A Lesson From Aesop

Via comments:

Anything from the M16 platform inside of 500y is a confidence target, last times I’ve checked. I sold the A2 version I had, which generally flipped the “y”s to “m”s as far as accuracy.

For the scoped 700 in .308, that moves to 750y unless the winds are over 30MPH from 3 or 9, and I need a spotter shot or two.

It’s been a bit over a year since I verified my zeroes, but I’ve got a friend who’s put in a 1000y range down on the border I need to go visit.

And for those time-limited, you can make a 10y snap-in for 100 to 500y on posterboard with a sharpie for dry fire, and get a shit-ton of dry-fire snap-in practice in the back yard.


At 10y standing in for 100y, the B modified long-range target is the end of a 2″x4″. 500y is 1/4″ x 1/2″.

If you want high tech, get a laser boresight round and use your smartphone or a video camera to document where you are when the piece goes “click”.

A dime flat across the front sight post detects a lot of trigger errors, and gravity and physics never lies.

Once you’ve worked out the fundamentals kinks in dry fire, zero with the below at 25m (81.25′ if you’re using a tape measure or laser rangefinder).

For 16″ barrel carbines, use this:


Zero the piece per instructions, and use the rear sight elevation numbers as needed, and from 0-500, all you have to worry about is windage.

You’re now GTG.

Then put an EOTech, ACOG, or one of the AR-series scopes on, and you’re lethal at all effective ranges, if you can dope wind.

This is why any version of CW2.0 unpleasantness is going to be like massed troops finding out that rifled muskets firing minie balls were one helluva lot more accurate than obsolete Napoleonic tactics could cope with.

See also related material from the USAMU.

44 responses to “A Lesson From Aesop

  1. Oh wow someone is rewording Army BRM (basic rifle marksmanship) practices. While don’t you reword USMC brm practices because they are on point. That’s coming from an Army trainer sniper(b4).

    • And all you would be snipers “riflemen” are fools to think they will not hesitate to use indirect wage things really get bad

      • And you boomers who think call for fire from arty helo or fixed is the only way to call for fire you have been left behind everyone in my companies that I served in were trained by our jtac who went to the joint fires course, everyday… close enough also works in 500lb bombs and jdams the rto and lt are no longer the primary targets now it’s everyone and with the new land warrior systems EVERY soldier is wired in and connected so that last hit mark on the lt sends a grid to the incoming smart bomb.

        • Daniel K Day

          RTO would be radio transmission operator and LT is lieutenant, right?
          It would help if you spell things out. A lot readers, including me, were never in the military and get tired of looking in long lists at acronymfinder.

    • Sorry to break your heart, cupcake, but I wasn’t “rewording” anything.
      I typed what I typed off the cuff.
      Does the Army even bother with actual dry-fire practice? Did they ever?

      I’ve qualified expert with the M-16 every time I picked one up, once at Ft. Knox for the Army, and five times with the Marines, the latter at target distances the Army considers “too hard” for riflery, and usually defers to mortars and artillery. Even odds all of the above before you were even a thing, but I’m open to discussion on that point.

      (IIRC, for the dreadfully worn out M-16A1s they had at the time, the Army’s “BRM”, verbatim, was “BZO at 25m. Try to get something approximating a group. Flip up the small aperture. Now you’re zeroed for 0-300m. And aim low, because if you can skip a round into the plastic knockdowns, and they fall, it counts as a hit. Windage? It’s either the Kentucky type, or strictly for snipers. You don’t need to know that stuff.” They didn’t specify whether “skipping” rounds worked on real people with the same effectiveness as on shot-out plastic silhouettes though. Lazy cheap bastards.)

      Having thus shot the better qual course 25-30 times all tolled, the lessons stick in memory pretty well. Purely on the Marine CoF, I’ve never actually missed any of my targets (I still have all my original data books – I checked), but I did manage to miss the bullseye and tally between 4 and 20 or so “4”s instead of “5”s. Usually on rapid fire.

      If it were an option, I’d take a crack again at it now, mainly because I’d looooove to try my hand at the combat qual course (moving targets) they’ve added in recent years. If the Marines wanted to boost their budget, they’d offer the option on weekends, at market prices, and BYOG&A. The line to play would probably only be a mile long on both coasts.

      As it is, in my dotage, Camp Perry matches are on my bucket list, just to see where I’d stack up, but it isn’t a high priority.

      Good luck with that indirect fire. If they want to start wiping out grid squares to contain their problems, the biggest problem for the other side will be what do we do with all the new recruits itching to get some.

      BTW, indirect fire and air support are both “soft” targets, too.

      But if anybody wants to ask him, I’d love to hear from Ronnie Barrett if there are more SASRs in the .mil’s hands, or those of private citizens. My guess would be the latter as well.

    • wendystringer48088

      Few things wrong with your logic.
      For one, the purpose of this dialing in and marksmanship practice and being able to hit a target of opportunity on the fly if for our own personal needs that work well enough for our purposes with what practice and training facilities and opportunities we have available to us.
      As to the calling in arty JDAMs and 500 lbs bombs… Well, there is always the “What good is your 2nd amendment and your civilian firearms against an a military with armour, artillery and aircraft?” argument.
      Well as to answers – having the rifle zeroed in and practiced with it comes in handy if it is a group or a gang of thugs you are going up against. Not every scenario is going to look like a Red Dawn movie.
      And even if it comes to that, how things have been going for us since 9-11 in Afghan and Iraq should tell you that todays military high tech is not the ultimate unstoppable guaranteed solution to victory.
      The new land warrior super soldier systems where every soldier is wired in and connected so that anyone can designate a target and destroy it with a smart bomb fired from some aircraft flying overhead or an artillery tube back at the base is a nice dream. Things don’t always work out as well as planned, especiallly if the military is going up against a determined, capable and adaptive opponent.
      “Yes but the trigger puller with modern technology can be a brain dead tard”
      Not true. Brain dead tards are not so good at understanding how things work and paying attention to required maintenance and safety procedures. Sophisticated weapons sysytems needs intelligent people to operate them.

  2. You will be nervous, and hesitant on your first stalk. If you have a 5.56 and shoot at greater than 300 meters DON’T PANIC when your target doesn’t fall after the first shot. Just displace anyway. Whatever you do. DO NOT set yourself up and start dropping mag dumps. ONE SHOT then crawl away. “He who shoots then crawls away. Lives to shoot another day.” Better still. Learn to use a .30 Cal with Iron sights. Camo and veg well. Use killing ammo. (not cheap ass surplus) and train , train , train . Remember that damn few of us are the men we wish we were. Those young USMC snipers you all remember were just that. Young. Hand picked, Well trained. well equipped. Cocky, and VERY, VERY lucky. Many of them died down the years. They knew that they could going in. They made there peace with that fact and did the job. Have you? Because it isn’t like the movies. “The good guys” don’t always win. “God” is on the side with the most ammunition and high explosive, and that is not you. You guys always ask the wrong question. It is not about ammo or armor or cammo. It is about: Are you willing to die to win? If you are the rest is just stuff you use to get the job done.

    • For those who are willing to die to win, those are the serious light fighters. Anyone else is fooling themselves, and should work on their mindset before anything else.
      If your mind ain’t right, you’re already dead. I have family, and a few friends, that I will keep safe by doing what I have to do. If that’s not how you are wired, it’s ok – it isn’t for everyone. But also, don’t delude yourself into the belief that when it goes loud, you will somehow “have” the mindset and skills that many of us have been working on for decades. Ain’t gonna happen.

  3. there you go with them negative waves moriarity(john). all those things have to have a trigger puller. so none of those trigger pullers will be on our side?

  4. Alfred E. Neuman

    Reblogged this on FOR GOD AND COUNTRY.

  5. Just plain todd

    Serious question here for those that know. Im not any kind of mil. Retired fireman medic. Shooting since i was 7 or so. Taught by my grandpa back in the day. Only formal shooting instruction was 2 yrs ago at an appleseed event. Shot a 216 and got my rifleman patch at that event.
    My question is this. If i zero my rifle on a bench, then go prone, why is it off? I did that with 3 rifles and they were all spot on from the bench, but all shot the same amount low from prone. I have gone thru all the handouts i got and dont remember anything from the course except zero from prone . Its always the most accurate. Prone is hard for me due to a back injury , but fuckit. Aint gonna have a bench in the festivities. Ive been shooting kneeling and prone only now. No pain. No gain. Just wondering why such a difference in my zero. Thx

    • When you were shooting from the bench, were you supporting the rifle or was it on a rest of some sort?

      If a rest was used, how was the rifle placed on the rest?

      What kind of rifle?

      • Just plain todd

        I was using one of those caldwell rests. Its like an H shaped sandbag. I spread the base out and put the rifle in the groove of the “H”. I did that with my m1a, my ar 15 rifle not carbine, and my 308 ar rifle not carbine Got the same results with all 3 rifles. Different optics on each rifle. All shot about 12 in low from prone, but were spot on from rest

        • I was taught to zero as I plan to shoot.

          Some of the sharp folks might explain a bit about barrel harmonics and such.

          • SemperFi, 0321

            12″ low from prone tells me you’re putting pressure on the bbl while in the rest. Somewhere you are flexing something, such as using sling in prone but not from rest?
            Rest the forearm, not the bbl. Try a different rest if possible, or just sandbags from both positions.
            Long process of elimination, but somewhere you will figure out what’s causing the change.

            YouTube is your friend, look up the USMC marksmanship vids and study several of them.

          • Barrel harmonics are a real thing.

            If you place a barrel against a hard surface, generally speaking your groups will open up approximately 6″@50m.

            Vertical offset is a real deal thing as well when using any type of electro-optics. Cant the rifle and make note of what that offset ends up being downrange.

            Regarding RDS/Electro-optics: physics is a bitch, and, “parallax-free” is marketing fluff. Get your dot on the edges of your glass and note the shift in POI.

            The above three items are not sexy to work on at the range, but these items should absolutely be known to the shooter. Hopes and guesses aren’t plans.

            Just Plain Todd, 10/10 if you were placing your rifles’ barrels on the rest, there will be a significant shift in POI when that is removed from the equation. If it was not, I’m willing to wager that your sight picture/alignment is undergoing a shift when you’re in the prone.

            Consistency is key. While not always possible, make every attempt to mount the weapon and maintain the same cheek weld, regardless of position.

            • “…your sight picture/alignment is undergoing a shift when you’re in the prone.”

              Exactly correct.

              It’s why good shooting instructors train people how to use ‘come ups’ when shooting iron for different ranges as well as when they change shooting positions on various courses of fire changing from off-hand to sitting/kneeling/rice paddy prone & prone. Sight pictures change with the position. Even if shooting the same distance, say 300m, changing one’s position will change the sight picture.

              FWIW, bench zeroing, at least IMHO, is for checking out the inherent accuracy of the rifle and type of round being used. Zeroing for field fire is done prone. YMMV.

              • “Zeroing for field fire is done prone.”

                100% Gospel.

                My zeroing procedure with the AR15 is to go prone, and use the magazine as a monopod with some bodyweight on it.

                For this guy, that’s given me the best results in terms of consistency. I’ll then verify that zero from standing/offhand, kneeling, sitting, and back to prone, and take note of the group sizes and any resulting changes against 4 B8 bulls stuck to a standard IDPA.

        • Are you resting the barrel on it? If so, you might be pushing the barrel up ever-so slightly.

          If not, maybe your position on the rifle is throwing your sight alignment off just a little from one position to the other?

          Just guessing, you’ve probably been shooting longer than me.

        • The bedding of the stock meeting the rest caused the shift on the M14/M1A. The handguard caused the shift on the AR platforms. This is why we freefloat actions as much as possible by either glassbedding the Garand action or using any of the common tubes for the AR. This is why DMRs and Snipers make sandsocks as an improvised rest. Mine never wanders far.

          When you zero do it from the prone, supported from that sandsock just behind the sling swivel. It’ll have the least impact on your dope. Zero at 100m.

    • 1) Your body is aligned differently. From sitting, kneeling, “rice paddy” prone (squatting), or standing (offhand), you’re holding any given weapon in the pocket of your shoulder.
      From the prone, it’s more on top of the collarbone, not the front.
      2) This can and does change your spotting on the stock, your cheek weld, your arm position, your eye-to-sight alignment, and pretty much everything, however slightly.
      3) Prone is more stable, because unless there’s an earthquake in progress, you don’t sway from the wind, changing your balance to compensate for that, shifting your weight on each foot, and the weapon is supported (if you’re doing it right) by bone to ground, rather than bone to bone to feet to ground. Better still is a bipod, which removes half your arms from muscling the weapon; muscles tire and quiver, which imparts shake, which opens up your zero circle.
      Aim small, miss small.

      All of these things conspire to change, either slightly or grossly, your body position. Which changes your zero.
      Learn both zeros. Actually, one for each position. Unless you’re in a windstorm, or have parkinsonian tremors, they shouldn’t be that different.
      But find out, and write them down.

      Weather, time of day, sun/target positioning, temperature, ammo lots, barrel temp, and a shit-ton of other things change your rifle’s zero every time you fire.

      Marksmanship isn’t about getting the perfect positioning, per se, every time.
      It’s about putting the rounds in the same place, regardless of the circumstances, every time, with minimal variation.

      Sniping is doing it the first time, nearly every time, and on a moving target, because you may not get a second chance.

      You hit bullseyes the same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.

      • Asslap needs to stop pretending he was in the bush the bush he saw was between an old mammasans legs he even said he was a late 70s veteran

  6. Good job, Aesop, good on ya, and thanks. The basics are always good, and can’t be emphasized enough these days. Just plain Todd, I would wager your were supported on the bench, and prone unsupported on the ground. This would explain the drop. Strive to always find support when prone. Another reason I have my guys go for the vertical handgrip on their AR’s. In a pinch, it can help in the prone as support, or placed on something in the prone to do the same thing. Heat waves while in the prone supported will throw you off on hot days too. Not much you can do about it, except not shoot.

    • Just plain todd

      Many thanks guys. Appreciate the help. I will be rezeroing rifles off the bench . My goal is to consistently hit the 4 moa target at 500 yds. Regardless of my position. Cant use iron sight much anymore except for handguns due to crappy vision. I had gotten a new scope for a rifle, and moved optics around on rifles after that, and was in the process of re zeroing stuff when i accidentally stumbled on this. After appleseed, i took the KD appleseed course but had to leave after the first day. I never got around to making a range book for each rifle. That will be fixed post haste. Thx again.

  7. CA, glad you thought my reply was worth expanding into a post.
    But you left the mil-dot and range card suggestions out?
    Oh well. They’re both at the OP.

    BTW, as a lot of us have already figured out, and the Vegas shooting drove home, anyone can print out GoogleEarth maps of any potential position on the planet, and use the mouseclick ruler feature to pre-survey ranges between any two points. It’s accurate enough (1′-2’@ 1000 yards, give or take) as not to matter, and anything urban has been aerial surveyed to a resolution sufficient spot Russian missiles in Cuba in 1960, which ain’t bad for a civilian ap.

    I would suggest that anyone who hasn’t done that, and laminated a good number of such for their AO and key points within same, is doing this wrong.

    How good is it really?
    If you’ve paid attention, you’ll note that the same exact acreage of ground repeats over every Minuteman missile silo in any map of those parts of the Great Plains which host them. Which is funny, because the Russians have wall pin-us of them all. China, Pakistan, and the Norks, not so much. So.

    Also, things like critical “special” weapons bases, and the aerial view of the White House blurs out in patches as you zoom in, to prevent anyone spotting new details or agent overwatch positions.
    Both of these are relatively recent changes (i.e. it wasn’t the case a few short years ago), once some bright lads at JSOC, the Pentagon, and Secret Service realized Google was handing the equivalent of Top Secret information out for free, to anyone, on the internetz.
    It’s that accurate.

  8. pedrothemerciless

    @Todd – the answer you seek is angular-induced parallax. In short, when prone, your head angle is more horizontal despite your cheek finding what you think is the same spot on the stock as from the bench. This puts your eye lens which is pretty flat at a slightly different angle relative to your POA. Hence different vertical results.

    • Just plain todd

      You guys are nothing less than awesome. While i was aware of some of the things all of you brought up, i never saw it happen until now. Its only in recent months ive had the time to shoot more. Those of you that estimated in how i was shooting , resting the barrel etc were spot on. Its like you were there. Even though ive been shooting a long time, its only the last 3 yrs or so that i realized im probably in my lifetime going to see thise rifles used for things other than sport. Acceptance is a bitch. Thats being fixed. Very grateful for your guys input. Going back out tomorrow. I cant remember if it was Sean or rockstar22 who posted the fly formula recently, but that is what got me out to look deeper into my skills and gear. I probably wont make it to the first mag change. But maybe i can be a speed bump. One other question. Is a sand sock just a sock full of sand? Thanks again.

      • SemperFi, 0321

        Yup, sand sock is just sand in a tight woven sock, Fill the foot 1/2 or 1/3 full and tie or sew off. Cut off excess.
        You can use it sideways or stand it on end and squeeze to raise it under the toe of the stock. It’s flexible or solid depending on how you use it.

      • Yep. Sand can hold a lot of moisture though and gets heavy.
        I used to keep my Bulls Bag in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid snapped on it when not being used.
        I dried the sand in the oven first while stirring with a perforated spoon occasionally.
        When the sand flowed freely through the holes it was dry enough.
        You can use lead shot.
        Steel will rust.
        Plastic beads are a great lightweight alternative.
        Get the type used to stuff hand stitched dolls in a craft store.
        If it gets wet you can run it through a gentle lower heat cycle in the clothes dryer.

  9. Ty for posting more back to basics material.

  10. Re: “I was using one of those caldwell rests. Its like an H shaped sandbag. I spread the base out and put the rifle in the groove of the “H”. I did that with my m1a, my ar 15 rifle not carbine, and my 308 ar rifle not carbine Got the same results with all 3 rifles. Different optics on each rifle. All shot about 12 in low from prone, but were spot on from rest”

    For what it is worth, my experience has been that shooting from a Caldwell-type rest on a concrete bench-top or other hard surface will induce “jump” into your rifle, thus causing you to shoot high. This is because the shock wave of firing travels down the barrel, through the rest and hits the bench, rebounding back into your rest and then your rifle. The same effect can occur with bipods used on hard surfaces as well.

    When this happened to me, I simply took time to pad under the legs of the rest or bipod, and also perhaps use some sort of recoil-absorbing material on the actual rest itself, to dampen vibration, between the barrel and rest.

    The “jumping” effect is roughly proportional to recoil strength, so heavier-recoil loads will tend to produce a more-pronounced jump, i.e., such as 300 Win-Mag or other long-action and magnum calibers.

    Loading up your bipod properly will help mitigate the effect when shooting off of a hard surface, but it won’t disappear entirely. The real key, in my experience, is to take steps to reduce the vibration and shock waves being transmitted down the rest or bipod in the first place.