W. Edwards Demming on accuracy

by B.B. Pelletier

One of the reasons America did well during WW II was the organization of our national manufacturing capability. Two men were largely responsible for that organization – W. Edwards Demming and Joseph Juran. After the war, they were asked to come to Japan to assist in planning the rebuilding of the Japanese national infrastructure. They made such an impact that both were eventually named as Japanese Sacred Treasures, which I think gives good insight into why Japan has come as far as it has – naming people as treasures. One of the byproducts of their lessons on organization is known today as Japanese Management!

Dr. Demming also consulted with companies on how to improve their operations, and here is one very telling exercise he had his students, the senior management of the company, do.

One student stood on a low bench looking down on a piece of paper on the floor. The paper had a small dot in the center that was the “target” or goal of the entire class. The student on the bench placed the eraser of a lead pencil against the tip of his nose and dropped it straight down on the target so the point of the pencil would make a mark on the paper. The goal was to hit the target, but the person who dropped the pencil wasn’t allowed to deviate in what he did. He had to remain in the same place and drop the pencil in the same direction every time.

Another student was in charge of reporting to the rest of the class how far off target the pencil had struck. The class had their backs to the target and relied on this report to tell them where the pencil had struck. Then they developed instructions for how the paper should be moved so the pencil would hit the target, and these instructions were given to the person who had reported the results of the last test. He or she had to follow these instructions exactly – there was no allowance for improvising.

Well, as you probably guessed, the pencil began hitting farther and farther from the target. The error continued to grow, despite the group’s best attempts to correct the situation. Eventually, the pencil was no longer hitting the paper at all and the test had to end, because there was no way for the data to be recorded accurately.

The lesson? For the management students, the lesson is that committees of people removed from a situation can never hope to manage that situation, no matter how rigid a set of rules they put in place. But there is a shooting lesson there, as well. One shot doesn’t mean a thing! One of these days, I’m going to repeat Demming’s exercise while sighting-in a scope, and I know the results will be the same. You cannot make a judgement based on one single shot – even a good one! If you adjust the sights after each shot, based on where it strikes in relation to the target, you will only hit the target by chance.

Here’s some more food for thought. I used to run a 4.2″-mortar platoon, and we never saw the targets we shot at. Never! Our mortar shells went 2,000 to 5,000 yards and always over a hill, so we had to rely on the radioed reports of men watching the target through binoculars to tell us how to adjust our fire. Nevertheless, we managed on one occasion to drop a high-explosive shell down the commander’s hatch of a target tank! That kind of accuracy is unheard-of for mortars (it was a lucky shot) and unnecessary, because the bursting radius of a 39-lb. high-explosive shell is about 40 yards. You only have to get close!

The point I’m making is this: we trusted our sights that were pointed at stakes in the ground a few yards from the guns. We couldn’t even SEE the target! So, when somebody tells me, “I’ve got old eyes and I just have to use a scope!” I have no compassion. I wear bifocals and cannot read without them, yet I shoot with open sights just fine. Why? Because I trust the sights! Every now and then, I might throw a shot wide of its mark, but that doesn’t result in an adjustment of the sights. Stuff happens and you roll with it. However, after 10 shots have all gone to a new place, then I think I will take notice.

So, scope-shifting and drooped barrels and old eyes, and whatever other excuses you have to offer me, will fall on deaf ears. Shoot a reasonable group before you start changing things.

And, another thing. Remember the drunk who lost his car keys under the car but kept looking for them on the sidewalk because the light was better? The same thing applies to you guys who can’t group with the pellets you buy at Wal-Mart. If that’s your problem, stop using those pellets! Stop hoping for a miracle that’s never going to happen. Break down and order some good pellets. Same for Pellgunoil, good pellet traps, targets printed on real target paper etc. Buy what you need, because the one thing you will never have enough of is time.

Okay, I needed to get that off my chest. I know it isn’t as much fun as talking about a new pellet gun, but do you remember the lesson of, “Wax on, wax off?” If you don’t know that lesson, here is your assignment – watch the movie The Karate Kid.

42 Responses to “W. Edwards Demming on accuracy”

  • Anonymous Says:

    Well-said BB
    I am guilty of this, I need to get back to taking my time and shooting larger groups.

    By the way I ordered a Marksman 2004 and a Beeman 2004 arrived I know it is the same gun but it is saying some thing when a company sells a copy of its own gun.

    Ed

  • Anonymous Says:

    One of your better articles. Thank you.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Ed,

    Yep! The cat is out of the bag.

    What I wonder is how long it will be before Weihrauch moves the production of the HW40 PCA (Beeman P3) to China?

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I purchased a P-3 from Pyramid, paid $189.00 for it. Did I over-pay? Should I have ordered the Marksman 2004? Is it the same gun with different labeling?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    The Marksman 2004 which is now shipping as the Beeman 2004 is not the same gun as the Beeman P3. That gun is the HW40 PCA, and is made in Germany.

    The Chinese copies are very close in both appearance and performance. And in Europe (not in the U.S.), Weihrauch will repair the Chinese gun.

    This is the same thing that happened in the 1970s when car owners discovered different engines in their cars. The big complaint, I believe,k was a Pontiac engine in a Buick.

    B.B.

    B.B.

  • mr-lama Says:

    Hey B.B.

    Good article, I have been guilty of sighting the scope in with 1 shot before. :P

    On another note. It’s obvious how when you leave a springer cocked for a long period of time that you can mess up the mainspring. Well, looking at my condor, when you cock the gun, you compress a spring behind the hammer. People always talk about how you can leave a pcp airgun cocked forever without any problems. Well, with that spring, I would think that over a period of time the thing would become faulty and not have the power to push the hammer forward with as much force, like how a springer wouldn’t push the piston as hard. Or is there something about the spring in a pcp that won’t do this?

    Thanks,

    lama

  • GadgetHead Says:

    Thanks for the fascinating history lesson, B.B. Your reference to those famous gurus of quality reminded me of the writings of a famous philosopher.

    “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted, it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience.” – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

    Cheers,
    GH

  • Anonymous Says:

    ma-lama
    I don’t think I ever read any advice stating you should leave a PCP cocked, I belive the advice said to leave you gun presurized to keep dust out.

    Ed

  • Anonymous Says:

    ANY COMENTS ON THE GAMO PELLET’S IN .22 WOULD BE HELPFUL. I CAN GET GAMO, BENJAMIN, RWS AND MENDOZA SOLIDS AT MY LOCAL CABELAS. I WAS WONDERING WHAT B.B THOUGHT WAS CONCIDERED A GOOD PELLET?

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hi B.B.

    After you sight in, you shoot on a target where the crosshair is located.

    For RWS, they are known for bareel droop. How can you tell your RWS or any airgun has a barrel droop?

    What exactly do you do to determine that you have a barrel droop and you buy a mount that can compensate the barrel droop?

    Thanks for info!

    -Pelking

  • Anonymous Says:

    Dear GH-

    Where on earth did Santayana, who I normally have great respect for, come up with the idea that “This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience.” ? In my personal experience with children — can’t speak to barbarians, never having had much truck with them– this is not true. It seems more applicable to a hunting dog I once owned, who couldn’t seem to get it into his head that biting porcupines was a bad idea.
    -Joe

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Gamo pellets,

    Gamo is one of the oldest, if not THE oldest pellet maker in the world. Their lead pellets are all good. Their PBA pellets are a novelty and absurd for real shooters, but you asked about .22s, so my advice is try the Hunters, Magnums and Master Points and see which works best.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Pelking,

    Barrel droop is easy to spot. When you can’t adjust your scope high enough to get the pellet on target you have barrel droop. It’s like the flu. You don’t have to wonder – it comes to you and there is no doubt!

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    hi there bb
    if and when do you think you will be getting around to the new BAM rifles and pcps. could they really be good quality? i mean $360 for a .22 1000fps pcp? seems crazy.
    well they are made in china.
    thanx.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    If, yes. When, I don’t know! I have so many other things on my plate at this time that the B50/51 will have to wait awhile. Awhile means a month.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    JUST WANTED TO LET B.B KNOW THAT I APPRECIATE HIS ADVICE ON THE GAMO PELLETS AND BENJAMIN 392′S THE OTHER DAY. THANKS B.B

  • Anonymous Says:

    INSTEAD OF A HIGHER VELOCITY .177 I BOUGHT THE 392. CAN’T WAIT TO GET IT OUT OF THE BOX AND SEE WHAT IT’LL DO. I KNOW IT’S NOT THE FASTEST THING OUT THERE, BUT IF THE DISTANCE IS REASONABLE IT SHOULD DO THE TRICK. THANKS AGAIN B.B FOR YOUR HELP

  • dm20 Says:

    yup, i learned this the hard way. my neighbor’s chinese springer (whose sear failed!) would never group on its adjustments, whether i was shooting or him. the next day i had thought it over, and tried 3 shots. cheating, but i was naive at the time, and it worked well enough! everytime i look back on things like this, i can only think to myself,
    “i wish i’d found this blog earlier!”

  • CyberSkin Says:

    I with Gamo would make the pro magnums in 22 caliber.

  • CyberSkin Says:

    My first springer was a Gamo 1000. I had a hard time scoping it till i got bsquare one piece aa mounts, just be easy on the set screws at first or you’ll bugger up some threads. The first mounts were rocktight that i took a hammer to try and straighten the left right out. I use a Beeman pellet seat it keeps you from rubbing all the lube off the break barrels seal with you finger. I just push the pellet so its flush not so it clicks. No wonder there are so many referbished Gamo 1000′s. Pick one up and get some Walmart pellets without any understanding of a spring piston gun and your doomed to return it. I have leared so much I wish I could do it over, atleast i didnt give up. BB can you recomend a Lepers scope and a mount for my RWS 52, also a lube for the sliding action? Thanks BB for you are the King of air guns in my eyes, that i look to every day. Yes im bitten by the bug. All i want to do is to shoot if the weather clears up.Im going to pop some popcorn tomorrow along with some starlings and grackels. I dont know if its a mid life thing or what.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    CyberSkin,

    Leapers has just come out with several new scopes. I would want one with the TS platform for your gun. How about the 3-9X50 AO with R/G reticle and a mil dot?

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=658

    For a mount I recommend a B-Square AA adjustable one-piece mount so you can hang the scope stop pin in front of the scope rail on your rifle.

    The problem with scoping an RWS Diana rifle is the lack of a good anchor point for the stop pin, which is why I recommend hanging the pin in front of the scope rail on the gun. That creates another problem. The one-piece mount pretty well establishes where the scope HAS to be positioned, so you have to adapt to where the eyepiece ends up.

    You need an adjustable mount for any RWS Diana because of the droop problem. Some BKL mounts are compensated for droop, but in my experience, they don’t stay put because they rely on clamping pressure, alone.

    As far as a lube for the sliding chamber of you rifle, I have never lubricated one, so I don’t really know. But if I had to do it, I’d use a single drop of something like G96 Synthetic Gun Oil.

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=1068

    B.B.

  • GadgetHead Says:

    Joe wrote… “Where on earth did Santayana, who I normally have great respect for, come up with the idea…”

    Well, that would be at Harvard University in the United States. LOL! Just kidding you, Joe. I share your doubts, but I think The Santayana quotation re “the past” is more interesting in original context rather than as the usual single-sentence quotation.

    There’s no doubt that much has been learned/theorized about cognition, in general, and child development and learning, in particular, since 1905. I don’t know… perhaps Santayana would’ve phrased it differently had he known then what’s known now.

    “For an idea ever to be fashionable is ominous, since it must afterwards be always old-fashioned.” – George Santayana, Winds of Doctrine (1913) ch. 2

    Cheers,
    GH

  • ryan Says:

    They sell crosman premiers at Wal-Mart, so not every pellet is cheap at Wal-Mart.

    Anyway, thats the way I always treat it, I learned its patience and practice that gets me shooting more accurate, not these dumb gimics like changing the sights after a bad shot, are changing posistions or how I hold the gun.

    I didn’t even hear from anyone how to shoot right, over time I figured out the right techniques.

    People buy a gun, think they should be accurate because the gun is supposed to be accurate, they go out there shoot a few rounds, find themselves to be innacurate, and then complain that somethings wrong with their gun or what are they doing wrong.

    Not every shot will be accurate, persistence, patience, and natural shooting skills is what makes a good shooter.

  • Vince Says:

    Sounds like Santayana and G. K. Chesterton (who was writing at about the same time) had some of the same ideas about progress depending on retaining the past. A real progressive has to be a conservative!

    Chesterton also once wrote something like: “A man who considers himself a child of the times will soon find himself an orphan”.

  • Anonymous Says:

    im trying to decide between a sumatra 2500 and a career 707…could u help me.Ill b using a handpump and witch would go farthest and still b able to kill small game the .22 sumatra or a .25 career 707 thanx,zach

  • Anonymous Says:

    both shooting eun jins if that helps

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Zach,

    There isn’t much difference between these two airguns, but the Career is more powerful, so it will have the range advantage.

    B.B..

  • Anonymous Says:

    I have adjusted the windage on my Benjamin 392 all the wasy over and it still shoots about 1 inch to the right. “Out of the box it shot 2 1/2 inchs over and about a 1/2 inch down.” Does anyone have any helpful advice on what to do next? I’m a perfectionist and I would like it to be right on the money. Or is this gun not in that calibur of rifles?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Are you adjusting the rear sight in the direction you want the pellet to move?

    Is the front sight bent?

    This is not a common problem for any Benjamin multi-pump. If sight adjustment doesn’t correct the situation, the rifle should be returned or sent to Crosman for repair.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B

    I ADJUSTED THE REAR SIGHT, THE FRONT SIGHT LOOKS SOLID TO ME. IT’S NOT NOTICABLE TO ME IF IT’S BENT. I DIDN’T WANT TO TRY TO BEND ANYTHING SINCE THEY SIT ON TOP OF THE BRASS BARREL. I WAS SCARED I WOULD BEND THE BARREL. I WONDER WHAT WOULD BE MY LUCK AT GETTING ANOTHER RIFLE AND IT SHOOTING BETTER. WHEN ASKED IF I COULD RETURN IT IF IT WASN’T ACCURATE, THE SALESMAN REPLYED BENJAMIN’S AREN’T KNOWN FOR BEING VERY ACCURATE. THEN I GET HOME AND IT’S DOING THIS.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    The salesman is wrong. A Benjamin 392 should hold a one-inch group at 25-30 yards. That’s as accurate as most spring rifles in the same price range.

    My question was not whether you had adjusted the rear sight, but whether you had adjusted it correctly. Sometimes we forget and move the sight in the opposite direction. And some sight adjustments are such that they seem to be moving the sight one way when actually they are moving it in the opposite direction.

    Can you confirm that you adjusted the rear sight to the left (because your gun is shooting too far to the right)? If you moved it to the right, then that is the problem.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I LOOSENED THE LEFT WINDAGE SCREW AND TIGHTENED THE RIGHT SCREW. IT MADE THE PELLT START TO CRAWL OVER TO THE LEFT AND THEN IT STOPPED, THAT WAS AS FAR AS IT CAN BE ADJUSTED THAT WAY.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    According to the Benjamin 392 manual, you adjusted the sights in the wrong direction. Try reversing what you did. This is the sight adjustment page from the manual on the Pyramyd Air website:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/site/manuals/benjamin-sheridan/adjustments.shtml

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    ALRIGHT, THANKS FOR YOUR HELP. MY MANUAL DIDN’T HAVE THE DIRECTIONS FOR WINDAGE ADJUSTMENTS.

  • Anonymous Says:

    If the adjustment still won’t correct the aiming and this is a brand new gun. Your opinion of Benjamin air rifles is pretty high. And it should be very accurate out to about 25 yards. I would like the sights to work like they should it’s hard enough to determine distance much less have to account for it being an inch to the left. It’s like aiming right next to your target. I’ll take it back to thestore if you think I should have way more accuracy than this.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    I think that is the right thing to do.

    B.B.

  • GadgetHead Says:

    Hi B.B. and anonymous (Benjamin 392),

    RE: Benjamin 392 “Owner’s Manual” and windage adjustment described at http://www.pyramydair.com/site/manuals/benjamin-sheridan/adjustments.shtml

    I was shopping the local after-Christmas sales and found a NIB Benjamin 392 I couldn’t resist buying, for $108. What a deal!

    At the time it was way too cold and icy outside for my old bones, so I set up my pellet trap inside the house at 5 meters distance. I shot a few 5-shot groups shaped like clover leaves, but about 1/2 inch right of center.

    When I referred to the included Benjamin 392 “Owner’s Manual,” for windage adjustment, there weren’t any instructions, just as the anonymous poster above indicated. Someone at Crosman or at their printing contractor goofed up that job!

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I recalled an old windage adjustment ‘rule’ that the rear sight is moved in the same direction you want the pellet/bullet strike point to move. In other words, to make a pellet/bullet strike the target further to the right of where it’s striking, move the rear sight to the right. It worked for me.

    The two screws, for windage adjustment, had me baffled for a minute but I figured it out. Essentially, one screw has to first be backed *out* by the same number of turns *in* you want to apply to the opposite screw.
    lefty loosey (counter clockwise)= *out*
    righty tighty (clockwise)= *in*

    The windage adjustment instructions posted on the Pyramyd Air website leave something to be desired (see URL posted). Quoting: “To make the pellet hit further to the right on the target, loosen the windage screw on the left side of the sight and tighten the windage screw on the left side of the sight and…”

    Say, “What?” I’ve been meaning to point out the typo errors in those instructions, To Pyramyd Air, but haven’t gotten around to it.

    Cheers,
    GH

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B

    JUST TO LET YOU KNOW I BELIEVE THE FRONT SIGHT IS COCKED TO THE RIGHT OF MY 392. THAT WOULD EXPLAIN IT’S ACCURACY PROBLEMS. THE GUN CAME IN BASICALLY A CARD BOARD BOX. THERE WERE TWO PEICES OF STYROFOAM ONE AT THE BARREL END AND ONE LITTLE CURVED PEICE AT THE OTHER END UNDER THE GUN. LOOKS LIKE THEY COULD OF HAD A PEICE THAT HAD A CUT-OUT THAT ENGULFED THE FRONT BLADE AND KEPT IT BETTER PROTECTED. THANKS

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    GH,

    The sight adjustment instructions are on the Pyramyd website, in the 392 manual.

    B.B.

  • GadgetHead Says:

    B.B. Pelletier said… “GH, The sight adjustment instructions are on the Pyramyd website, in the 392 manual.”

    Yeah, that’s what I said. [grin] But, the instruction for adjusting windage right for adjusting windage right is erroneous.

    Quoting from my previous post: “The windage adjustment instructions posted on the Pyramyd Air website leave something to be desired (see URL posted). Quoting: ‘To make the pellet hit further to the right on the target, loosen the windage screw on the left side of the sight and tighten the windage screw on the left side of the sight and…’”

    Following those instructions literally accomplishes exactly nothing in the way of adjusting windage to the right. In other words, loosening the left windage screw and then immediately tightening the same screw, as the instruction is written, prevents adjusting the right windage screw in the direction it needs to go.

    I’ve filled out a feedback form, on Pyramyd Air web site.

    Cheers,
    GH

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    GH,

    Gotcha! Sometimes I read these things too fast.

    B.B.

  • GadgetHead Says:

    I can dig it… you’ve got alot of comments/replies to cope with! Thanks!

    Cheers,
    GH

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