The Goal

The Goal

Friday, 10 March 2017

SCATT Games 2 - Don't Chase the Aim

During the 2016 Imperial Meeting I got chatting to my Australian friend AP in the bar of the Surrey RA at Bisley; he has shot fullbore internationally, won a few competitions here and there, and has shot 600 in ISSF 300mtr so he knows what he's about. We talked about family, my move to New Zealand, stuff; the kind of things that people talk about when they don't see each other for 51 weeks of the year but pick up right where they left off.

But in the course of our conversation, we got on to the subject of sight picture and in particular not getting too fussy about it. The key point was that if your position is reasonably good and you've arranged yourself so the natural point of aim coincides with the centre of the target, then there's no point trying to chase the perfect sight picture. If it feels comfortable and close to the middle, get the shot away.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel* it. Whack it.

This is a useful skill to have, especially on ranges like Trentham where the wind can change very rapidly indeed, as it allows the shooter to employ a broader range of tactics for dealing with the wind**; however this takes a great deal of confidence. A simple exercise he recommended to build more confidence in your ability to hold a tight group without worrying too much about your aim is to shoot SCATT without looking through your sights, but instead to look at the screen as you shoot.

So, how to do this...
  1. Get set up with your SCATT as normal and fire a calibration shot looking through the sights.
  2. Look at the screen rather than through the sights, arranging yourself so that the centre of your trace coincides with the centre of the target.
  3. Fire a sequence of shots using your normal technique but looking at the computer screen rather than through the sights.
  4. Repeat ad nauseam.
NB - It is really important that you arrange yourself so the rifle wants to naturally point in the middle (or very close to it.) Do not force the rifle to point in the middle, or you're likely to embed a bad habit which will carry over into your shooting.

Lie down. Hold still. Let the rifle point itself in the middle. Squeeze gently.
My experience of this...
I gave this a try a couple of times and it was interesting. I know I can point a rifle pretty accurately; off a consistent firing point and without putting the rifle down, my wobble is less than half a minute. There's knowing that, and then again there is knowing that.

The lesson I'm trying to imprint here is that I don't need to wait for the perfect sight picture and that I can get the shot off much more quickly than I think I can, with little or no degradation in quality of shot. This is not something that will happen overnight, but with general training and some repetition of the exercise, I hope to get the shots away more quickly and lose fewer points to wind as a result.

Hopefully, by doing this exercise you will see that your hold and shot release are well within the area of the bullseye and you can get shots away really very quickly. It makes it easier for the shooter to pick a single wind condition and shoot to it, for example, while still staying within time. A subject for a future article. In team matches, also, your wind coach will thank you for being able to get an accurate shot away quickly

* I had originally written "see it" but the whole point of this exercise is to escape the tyranny of the sight picture. Feel when the rifle is in the middle.

** A subject for another day. There's a lot more to the wind than reading it. Now if only I could learn that in the bone.


  1. So that people reading this don't get the wrong impression, I use a Noptel training system that I purchased in 1999 and you can set the targets to Issf dimensions. I have shot numerous 600 in that mode by looking at the screen.

    I have shot 600 on an issf target once using a Leopold scope off the shoulder to prove that the easier it is to see the easier it is to minimise your movements when you know that you can hold within the 10 ring. I was an an advocate of allowing scopes to be used for normal target shooting with a sling way back in 1980. This was long before they introduced F class with all the rests etc. AP

  2. Ok.. let's see getting those times down into the 5-6 max range. 17 seconds is way too long!

    Though, of course, I have to work on reducing my trace into the 200s like you so my times are extending until I can. :)