 900 meters, which is pretty good. The SD is a tad high, which limits the performance at long range, but I can work with that. Now that I know my SD is insensitive to powder charge, I can move past fine tuning charge and try weighing primers or newer cases to see if there is a minor improvement to be made (which will require a very precise chrono).

For 104 shots from 44.0 to 44.5, the SD is 6.7, with high confidence. With this load I can expect an 95% extreme spread of 0.87 moa at 900 meters, which is pretty good. The SD is a tad high, which limits the performance at long range, but I can work with that. Now that I know my SD is insensitive to powder charge, I can move past fine tuning charge and try weighing primers or newer cases to see if there is a minor improvement to be made (which will require a very precise chrono).

This exercise helped me settle on the load I will likely use at the F-Class World Championships this year, and I hope it inspires you to run a similar test yourself. Your rifle might be capable of a lot more than you realize.

Many people worry over the details of reloading that don't actually matter that much. As long as you are consistent and careful in your reloading methods, you will find the most improvement from efficiently sampling powder charge and seating depth, and analyzing data for statistical conclusions.

If you have some chronograph data and photos of groups, send me your data and I'll have a look. I'll post what I think in the comments. Thanks for reading!

]]>Many people worry over the details of reloading that don't actually matter that much. As long as you are consistent and careful in your reloading methods, you will find the most improvement from efficiently sampling powder charge and seating depth, and analyzing data for statistical conclusions.

If you have some chronograph data and photos of groups, send me your data and I'll have a look. I'll post what I think in the comments. Thanks for reading!

I was drawn to long range shooting because it is purely a mental challenge. Hidden within friendly competition, travel, and outdoor sport lives a deep world of physics, statistics and critical decision making that begs to be mastered.

My new life began in 2014 when my wife inherited a collection of rifles, including a Springfield 1903. Guns are just fascinating. With such a simple mechanism, a bullet can be launched so accurately so as to hit something smaller and further than you can see. I had to understand how that is possible, and see what the capability of this rifle was.

After googling "ballistics" and giving myself a crash course in the basics, I went to our local 1000 meter range armed with 8 different boxes of 30-06 ammo from Canadian Tire. I planned to shoot at 100 meter increments, recording the elevation at each distance to determine which bullet was most accurate and had the flattest trajectory.

I made it as far as 300 meters when I ran into Daniel Chisholm (the owner of Silver Mountain Targets). He happened to be testing some e-targets, and after flooring me with that technology, he let me fire a 1/2 moa group at 600 with his Millenium target rifle. As it turns out, competitive long range shooting is a thing people do!

That summer I bought a 308 Savage Model 12 FTR, Sightron scope, and all the reloading gear. Throughout 2015, I fired about 2000 rounds in testing and 1500 in competition. I won a few matches, and shot the Canadian Nationals which was an incredible experience, especially for wind-reading.

After googling "ballistics" and giving myself a crash course in the basics, I went to our local 1000 meter range armed with 8 different boxes of 30-06 ammo from Canadian Tire. I planned to shoot at 100 meter increments, recording the elevation at each distance to determine which bullet was most accurate and had the flattest trajectory.

I made it as far as 300 meters when I ran into Daniel Chisholm (the owner of Silver Mountain Targets). He happened to be testing some e-targets, and after flooring me with that technology, he let me fire a 1/2 moa group at 600 with his Millenium target rifle. As it turns out, competitive long range shooting is a thing people do!

That summer I bought a 308 Savage Model 12 FTR, Sightron scope, and all the reloading gear. Throughout 2015, I fired about 2000 rounds in testing and 1500 in competition. I won a few matches, and shot the Canadian Nationals which was an incredible experience, especially for wind-reading.

In 2016, I started over with the rifle in the header image at the top. It's a Barnard P action, and I modeled the stock myself, which I plan to discuss in a future blog post. This rifle is an incredible shooter. With only a few days at the range, I found a load that led me to victory at the F-class provincials in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and the Atlantic Championships. I also had a good showing at the Nationals as well, coming 23rd overall (ahead of the 33% shooters who were on my relay).

I also did quite a bit of work with Silver Mountain Targets. I told Daniel, "you don't even have to pay me, I just need to be involved." So he pointed me towards the software interface, and we rebuilt it into what you see today. I didn't experience pulling targets until recently, but now I understand why you all despise it so much. We use this system for all our local matches, and whenever I test beyond 100 meters I use my personal G2 system. If you haven't had a chance to try it, shooting electronically is the future.

The Auto-Trickler was the turning point for me, where the hobby became my career. The unexpected success of this idea showed me that if I apply myself properly, I can make a living doing what I love. In this day and age, it's nearly impossible to choose a field where one person can make a difference. Competitive shooting is a growing sport, and there is still plenty of opportunity.

As I look ahead, I have many goals. The 2017 F-Class World Championship in Ottawa is my focus for the summer, and I remain committed to building and supporting the Auto-Trickler and Two-Box Chrono. With this blog, I hope to share my thoughts related to three main topics:

**Reloading and load development.**There is a ton of information out there, but it is hard to weed out the noise and find advice that you can actually rely on. It's easy for someone to say what works for them, but knowing why it works, and if it will work for you, requires critical thinking. I plan to discuss what I find to be the most fundamental driving factors of load development, which will allow you to understand and make your own decisions based on solid science.**F-class shooting strategy.**On match day, your ammo is what it is and you simply have to make the best of it. As rifles improve and targets get smaller, the winners will be identified by strategy. If you keep better records and apply sound thought processes, you will make a better 45-second decision about the probable location for the next shot. I plan to explain the science and statistics behind the "plot-o-matic" way of thinking, which will complement your intuition and wind-reading ability to significantly improve your score.**New product R&D.**I plan to discuss what I'm working on, new ideas, and updates related to existing products. I won't be shy about the fact that I need to make money to keep things moving forward. Going forward, I'd like to involve the community in the R&D process in order to gain feedback sooner and improve designs overall. I have a few ideas in the early stages, and with your support, we can continue to innovate for the benefit of the sport.