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  • Writer's pictureJason Stanley

See What I am Seeing: The fine details of a target

Updated: Mar 20

No matter the subject; the more experience there is, the more details will be noticed. Once one starts paying attention to the details, the faster problems will be diagnosed, changes will be made, and success will be obtained. I want you to see what I am seeing.

To many, these are just three bullet holes in a piece of paper. Which, technically, is correct. However, once some of the details are presented, you will realize there is a lot more to this target than what meets the eye.

Background Information

The target was shot in mid September around 9:30 am. I was shooting off a concrete bench with a front rest and rear sandbag. The distance was 100 yds. Temperature was in the low 60’s with a 3-5 mph wind blowing from the 1 o’clock direction. I was using four wind flags and there was no mirage.

The goal for the day was to check the zero on several rifles that were going to be used for the upcoming hunting seasons. The target being discussed was shot by a TAC action sitting in a Bell and Carlson stock. A Timney trigger sets off the charge of H4350 which propels the 120 gr. Sierra Pro Hunter down the Krieger barrel chambered in 26 Macho. If you would like more info on the Macho check out the Blog

What I am Seeing


I shot this target almost two months before the November deer season. This gives enough time to address any issues (bad scope, gummed up trigger, wrong load, etc) that may have come up during the off-season. More importantly, if a gunsmith’s expertise was needed, or if parts needed to be ordered, there would be time to get the job done.

Caution: Gunsmiths are not very happy when a customer comes in three days before the season opens and expects their rifle to be fixed on time.


I waited to shoot until 9:30ish. This allowed the wind to pick up slightly. I did not want to shoot in dead-calm conditions. Also, my range faces east. The sun does not get above my covered benches until after 8:30. I did not want the sun to add an extra variable to this equation.


I prefer to test loads/sight in when temperatures are within twenty degrees of the competing/hunting conditions. The temperature, on this day, was on the edge of being acceptable. Most likely, I will do a confidence shot one-two weeks before the season opens when the temperatures more closely align.


I made the sight in target from a 100 yd IBS Score target. The aiming point is the 1/16” dot in the center of the ten ring. The small aiming point is a must if you truly want to know how the load, scope, and rifle are performing.

I like sighting in close to the power I’ll be using in the field, (6-10X) for this rifle. I was shooting with the Sightron set on 12X, which allows me to see the dot at 100 yds. This Sightron scope does not change point of impact when adjusting the power. Caution: that is not true on all scopes.

I can not always see the dot with some of my lower powered hunting scopes. When that situation arises, I use the targets on the right. The black nine ring allows me to center the crosshairs in the ten ring, essentially giving me the same precise hold without actually seeing the dot.

This target and others can be printed from:

I labeled the shots to make the explanations easier to understand.


My first shot was not on paper. I fired one into the berm to foul the barrel. Previous testing showed that this particular barrel needs one fouling shot to get into the precision window.

SECOND SHOT (Labeled #2)

The first shot on paper impacted roughly one inch low and a quarter of an inch left of the aiming point. Due to it being “off” I wanted to shoot another shot to confirm the load and check to make sure the scope was functioning properly.

I do not know why the shot was an inch low, but I am glad I checked. Would that shot have killed a deer? Yes, at 100 yds. However, what about 200? 250? Would a certain kill shot turn into a non-trackable, yet lethal shot all because I did not check my zero? When a shot leaves you with a question instead of an answer, fire another one.

THIRD SHOT (Labeled #3)

Half a bullet left and half a bullet high from shot #2. This showed me that both the load and the scope were holding, but the crosshairs had moved since last firing this rifle. Yes, it is only a two shot group. Alone, statistically worthless. However, these shots were confirming a load that has consistently proven itself in the past years.

Precision Ladder: This rifle is a level three rifle. Through previous load development, I know the Macho is capable of consistent half inch groups at 100 yds. If this would be a level one rifle, I would not expect the two shots to touch. “Closeness” is therefore relative to the rung of the ladder your rifle is on.

FOURTH SHOT (Labeled #4)

Since the third shot confirmed proven precision, I clicked the scope ( ⅛” clicks) seven clicks up and two clicks right. The fourth shot impacted slightly high, but good enough for me.

Again, the rifle, scope, and load did exactly what it was supposed to do. When I clicked the scope, the bullet went accordingly. More importantly, the clicks held their value. Again, this is not true with all scopes.


A closer inspection of the bullet holes show they are not exactly round and there is a little more black on one side than the other. This certainly could be due to the way the typing paper tore. Target paper is a higher grade of material which shows how bullets enter the paper more accurately.

The difference is more noticeable when you compare the holes in this target to a hole made by a custom bullet through a tuned Bench rifle on actual target paper.

However, if the holes truly are oblong, it could indicate the bullets have a slight yaw to them. This yaw can be taken out through tuning which will allow me to gain even more precision. I will try this same load next spring on target paper.


Most likely, I will take one more confidence shot with the Macho a week or two before the season starts. Scopes can move and temperatures can change in two months. Do I have to do this? No, but I probably will just to alleviate any mental demons. Confidence is earned.

The last thing this target is telling me is to ENJOY THE HUNT. Everything is working. I have complete confidence in this rifle, scope, and load. If I happen to miss, it is not because of the equipment. Until next time, enjoy the process.

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