- April 25, 2016 at 2:00 am #27289
Shrouded in mystery, the Houston warehouse is the most shocking event in the precision shooting sports in the past 50 years.
It was rumored that my late friend Felix Robins once had the opportunity to shoot at this place. He mentioned it to me once before he died over a glass of tea in his kitchen, but everything he told me is also found in this article, which is a must read for anybody who wants to shoot excellent groups. Many of the things I read about the Houston Warehouse project has impacted the way I build rifles, especially those used for shooting cast bullets.
However, this is an absolute must-read for anyone involved in the precision shooting sports at any level.
- April 25, 2016 at 5:13 am #27292ArtfulParticipant
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It is an excellent link – I shall reread it this coming week – thank you for reminding me.
- April 25, 2016 at 11:30 am #27293DeadWoodDanParticipant
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I just read this earlier this year, or may have been even over winter; have it saved like all good articles for re-reading.
One thing I have always thought interesting was the majority if not all tests where being done at 100yds, if I remember correctly. Becoming more interested and developing a knowledge of not only shooting for precision but also at the longer distances. Seems todays trends are that some calibers need to be shot further for ” the bullet to settle down”. I’m still learning a lot, but always intrigued on what others have done so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
- April 25, 2016 at 2:36 pm #27299
To quote from the article I posted:
Rumors have persisted for years that some rifles shoot proportionally better at 200 yards than 100 yards, or vice versa. Virgil files that one under “occultism.” His experience in the warehouse was, if a rifle was shooting a consistent .100″ at 100 yards, it shot a consistent .200″ at 200 yards. He admitted, however, that his knowledge here is limited, because in the warehouse they rarely fired at 200 and 300 yards.
Virgil filed it under “occultism”.
I file it under hogwash.
- April 25, 2016 at 2:47 pm #27300bjornbModerator
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What an article. I’m already planning to try out several of Virgil King’s techniques, both in the loading room and at the bench. Thanks for posting it!
- April 25, 2016 at 5:32 pm #27303DeadWoodDanParticipant
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Tim,So are we in agreement that some calibers/loads need to be developed at longer ranges?
- April 25, 2016 at 6:02 pm #27304
DeadWoodDan;n6171 wrote: Tim,So are we in agreement that some calibers/loads need to be developed at longer ranges?
A good load needs to be developed far enough away that you can project it’s dispersion to longer ranges effectively. 100 yards is a good place because it’s far enough away to show you what’s shooting well and what isn’t, but it’s close enough that wind and conditions have a negligible effect on the shots.
Once a good load is found, it disperses in a linear fashion unless you are using eccentrically balanced bullets, in which case, the group will get exponentially worse as you get further from the firing line. I do not believe you will ever prove a rifle shoots a smaller MOA at 300 yards than it does at 100 yards unless you shoot less than ten shot groups, count the clusters you like the looks of, and/or take a very select example. The second law of thermodynamics as it pertains to entropy applies to bullets in flight just as it does to everything else.
IE: When left to themselves (bullet crosses the crown), all things trend toward chaos, not order.
Even in the warehouse, Virgil never got a group from a rifle that was bullet diameter, and I don’t think he would ever have found an oscillation in the bullets flight at 300 yards that would give it to him. Even if he had, It would have been a very rare and unrepeatable fluke.
- April 25, 2016 at 7:56 pm #27309
Now, to expound further upon what I said above, once you have a load that shoots well at 100, and the precision of that load is established, that does not mean that it is the best load at distance simply because you may not be using the best bullet for the application, the accuracy load may not reach far enough to put you on the target before the bullet goes transonic etc etc etc.
In that case, you may very well compromise with the precision load to get better down range results.
For instance, the most accurate bullet in your rifle at 100 yards may very well be a flat based bullet that can’t reach as far as boat tail bullet. The boat tail bullet may not be as precise at 100 yards by a small margin, but you use it all the same because it can’t get there otherwise.
Same with hunting bullets. Many times we compromise with our external ballistics slightly so that we can toss a bullet out there that has better terminal performance.
The same rules apply though. With any given bullet, if you don’t like what you see at 100, you sure as hell wont like what you see at 125-1500.
- April 25, 2016 at 8:00 pm #27310
I read that article a few times a year. I don’t have the time or patience to accomplish what they did. One day I will get around to having a custom rifle built w/ the optimum length barrel. One thing that always bothered me was how the article ended. Virgil didn’t give away the brass preparation technique. This could be nothing or it could be something major. We will never know 🙁
- April 25, 2016 at 8:51 pm #27314
dragon813gt;n6178 wrote: I read that article a few times a year. I don’t have the time or patience to accomplish what they did. One day I will get around to having a custom rifle built w/ the optimum length barrel. One thing that always bothered me was how the article ended. Virgil didn’t give away the brass preparation technique. This could be nothing or it could be something major. We will never know 🙁
He succeeded in taking his groups from .035 to .025. that’s ten measly thousandths of an inch. That’s nothing major, and nothing I really trust completely. He said the rifle would do .035-.070 earlier in the article. That’s a range of capability based on many sessions. I trust that completely.
I’ll bet if he did the same for the “final secret”, he would say the range of group size was .025-.060.
My point is, any of the above numbers are almost unobtainable with the equipment most of us use. I’d be proud as punch to be the guy who made a rifle shoot .3 inches for 10 shots, but the way it’s told, you had better have been be close to that to even make a trip to the warehouse worth the cost of turning on the lights.
There’s much to learn from this article and the things learned from the Warehouse (especially concerning gunsmithing, and reloading practices) and the information here was invaluable to the XCB project, but lets not miss the forest for the trees.
All things have an order of importance, and sometimes you don’t need to worry about hanging drapes till the foundation is poured and the windows are installed.
- April 25, 2016 at 9:45 pm #27319
All things have an order of importance, and sometimes you don’t need to worry about hanging drapes till the foundation is poured and the windows are installed.
Yep, I don’t need that accuracy to take a deer to feed my family. I’m happy if all five shots touch. Like I said I’m impatient and never let the barrel cool down enough when shooting a ten shot group. What they did in the warehouse was quite an accomplishment. Just imagine how much we’d know if they had documented every little detail like a real scientific study. Maybe all of us would be shooting in the .1s if they had 🙂
- April 25, 2016 at 11:14 pm #27321
To the membership
Try this sometime:
Take your rifle out and fire one shot into a target. First cold shot, like in a hunting situation.
put the rifle and the target away.
A week later (or however long it takes to satisfy yourself that the barrel is actually cool enough), repeat with the same target.
Continue this till you have ten shots on paper. (to save time, and make it not so boring, I suggest you do this with all of the rifles you are likely to shoot game with.
I think maybe a week between shots is cool enough.
Now, go and shoot ten shots rapidly at an identical target. No waiting for barrel to cool. No weird horseradish whatsoever. Just ten controlled shots.
Compare the two targets. I’d bet money the one you spend 3 months creating is bigger.
Now, shoot three 5 shot groups at different targets letting the barrel cool an hour or two between (whatever usually gives the right results) .
Overlay the targets to the same point of aim, and measure the total.
Now, go and shoot ten shots rapidly at an identical target. No waiting for barrel to cool. Just ten controlled shots.
Compare the two targets. I’d bet money the ten shot is smaller.
Everybody acts like ten shots is a death sentence. It’s actually a very minimalist representation of what you can depend on your rifle to do every single time without fail. There comes a point where shooting more shots is beating a dead horse, but it’s not 10. I think it’s closer to 50.
Most do not shoot ten shots simply because they do not like what they see when they do that. It removes the option to shoot till you see what you want then quit while you’re ahead.
That’s fine as long as you’re popping holes in paper, but when it’s time to shoot for score or meat, I don’t want to have a bunch of groups in my mind that are the BEST I can do. I want know, that I know, that I KNOW what the WORST is that is likely to happen, because if I misjudge my cone of fire, I could cause unneeded harm to an animal. Competition is just a safe place to get smart or get spanked till you wise up or go home. Afterall, somebodies got to pay for that trophy, and it aint the guys walking home with it under their arm. LOL!
I guess it all comes down to reality. No matter where you are with your skill or equipment, do you want to THINK you’re a good shot, or do you want to KNOW you’re a good shot? Big difference.
Now, last year, I took a limit of deer with the most inaccurate rifle I own. I imposed a limit on myself of 50 yards because honestly, that’s the furthest I felt confident I could produce a golf ball sized group every time. 100 yards was a 5″ proposition, and that’s too big for me to take a shot at a deer. I find out the limitations of the firearm I’m using, and I function within them.
You notice in that article above, some of the top names showed up thinking they had a sweet shooter, but most left with their hat in their hands? I’m thinking most of them had rifles that would shoot superb five shot groups if you allowed a couple “fliers”. They came back after fixing the problem and had much better results. I’d be willing to bet that the biggest lesson any of them learned after going to the Warehouse and getting schooled was to quit explaining away their bad shots as fliers, wind, and oopseys, and instead, use those things to learn to get better and that is a lesson we all can learn without having to travel to Texas in the middle of the night.
- April 26, 2016 at 10:30 am #27331ArtfulParticipant
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I have seen it happen once – with a shockingly pink sparkly Bench Rifle in 300 Win Mag – the groups at 100 and 200 were literally the same size. Now with age and experience I might chalk it up to the shooter doing a better job at 200 then he did at 100. Better Concentration / Technique
- April 26, 2016 at 2:19 pm #27336
Art, all I’ll ask is:
How many shots in the group?
Was it repeated more than once?
Did the guy’s scope have parallax adjustment and if so, was he using it correctly?
- April 26, 2016 at 5:38 pm #27346JPHollaParticipant
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I’ve not seen it myself, but do recall an article in Handloader on extreme .22 caliber cartridges (22-06 and 22-404Jeffreys IIRC) where this phenomenon was reported. Groups at 100 yards were reported to be about the same as the groups at 300. This was with long-for-caliber bullets in extremely fast twists and was reported as being commonplace under these conditions due likely to the extreme resonance of the bullet being attenuated by atmospheric resistance allowing it to "settle in." It is also considered among long range BPCR shooters that shooting for groups at 100 yards is pointless. Again, long bullets in fast twists. And iron sights have no parallax. I don’t believe a gun/load can do 2" at 100 and 1" at 200, but 1" at 100 and 1.01" at 200 is a different story. We can only prove the existence of something, not disprove it. Ballistics is amazingly complicated and I have learned to never say never.
- April 26, 2016 at 5:58 pm #27348
I didn’t do exactly that but I did save targets every outing for about 2 years of the various work up best loads I then superimposed them all over a an Otters target centered on the bull . That was an enlightening moment when I looked at 25 plus groups of 3-5 on 1 single target . A rifle that I had fidgeted with and fussed over was actually delivering the goods at a far higher level than was thought . Wondering groups were the result of load changes and the overall group size went from 4″ perceived to a 2″ core with flyers. Being a $250 rifle with its scope 2nd hand from a pawn shop I was elated.
I expect more now than then but it becomes a real showing of what you and your rifle are doing.
- April 26, 2016 at 7:58 pm #27351
One thing I have learned is that the human tendency to try to see patterns in random information, coupled with the fact that humans are not rational but rather, RATIONALIZING creatures, who can convince themselves of almost anything (for better or for worse).
However, an objective test such as you describe tells the real tale.
Real information requires real data, and there’s lots of ways to get it.
- April 26, 2016 at 8:23 pm #27352
I’ve never seen it. I’ve seen three or even five land close together by sheer coincidence, and that ends up being the only group anybody really cares to remember, but I’ve never seen an extensive test, heck I’ve never seen one single comparison of two groups with enough shots in each to mean anything.
I’m willing though. Somebody tells me the earth is flat, I want to see a ship sail into the horizon and the HULL be the last thing I see rather than the MAST. Easy enough demonstration.
I’ll be shooting long bullets from my 300 WinMag at long range this summer, and I record every group I shoot, so I’ll report if I see anything out of the ordinary. I highly suspect I shoot far too many bullets into a group to properly "prove" this phenomenon.
I could be wrong though, and if I am, I’ll be the first to slap the mat and call it as it is.
- April 26, 2016 at 8:38 pm #27353
Do people really not count fliers? Talk about not being honest w/ yourself. The ten shot group for me is lack of discipline more than a hot barrel. I know this and need to work on it. Thankfully archery season is six months long while rifle is two weeks. It’s a lot easier to practice w/ a bow in my backyard. Hopefully one day I will have the time to devote to rifles like I have w/ a bow.
- April 27, 2016 at 12:02 am #27366
I’ve improved my shooting a ton over the last 5 to 10 yr trouble is wing shooting,consistent pistol shooting and consistent rifle shooting aren’t compatible with each other. I’m honest with me about that . Forget about hunting ducks and dove for a month then going out and trying to settle down over a boulder to make a 300 yd standing broadside slightly away boiler house shot …. no time to think shoot between the trees loping away dead bang . The year I dedicated to the 400 yd 1 shot antelope it took well into November to get back to shooting ducks that weren’t flushing out of the decoys .
- April 27, 2016 at 1:27 am #27370
Harter;n6247 wrote: I’ve improved my shooting a ton over the last 5 to 10 yr trouble is wing shooting,consistent pistol shooting and consistent rifle shooting aren’t compatible with each other. I’m honest with me about that . Forget about hunting ducks and dove for a month then going out and trying to settle down over a boulder to make a 300 yd standing broadside slightly away boiler house shot …. no time to think shoot between the trees loping away dead bang . The year I dedicated to the 400 yd 1 shot antelope it took well into November to get back to shooting ducks that weren’t flushing out of the decoys .
Funny you should say that. I’m exactly the same way. Seems pistol shooting is a slightly different mindset as well. Can’t do both interchangeably. Gotta get my head screwed on straight.
Part of the problem is I’m left eye dominent and extremely right handed. I’ve trained myself to switch eyes when shooting rifles and I can focus in on my right, but it takes getting in the groove.
Sometimes I pull a rifle to my shoulder and see double, and I just have to put it down, shut my eyes and switch my brain around, then I’m fine.
- April 27, 2016 at 3:54 am #27378
Funny this cross dominant thing should come up again .
I was a dedicated lefty shooter for most of 30 yr ,then my left eye crashed ,from 18/20 to 20/40 . So then I had to switch hands . I’ve always shot pistols right handed so that wasn’t a big deal although occasionally I get that double vision front sight in the wrong V. . I shot a running boar 2 yr ago it was quite a surprise to find that I’d fallen into full duck slayer mod and had shot the lever rifle from the left side both eyes open and a clean hit a little high which means I had covered the POH with the bbl swung through with a very smooth squeeze yet slap on the trigger.
The reduction in vision was actually sort of a gift as it has allowed me to separate the controlled breath squeeze from the swing slap stroke.
- April 27, 2016 at 6:10 pm #27394Rattlesnake CharlieParticipant
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An interesting article. I had the chance to find it someplace several years ago. What an amazing opportunity to remove many variables.
As far as seeing what a rifle can do, I tend to shoot 10-shot groups with about a minute between shots. I could shoot faster with my AR varmint rifle, but not much faster with my Shiloh Sharps.
IMO, taking an hour to shoot a group allows changes in light, weather, and fatigue to make a more noticeable impact that when shot in a shorter time period. Your ammo can also change temperature as it lies on the bench. May be getting colder after leaving the house, or may be getting hotter in the sun.
I also like to see what will happen if i do shoot with a barrel that is warming up. I have had to shoot more than once at running coyotes. Especially if more than one comes to a call. Now, in a prairie dog town, I’m gonna heat my rifle up big time if the varmints cooperate.
Three shots is just too small a sample statistically. I read someplace that seven is the minimum to remove many statistical variables. Ten makes it nice because my ammo boxes are usually in rows to five or ten. Yeah, I’m nerdy. I like to see nice even rows in my ammo box. And, nice rows of boxes on the shelf. I do have ammo cans of loose ammo for blasting, but it just doesn’t look “neat”.
dragon813gt asked about counting “fliers”. I do not. But, it is only a “flier” if I can knowingly call it at the time of the shot when I know I did something wrong. Ripping off a shot prematurely because a horsefly just bit you, or the guy at the next bench just let loose with his supermag complete with muzzlebrake, are legitimate “fliers” that are not indicative of how your rifle shoots.
As far as a rifle grouping better at 200 or 300 yards than it does at 100, I’ll probably never know about mine. My eyesight is not that good, I don’t shoot often enough to be good enough to eliminate my marksmanship, and I seldom shot that far except for prairie dogs, coyotes, rocks, and gongs.
Wow. I better let my keyboard cool off. Me too. This is a topic I can get involved in. I wish the posters on this thread could get together for a beautiful day at a range with at least 300 yards. That’s the max at the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club where I shoot the most. They do have nice concrete benches too. I am blessed as it is only about five miles from my abode.
- April 27, 2016 at 7:48 pm #27396Larry GibsonParticipant
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Rifles may seem to occasionally shoot better at longer ranges of 200 and 300 yards than they do at 100 yards. When one delves seriously and objectively into such occurrences we find the groups at each range are usually of different loads, insufficient number of shots or the parallax in the scopes used has not been adjusted for each range.
I am constantly amazed that some self styled internet experts have no real comprehension of the laws of physic or ballistics. Groups of sufficient quantity with good consistently accuracy loads out of the same rifle will exhibit linear group dispersion as the range increases out to 400 – 600 yards. After that one has to understand that the bullet drift (not to be confused with drift of the bullet caused by wind) will add some to the lateral dispersion in the direction of spin. This is why if you zero at 300 yards and then shoot at 100 and 200 yards using the 300 yard zero you will see the center of the groups is slightly left of vertical. Given the same rifle and the same load a zero at 100 yards will have proportionally more bullet drift at 1000 yards vs if zeroed at 300 yards. If zeroed at 600 yards there will be a lot less bullet drift at 1000 yards.
However, the largest contributor to increased non linear group dispersion at longer ranges is caused by the velocity decreasing much faster than the RPM which does not decreases little in comparison. Thus the adverse affect of the RPM (centrifugal force) has more time to cause trajectory deviation as the range increases. Thus as the velocity decreases there is a much long time of flight between 500 and 600 yards as there was between 100 and 200 yards. It is because of the increased TOF that the RPM has more time to adversely affect the bullet in flight. With cast bullets at lower velocities these adverse affects usually occur at shorter ranges. I have on numerous occasions demonstrated linear dispersion with cast bullets to 300 yards.
The initial reports (first I ever heard was in an Elmer Keith article on the 30 OKH, he was only shooting 3 shot groups at 50 and 300 yards) usually had 3 shot groups and non parallax adjustable scopes of low end power, usually 4 or 6X maximum. The parallax on many such scopes was set at unknown ranges. If the parallax is set at any range between the close and far ranges there will be more parallax at the closer range. That in and of itself most often creates the larger groups. Of course shooting less than a sufficient number of groups with a less than sufficiently statistical number of shots in each group renders any assumption we may make meaningless. An understanding of random dispersion (where the bullets go) in the cone of fire capability of the load/rifle (group size) is also essential. BTW; using an “average of several groups as the “accuracy” of any firearm is totally meaningless also.
To be sure we have a rifle that shoots smaller groups at longer ranges we should first be sure the scope is parallax free at each range and then shoot three 10 shot groups at each range (100 and 300 yards) under as close the same conditions as possible. That should answer the question and odds are we will find, if the load/rifle is accurate we will find linear groups dispersion at 300 yards.
- April 27, 2016 at 7:57 pm #27397
Awesome post RC. I agree wholeheartedly.
When I take a new rifle to the range to stretch its legs, I always follow the same routine:
1. Heat up that barrel and see what happens.
I start shooting at a nice steady pace. Often I work out of a ziplock baggie of my handloads. I know how many are in there and I shoot till I see the shots start to wander.
I count how many are left to determine how many are in the group down yonder. This is always about 15 shots give or take. By 15 shots, I know everything I need to know about the personality of the rifle. If it’s a shooter, there’s no sense beating a dead horse. If it’s a dog, there’s no reason to waste ammo. If it’s a shooter that walks, I won’t know I’m seeing it till the 10th-12th shot.
2. Let the barrel cool completely.
I give the barrel about 45 minutes to completely cool off while I work over step 1. on other rifles.
3.The next step is to pick a different spot and employ all the precision shooting techniques to carefully stack the best group I can get with the ammo I built.
If the rifle was a walker, then I use the timer on my phone to allow exactly 1 minute between shots. This works just like casting consistent bullets at the bench. Just like controlling the size and weight of cast bullets, timing makes a difference. I shoot no more than 10 shots, and there had better be an excusable event of some sort that I can point to as an excuse before I call a flier. If a true flier is called, I shoot a second time. If there is a flier in both groups, the “fliers” are counted as part of the group. The groups are overlayed and averaged with eachother, and with the total deviation.
If the rifle proved to be a shooter in step #1, I see no reason to wait 1 minute between shots. I run at a steady pace and just make sure my bag technique is excellent. I’ll shoot all the ammo I brought into 10 shot groups which will later be overlayed and averaged like before.
That’s the way I do it, and by the time I leave the range, I feel very confident telling a client how well his rifle shoots. There are only a few who are as demanding of truly representative groups as I am.
- April 28, 2016 at 1:07 am #27404chutesnreloadsParticipant
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I’ve been trying to teach two boys,both right handed,left eye dominant to shoot.Could you expound a bit on what you’ve learned help you overcome this please
- April 28, 2016 at 3:41 am #27409
OK, first of all, if my father had been more of a rifle shooter than a pistolero, he would have noticed my handicap and nipped it in the bud by making me learn to shoot left handed, and I believe this is the correct answer.
As it was, I spent a lot of time shutting my left eye so that I would see the sights correctly. Eventually, I got to where I could shoot with both eyes open if I obtained my sight picture first with my left eye shut then slowly relaxed and opened it. Then I got to where I could mentally just shift my focus to the right eye without ever closing the left, and now you’d never know I had an issue until it comes to wing shooting, or when I’m extremely tired.
You would be doing those boys a favor by buying them left handed rifles only so they would learn to shoot properly IMHO. I really wish I had. They can make it work (and work darn well) if they shoot like a fiend and are stubborn enough, but honestly, it’s a crap chute.
If you feel that they simply won’t shoot at all if they can’t use a right handed rifle, then the only thing you can do is put a piece of tape over the left lens of their safety glasses, or use a patch, or insist that they close their left eye.
This advice may not be the best as it’s akin to asking a divorced person for advice on marriage. You should PM Sgt.Mike. He’s taught thousands of people to shoot, and as far as I know, they ALL used RH rifles. He’s a very gifted instructor and I’ll bet he would have better advice for you.
- April 28, 2016 at 3:29 pm #27419sundogParticipant
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Tim, I’m glad you brought up the subject of the Warehouse. Felix and I discussed it many times. It made me rethink a whole lot of stuff, and made me a better shooter, hand loader, and equipment tinkerer. Anyone who is serious about any of this needs to study that article – in depth. And the guys I hang out with can’t fathom why I spend so much time on case prep…
- April 28, 2016 at 4:46 pm #27421
Sundog!!!! Can’t tell you how good it is to see you here. Felix mentioned you often, and I would very much enjoy meeting you someday.
I believe you are 100% spot on with your statement above. The biggest obstacle to shooters and handloaders everywhere is misinformation, and undisciplined testing techniques. There is very little information out there that is empirical once you get into the nitty gritty details on account of this, but the Houston Warehouse serves as a reality check.
If real, solid, information is what you’re after, the Houston Warehouse project was a gold mine.
- April 29, 2016 at 2:13 am #27430GhostHawkParticipant
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Saved for later intensive reading. Many thanks for posting.
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