How shot groups are measured

by B.B. Pelletier

Believe me — there’s enough information on this topic to fill many reports. I will do that if there’s enough interest; but if interest is confined to just one or two people, I’ll recommend that you read several of the gun books that I listed in my Building an airgun library blog.

Those books present and discuss several ways of target measurement that are considered outdated today, but which hobbyists keep trying to reinvent. One is the old string measurement in which a piece of string is stretched between the center of the target and the center of each bullet (pellet) hole. The cumulative length of the string then determines the cumulative distance of all the shots from the center point of the target. This system of measurement was popular in the late 19th century, having replaced a simpler method in which the string was stretched around pegs placed in all the bullet holes and gave the “circumference” of the group.

That small paragraph is all I’m going to say about these older group measurement methods unless I see a reason for more. Today, I want to concentrate on how groups are measured and reported these days.

Here we go!
Are you just a little bit anal? Don’t answer that. Because you’re an airgunner, we can tell there’s a missing chromosome in your DNA that drives you to examine minutiae and project worlds onto what you see. Please don’t be insulted, because look who’s talking — Mr. “The atomic clock in Denver may be accurate, but everyone knows that it’s off by just a little!”

I feel the tightness of your headband when you’re confronted by numbers. Know what I do about it? Like every other gun writer — I lie (sort of…although most people wouldn’t call it lying). I give you numbers out to three decimal places, knowing that you will focus on them as though they have been transcribed from court records. What I seldom do (other than right now) is admit how far off those numbers might be. So, today, is honesty day and I’m going to tell you exactly how I measure targets.

Oh, and by the way — there’s only one other way of measuring targets that is any more accurate than the one I will show you, and that is sound measurement. At world cup and Olympic matches, the targets are scored by sound transducers that triangulate the sound of the pellet tearing through the target paper to extreme precision. But at U.S. National Junior Airgun Matches I’ve attended, they guess at the location of the pellet holes just like I do. Yes, I said guess, and anyone who disagrees with me will be sent outside to meet with my friend Mac!

There! Have I upset everyone? If not, please leave a comment, and I’ll insult your children, spouse and pets.

Here’s the deal. Determining the location of pellet holes today is a bit like invoking the Heisenberg principle, in which that which we observe is also altered. The most formal way of doing it today (other than the sound measurement mentioned above) is by sticking a plug called a scoring gauge through the pellet hole and looking through the magnifying edge of the plug to see what is the highest-scoring ring touched by the pellet. In international competition, the line must be broken by the pellet. It’s a subtle but important difference.

For a great article on scoring gauges, read Gary Anderson’s article located here. Gary is the Director Emeritus of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (formerly the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship) in the U.S., and he’s also a double gold medal Olympic high-power rifle champion. He has had his targets scored more than once and is most familiar with the problems of the sport. It was through him at the now-defunct Winston-Salem Airgun Exposition that Edith and I were first exposed to sound-scored targets.

These gauges or plugs can and almost always do enlarge the holes left by the pellets, so it would be possible for an unscrupulous person, like a team coach, to “scooch” the plug in the direction that best supports his team when he inserts it in the hole. Or, if you make the coaches of the opposing teams score each other’s targets, the elongated holes will run the other way. Don’t think it doesn’t happen — I have seen opposing coaches almost come to blows over how the targets are scored. At the national level, they don’t allow coaches anywhere near the scoring until the deed is done. Then, they get to examine their team’s targets and argue for any close calls they find. And they DO argue!

Another way to score a target is the optical method, in which a device is used to locate the pellet hole without damaging it. I have owned and used an Eagle Eye device for the past 15 years, and it works quite well — except for one thing. You are still GUESSING where the pellet hole is when you do it this way. It works good enough for regional-level matches where the targets have scoring rings set at prescribed distances, but only for calculating the score — not for measuring the size of shot groups — which brings us back to today’s topic.

How to measure group size
The method I’m about to explain is the same one that was used by Harry Pope at the turn of the 20th century. It is simple, fast and easy to do. It’s also open to interpretation and small errors. Are the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, yet?

You measure group size by bracketing the group with a dial caliper, so that one jaw touches the extreme edge of one hole and the other jaw touches the extreme opposite edge of the hole farthest away from the first hole.

The big question
Here’s the question many of you have asked in the comments to this blog, and many more have wondered privately: How is it possible to identify the exact edge of a pellet hole with a caliper or any other measuring instrument?

It’s not.

It is not possible to locate the exact edge of a pellet hole with a measuring instrument — whether it be a dial caliper or the index marks on a ruler. The hole is insubstantial, and you’re trying to measure it as though it was solid. It can’t be done — not with great precision, anyway.

But once you do your best to find the closest measurement across the two widest holes, you’re left with a number that has two or three decimal places. It sounds or reads like you have great precision, when in fact the best you could do was make a guess where the boundaries of the holes were. Harry Pope struggled with the same thing a century ago, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Pope wore two pairs of glasses and also used a magnifying glass to measure his targets, and he still was only guessing at where the shot boundaries were. He took as long as 30 minutes to carefully examine important targets this way. I seldom take longer than a minute, and frequently a lot less than that.

So, all of us gun writers continue to bracket our groups with dial calipers and make a best educated guess where the edges of the two outlying holes are, then we subtract one pellet diameter and give you the number. We subtract one pellet diameter because what we really want is to measure the distance between the centers of those two pellet holes. Subtracting one pellet diameter from the overall reading takes half the diameter away from each of the two holes we used to bound the group. Thus, we get to the centers.

The bottom line
I resolved not to obsess over this issue years ago; because if I couldn’t get past it, I couldn’t write about guns. In the same way that I know that chronograph readings are also not exact, I know that the closest I can come to an exact measurement on paper is probably 0.005 inches, when everything goes my way. But give me ragged BB holes to measure and a paper target that rips instead of showing clean holes, and the error is probably closer to 0.020 inches. And that’s on a good day, when I am really trying my hardest.

But the number I publish will always have two or three decimal places, and it will look official to everyone.

Here’s an exercise that will illustrate the dynamic I’m explaining. Which sounds more precise — 3/4-inch or 0.750 inches? If you’re honest with yourself, you know the decimal fraction sounds more exact. The point is that both of them are being obtained from a system that has built-in tolerances for slop!


Think you can measure this group to the nearest thousandth? Bully for you, because this is as easy as it ever gets! You will always be off by as little as 0.005 inches and as much as 0.020 inches when the holes are this clean. These are holes left by wadcutter target pellets.


Now where are the holes? This is what domed pellets look like close up. Where are the edges?


I need a vacation! This is what slow-moving BBs do to a target that’s been attached to a cardboard backer. Guess where the holes are?

So what?
I’m sure many of you knew this already and didn’t need to be reminded. But from some of the comments I’ve been seeing recently, I was concerned that some of us are getting hung up on the numbers — as in accepting them at face value. These numbers are a best guess and are published with the best of intentions, but they are, and always will be, a little off.

Here’s what you can say about such numbers. A 0.36-inch group is unquestionably tighter than a 0.511-inch group. Even when the first group is shot with .25-caliber pellets and the second is shot with .177-caliber pellets, so the two groups appear very much the same, the first one is still tighter.

What I’m saying is that these numbers can be used as relative measurements. Just don’t stake your career on them. This is one more good reason why I shoot 10-shot groups when possible. Not because the measurements are any more precise, but because there are always more opportunities for the gun to mess up. If all 10 holes are in close proximity — even if my estimate of how close is wrong — you still have a good idea of how well the gun is shooting.

59 thoughts on “How shot groups are measured

  1. Morning B.B.,
    “please leave a comment, and I’ll insult your children, spouse and pets” ok here goes, but I’d leave the cats out of the insults. Mom and son would probably come looking for you and it wouldn’t be pretty.

    Bruce


  2. I thought you are supposed to shoot as many times as you have to to get three holes close together, then measure the distance between those holes. (I sometimes look at a different website)

    Really…
    Sometimes I measure the outside of the holes (to the best estimation) then subtract a pellet, and other times I do a measurement (best estimation) between hole centers. Depends on how clean the holes look and what the group looks like.
    Some times I use a tape measure, other times a caliper.
    I am not shooting for any kind of record. I want to see how the rifle is working, and what kind of confidence I can have when taking a shot.

    I sometimes shoot one to three shots to see if the zero is close enough to being right. The zero moves around a little with temperature change, so I want to keep an eye on that. I also want to know if the barrel needs cleaning or if any screws may have loosened during the last plinking sessions. Surprises are not welcome when hunting.

    twotalon



    • While I’ve not shot pellets at foil, my experience with other uses makes me think foil will tend to split and tear even more than paper.

      I should waste one of my expensive (only TWO per package) targets — though the bull is meant for 100 yard scope alignment, not pellet ranges. Blaze orange markings on white close-cell styrofoam (the smooth type, not the sandpaper foam). I know that, at the speeds of 7.62NATO/.308Win, and .17HMR, the holes were perfectly sharp edged (which made them hard to see in a spotting scope unless I hit the orange markings — no dark “burn” edge visible). If typical pellet speeds can also cleanly puncture the material…


  3. BB,
    Relax, you can insult me and mine on some other topic; just remember my pets kick and bite if annoyed too much :). Aside from groups, the most annoying situation I have to deal with regularly is the rule at my ML’er club that a ball has to be more than halfway into the ring, not just break the line. Of course, now I shoot a lot of 8.49′s, 9.49′s, .49x’s now, along with the all too frequent flyer and honest 5′s and the like :)! I think it should be break the line, lower ring or higher ring, not trying to figure out where the center is. Anyway, as long as you are consistent, measure however you like — its a relative measure despite being given to 3 decimal places. And even if you could get everything exact, the next rifle of the same model would be different — so we’re just looking for guidance.


    • Break the line or not break the line?
      A larger ball gives you the higher score. An unfair advantage in that situation. If everyone shot the same caliber, it would not matter how they want to score it.

      twotalon


      • You’ve got me there; its just a pain scoring targets that way, finding the center with respect to the obliterated curved line. I usually just round down in the matches when we score our own if there’s any doubt :).


        • BGF…a present for you…

          These are two of my ball starters.
          Notice that the nub is lapped to fit a .50 ball. There is also a curved cutout in the face. This is so you can keep your thumbnail on the ball and prevent it from rolling while lining up the starter as close as possible with the barrel for a straight start and without rolling the ball in the process.
          The lapped nub does less damage to the front of the ball, and makes starting easier with a tight fitting load.

          So…
          You center the sprue, hold it with your thumbnail, align the starter with the barrel, slip your thumbnail hand up to hold the starter, and wack the starter straight down with the side of your fist (other hand).

          http://i189.photobucket.com/albums/z244/twotalon/004.jpg
          http://i189.photobucket.com/albums/z244/twotalon/005.jpg

          twotalon


          • That is great idea — I was thinking about making something similar for shooting bore-sized and overbore balls (which I haven’t tried yet) as with a tight load the normal round starter doesn’t work too precisely with a mallet, but you have added a nice refinement that I would never have thought of. I’m actually puzzling over something related right now — namely that my woodswalk load is shooting very close to my target load, so close that I shot it in couple of matches lately. Did you ever find a good loose load that didn’t make sense, but shot well anyway? I know they aren’t supposed to exist, but the muzzleloaders seem to defy logic at times. The more I learn the more I wonder :).


            • I never had a loose load that shot well. The patch always blew out.
              I guess it would be possible to shoot a loose fitter if you pound it with the ramrod after getting it against the powder. That would smash out the ball and make it fit tight. But it is a bad thing to do.

              My favorite way is to start a tight fit the way I described, then switch starters to a longer one to drive the ball another 4″ or so down the barrel. The end of that starter is also lapped to ball shape.
              Then using a steel ramrod with a handle, brass tip (also lapped) and a brass muzzle guide/protector, ram the ball down against the power with a smooth and firm stroke. I give a hard push with both hands once the ball is down.

              For conventional ramrods, I use a palm saver fashioned from a piece of turned oak. It has a dimple in one side to keep the ramrod from slipping off and punching a hole in your hand. Once the ball is seated, I give my hand that is still on the palm saver a good thump with the other hand.

              Also , patches are always placed over the muzzle the same direction and same side up. Ticking (striped) or cut denim strips (cut with the grain).
              Patches are cut flush with a razor sharp knife after doing the initial “short start”.

              twotalon

              twotalon


            • Also, if the load fits too tight the ball can try to smash out and get even bigger rather than start in the bore. This is the worst without a contoured starter tip.

              twotalon


          • That is great idea — I was thinking about making something similar for shooting bore-sized and overbore balls (which I haven’t tried yet) as with a tight load the normal round starter doesn’t work too precisely with a mallet, but you have added a nice refinement that I would never have thought of. I’m actually puzzling over something related right now — namely that my woodswalk load is shooting very close to my target load, so close that I shot it in couple of matches lately. Did you ever find a good loose load that didn’t make sense, but shot well anyway? I know they aren’t supposed to exist, but the muzzleloaders seem to defy logic at times. The more I learn the more I wonder :).

            Note: this may be a duplicate post, as the original didn’t show up.


  4. BB:
    Is there a Fairground Shooting gallery School for Stallholders?
    When it comes to measuring pellet holes those guys take some beating :)
    DaveUK


  5. With the level of uncertainty in measurement you demonstrate, are you really justified in providing measurements out to three decimal places?


    • Steve,

      Why not?

      If the best information you are able to gather using the best tools available for the job results in a calculation that is a 3 decimal place number why not publish it?

      kevin


      • Yeah, I think B.B. is reporting his numbers in an ideal way. He gives us raw numbers based on the precision of the instruments he’s using, and he’s publishing repeatable descriptions of his methodology, AND he is giving us ample information about the “error bars” on his measurements. I doubt there are many readers here who misinterpret the least significant digits on B.B.’s measurements.

        I appreciate that B.B. has settled on a method that’s precise enough to give us meaningful, actionable numbers, but one that’s efficient enough that he can continue cranking out five substantial blogs a week!

        -Jan


      • If the point of measurement is at best a wild-ass-guess likely to be no more accurate than 0.1 inch, then giving measurements out to three decimal places implies a level of precision that simply does not exist.


        • Steve,

          You are correct. Reporting a measurement of 0.516 inches implies vastly more precision than actually exists.

          However there is a underlying method to BB’s madness here. BB is making the measurement the same why ever time to avoid having to figure ok, this measurement is over 0.2 inches so 0.01 inch is good enough. This measurement of 0.085 inches is small enough that I need three decimal points. This measure of 6.765 inches is such that measuring to 0.1 inch is good enough.

          At the most fundamental level, there are two sources of error here. First there is the error in the group size measurement itself on a particular target. So if we sent the same target to 30 folks to measure, then all 30 of the group size measurements are not going to be exactly 0.516 inches. Rather 0.516 could be the average with an standard deviation that would probably be at least 0.01 inches. BB himself was trying to make that point here.

          The second source of error is the target to target variation of the group size. So If I shoot multiple 10 shots groups, then I’m not going to get 0.516 inches for every target. I didn’t lookup the number but a confidence interval for a 10 shot group is probably +/-30% or so. So if I just shoot one 10 shot group, then the true average group size could be +/-30% compared to the one target.

          So If the measurement were to be done in a more scientific way you’d have to qualify each measurement in a number of ways. You’d end up with a measurement of something like:
          0.516 +0.124 -0.087 inches

          That is just awfully messy for the audience here.

          All in all the method that BB has does insure that the measurement error is probably an insignificant source of error. I’d also bet that a lot of the targets on which BB has reported are already trash by the time the blog article appears. So by measuring to 0.001 inch he doesn’t have to worry about keeping the target to remeasure it later.



    • Steve,

      It may seem crazy to have 3 decimal places when Tom says these may not be that accurate, but he’s doing the best he can with the tools at hand. Using the same tools offers a measure of consistency.

      If he uses the exact same method, then we have a common frame of reference, and the 3 decimal places enhance those measurements.

      Edith


  6. I certainly am glad I don’t shoot well enough to be concerned about measurements like this, even with the FWB 300 I bought from Mac or should I say especially with the FWB 300. Trying to hold this rifle steady off-hand is a real challenge for me and then, just when I finally have the bull centered in the front sight (which is not easy for me with my eyesight) and pull the trigger, the bull has mysteriously moved! Mac, what’s wrong with this rifle? :)

    Fred PRoNJ


  7. Yrraah often shows pictures of groups shot onto a painted steel disk. The pellets leave a clear imprint and it seems easy to tell where the center of each pellet struck. I know this doesn’t work for competition but it does provide a good picture and an easy measurable group.

    David Enoch


    • David,
      I can back up this painted disk observation from personal experience. My black metal Gamo, resettable, squirrel target has the most uniformly defined pellet strikes I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately they also divulge how bad a shot I am.


  8. B.B., on guessing about scoring in junior matches, I disagree!!!

    No substance to this sentiment. I just want to meet Mac.

    -Jan


  9. Lately I’ve been measuring my groups by how many cats fit between the holes! Going through another shooting slump. Your barn sides are safe with me around!

    I can see where it’s still a guess even if it’s .020 good. The few targets I have measured were done with tape measure from outside edge to inside edge from farthest spread. This way it doesn’t matter if the edge of the actual hole is measured, or the proposed edge of the hole is measured. Though I’m only measuring for groups, not points.

    ka


  10. Oh, boy. I just took delivery of a new airgun toy. I’ve got just nine yards for target practice in the basement, but the Leapers 8-32×56 scope I use for FT won’t focus an inch under its 10-yard spec. At nine yards, even at minimum magnification, the parallax error and blur is bad enough that it’s useless practicing at home with this gear. In the past, I’ve mounted my 4-16×50 scope, which does parallax down under eight yards, in the off season. So I’ve been getting lots of useful practice at home in the winter months, but not so much while we’re having FT matches.

    So, I just got me a Leupold 50-foot focus adapter. At first glance, just holding the thing over the end of my sunshade, it is indeed gonna get me parallax-free to well under nine yards! This is cool. Now, to bodge this ~40mm thing onto the end of that 56mm thing…

    This is all your fault, B.B. and friends.

    Thanks,
    Jan


    • It works!!! I jury rigged a 56mm->40mm adapter for the adapter using the back of a legal pad. Now, I can focus down to 20 feet, with NO blur or parallax movement at max. magnification. The image is of course darker with that much of the 56mm objective blocked out, but it’s plenty bright enough. I am SET for indoor practice, any time! Woohoo!

      -Jan


    • Jan,

      “This is all your fault, B.B. and friends”

      I’m sure you were warned. We warn everyone who enters this blog. I’m sure if you search diligently you will find an “OK, but I warned you.” podcast from BB.


  11. Better target paper will give you vastly sharper-edged holes, especially with wad cutters. Try either Edelmann or Kruger targets and see. I gave up on National after their last quality decrease, about 18 months ago and use my small remaining inventory only for unscored practice.

    If you don’t want to change manufacturers, then gently dry the National targets in a toaster oven, and then seal the stock in a zip-loc bag. It isn’t as good, but it helps.

    pz


  12. I have an idea that might make it easier to measure group size. Has anyone tried using a good set of dividers? These are used in navigation to measure and repeat precise distances on maps and charts. A good set of dividers can be set to hold a fixed distance between the points.

    Dividers are not marked to read distances. So, the distance between the points would still have to be measured with a dial calipers or rule. This second step would be an opportunity for imprecision to enter, but the sharp points of the dividers may be more accurate in measuring irregular shapes like pellet holes.

    Les


  13. BB, I believe reporting to 3 decimal places is fine, as it represents the resolution of the instrument that you are using. However, it would be maybe more appropriate if the “uncertainty” was also provided with the measurement, i.e. a +/- value. So, in my world you would say 0.562 +/- 0.02.
    The uncertainty can be roughly established by the same person and might indicated the degree of difficulty to measure the edges accurately. So, maybe one type of bullet produces a larger “uncertainty” in measurement than an other.
    Just a thought.
    DG


    • BB, to support my above statement, and because I am “just a bit anal”, and metrology happens to be my business…as quoted by Taylor and Kuyatt, 1993.
      “In general, the result of a measurement is only an approximation of the measurand and the result is complete only when accompanied by a quantitative statement of its uncertainty.”
      DG




          • DG,

            The DOD had a program called Total Quality Management and I developed the course for it. It was all the metrics used by Juran in his course.

            Unfortunately like everything else in the government, TQM was just a flavor of the month and was gone in record time. I still have the three textbooks I helped to develop, though. That Joe Juran was one smart cookie!

            B.B.


            • It’s really powerful stuff when you fully realize what it can do for you. We spend a lot of time in uncertainty analysis of instrumentation also. Uncertainty Analysis is a lost art and not even officially taught anywhere. This article is touching all around the subject of error budget and uncertainty analysis. It’s just probably a little too heavy, or anal, for the average need, but I get a kick out of the places where it pops up, like measuring shot groups or determining the accuracy of a gun.


  14. Using extra decimal places in your measurement is a form of following through….

    Say, I just realized that the SW M&P pistol is made by Smith and Wesson, not by Umarex, and I noticed the price of $60. What am I missing here? What is the difference between the SWM&P which costs $60 and my Walther CPSport that costs $100? The SWM&P sounds like it performs about the same and it has the capacity for bbs too. I took my CPSport out last night to dry fire with gas and no pellet, and the trigger seems to have repaired itself and works fine….

    Victor, I looked up David Tubb’s book. It turned out that the level he was talking about that I recalled was used with a scope, not iron sights. His level attaches to the front sight and he looks at it with his left eye while his right eye looks through the scope. He claims that both eyes are focused on infinity this way instead of jumping back and forth down the barrel. In spite of the left eye, this seems in principle close to your set up of the level in the front sight, and I think his method is a lot better than mounting the level on the scope and changing your focus point. When is your hunting trip?

    Matt61


  15. I forgot to mention that one thing that domed pellets have in their favor is that they make your group look smaller. Otherwise, I will point out that the measuring of shooting holes reminds me of the whole business of the hanging chads on ballot forms which can decide a presidency….

    And I wonder if shooting coaches have used Serena Williams’ remark to a judge: “You’re a hater. You are unattractive inside”….

    Matt61


  16. On the subject of hunting, I have a friend who just moved to the Houston area and is appalled by the 2 inch roaches that are bothering her and invading her house. Do any Texans or anyone else have a solution? Unfortunately, airguns are not the answer here…. My best idea is the Combat system which are trays of poisoned bait. The roaches eat the bait and get covered by it. Then they go back to their nest and cover all their friends with it. And when they die and the other roaches eat the poisoned carcass, they get infected too. (Gross!) The roaches become your friend in a manner of speaking by vectoring the destruction back to their nest. Does anyone have some other home remedy that I’ve overlooked.

    Perhaps in other circumstances, we could have Slinging Lead dressed up like a superhero. Phoenix Jones in Seattle wears body armor and goes armed with pepper spray. Slinging Lead could carry his favorite airgun and a costume of his own design, maybe with a big PA on the chest….

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      carpenter ants and roaches are highly susceptible to Boric Acid. They crawl through it and it plugs up their breathing apparatus and they suffocate. You can make a solution of several teaspoons of Acid and a teaspoon of sugar in water. The roaches and ants will eat it and bring it back to their nest to share with the other critters and ultimately die.

      I used BA to clean out a nest of ants in my wall this past summer. While they sell BA at pharmacies, you really don’t need the pharmaceutical grade (which is also good for skin sores, eye infections and so on) but the stuff they sell at Home Depot. It might say it’s only good for carpenter ants or only for roaches but Boric Acid is Boric Acid and it’s cheaper there. Just sprinkle it where the critters tend to congregate or put out that solution and be patient.

      Hope this helps.

      Fred PRoNJ (carpenter ant capital of the USA)


    • Show her electron microscope pictures of the mites on her eyelashes, and cultures for the bacteria on her skin. She will stop worrying about the roaches.

      More honestly, it takes a multi-level approach.

      (1) Clean up yard to remove hiding/nesting spots. Like leaves on ground. Ground ivy is also a great spot.

      (2) Seal up points of entry. Need good door seals. Plug up those holes you accidentally shot through the wall.

      (3) Poison carefully inside and out on a regular schedule.

      Herb


  17. B.B.,

    Regarding the use of a “plug” in competition. In every competition that I know of, a plug is not used until after the first official scoring. After the scores are posted, each shooter, or his/her coach, is allowed to “challenge” the score by putting up a buck. The target(s) in question are laid out, and the plug is dropped in (and very lightly pushed in from the top), and a large magnifying glass is used to further magnify the image. For those who don’t know, the plug includes a small amount of magnification. If you gain a point, you get your buck back, but if you don’t, you lose your buck.

    Also, except for once, I’ve never seen a case where coaches were allowed in the scoring room. That one case was very painful for me because my coach scored my target. Integrity and reputation meant everything to my coaches, so when one of them scored my target, they purposely did not give me a single close shot. In fact, they went so far against my benefit that my final score was at least 5 points higher after the challenge than the first scoring.

    Back in the 70′s, the level of sportsmanship on the part of all involved, including parents, was quite impressive. In my mind, sportsmanship in competitive marksmanship was a model for all sports. May parents appreciated it a great deal, after having had their kids in other organized sports programs and leagues. What you describe about people almost coming to blows is what I heard was happening later in the 80′s. A nephew of mine competed years after me, and what he described was completely foreign to me. But then again, the 80′s did become known as the “Me Generation”, where everything was “about number one”.

    I’ve mentioned before that we were taught to never over-react, and especially to never “get in someone elses face”. We were required to be good sportsman and sportswomen at all times, win or lose. There was no jumping and shouting, nor was there anger or overt sadness. Composure was a standard. Too bad you don’t see much of that these days. We’ve crossed certain lines in our society where “the truth” is all that matters. It is wisely said that “Honesty without compassion is brutality”.

    Victor


    • Victor,

      At the Nationals coaches may not enter the scoring room. But after the targets are scored, they are taken to the coaches for examination.

      And you are right, the gauge isn’t used until the last because everyone knows it enlarges the hole.

      B.B.


    • So true Victor.
      I have done everything humanely possible to keep my kids from developing anything other than a passing interest in hockey.
      I don’t know what it’s like in the ‘States (I imagine it’s the same, just with different sports), but in Canada where hockey is our national sports (it’s really lacrosse…but I don’t know anyone who plays lacrosse) it’s often in the news about ‘hockey parents’ nearly coming to blows over a blown call in an ‘Atom’ game (ages 9-10)…and there’s always the arguments as to whether hard hits should be allowed in childrens games. I truly can’t understand a parent who feels a concussion is something a 12 year old needs to experience!
      There’s not much organized shooting for young people in Canada (guns bad, ya know) but we’ve found our home on the archery range. My oldest has competed in two competitions so far. At both I was very impressed with the parents…some of whom just quietly sat and watched whilst others conversed politely with the parents sitting next to them. It was like a big family reunion…far different than what passes for civility at many team sports events.
      Yeah…the ‘me generation’ turned out to be a real bad idea.


    • I coach a junior highpower team. I attempt to bring the kids to the point where a 10 or a 5 are greeted with equal impassiveness. Same for a piece of hot brass down the shooting coat – where impassiveness is more important, it being a safety issue.


    • It is sad, Victor, that sportsmanship weems to have gone the way of the dinosaur ever since the tv networks discovered that people really like to watch the fights that erupt. It is still alove and well in the martial arts. At my former dojahng, people were kicked out of class and not allowed to return if they coulddn’t take a bad score or a lost fight with grace. That inlcluded the parents. Everyone was allowed a few chances before getting 86′d.

      /Dave


  18. BB,

    Not to pick nits, but the atomic clock is in Boulder and broadcast from Ft. Collins. Not Denver. And it is off. But, it’s supposed to be less than a second in 30 million years…. :-)

    /Dave


    • We’re all primates, so picking nits is common practice…

      While WWV broadcasts from Ft. Collins, WWVH broadcasts from Hawaii. I believe the US Naval Observatory maintains one of the atomic clocks used to determine standard time, and…

      … The Earth is wrong (leap seconds occur to keep the Earth time [UTC] close to International Atomic Time [TAI]; I’d be more precise but all my celestial mechanics books have been boxed and put into storage)


      • Wulfie it’s good to see you still posting on here!

        WWV and WWVH broadcast at staggered times too, so you can here one and then the other if propagation conditions are right.

        For even more propagation fun, there are 10 and 20-meter beacons.


        • Being located in the south SF Bay, getting the simultaneous WWV and WWVH reception was common.

          Strangely though, while I have four clocks, and a watch, that sync to WWVB — the MFJ Beacon display is not sensitive enough to do the same, and it drifts badly over a day…



  19. B.B., you should try some actual UIT type targets for this “shooting for record” stuff for two reasons: (1) While most of us are Americans here, we have readers from all over, and they may be more acquainted with UIT targets. And, (2), the Gehmann brand targets are made of a special crispy paper that cuts really clean. Shots look beautiful. Since in a real match, it’s one shot per target, they’re not *that* expensive. You’re doing 5-10 shot groups. Hell if I weren’t on such a short string financially these days, I’d buy some and send them to you :-)


    • flobert,

      I have Edelmann targets that are UIT-sanctioned. But when measuring group sizes, I could just use a blank piece of paper, as it is the bullet hole and not the scoring rings that matter.

      And while the holes do look sharper, they still aren’t accurate because of micro-perforations around the circumference. The pellets are larger than the holes they leave.

      B.B.


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