Recoil management for light rifles and magnums

Awesymoto

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Hi guys n gals a few observations that I made the past few times out that drove me in circles until I pegged it.

Scenario 1 I have a Howa 1500 .243 win lightweight rifle and was doing load development got some really good loads then decided to shoot some steel. Next day I’m zeroing off a different pack and groups are 1-1.5 MOA I can’t figure out what changed. Well my pack I shot off to zero had “ears” for the forearm and my hunting pack does not.

I can only figure that the very light rifle was moving around when I was shooting it due to recoil while the bullet was still in the bore. I put my hand on the scope and presto .3 MOA groups again.

Scenario 2. 12.5 lb 28 Nosler. I am getting vertical stringing in an up and left way. I wasn’t paying much mind to my shoulder pressure more reticle and trigger. Well light shoulder pressure = high and left and hard hold or firm = low and right prone with bipod and bag. I try something and do two groups one with light bipod loading and one with firm shoulder pressure and trigger hand pressure. Firm pressure grouped low and .1 right light pressure grouped nearly .3 miles higher and left as well as was larger in size.

Moral of the story as far as I believe? Light guns for caliber need some pressure to tame the dwell time recoil (bullet moving through bore) to shoot accurately. My buddy has a 6.5 creed braked at 12lbs and his does not respond the same as mine.
 
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RanchhandTCR

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Heavy rifles let you get away with sloppy recoil managment. Most lighter rifles ive gotta make sure the butt is snug on my collar bone and that i am squared up as straight as i can be. Then follow thru with the shot. Goal is to allow you body to absorb the recoil and not neccesarily stop it.
 
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Pbgt

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I have seen a bunch of light, big bore guns in classes. A couple of my observations are: the shooter tends to "walk back" or blade more with each shot, while shooting off a bench. Stay behind the rifle, use consistent shoulder pressure and body position in (3) shot strings. When trying to zero, most are using a front bag as a rest, due to the lack of need for a bipod and putting your sling stud/sling just in front of the bag, then firing with heavy recoil will cause the gun to jump. Probably the single, most common issue is the stock not fitting the shooter, as most hunting rifle stocks are fixed. I see shooters with a 1/4 inch gap between their cheek and the stock, hence no repeatable results. Some hockey tape and foam will fix alot of this fairly well. I also have seen some shooters pull the fore grip down slightly with the weak hand and tighten groups some, I believe in part because this tends to keep the shooter square and consistent behind the rifle, vs the shoulder weld being the main contact/pivot point. Lastly, its pretty rare for the big bore/light gun guys to spend any amount of appreciable time behind the rifle, its tough to get better with very little practice.
 

Awesymoto

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Pbgt, I don't really shoot with many people these days, but, can see how new shooters would have these issues.

The last point you made about spending time behind the gun made me think. What's interesting is I've translated my skillset from heavy precision guns to light guns, and it doesn't really work out that way. I've had my Howa since 2016 and found accuracy not consistent, some days it'd shoot 3/8 MOA then others 1.5 MOA. Well it turns out shooting them the same as match rifles just doesn't work. Now that Ive put nearly 700 rounds through it I think I"ve figured it out... Next range session i'm going to repeat test this theory of mine (holding the gun with support hand)

My 28 is in a Manners PRS1 and is for all similarities is a PRS gun but magnum.

Shooting 6.5's and .308's vs the 28 is a whole new deal as FDR may say. I'll go from the 6.5 printing out ~ 1/3 MOA to the 28 blasting the same 1/3 MOA. The difference is focus, behind the 6.5 I can get away with a ton of crap, but if i'm not consistent behind the 28 ie shoulder pressure, hand pressure, groups open up to ~ 3/4 MOA.

I believe Ranchand is right, heavy PRS guns in short action calibers allow you to be sloppy with recoil management.

Anyways just a few observations that some may want to play around with.
 

C.R. Adams

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My belief differs from your thoughts. I don't believe the lighter rifle requires any different handling than that a heavier rifle. My thought is the lighter rifle only exaggerates any weaknesses in the shooter's technique.
 
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Dthomas3523

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My belief differs from your thoughts. I don't believe the lighter rifle requires any different handling than that a heavier rifle. My thought is the lighter rifle only exaggerates any weaknesses in the shooter's technique.
Many top shooters who use a version or full on free recoil disagree with you.
 

C.R. Adams

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Many top shooters who use a version or full on free recoil disagree with you.
How would that not be an indicator of a weakness in free recoil technique since those fellas are shooting 20+ lb rifles? Meaning , since shooting a 20+ lb rifle free recoil, the rifle and shooter function just fine.............. However, when shooting a lighter rifle, free recoil, this doesn't work out so well. wouldn't that be a perfect example supporting my belief that lighter rifles exaggerate any weaknesses in a shooter's technique?
 
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Dthomas3523

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How would that not be an indicator of a weakness in free recoil technique since those fellas are shooting 20+ lb rifles? Meaning , since shooting a 20+ lb rifle free recoil, the rifle and shooter function just fine.............. However, when shooting a lighter rifle, free recoil, this doesn't work out so well. wouldn't that be a perfect example supporting my belief that lighter rifles exaggerate any weaknesses in a shooter's technique?
Your thought process is like saying that you should be driving your vehicle using shuffle steering at all times, even if you’re moving at 10mph.

Not using a technique when it’s not required isn’t a weakness in technique.

However, using a technique when it’s not required can in many times be less effective. If you’re utilizing a full on best recoil management as possible technique on a heavy rifle that doesn’t recoil as much, you may be sacrificing a larger wobble zone for wasted recoil management you didn’t need.

Just like utilizing less recoil management on a higher recoiling rifle for less reticle wobble, but now you can’t spot your impact/miss.

The important part is know when/where to utilize which technique.

Proper and perfect fundamentals need to be taught and utilized for newer shooters, or shooters who don’t yet have the ability to adjust dynamically.

With modern techniques advancing rapidly, you absolutely can/will/should handle different rifles (be it weight, caliber, etc etc) differently. If you’re not, you’re leaving something on the table you could be using to your advantage.
 

C.R. Adams

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Your thought process is like saying that you should be driving your vehicle using shuffle steering at all times, even if you’re moving at 10mph.

Not using a technique when it’s not required isn’t a weakness in technique.

However, using a technique when it’s not required can in many times be less effective. If you’re utilizing a full on best recoil management as possible technique on a heavy rifle that doesn’t recoil as much, you may be sacrificing a larger wobble zone for wasted recoil management you didn’t need.

Just like utilizing less recoil management on a higher recoiling rifle for less reticle wobble, but now you can’t spot your impact/miss.

The important part is know when/where to utilize which technique.

Proper and perfect fundamentals need to be taught and utilized for newer shooters, or shooters who don’t yet have the ability to adjust dynamically.

With modern techniques advancing rapidly, you absolutely can/will/should handle different rifles (be it weight, caliber, etc etc) differently. If you’re not, you’re leaving something on the table you could be using to your advantage.
Let's assume and accept the thought process is "like saying that you should shuffle steer at all times"; If shuffle steering is performed soundly and correctly, does it hinder a driver's ability to effectively operate the car regardless of the speed? If fundamentals are the building blocks of a foundation that all shooting is to be built upon, how would any perfectly performed fundamental hinder a person when shooting a rifle?

The idea of "free recoil" is nothing new or dynamic. Free recoil has been utilized in the short range Benchrest community for well over 25 yrs. While benchrest shooters have platforms that are conducive to consistent recoil each trigger pull, such a front rests and rear rests made this anything from leather to delrin, PRS does not allow shooters for such platforms. The rifle rests in BR are not only set up to recoil straight back, but also the stocks are designed in such a way as to facilitate this movement. PRS rifles are simply resting on a bag that may or may not be level. there is a single balance point that may change depending on angle and width of the barrier. With that said, a person can specifically look to the Benchrest Hunter classes to identify lower scores compared to the unlimited classes. Among others, I'd say the main contributing factor of lower scores is weight of the Huter rifle. Hunter rifles quite often utilize the same front and rear rests as unlimited rifles, but are limited to 10.5 lbs compared to the much heavier rifles found in the unlimited classes.

Again, I stand by the original statement that light rifles will uncover weaknesses in a shooting technique.