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October 23, 2007

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Deer Rifle Accuracy Tips

I was exchanging e-mails the other day with Chris Ellis, who does p.r. for Timney Triggers. I’ve hunted with Chris, and during lunch breaks we often ended up talking about accuracy. Given that deer season will soon kick into high gear around the country I’d like to offer you his thoughts on deer rifle accuracy.

“1. Make sure the scope bases and rings are tight. I’ve seen shooters blame the scope, the rifle, or the ammo for poor shooting when, in fact, a loose mount was the culprit. If the scope moves during recoil or shifts while you travel in a truck, plane or ATV, the point of impact will shift. And that causes a miss. This just might be the most overlooked part of the accuracy equation, but it’s the simplest to check.

2. Make sure the stock screws are tight. If the stock-to-barrel connection is loose, the barrel moves--causing accuracy to go south. This is especially important if you shoot on a bench or on a Lead Sled type of device and then try to shoot off-hand. It can drive a shooter crazy.

3. Install a new trigger. This is the most critical piece of the shooter's accuracy puzzle. Why? Because the trigger is the connection between the eye and the bullet. A crisp (no creep) trigger that releases the same way every time helps ensure accuracy because the shooter will know exactly when the gun will fire. An aftermarket trigger helps in another way as well. Most factory triggers are set way too heavy. So, let’s consider the case where the rifle weighs 8 pounds and the trigger pull is set at, say 7 pounds. When the shooter pulls the trigger he (or she) has to pull nearly the weight of the rifle to get it to fire, and what often happens is that the gun actually moves because of the force required to pull the trigger. If the gun moves, the crosshairs will move. And that makes it tough to get an accurate shot. A nice, crisp 2.5- to 3-pound trigger is the way to go. When the eyes and brain say to send the bullet to the target, the mechanics of pulling the trigger should not be an issue.”

Good points. You would also be well advised to practice before the season. The day before the deer opener is not the time to find the gun is off. For more information on Timney triggers go to timneytriggers.com.

Slaton White


Gerald Keller

As a Range Officer at the local club and a working gunsmith,I find
that many of the accuracy problems
seen at the range are the result of persons working in gun shops that are better qualified for the fast food industry.I've seen scopes mounted backwords,bases on wrong,and bases mounted with a layer of grease under them and all over the screws.Shooters come to the line with their new rifles that have been "Bore-sighted",and they won't even hit paper at 25 yards.Other good advice one shooter got at his local gun shop was to shoot 300WSM ammo for practice in his 300 Win.Mag."Just
like using 38 Specials in a 357.
It won't kick so hard"He was most indignant when we would not let him try it,because the guy in the shop said "You can do it"
With all respect due to Chris Ellis and Timney(I use their triggers all the time),many factory triggers can be adjusted and tuned by a competant gun smith
and will go a long way toward helping the shooter to be a better shot.It is not always necessary to buy an after market unit.


Another tip: Carry Snap caps when you are hunting. When you have down time you can practice your trigger pull under field conditions. (Just remember to use real ammo when you take aim at a deer)


Right on!! Best synopsis I have read on "what's wrong with my gun".
Right to the point. Can't go wrong with the basics.
Trigger pulls from the Mfg.'s are terrible. Get your trigger adjusted or replaced. Timmney has served me with many rifles and calibers.

John Snow


Practicing your trigger control is an excellent idea. The more you can do this the better.

But there is no need for snap caps, unless you have an antique firearm. You will not hurt your firing pin no matter how much you practice.



The article has great points, and many triggers can be adjusted by the shooter. Equalling important is the ammo! Try 5-7 different brands/loads/combinations to find out what YOUR rifle shoots best!

'Identical' rifles may prefer very different loads to have consistent accuracy at 100-250 yds, which should be the max range for 90% of hunters.

And practice with THAT ammo. Don't practice with the cheap stuff and 'save' the 'good stuff' for the hunt because the aim and impact points will be different - and you don't want to save $50 on ammo and miss a trophy buck on a $5,000 dream hunt.


I agree with Keller and Harding. When I buy a rifle, the trigger is usually set at about 8 pounds by the maker. I just have a gunsmith adjust it to 3 pounds. Timney triggers may be great but I've never felt the need to replace a trigger. I fire between 350 and 400 rounds when I work up a load and then, if I've used the rifle before on a hunt, I will fire another 20-60 rounds to make sure that it's still hitting on target when I go hunting again.