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Losing confidence with rifle shooting

I have suffered a series of misses and now lack confidence in my rifle shooting. I have tested the rifle and it appears to be entirely accurate. I don’t usually shoot so badly and wonder if the cause is psychological or some other reason?

Most stalkers have suffered from this problem at one time or another and there are a number of actions which can be taken to improve matters. You have checked your rifle’s zero, and it appears perfect. Have you changed batches of ammunition or mistakenly taken out some different loads? Re-check the rifle’s zero and test the tightness of all screws on scope mounts, recoil stop and tang. If the barrel is free-floating, check that dirt has not accumulated in the fore-end channel.

After this, fire some test shots at the first intersection distance (usually about 30 yards) and then at full range. Assuming the rifle is accurate, there are two other possible causes for missing: over-confidence and flinch. In the middle of a busy doe cull, I have more than once found my success rate suddenly dropping. Maybe one is not holding the rifle correctly, hurrying shots or stretching the range beyond one’s capabilities. I have solved this by changing to a heavier calibre (in my case a .30-06) to steady me down and hold the rifle correctly.

Flinching can develop undetected. This is easily discovered by a range session with someone loading for you and unexpectedly failing to chamber a cartridge. The fault can be cured by taking a .22 to the range with short cartridges. Shoot a box of these and the flinch will quickly be obvious and should gradually disappear.