It's been almost a year and half since my last blog post, so it goes without saying that I haven't had much time to focus on writing articles. Since the release of ShotMarker last year I have been dedicated to the challenges of bringing e-targets to the mainstream shooting community, as well as continuous improvements to the AutoTrickler.
I am happy to announce an official partnership with Gavin Gear of Ultimate Reloader. Gavin runs the largest Youtube channel focused on reloading (gavintoobe). He is a brilliant mechanical engineer and gunsmith, and shares a desire to offer practical and technically accurate content about long range shooting, reloading, and load development.
I went to visit Gavin at his new home in the mountains of Washington state, where we can shoot anywhere from 100 to 1700 yards on his own property. We spent 5 days filming videos, shooting at 1000 yards, testing loads over the Two Box Chrono, discussing the scientific approach to load development, and the many ways we could work together this year.
He posts a video every few days on his Youtube channel, so be sure to subscribe to his channel. Each time we collaborate on a project, I will post an article here with a short write-up and link to his video. Gavin also writes supplementary articles on his website (ultimatereloader.com), which is an excellent collection of everything he has worked on over the past 10 years.
Finally, AutoTrickler V3 will be officially announced next week. There are three major improvements to the design which will be available as upgrades for existing AutoTrickler V2 systems. It's taken a while for everything to come together and I'm happy to finally present the next generation of the AutoTrickler. Stay tuned, and good shooting!
The vast majority of online resources and discussion relating to F-Class long range shooting are about equipment selection, reloading, and load development. Mastering these aspects of the sport will ensure your rifle shoots a tight group in ideal conditions, but this will only get you started.
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.
From August 8 to 17, the Canadian F-Class Nationals and World Championships took place in Ottawa, Canada. These individual and team competitions were the most intense, fun, and educational experiences of my shooting career to date.
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.
This August, the F-Class World Championships were held at the Connaught ranges in Ottawa. This event takes place every 4 years in different countries, and as a relatively new shooter this was my first opportunity to compete on the world stage. Three years of hard work would be tested against 200 of the most competitive long range shooters in the world.
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.
How many shots do you need to fire? How do you know if a result was just random luck? Have you given up on testing because it's too hard to make an improvement?
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.
I have just finished creating an online stats calculator that allows you to measure one or two groups of shot data, calculate the average and SD of the underlying population with confidence levels, and compare two groups to see if they are probably different or just a result of random chance.
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!
A few weeks ago, I read Damon Cali's blog article demonstrating his innovative analysis method. This article contributed to my motivation to start this blog and discuss statistics applied to shooting.
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!
Rifles are random number generators. Each time you pull the trigger, the bullet chooses a single outcome from infinite possibilities based on countless random factors. Without a time machine, you can never know exactly where the next bullet will go.
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.
I'd like to kick off this blog series with a walk-through of my load testing experience at the range last Sunday. While future articles will dive into the details of a specific concept, I think it will be helpful to first offer some context and demonstrate how objective thinking leads to practical results.
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 think a little differently than most people. It gets me into trouble sometimes, but my analytical, somewhat critical view of the world defines how I approach everything I set my mind to. Instead of looking at what others do, I simply figure things out for myself, and that generally leads to new ideas.
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.