You’ve heard it said, “It’s better to be lucky than good,” as if there’s a difference between the two. But I always thought that the better I am at something, the more luck I’d seem to have too.
When it comes to shooting, a lucky shot is being accurate at the right time; but good shooters are accurate all the time. This boils down to accuracy versus precision, and the subtle difference between them. Accuracy is the act of hitting what you’re aiming at, whereas precision is doing it consistently.
Rifle manufacturers boast about their products’ accuracy, with the best of them shooting sub-MOA groups. But a more “accurate” word for that concept would be a rifle’s precision, or its ability to deliver one shot after the next in close proximity to each other. In this sense, precision is largely a function of equipment; and how well it’s made plays a direct role. This is why the rifles you might buy at Walmart are not just harder to hit shit with, but are also far less expensive than well-made firearms. Yeah, you might get lucky and make an accurate shot here and there, but over time you’re odds of doing so degrade rapidly.
Accuracy then, is a function of both the shooter and the equipment; and as such is what we’re trying to improve when we practice. It involves understanding the precision of our equipment in as many situations as we might encounter when we’re in the field. Our Armed Forces hold sniper competitions to test their ability to make shots when the outcome is absolutely critical. A common competition test shot is a cold bore shot, in which the sniper team has to make a first shot kill without having fired prior to the scoring shot. This test is most like the shots hunters are required to make to fill their tags. Too often when we practice, we do so in a way that tests our rifle’s precision by shooting groups.
Precision is important in hunting only when the first shot was a miss. So next time you go practice, improve your ability to accurately deliver a first shot kill by not testing you’re equipment’s precision. Instead, make first shot accuracy important. Raise the stakes. Wager money. Have everyone shooting put $20 in a hat. The best first shot takes the pot (and if you win while shooting off a Triclawps system, let us know so we can talk about our advanced compensation-sharing plan).