If you have been keeping up with the series, you know that we have talked positions and data. Now its time to talk about the spot where a ton of mistakes, plus failures in position and data cost time and money. The average match round for 5.56 is about $1 and in the PRS series a miss gets you about 30 seconds in penalties. Aim is where the heroes and zeros are made.
First, lets talk about some definitions. If you talk to a lot of seasoned shooters you will hear “Sights and Trigger” Some will talk about sight alignment all day but not sight picture. My definitions are as follows
Sight Alignment- firing eye perfectly centered on optic or behind iron sights. Setting up your rifle to allow for perfect sight alignment with minimal effort is important. A mount that is too high or low will cause you to have to do extra work
Sight Picture- The sight alignment applied to a target.
Aim- Sight Alignment and Sight picture with proper hold for elevation and wind.
With those definitions in mind, when I say Aim or aiming, it includes the wind call and the data we worked up previously.
A basic stage looks like this. Move a few feet from the start to the firing position, chamber the round, get stable, aim and fire. Let’s say that the hold is 1.3 mils for 330 yards. Most of the targets this year were 2-3 MOA. That means the target is between 6-9 inches. Your wobble zone needs to be sub-minute in order to properly aim at that target.
Once you get stable enough to apply your hold, you need to keep it there long enough to fire the rifle. This is why I, to the dismay of A LOT of people, emphasize stability over trigger control. During the 60 stages of high-level competition this year I can attribute 80% of misses to stability issues. I knew my hold and the TreMor3 made wind easy but putting that aim point on the target was at times impossible for me to accomplish.
The two truths of marksmanship are properly point the weapon(aim) and fire the weapon without disturbing the aim. Sounds simple enough and with a good shot process or plan it is straight forward. To aim properly, you must have stability and the proper hold.
This brings me to reticle selection. If you intend on being effective, you need to have reticle that allows for applying a hold. The debates on focal plane choice and eye box have been in full rage the past few weeks but little to nothing has been said about reticle choice. For me, the only optic I will run without some sort of tree is a red dot. I refuse to entertain a reticle without it in any magnified optic. The CMR-W in Leupolds and the NightForce FC-DM are good examples of this in LVPO. For larger scopes I prefer the TreMor3 reticle. The reason why is I haven’t spent a lot of time calling or getting wind calls. For those who have, the 3 may not work well for you. Getting your “calibration” for the TreMor3 is an easy process while you are working up data on your rifle. Then, you simply go to the wind dot closest to your elevation hold based off the wind call. This gives you your final aiming solution.
Some mistakes I did personally or saw happen this year are forgetting to zero out your turret from a dial stage and using improper hold. Applying a 1.3 mil hold when you already have 2 mils dialed into the scope sends your bullet into the “hell if I know” zone. The rough distance between a 1.3hold and a 1.5 hold is about 7 inches. For the size of targets involved, this is a miss. In my first match, I had trouble with my data. SD’s were low on it but for some reason my data and where the bullet was going was inconsistent. This was very frustrating. After that match, I changed ammunition and despite higher SDs and slightly less accurate, my data was consistent for the rest of the season.
Aiming is THE most important aspect of shooting accurately. Without aim your bullet will not land at its intended spot. Getting that proper aim relies on the effort put forth prior to the aiming solution on the target. From data development to getting stable, the process is what gets you there. As you can see equipment plays a part in making that easier and thus faster, but it doesn’t do it for you.
Shoot further, faster
- Ash Hess