Why Snipe the Messenger

The Rise of the Obstinate

Sniper's Hide
Sheep Creek Lodge Bear

It’s been said, more than once for sure, that ownership does not equal competence. Just ask all the guys who have wrapped their $100,000 sports car around a telephone pole. Sure they owned a Lamborghini, but the first time they kicked it in the ass they wrecked it.

We see the same thing with precision rifle owners. Yes, they own said product, but their local range only goes to 200 yards, and the farthest they have shot in their life might have been 400 yards.  Replying with assertiveness does not add to their credibility but you’d never know it.

Today, those guys are the resident experts on your local Facebook group. Some of them even started that group because they were tired of looking silly and always getting corrected by guys with a lot more experience.

I see it every day, though I am less prone to respond as it’s not worth my time. Seeing guys I have known for 15 years, accomplished Precision Rifle shooters being told their experience doesn’t count.

The YouTube comments are just as bad, constantly questioning “why” I upgraded the Ruger Precision Rifle the way I did.  How it’s not a Ruger anymore, never looking past their own nose seeing the aftermarket industry that grew out of my upgrade videos. I had the Ruger months before it was released to the public, I was setting the stage even back then as it was designed to be modular the way you see it today.  Constantly asking why seems strange to me.

Sniping the Messenger

Alaska Precision Rifle
Teaching Precision Rifle in Alaska

It’s not a personal attack on your manhood to be corrected. When you make a mistake or post a long debunked assumption, it helps everyone to stop that line of false thinking in its tracks. Bad information gets repeated a lot.

Shooting is one of the longest running games of Telephone out there. Before 9-11 precision rifle advances moved at a snail’s pace. Today, it’s changing every week. Thanks to computers, video, and more people getting into the sport, we see a lot of changes. The old wive’s tales from 1978 no longer apply.  You might as well be holding your breath when you shoot.

I went to Sniper School in 1986. A lot has changed since then. I would never try to tell someone to do what I did to graduate back in the day. Our level of understanding has grown considerably. That said, I have kept up with modern times. Shooting is my job after all. I have been doing this on a full-time basis since the early 2000s.   I continue to teach and see a wide cross section of individuals from Argentina to Alaska, with a ton of stops in-between.

Education is not an Insult

Alaska Precision Rifle Class
Alaska Precision Rifle Class

When passing on lessons learned, nothing is more annoying than having someone come on and say, “I have owned that since 2009 and never had a problem with it”. Great, let me add your sample size of 1 into my personal database.

A prime example of this was during my recent trips to Alaska. It’s truly the last frontier up there. I have seen rifles in my AK classes I have not seen in the lower 48 for close to 8 years. In 2017 alone we trained 74 different shooters during our AK Precision Rifle Courses. That makes for a nice sampling of shooters and equipment. Much of that equipment is on the budget side.  They are in the process of upgrading so we get to see the journey of a new shooter.

During the June classes, we had many scopes go down. In one class, 5 out of 15 scopes failed to return to zero. We try to diagnose the problems, and when relating the stories, we often get the attention of the various manufacturers. They will call me directly when reading the posts on Sniper’s Hide, usually within minutes of me posting. The June class was no different. I was in direct contact with the companies explaining my observations.

We found the biggest contributor to the problem was vertically split rings. I know right, who would have guessed? I was never a fan of them, they aren’t precision. They started out as affordable AR rings and then somehow morphed in to go to precision rifle equipment. I never advocate inexpensive for the sake of cost, as you get what you pay for in this case. Stuff designed for the AR crowd is not my idea of quality in the context of a precision rifle. The Airsoft stuff used is worse.

No this does not include the ARC rings, they are not true split rings which were the root of the problems. Since that class, we have paid more attention and in July we replaced two sets of split rings and loaned a good scope to a shooter with a third set. Clearly, they are turning out to be an issue.

We see the same argument online with guys buying Knock-Off, Airsoft quality bipods. The Facebook expert who has owned a Knock Off bipod for 1 year is all too happy to tell you how they saved money and see no downside. They never broke one, so who cares what the consequences of supporting a Chinese knock off Atlas clone might be.  As soon as someone asks, they jump in to promote this junk.

Knock Off
Justifying Knock Off and AirSoft Products for actual Rifles

It’s Identical… or so he says, cause you know an AI is overpriced.

Ask B&T Industries how many times guys have called attempting to warranty a knock off. They don’t tighten down properly, they will eventually collapse under recoil, but hey, the guy saved money.

Scopes are the weakest link – we are trying to help.

Scope Testing
Alaska Precision Rifle Scope Testing

In a Precision Rifle Weapons’ system, the scope is the weakest link. (aside from the shooter) They have the highest chance of failure, and those errors come in a variety of ways.

  • Downright failure to track at all
  • Adjustments that are not accurate to the system
  • Failure to return to zero correctly
  • Mixed Adjustment systems – MOA vs. IPHY in the same scope

In the past, many of these errors were overlooked because we doped our rifles at a distance. We shot, recorded our data in our Databook, where right or wrong, as long as the scope made the same error twice we never saw it. If your average range engaged was less than 400 yards we might never notice a problem. Today all that is out the window thanks to ballistic computers.

Ballistic Solver Errors

Software Variations
Software Variations

Scope adjustment errors are one of the leading causes of ballistic software errors. Everyone has an app on their phone and in my classes, I stress the point that theses Apps are Tools and Not Toys. The shooter is required to their part to ensure accuracy.

Number one in every one of my presentations when it comes to ballistic solver truing states, “Calibrate your Scope.” That means tall target testing. Another common error is testing return to zero on an 8×11 sheet of paper. There is a clue in the term, “Tall Target Testing.” Tall means more than a few inches. I recommend a minimum of 36″ or 10 mils worth.

During our Precision Rifle 2 class in Alaska, we had Targets USA build us a dedicated scope testing apparatus. We removed every student’s scope and tested it. We found only five scopes tracked 100%, and the majority of scopes had an error of 1.5%. No big deal, but enough to enter a correction into your ballistic solver. That is why these solvers let you do this type of click adjustment.

Disagreements in the face of Facts

Scopes Testing
Scope Testing Views

On the flight home from Alaska, I noticed John McQuay of 8541 Tactical talking about people complaining about a review he wrote. Apparently, a favorite product did not fare so well, their answer, attack John. Instead of understanding things change, companies evolve and not always for the better, it was back to, “well my rifle is fantastic so you must not know what you are talking about”. Sad because it could save people some money.  Here is a clue, skip the Remington and consider a Tikka. You might be surprised.

I posted on the Sniper’s Hide Facebook page to not only check your scope but understand the difference between Shooter’s MOA and True MOA. It matters, it can be as much as 2 MOA off at 1000 yards which mean, 20″. Hoping to educate the readers I was met with a comment, “What does it matter, you cannot see .047″ at 100 yards”. Okay, you got me … you cannot see .047 with the naked eye at 100 yards. But what about at 1000 yards? What about your software which you are counting on. If you tell the software you are adjusting in MOA it assumes True MOA. If your scope, however, adjusts in SMOA, that means as much as 2 MOA difference in your 1000 yard dope.  Next week you’ll be complaining about Ballistics AE and how it was off.

We had a 17 post discussion before the originator of the comment deleted the whole thing. I will mention his final statement before deleting was, “He was right” you cannot see .047. Even though we demonstrated, you could, didn’t matter.

Errors compound, the farther you shoot, the more conscious of these errors you have to be. Inside 400 yards you might never see it, but I guarantee you will see it at 1000 yards. In reply to this comment, he said, “his dope for his rifle is correct, and he can hit a 1000 yards, so it doesn’t matter”. Great, he walked it in, figured it out and now can repeat it. Doesn’t mean he understands what a MOA is, or how IPHY can differ.  Stop teaching me something is all I read.

Ask a question or look for clarification before attacking the messenger

It’s not about the argument; it’s not about attacking your choice in equipment, it’s about educating those looking to move forward in their precision rifle journey.

Just because we say we see a number of errors or failures in a particular brand, does not mean we are attacking you personally because you own that brand. If it works for you, great, but don’t ignore the statistics. Bringing attention to a problem is how it gets fixed.

Move out of your Comfort Zone

Out of your Comfort Zone
Out of Your Comfort Zone

When was the last time, on your own you were forced outside your comfort zone? Nobody takes a leisurely trip to the range and that creates a situation where they will fail. By “they” I mean their equipment. It goes against human nature. If you honestly tested it, you might see what we see, but then you’ll realize you might have wasted your money.  In many cases ignorance is bliss.

There is a lot of guys with real world experience out there getting frustrated by the level of obstinance seen in these groups. All they want is for reliable information to be passed on and not something previously debunked. Our goal is to save you money and not sell a product. Funny, he said my opinion in the SMOA vs. TMOA discussion didn’t matter because Prime Ammo sponsored me. Nobody said a word about ammo, but that was the justification. You cannot trust my opinion because I shoot Prime Ammo. I not only laughed out loud, but I am also chuckling now writing this.

Ownership Is not competence
Ownership is Not Competence

Ownership is not competence, so if you never shot past 400 yards, never attended a competition or some form of organized training, consider reading before you write. Shooters are a generous bunch and will share with you all sorts of insight if you let them. But you have to be open to the fact things have changed. Grandpa for all his good shooting was not always right. He might have instilled you with some bad habits. We see it every class.

It’s not about you until you make it so.