Stay in the riflescope? Jake, a viewer of our You Tube video on the Legendary Arms Works 6.5 Creedmoor, asked this:
“Why oh why do, like, 95% of all shooters take their eyes off the scope when re-chambering a round?”
“Stay in the Riflescope” Answer
Good question, Jake. Proper, effective shooting should include keeping your head on the stock/comb and “in the scope” while cycling the next round and re-engaging your target. Many, if not most, shooters drop the rifle to chest or waist level before cranking in another round, probably because they think they need more leverage. Shouldn’t. The handle of a properly working bolt-action should lift with a push upward from the trigger finger or, at most, a lift with the palm. That can be accomplished while keeping the rifle to your face and your eye looking down the riflescope.
The Secret To Training Faster, Cheaper, Easier
The best way to begin training to stay in the riflescope is to fix in your mind that you are going to make one shot with the expressed intent of keeping the trigger pressed fully to the rear AND keeping your eyes open, seeing the target through the shot. This means, of course, you’ll have to keep your head on the stock. To make this easier, do it with an empty rifle. Dry firing won’t hurt centerfire bolt action rifles (double check with the manufacturer or a gunsmith if you have doubts.) It will make learning a lot faster, cheaper and easier than live fire exercises.
Follow These “Stay in Riflescope” Training Steps
So, lock on target, trigger a shot and concentrate on keeping the reticle on target and the trigger depressed fully back. Give it a few seconds for the “feel” to sink in. Then, keeping the target in view, lift the bolt and cycle it as if you were bolting home a fresh round. This action will cock the firing pin for your next dry fire. Repeat, repeat and repeat until this series of actions becomes as automatic as scratching your itchy chin. (By the way, keeping the trigger pressed back trains you against what the instructors at FTW Ranch in TX call “booger flicking.” It isn’t a major impediment to accuracy, but flicking your finger forward after each shot contributes to what I call “flinch light.” You subconsciously anticipate the recoil and subtly jerk the shot. Training to pull back and hold that trigger back combats this booger flicking tendency.)
When you’re consistently dry firing (from all positions) and cycling rounds while keeping the target in view, graduate to live fire. This is best done with a mild recoiling rifle. A 22 rimfire is perfect, but something in the 223 Rem. to 243 Win. class can work. Just don’t introduce significant recoil, which can throw all your dry firing training off course. Wear ear protection regardless the rifle. Anticipating a sharp report contributes to flinching, too.
Another mental game worth playing is trying to watch the bullet into the target. This is like a baseball batter seeing the stitching on a ball. It leads to proper form and follow through. You won’t actually see the 22 slug (unless it’s a subsonic round — you really can see those,) but you should see the hole appear in the paper. Repeat this until you are routinely squeezing off your shot, holding the trigger back, seeing the hit, then releasing the trigger and cycling the bolt, all while keeping your cheek on the stock and the target in the scope.
The Final Test to “Stay In The Riflescope”
Your final transition is to your big game rifle. By concentrating on all the moves you’ve learned, you will not only “stay in the scope,” but you are much less likely to flinch from anticipated recoil. With a properly fitted rifle and decent recoil pad, recoil doesn’t really hurt. Individuals might think it does, but the fact that other individuals, including small framed men and women, routinely and accurately shoot 338 magnums, 375 magnums and even 45 magnums proves that painful recoil is more mental than physical.
I can relate because when I shot my first M94 Winchester 30-30 at age 16, it slapped me like I’d kissed the wrong girlfriend. Fortunately, my first two big game targets were running whitetails, not girls. I was so keen to bag those deer that I didn’t have time to think about recoil. I stayed in the gun (open sights) for two successive shots to drop the first deer as it ran flat out, broadside. I stayed in the gun for four quick shots while catching up to the second buck as it also ran flat out, but quite a bit farther away. I never felt any recoil. Thank God for flying dust so I could compensate for insufficient lead. Seeing where my shots kicked up dust was critical to my eventual success, and that’s another argument for training to shoot with both eyes open and in the gun. Flinching, closing your eyes and dropping the rifle at each shot leaves you temporarily blind to what’s going on. It wastes precious seconds as you reacquire the target.
So, concentrate on all you learned from your dry fire and low recoil training. Dry fire the big rifle a few times. Then go to live fire and maintain concentration on the sight picture. Try to see the target get hit. A cool way to do this is by targeting two gallon milk jugs filled with water, side by side. Try to see one explode in a spray before getting back onto the second one. With enough training, you should reach the point where you can pop four or five jugs in a row — and rather quickly! Congrats! You have trained yourself to stay in the riflescope and be an effective rifleman.
Jake, thanks for the great question. You are absolutely right. Staying in the rifle and keeping your eye in the riflescope improves shooting success in many ways.
Milk jugs, mule deer and other targets have escaped because Ron Spomer hasn’t always stayed in the scope and cycled fresh rounds into battery with his cheek on the stock. But he tries.