Kirsten starts the video by introducing a scenario: it’s a gorgeous day and you’re on the range. You line up your sights right in the middle of the target, and you take what you think is a beautiful shot – and you miss. How did that happen, when you’re sure you took a perfect shot?
Don’t be so sure, she says. There is definitely a way to miss the target, even though your sights are lined up perfectly. She’s going to explain this, and how to avoid it. She hates to burst people’s bubble, but this does happen.
This might have something to do with what most shooters don’t even think about, and that is gun cant. What is gun cant? This is when you tilt the gun either right or left from your center line of how you originally sighted in. If you tilt your gun to the left or to the right after having sighted it perfectly vertical, it will displace the bullet, sometimes by a few inches, sometimes even by a few feet.
Take a rifle with a scope mounted on top. She demonstrates using an illustration. You sighted with a scope mounted vertically on the gun. What the scope does is to compensate for the elevation of the trajectory of a bullet.
Bullets don’t fly straight. There is a trajectory – an arc – that a bullet will pass before hitting the target. An exaggerated visual would be a cannon or a tank: cannons are slightly raised when firing to hit the target dead-on, because if they aimed it straight, the missile would hit the ground. This is, of course, due to gravity.
In the case of a gun, the sight is actually pointing down towards a target. So essentially, your barrel is tilted upwards so that the bullet goes straight into the target. So there’s a crossline where the point of impact meets the scope’s crosshairs, which is the “sweet spot” for a bullet to make a bull’s-eyes.
When the gun is canted to the right, the bullet will go low and to right. Tilted to the left, the bullet will go low and to the left. When the gun is tilted, the scope is no longer compensating for the trajectory completely. Another thing to factor in is that if the scope is mounted very high, the more the tilt will affect the shot. Shooting at long distances is also going to affect your shot.
Other things that will affect the shot aside from distance are target size, round size, round weight, velocity, precision required.
How to fix this problem? Stay consistent – the key to everything in shooting. If you stay canted and get used to it, stay that way. If you shoot straight, stick to that. Use a bubble level if you really want to be precise. Find what works best for you and your setup, shrinking the human error.