Sniper’s Hide is a gear queer’s wet dream. All we do is talk about the latest and greatest gear from the time I wake until we all go to sleep. It’s a constant barrage of pick my favorite color posts noon til night.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s important to wade through the pros and cons of each piece of equipment out there before wasting your hard-earned money. Giving you better information is a personal goal of mine. It’s often stated we don’t suffer fools on Sniper’s Hide, and when it comes to picking and choosing, we try our best to get it right. That usually means the products with the proven track records, or in many cases of new products, ones that don’t needlessly waste your money. We have a lot of solutions in our industry looking for a problem.
Here is what I see as a bigger problem,
Trying to buy a hit versus putting the sweat equity in to earn the impact.
Like many other industries out there that are gear focused, too many shooters attempt to pay for success instead of earning it. I can buy the best digital camera on the market—Nikon D5, or Canon 1DX MkII those cameras alone will not make me an award-winning photographer. It takes education and repetition to gain experience. We have to put in the time to reap the rewards.
We often talk about the science of shooting, but within the science of sports, we know it takes about 9,000 positive repetitions to create that neural pathway to success. If you are always chasing the latest and greatest gear, you are resetting that process every time. Sure, particular aspects will remain constant, but it’s not a complete picture.
We often advocate for buying a better piece of equipment if the changes warrant the move, but if we look at our smartphones, skipping an upgrade never hurt anyone. Where does the line form, well that depends on the needs of the individual? If you are moving from a Remington 700 5R in 308 to a 6.5CM or 6CM variant, you will probably see instant improvements. That said, if you are going from a 6mm Creedmoor to a 6GT, are you gaining anything when you consider the differences? The most significant change will come out of your wallet, not your groups on target.
Successfully shooting a precision rifle does not always mean money. Much more of it involves time and putting the fundamentals into practice behind the rifle. Each rifle will have its own set of quirks. Could be a recoil pulse, could be you moved to a magnum caliber, and now you have to relearn how to manage the recoil. There is no single answer to this equation. It’s one of the reasons we try to push people on the Sniper’s Hide forum towards a better question.
People get mad when they ask a stupid question, and rather than answer it; we try to force them to reframe it. Sure we understand what you are trying to say; we have years of experience decoding poorly asked questions. But why should we hold your hand? Most of you are grown men; ask a better question. Wording the question correctly has multiple benefits; it educates you, but also those who will come after and read the post without the context of time. Most of the Sniper’s Hide content is evergreen, but while the answers from 3 years ago might work, odds are, we changed either methods or technology or both to solve this problem in a better way.
Many of our answers are influenced by experience. I teach classes to a variety of shooters. What is essential to a shooter in Alaska may not be part of the same considerations to the shooters of Florida. What does experience mean, it means having the first-hand knowledge in the execution of the task. We either observed it or experienced it, usually in more than one way. The context of our experience matters just as much as the question itself. If a man living in Florida asks me about shooting a 223 to 1000 yards, my answer for him will be different than a man asking the same question from Colorado. Being a mile high, we know the bullet will be supersonic longer, that has to factor into the subject.
The shooting world is full of experience that doesn’t translate well. One-off solutions that only work in very narrow spaces. It’s hard for a new shooter to understand these differences. Education is the key to success, putting in the time and effort instead of breaking out the credit card. Yes, I can spend your money very quickly, but I am really helping you?
If you want to get better at shooting, you need to go out and shoot. And by go out and shoot, I don’t mean fumbling through it; if you are doing the same thing over and over, incorrectly, you can still improve. Repetitions offer improvement, but the mantra should be Perfect Practice makes perfect, not just practice. We often repeat what we see, guys who want to shoot sideways in the prone like a little green army man. They saw an image of a world-class service rifle shooter firing with his sling and think, “He is a winner, so doing it this way is winning.” Wrong, he is shooting that way because he is using a sling, and you have a bipod and rear bag; the method is different.
Many out there incorrectly feel I am anti-competition. That could not be further from the truth. I still host one of the longest-running competitions in the country and do participate in matches when my schedule allows. I see a ton of benefit in competition shooting. The most obvious in the context of this discussion is being subject to someone else’s rules. We never set ourselves up to fail. When you are out there alone, practicing with your rifle, it’s 100% your rules. You always win even if you are missing. Competitions take that control out of your hands; the clock is not of your choosing, the target size, the distance, even the position is forced on you. This is what helps people progress and succeed. Learn from your mistakes, record notes to bring home. They are handing you a $1000 a day education, and many leave that on the Match floor on the way out the door. I am going to charge you $1000 to point out your failings; they are doing it for much less. You are being handed a roadmap, so take advantage of the course being charted.
It’s not the gear; it’s the sweat you put into it. If you buy a new rifle and don’t have a plan to educate yourself behind it, you just wasted a bunch of money. Have a plan, stick to that plan until the evidence says otherwise. It doesn’t matter what your rifle costs, what kind of scope you have mounted, it only matters what you choose to do with it. You can struggle and whine about the inferior nature of the caliber, or you can step up and own it. Fear the man with one rifle; he may know how to use it. These truisms are truthful for a reason; it’s experience talking. Listen to that experience.
I get it, we all live busy lives. I wish I could attend more matches, but my training schedule prevents it. I wish I could focus 100% on competition style shooting, but my audience is not always competitive shooters. I need to be a mixed bag. I buy things to have experience behind it, knowing full well once established it will never be used again. That is done because I am in a unique position. I don’t always have to spend my money, which in turn helps me save you some. Many people see the gear that crosses our desk and believe we keep all of it. That is not the case; we often send it back rather quickly. Being an influencer means understanding a host of products we may never use. That is my cross to bear, not yours. Let me flush it out before you spend your money.
If your time is precious, ask for a better plan.
We want to build a well-rounded marksman. It’s not about the one-trick pony; we shouldn’t idolize the guy who focuses on the gear. If you need something special to execute the shot, you might be doing it wrong. Now, if the same piece of equipment helps you make the shot more comfortably, ask yourself what my options are, and can I do it without this piece of gear. Is it a time factor, or is this gear doing something I cannot?
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect, what is perfect when it comes to your precision rifle. In my mind, excellence is not limited by caliber, barrel length, weight, or optic. It’s limited to the time you put into mastering your craft.