The Straight Dope

The RifleKraft Blog
by Chris Way
Keywords: Testimonial, blog, training

Matt Sprouse Testimonial

I first discovered the Kraft data collection when listening to Frank Galli’s Everyday Sniper Podcast. He mentioned an experiment that Chris Way was doing. I had to back up a couple of podcast to find the interview, and after listening to Chris and his ideas I wanted to be part of it. I jumped on Sniper’s Hide and found the target, printed it off and headed to the range. As expected, I was not happy with what I saw. I had a rifle capable of 1/3MOA or better, and I was seeing 3 inch groups at 100 yards. I knew that positional shooting was something I needed to spend more time on. What was unexpected however, was the initiation of a new training routine. One that would greatly improve my match performances, build confidence at stages that required a lot dynamic positional shooting, and help establish the efficiency of motion that I can carry with me to many shooting styles. Having the ability to track performance from a baseline and see improvements in a short period of time has been invaluable to my growth as a shooter. I’m able to pin point problem areas and break each part down to work seperatly. Finding my natural point of aim and reducing my wobble quicker, has allowed me to focus more on wind calls, proper use of fundamentals, and stage execution. This is not a training program. This is an eye opener. Your training program will develop itself if you use this tool as self evaluation. It’s human nature to want to be good at something. This gives you a concrete metric to compare against, to see your improvements, and the motivation to shrink those groups from any position. I’ve got several friends that are new to the sport. I always start them off on this target. From there, I show them what I’ve learned and pass on what little knowledge I have. Before long I can see the wheels turning, and they’re sending me new targets every week showing what improvements they have made.

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by Chris Way
Keywords: training, blog, tests

Visual Elements

I have been thinking more and more about the visual component to shooting. Part of the problem is that although our eyes see everything, the circuitry that connects what the eyes see to what we are thinking about or looking for might not be as quick or polished as we might think.

As a result of this, I want to start a training discussion on the blog and post weekly training and testing ideas for you. Subscribers will get targets and a test “course of fire” to report before / after results to see what works and what doesn’t in some of these areas.

If I get enough return results I will talk about the numbers on the Straight Dope podcast. If nothing else you all get training ideas that could help you toward being better marksmen if reps are put in and reported accurately.

Lets talk searching for targets.

When we are focused for a particular thing there could be a bias toward that object, there could be a hyper focus that distracts from looking for more of the same objects or even continuing to search for more items in the list.

To me there are many higher level addons to this idea, but for hunting, competition, and other applications it can have profound effects.

So, if you are a self-motivated shooter, go out and try to test if this has an effect on your shooting and let me know what you do to fix the delay!

If youre a subscriber, I will be emailing out some targets and a test course of fire to be performed at 100y with a shot timer. Honest feedback is appreciated in terms of accuracy as well as overall time / splits.



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by Chris Way
Keywords: fundamentals, training, blog

It almost sounds like science fiction. A rifle can shoot a bullet just fine but the moment you touch the rifle the bullets point of impact changes. Many shooters try to minimize the influence of points of contact on the rifle and others try to manhandle the thing. Neither seems all that bad as long as you understand the influences you are playing to.

What do I mean?

I am talking about consistency. Consistency in the shot process will produce consistent results. If you influence the rifle one particular way, I am in favor of trying to influence it the same way in any position. The best way to show someone that they influence the rifle more than they think is to run the RifleKraft Baseline test.

Bam. There is your influence. So now what?

Now comes the work part. It can be fun. It’s all about mindset. Anyway, identifying your influences on the rifle can be rewarding, especially when the group size of your targets starts to decrease and your shot patterns encircle your aim point.

What if you can’t identify the cause?

Think about equal and opposite reactions of the rifle to points of contact. If the round goes left, what is on the right side? If the round goes high, what is under the rise?

You might find that you lack support on the opposite end or that the support is too much.

Explore this and see how it changes your group patterns.

If you can’t figure it out, the subscription side of RifleKraft offers data driven suggestions to correct your errors through your shooter card.

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by Chris Way
Keywords: testimonial, blog, fundamentals, training

Kraft Challenge

I started my Kraft journey a few months ago after I discovered the Kraft challenge through Chris Way on Instagram (

After reading about it, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to give myself a baseline to see how my precision rifle shooting technique stands up against a paper target downrange.

What I liked about the Kraft challenge was that I could track and measure my progress whilst at the same time getting some barricade /positional practice.

Slamming steels down range is great fun. However, when conducting positional shooting at a paper target, you get to see precisely where your rounds are hitting - the paper does not lie! You get to see precisely where your rounds are hitting, and you can analyse the fall of shot for each shooting position.

I video myself and the target when shooting the challenge. Primarily it enables me to assess my shooting style and positions, but it also allows me to track each shot, so I know which impact was from each position. If I pull a shot, or the round does not quite go where I expected it to, I can watch the video and work out what went wrong to help me adjust my position or shooting technique the next time I shoot.

I love the fact you can upload your target to the website, and it will give you fundamental analysis for your target data. If you subscribe to the website, you get a more in-depth analysis of your target and fall of shot. It produces a radar chart against target data to indicate group size, horizontal shift, vertical shift, number of groups, and it will also suggest ways to improve.

You can also make the challenge harder by adding 10 seconds to your Kraft number to put you under time stress. I will be doing this the next time I shoot it.

To ensure that I am comparing like for like, I control the height of my positions by using the same tank trap at my local range. That way, every time I conduct the Kraft challenge, I am shooting from the same height platform with each shot. You could also complete the challenge using a tripod and set the legs to the same length each time. The key is to make sure you use the same barricade or tripod heights every time you complete the drill.

The first time I shot the Kraft challenge, the bullet impacts had a lot of vertical movement (3.775 MOA) (Rifle Training: Kraft Challenge Shoot from Standing, Kneeling & Prone).

I shared my target online and asked Instagram users to suggest things that might help. It was great that people took the time to offer advice on things I could improve on.

Going back to my dry-fire practice at home, I worked on my fundamentals and attempted to iron out any errors in my technique.

The second time I shot the challenge, there was an improvement. It was a gradual improvement. However, there was an improvement! My group size was not ideal (3.375 MOA), and I still had some vertical stringing.

My goal is to shoot 1-2 MOA groups every time.

I decided to focus on individual improvements to my position so that I could rule things out. The main elements I worked on were: Butt placement - where the rifle connects to my shoulder/body, and my breath control.

I shot the challenge a third time, and my group size improved yet again. Slow yet incremental improvements, but my changes reduced the overall group size and spread of my fall of shot.

For the next month, I worked on my dry-fire training drills and focussed on those two improvements. I made sure that my butt placement was as central to my body as possible. My rifle butt now rests on the top of my pec/collar bone).

I then take two good breaths before each shot, ensuring the sight picture rises and falls on a vertical plane as I breathe. I make the shot at the lull in my breathing (the quiescent period) on the exhale.

I found the shooters checklist on the Modern Day Sniper website and YouTube channel, along with other excellent resources (Modern Day Rifleman's - Shooter's Checklist).

Using this checklist as part of my dry-fire practice enabled me to focus on the shooting process and break down each stage.

My process follows the principles I was taught as a Royal Marines Commando:

1. Position and hold - The shooting position and hold must be firm enough to support the rifle.

2. Natural Sight Alignment - The rifle must point naturally at the target without any undue physical effort. Sight alignment and sight picture must be correct.

3. Shot Release and Follow Through - The shot must be released and followed through without undue disturbance to your position.

On my last trip to the range, I noticed a massive improvement in my target data, with my group size reducing to 2.1 MOA (close, but I still have some work to do…).

Using the Ballistic-X app, I recorded the shots in sequence to help me analyse each position (Shooting Rifle Kraft Data Challenge with 6.5 Creedmoor Precision Rifle).

Knowing which impact came from each position gives you more data you can work with. You can then hone each shooting position until you get your group sizes right down.

I have noted the shot number for each shooting position so that you can analyse your shooting positions. The shot numbers are as follows:

• Standing 1, 5, 9

• Kneeling 2, 6, 10

• Sitting 3, 7, 11

• Prone 4, 8, 12

Target Analysis

Looking at my results, I had four distinct groups.

Standing - I had an upside-down triangle of impacts from standing centred about 1-inch above my point of aim for my standing position (circled in blue).

Kneeling - My impacts for kneeling were in a tight 1-inch group about 1-inch from my POA (circled in red).

Sitting - The sitting position pulled my shots right by about 0.5 inches and produced a vertical shift in my fall of shot (circled in green).

Prone - Prone should be the best results, and I should (in theory) be getting sub MOA groups. Well... it was an ok size group at about 1 MOA, but there was horizontal movement in my impacts (circled in yellow).

Having the ability to analyse your results provides you with an indication of what you need to work on for each position.

As rounds are not affected by wind at 100 meters the horizontal shift in fall of shot could be down to several things (but not exclusively):

• Pulling to the left or right on your rifle stock/butt.

• Squeezing the pistol grip (torque).

• Trigger control.

• Cant or swivel on your bipod legs or barricade bag.

• Parallax.

A vertical shift may be induced by:

• Breathing cycle and shot release.

• Butt placement - making sure the butt is secure in my shoulder pocket.

• Unbalanced rifle - if the rifle is unbalanced, it will not recoil in a straight line. Also, keep the rifle level.

• Bag placement, rifle placement on the bag.

• If you reload, you may want to consider changing the bullet seating depth, finding another powder node, or changing the way you are prepping your cases (cleaning primer pockets, adjusting neck tension).

I will keep up the dry-fire training to hone my fundamentals and work on my shooting positions. Each time I go to the range, I will shoot the Kraft challenge to track my progress.

You can follow my progress on Instagram ( and my YouTube channel (

Keep low and move fast!

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by Chris Way
Keywords: musings, blog

I read so many lists and top ten posts I decided to take a crack at it in my own way.

Heres an off the cuff list in no particular order that I think can improve EVERYONES shooting:

1. Think:

Dont just adjust and correct a shot. You're not a circus monkey AND you're responsible for the bullet you just shot wherever it went.. know what happened, or figure it out.

2. Gear:

Do you want that new equipment because of good expensive marketing, or because it really works better?

Tell me what makes a rifle shoot well and explain why the thing you wanna buy does it better?

3. Some failure is growth fuel:

If you're afraid of failure you'll never get good. go to competitions with goals, tests, and personal objectives.. only one dudes gonna win and its probably not you. If you go with pre set goals and objectives you'll walk away a better shooter and level up regardless of rank.

4. Fundamentals first.

Don't outrun your fundamentals. If you apply them well and time out you're doing good; if you rush and throw shots you're not doing it right.

5. Dirty little #$%^:

I dont care how often you clean your barrel, but your trigger, bipod, tripod, scope, bolt, and other moving parts will eventually crap out on you if you dont clean them.. ask me how I know.

6. Video yourself:

You'll learn a lot about your fundamentals if you video yourself.

7. Be irreverent sometimes:

Fuck the old school.. pave the way to the next level by testing popular dogma and writing your own rules. I dont give a rats ass how long you've been shooting or how many trophies you have and no-one else should either.

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by Chris Way
Keywords: blog, fundamentals

It almost sounds like science fiction. A rifle can shoot a bullet just fine but the moment you touch the rifle the bullets point of impact changes. Many shooters try to minimize the influence of points of contact on the rifle and others try to manhandle the thing. Neither seems all that bad as long as you understand the influences you are playing to.

What do I mean?

I am talking about consistency. Consistency in the shot process will produce consistent results. If you influence the rifle one particular way, I am in favor of trying to influence it the same way in any position. The best way to show someone that they influence the rifle more than they think is to run the RifleKraft Baseline test.

Bam. There is your influence. So now what?

Now comes the work part. It can be fun. It’s all about mindset. Anyway, identifying your influences on the rifle can be rewarding, especially when the group size of your targets starts to decrease and your shot patterns encircle your aim point.

What if you can’t identify the cause?

Think about equal and opposite reactions of the rifle to points of contact. If the round goes left, what is on the right side? If the round goes high, what is under the rise?

You might find that you lack support on the opposite end or that the support is too much.

Explore this and see how it changes your group patterns.

If you can’t figure it out, the subscription side of RifleKraft offers data driven suggestions to correct your errors through your shooter card.

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by Chris Way
Keywords: position, sniper, shooter, fundamentals, blog

Speaking to hunters, snipers, field shooters, and practical rifle competitors, the shooting stories and shooting conversations often circles back to the shot position to provide context for the difficulty, or interesting aspect, of a shot. It seems like the most interesting stories are preceded by the lead up to an unknown position and not from an anticipated one.

From the data obtained in the riflekraft project it is clear that hit probability for the average participant would benefit the most from skill development over any upgrades in gear or load.

To begin with lets point out that the average MOA of a baseline for all shooters measured is over 4. This means that from the point of aim the average shooter puts all shots within a 4” circle at 100Y after shooting 12 rounds from four positions.

Some people will quickly point out that equipment varies quite a lot between shooters. I don’t believe that the reason for this average is equipment.

I have a few factory rifles that can shoot an inch all day with any factory ammunition. In fact, as a conversational standard people often compare their rifles to the arbitrary inch standard. Many manufacturers guarantee sub ¾ and even sub ½ MOA and that’s also arguable. Firsthand experience on my part says many can’t back up their claim. I do think it’s safe to say that most modern guns can shoot to the inch standard. I am going to focus on 1” for now. So, assuming the average rifle in the project shot 1” with the rifle ammo combinations and the average baseline is 4” where’s the disconnect? The shooter.

I know some of you are now screaming at the computer saying that at distance the load matters more than anything because of SD and ES. So, let’s see what kind of SD and ES are required for a 6.5 Creedmoor load averaging 2700 fps, a 140-grain bullet with a G7 of .279, to produce a 40” group at 1000Y from a single hole at 100y. I didn’t spend a lot of time dorking out with ballistic calculators here. I spent just enough time to roughly figure how to go from an average drop of -313.66” to plus minus 20”; we would need an ES of around 140 FPS something.

In my personal tests with Hornady, Berger, PRIME, Federal, and Fiocchi factory loads I have seen as large as a 50FPS ES and much closer to 40 and below but never even half of what would be required to go to a 40” difference in ideal atmospheric conditions. I didn’t dork out with these calculations, just plugged-in velocities online and got a general idea, but I think that’s enough to justify fundamentals over hand loading in sub-1000-yard shooting.

I would argue that going to town loading for practical shooting competitions can be fascinating, but probably not get you the same gains as fundamental work.

But maybe you disagree.

If you do, make a post and tag me so we can chat about our different points of view!

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by Chris Way
Keywords: fundamentals, blog

Most shooters at some point in their learning process were told about the fundamentals of marksmanship. The variations tend to circle four or five aspects that have a profound influence on the final landing place of the bullet shot from the rifle in hand. The elements most commonly discussed are Position, sight picture, breath control, trigger manipulation, and follow through.

Having spent a lot of time discussing shooting with shooters from every walk of life I have noticed that most can account for these elements in their shot process and discuss them with relative ease. If pressed most shooters would agree that they are important, but many look around for someone else to use as an example of how they are employed incorrectly, because we tend to think that we have these basics down if were engaged in higher level activities like hunting, competition, work applications and such.

Enter the riflekraft data project.

Having access to thousands of shooters targetry doing the same thing provides some insights to averages and trends. One fascinating aspect of the data collected so far, and the data that continues to come in, is that more than likely most shooters are not applying the fundamentals of marksmanship consistently through all positions. Moreover, multiple targets reveal that more often than not, the fundamentals are applied inconsistently from day to day as well.

Could this apply to you? Probably. So lets discuss the fundamentals in a little more detail so that perhaps we can all reincorporate them into our training routines and get closer to the shooters we think we are or aspire to be!

Preface. The Riflekraft approach believes that you have to separate your rifles capabilities from your own shooting capabilities. What does this mean? It means that if you develop a load that shoots a .15” group at 100y that’s awesome and a great example of what your rifle is capable of. This is not any insight to how it will shoot in any other situation necessarily. We know this because we have seen thousands of targets entered and many of them have supporting data that the load shot for the test was sub half inch ammo. The average 12 shot Kraft Data target is currently just over 4”. This means that despite the ammo, the shooters involved in the project are losing accuracy in the application of correct fundamentals throughout the test.

This should be motivating. Fundamentals are easy to train. Training fundamentals will bring your shot groups closer to your rifles capabilities, and as a result increase your hit probability by huge proportions with considerably less effort if applied correctly.

So either go train your fundamentals or stand by for more about the individual elements and ideas to go along with them.

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by Chris Way
Keywords: loading, fundamentals, blog

I respect and admire people who have walked their own paths and along the way amassed so much life experience that when asked they can give you an explanation with an example from their life, first-hand. I try to be like those personal heroes in my own way. Even if it means doing things that aren’t as popular. Like investing a year to prepare for Assassins Way getting first-hand accounts of what works and what doesn’t.

One strength living this way has provided me is the ability to define clear left and right limits to what I’m capable of given any set of possible equipment choices. What if you end up needing to shoot factory, shoot a less optimal caliber, a heavy or a light rifle? Run 100 miles, climb a big rock, swim a long distance, travel through dangerous environments? I don’t want to take someones word for it when there’s so much to gain from figuring it out or at least validating it in the field.

So anyway, staying on track with this theme of bullets and speed, I established that there is a sweet spot for velocity among the calibers I shoot that deteriorates above and below that zone. What about the effects of velocity within that optimal zone? I mean the zone is over a hundred feet per second wide. My understanding of how people develop loads is that a good shooter will find a “node” in that spot where all of the factors seem to come together: group size, SD, ES, and stability… but what about just shooting the whole damn zone? Sounds nuts. Perfect.

The NRL hunter events are an exciting new series of competitions that allow shooters to test a broader set of individual skills in a variety of locations. The format is blind and asks that a shooter can locate, range, and engage targets on their own with minimal information provided.

The targets tend to be a little larger than the stricter precision rifle target sizes, but the added stress of doing more than just pulling a trigger layers in some very important elements to anyone who expects to use a rifle off of the training range. This seemed perfect for seeing a broader application of a rifle and load beyond a narrow competitive outlet like the PRS style stuff.

At the beta test for the NRL hunter series I shot factory ammo and felt like it had no detrimental effects on my performance. At what point did it though? Well, that’s hard to answer, but the thought came to me when running a ladder and shooting the initial velocity spread at a single aim point. What happened was a huge velocity ES in a group that was around .6”

What would happen if I loaded a spread that encompassed the whole sweet spot of my rifle? That’s what I did.

I loaded up rounds with optimized jump lengths so that at 100y the group was under an inch, but the velocity ES was very close to 100fps.

I heard that we weren’t going to be shooting much past 750 and based on ballistic calculators I assumed this spread amounted to about a .4mil or 10-11” spread at 750y which fit within the targets height. I found most targets to be a minimum of .6 tall and many a whole mil wide so really wasn’t concerned.

My first match had some technical equipment issues (I broke my rangefinder), and my second one didn’t have gear issues at all but I kind of lost it mentally toward the end. I am planning on shooting two more before the end of the season to round out the test and am highly optimistic that I can continue to perform better with any load within the velocity zone. The skills and tasks needed to perform at these events did not demand anything better, but it would be close to impossible to get factory ammo with tolerances as bad as the load I used; I have never seen factory shoot half as bad as the load I used.

In the end I need to shoot another few matches to draw more concrete conclusions, but from what I can tell from these tests, I am not going to worry about my load beyond a basic level of tolerances.

What matters? I believe 100% that in all of these competitive outlets that the winners have solid fundamentals of marksmanship. What the best shooters can do and get away with starts with the solid fundamentals they developed prior to how theyre competing now.

I think if people focused on fundamentals, not gadgets, we would be seeing the population of shooters in the top 20 zone of performance grow and competition turn into an actual sport instead of what it is now… which isn’t.

More to come about this in the future.

Until then, worry about fundamentals, not gear.

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by Chris Way
Keywords: fundamentals, blog

A couple of years ago I had an experience that lit an ember eventually growing into the test I will be elaborating on in the next two posts.

First, the back story:

I was shooting a two-day match and after day one decided to shoot some more since we had several extra hours of daylight and a separate range with steel out to distance. I was having fun and shot more ammo than I should have. Rookie mistake. Having some extra fun and training time ended up leaving me short on ammo for the next day. I was fortunate enough to get the remaining ammo from a shooter who had a bunch of factory ammo. I was grateful but also nervous about my data being off seeing that it was a completely different load from what I came with. I told Travis Ishida my concern and he said in typical Travis style “bro you’ll be so close it won’t matter” and although I didn’t believe him at all, I also wasn’t in a position to do much but shoot and see. I shot the last five stages, and my hit percentages were no different than the 15 prior stages of the match.

Travis was right.

It would take months and months to realize what Travis showed me though.

At this point in my shooting I had read all of Bryan Litz’s books, and loved them, they made a lot of sense to my scientific mind. Having been a good student for a large chunk of my life I felt like I knew what to do; I memorized them. I literally felt like going to a match was more about understanding ballistics and ironing out the load and equipment. Sadly, it’s easy to make the numbers work and provide a theoretical answer that makes sense only to find out that there is more to it. This wasn’t the first time in my life that reality chose to enter the room and offer up some commonsense clarity. Enter Ryan Cleckner.

After the weekend where Travis showed me something I hadn’t yet realized, I read Ryan Cleckners book. My first impression was that I wanted to call him up and argue with him. Have I mentioned I love to argue? I don’t know Ryan and didn’t have his number, so couldn’t call him to argue, but I would have had I had it. I went out and tested as much as I could to try to prove him wrong, but I realized that everything he wrote about was turning out to be true.

a shooter really can’t shoot at the level of detail we can argue about on the internet.

Ryan was right. Fucker.

In the end what I took away from the long-range shooting handbook was that a shooter really can’t shoot at the level of detail we can argue about on the internet. Hitting things with a bullet shot from a rifle starts to get easier when you listen to someone who has been down the road and knows the path laid out before you and can show you first-hand. The problem is people like that are harder to find than you’d think. A person who can not only combine the theory but offer advice from their own experience getting to where you want to go is a rare commodity these days.

Fast forward a bit.

You didn’t magically get 5, 12,..40 places better, you’re the same shooter probably shooting the same as you have been.

I had been training a lot using both Litz and Cleckners ideas and felt like my fundamentals were working for me rather than against me. I had been achieving success at matches but also developing a frustration at the larger match machinery. What I mean by this is that in reality there isn’t much of a yardstick when you measure match placement as a measure of skill growth. Match results are more a display of which good shooters didn’t come to the match than how well you’re improving as a shooter fundamentally. Think about it this way: If overnight the top 40 shooters in the country quit shooting nothing would change; matches would run as well as ever, for sure different people would get trophies, but other than that nothing would change for you as a shooter. You didn’t magically get 5, 12,..40 places better, you’re the same shooter probably shooting the same as you have been. What that means to me is that matches are better used as a medium through which we can test things and grow as shooters with no real concern about rank – focusing on hit percentages and measuring from a baseline metric like the Kraft Baselines. Also, my personal interests like many other shooters is growing as a rifleman, not necessarily as a purely competition focused shooter; Having said that, the best shooter can and should be able to perform at the top level in any situation – and the top do.

To better understand the art of shooting I needed a better grasp on the line between Litz and Cleckner – where the art and science form a performance line and the real riflemen are formed: that is how several of the tests I ran, including the idea for this practical load test.

Instead of shooting 6creed as I had been up to this point, I switched to 6br. I decided to do this because it’s a hell of a lot easier to load for and the barrel life was better, and I had basically shot out the barrel I was using so needed a new barrel anyway. Either way it set the stage because it’s such an easy cartridge to load for.

At the time the test began I was shooting around 82/84% using a 6br at a velocity averaging 2850. Initially the drop in velocity was unintentional as my chronograph started to have issues and we discovered it was shooting a little slower than expected. The idea to continue slowing down the velocity jumped out and it seemed like a fun experiment. The final push to commit came when I went to a match and planned to shoot several days before the match so made fire formers to shoot and ended up shooting the match ammo before the match – committing to the use of fire formers in the match.

So, the data reflects matches where I shot the following velocities 2840, 2780, 2750, 2720, 2670, 2620, 2600. All of the loads were sub 1/3” and achieved benchmark kraft numbers that showed they shot as well or better as time went by than the last. My hit percentages went from 82% to 65% linearly with a decrease in velocity. I found this linear relationship fascinating and got excited to try hard each time to see if I could reverse the trend with skill and slow rounds.

I never could.

There are a lot of take-aways, but the main ones are that the 6br/a has a sweet spot of about 150fps wide where it shoots optimally. The velocities are between 2750 and 2900 in Colorado, but I found the 2780-2840 bracket the most consistent when shooting baseline comparisons to the slower loads.

Above the sweet spot you start to get pressure and my experience with that is that pressure broke two triggers, so I stopped messing with that. The downside, for me, is the bullet seems less predictable toward to 2600 zone. At the slow speeds I not only saw a larger effect from wind, but also started to miss vertically much more than normal.

In fact, I shot the NRL finale with the slowest load and really struggled not only to make wind calls but also hit from an elevation standpoint. I thought it was my data because missing over and under targets as much as I had was not normal. I don’t think it was data in retrospect, I think it was just a consequence of slow rounds. To get some perspective, I confirmed this by shooting the remaining rounds along-side a normalized load of 2800fps and I saw the same split.

Whatever the reason, something weird happens in the 2580-2640 range when you’re shooting past 600yards or so. Maybe someone can explain why vertical came into the equation at these slower speeds as well.

This first set of tests confirmed that you can take it too slow and that there is a zone where performance is optimized. At least for me.

The second set of tests were about how much ES can you get away with within that optimal zone. I was again surprised with the results.

Coming soon:

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by Chris Way
Keywords: fundamentals, blog

This blog is a dedicated medium through which I plan to share my personal thoughts about the tests I conducted over the past year and beyond; scientific or not. The opinions and conclusions I share are 100% biased and subjective to my experiences. I have a tendency of putting my foot in my mouth and this is a safe space to do that. For a more formal list of articles there's a developing library of articles on the subscription side detailing the fundamentals of marksmanship and correlated effects from the data we are analyzing. Most of the datapoint will automatically link to your profiles and offer suggestions for improvement based on your personal tendencies; this blog isn't that.

So, let’s get started.

A year ago, I committed to a competition called Assassins Way, a month-long field competition that is designed to test a variety of field craft, rifle craft, and other skills a well-rounded shooter should know. The gear requirements however are such that you have to carry your load for the entire month through multiple states and biomes. No swapping out gear, replacing items, etc. Knowing the demands of being out in the field for a long time, I gave myself a year to test equipment, techniques, and learn the stuff that I didn’t have a good grasp on in order to leverage myself toward a top finish.

Most of what I did was test equipment and challenge dogma embedded in the art of long range and field shooting to see for myself if they were true or old wives tales. Many of the tests went against my own scientific mind to validate accepted beliefs, and also just for shits because I like to go against the grain.

Nevertheless, the year had many twists and turns, ups and downs, but in the end I am farther then where I aimed to be. I am confident about what I will use and how I will approach this event as a competitor looking to win.

So, lets rewind a year.

One of the first posts I made online was about overall loadout considerations. Even if you haven’t carried a huge pack with weeks of equipment and food in it, you can imagine that a 22lb competition rifle is probably not an ideal choice, so the question that arose of what weight is ideal for an event like this.

With my background in adventure racing and climbing I was less concerned initially with equipment than I was in choosing a rifle build and caliber that would fit the bill for unknown distance shooting. I also thought it would be a quick process to make a decision and run with it. I was wrong.

Fairly quickly I developed a test to compare different weight rifles. It was an early paper test that is now the predecessor of the RifleKraft target. Within a few days I found that the popular theme of adding weight for competition definitely allowed me to shoot smaller groups from a variety of positions off of a bag.

As a competitive person, and sometimes a hot head, I didn’t like not being able to shoot any rifle as well as another. Rather than accept that I was better with a 20lb rifle than a 16lb rifle I started to diagnose why. The reason quickly revealed itself: I lacked the proper fundamentals. Sure, I had some great results, in fact in a 15-month period I received 7 trophies but all of that was meaningless now. I realized I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.

I have seen top level shooters pick up light rifles and shoot just as good or better. Most of the top competitors spent decades working their fundamentals. Most of the top competitoprs are the top because they have nearly perfect fundamentals and use weight to gain an extra percentage point or two. If a shooter with poor fundamentals adds weight not only do they not develop fundamentals, but they seem to confuse what the pros are doing as what they need to do. This happens in sports, shooting, and probably any activity that has skill and equipment involved in a competitive setting.

Having seen it in climbing and other outlets I decided to double down on fundamentals.

The Kraft was born and you know that part. I had ok fundamentals, but they lacked in comparison to the top-level competitors. They still do I imagine, but I’m getting better.

Now I can take a 10lb rifle, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 25 and shoot the same kraft baseline with 6 bra, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 6.5 prc. I shot a lot and focused on shooting fundamentals for a year neglecting most other skills, but fundamentals are called that for a reason.

So, does weight matter? Yes, kind of. If you have solid fundamentals it could provide a small percentage boost, but if you lack fundamentals it could deteriorate your skillsets and confuse what you need to do to improve.

Unfortunately due to covid Assassins Way was postponed until 2022, which gives me even more time to prepare. When the time comes, I plan to use a 10-12lb rifle simply for the sake of being able to move more efficiently across terrain and not smoke my legs. I shoot the same now with a light rifle so I have no concern about an advantage weight might add. In Assassins Way the advantage of a light rifle far outweighs the small increase in hit percentage on small targets such that it’s a non issue for me.

In NRL PRS style, which I mainly do for training and testing because there aren’t enough other outlets, I believe that the 16-18lb range is ideal for the speed of stabilizing positions under a short time; heavier than that for me really has no measurable influence on hit percentages as identified during the competition season. As an example of some of the tests I conducted, I shot 6 PRS and NRL national matches in the last year with decreasing weight in my chassis from 20 to 14lbs at each event. Because I also decreased bullet velocity concurrently at these events I always show baselines with what I dubbed a competition speed load to verify group sizes were consistent and thus differentiated between chassis weight and bullet speeds. Remember these were just my tests so I know you need to isolate one variable not two, but there aren’t that many comps and I wanted to do it this way (suck it).

I noticed no real change in hit percentage with rifle weight vs lad velocity which has a substantial influence as I broke a minimum threshold (future post.

So, to make a short story long, adding weight doesn’t help my shooting all that much, but It could help grow sexy biceps if that’s the real goal.

Take Away Weight conclusion: With good fundamentals, weight offers a small boost in performance but for the less experienced shooter it’s a crutch that will ultimately come back to bite you.

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