Date: Jan 02 2007
Keeping track of load performance can be done by recording group spread along with your other loading data. For example, your .22-250 Remington handload of 42 grains of H-380, Winchester brass, CCI 200 primer, 55-grain Sierra BlitzKing at 3,644 fps grouped fiveshots into .847 inch. All that data should be entered on a line in your records. One glance down the “Group” column provides a quick and easy assessment of load accuracy, but I find an actual target provides additional information. Seeing that cluster of holes adds something to one’s understanding. The distribution of holes can sometimes indicate bedding problems, too, such as a consistent, vertical pattern.
Saving targets, however, can be a mess unless you standardize dimensions.
You can buy a big supply of whatever target you like for consistency. The larger sizes remain difficult to store. Do you throw them in a big drawer, pile them on a shelf? For organization, I like lined, three-ring notepaper because it can be stored in a binder with tabbed sections for each rifle.
Neat, quick, simple. An alternative to basic lined pages are grid pages with 1⁄4-inch squares. You can buy these in spiral-bound notebooks with three holes. The grids make it easy to measure bullet spreads and create aiming points of 1 inch, 2 inch, etc. To create an aiming point I either ink in a square or stick a self-adhesive, peel-off dot or square to the page.
Smaller bull’s-eyes force you to concentrate for more precise shooting. At the range I write information atop the page, i.e. date, rifle, caliber, load, temperature, wind direction and speed. I hang as many targets as practical, given shooting conditions. When shooting over a Beta Chrony, I can’t swing through as wide or high an arc to cover as many targets as I can without that “triangle” (electric eye coverage) to shoot through. After collecting the targets, I measure group spread with a caliper and write this information on the page beside the group. Often I’ll write load data beside the group, too, rather than atop the page. Murphy’s Law being what it is, if I write extensive data atop the page before shooting, the group will impact unusually high and punch it out.
Speaking of shooting high, if you set your sights to strike above the bull at 100 yards, as most hunting rifles should, place your bulls low on the target rather than in the center.
When fine-tuning an accurate rifle that tends to keep most bullets/ loads close to the same point of impact, save paper, storage space and time by placing two or four bulls on each page. Then shoot different loads at each.
You’ll be surprised how quickly three-ring binders can fill with loading data and targets, especially if you work with several rifles or many bullet weights. When you fill a binder, just add another to your library. After a decade or two, they become ledgers of your shooting career.