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GUNS Magazine February 2013 Digital Edition - Page 20

TargeTs for load TesTing make Sure the FeedbaCk From your handLoadS iS riGht on. I JoHn Barsness t doesn’t really do us much good to build a bunch of precise handloads for our new rifle or handgun, and then shoot at targets poorly suited to the scope or sights. Probably the worst target for testing handload accuracy is the traditional bull’s-eye, a black circle with scoring rings, but they still appear at ranges all the time. elevation and windage control, since we can bisect each corner with the crosshairs. Anything other than black can work for the color, but human vision varies from individual to individual. Some people have a hard time focusing on blaze orange, especially on a warm day with heat-mirage in the air, and a lot of commercial rifle targets are printed in blaze orange, perhaps because it’s considered a “hunter color.” Back in the 1970s, when writers still used typewriters and I was just getting a slippery hold on my profession, there was a super-abundance of used typing paper around my office. The normal method of writing back then was to rip an unsatisfactory paragraph from the typewriter and start over again, and several drafts were usually typed before the final version. Between my limited budget and all this “waste” I started drawing multilayer targets leaving a bright ring around each bullet hole are a big help when shooting small-caliber rifles. this target also has a diamond-shaped aiming point, a big help when aligning crosshairs. Why doesn’t a round, black bull’seye work very well? For one thing, it doesn’t provide a really precise aiming point, either with a scope or iron sights. You can attempt to quarter it with a crosshair reticle, but quartering a circle precisely is difficult, as anybody who’s cut up a pie knows. You can put the tip of a front sight at the bottom of the circle, but there’s no place to really center the sight. Plus, with a black circle it’s difficult if not impossible to see bullet holes in certain kinds of light. A bull’s-eye with multicolored rings provides more precision with crosshairs, but not with a front sight. A square provides even more precision, especially if the middle of the square is left white or a paler color, but with a scope’s crosshair we’re actually better off with a square turned 90 degrees—a diamond with 90-degree corners and a white center. The corners provide precise these groups were shot with a pre-WWII model 70 Winchester .30-06 and a 2-1/2X Lyman alaskan scope with a post reticle. the squares were drawn to match the top of the post at 100 yards, and the groups turned out pretty darn well! a blue diamond with a white center is ideal for crosshair reticles. my own targets with Magic Markers on the back of first drafts and rejected paragraphs. I came to the diamond shape pretty quickly, but it took a few years to realize that red or blue worked better for the diamond than pure black. Eventually a couple of big, dark blue Magic Markers ended up in my range bag. After using a bunch of different scopes, it also became obvious that the size of the diamond needed to vary, depending on the scope’s magnification and thickness of the reticle. Some scopes even had post reticles, and some still do, since some woods hunters favor them. Post reticles could be aimed more precisely by drawing a square about the same apparent width of the tip of the post at 100 yards, and the same technique worked for front sights, whether on handguns or rifles. Even with a traditional bead front sight and a “6 o’clock” hold a square provided a more precise aiming point than a circle, since the human eye can more easily bisect it. Some shooters, however, put the bead right on what they want to hit. In that instance, the traditional black 20 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 3

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