Naylor Ball takes on some ‘tweak and clean’ therapy to clear his head and reduce stress
As I write, I’m on a rest period following my second professional boxing match. I’m happy to report that I managed to win a convincing points victory over an incredibly resilient opponent who had been in with some talented boxers, including the former World Champion, Tyson Fury. These rest periods are absolutely vital to allow the body to repair and to get my mind in the right shape for the next fight in a couple of months, but I’m not one for sitting around doing nothing, so I thought I’d give my rifle and scope a good clean. This turned out to be an interesting exercise, but not for the reasons you’d think.
I noticed some muck under the scope mounts as I was cleaning the rifle and decided to remove the scope to give everything a proper going over. I know it’s generally frowned upon to remove a perfectly zeroed scope, but I couldn’t stand the idea of that grit and dirt being under those mounts, and giving that area a good wipe eased my mind. So, before I got busy with the hex wrench, I marked off the distance between the rear mount and the end of the action block so I’d know exactly where to refit the scope.
CHECK THAT POSITION
When it came to putting the scope back on, I decided that, rather than just clamping it back in its former position, I’d go through the whole scope-fitting procedure just
as I had when I first set up my rifle. I’m not sure why I did this, rather than take the easy way and just bolt on the scope where it had served me so well, but I’m glad I did and I think there’s a valuable lesson to be learned because of it.
When I first set up my scope, I did what the editor told me and put on my shooting jacket – because that’s what I’d be wearing when I used the rifle – and kept mounting the rifle with the scope set in different positions, until everything lined up perfectly. The test is, when you mount the rifle with your eyes closed, the scope is in exactly the right position when you open your eyes. If it isn’t, you’ll find yourself adapting your head position to the scope, not the other way round.
When I went through that procedure again, really taking my time to get everything absolutely spot-on, I found that my scope needed to be 12mm further forward to give me a ‘natural’ head position. I haven’t a clue whether this 12mm adjustment will have much effect on my shooting, but in my mind, I’m happy that my scope is set precisely where it should be, so that’s a plus before a single shot is fired.
The fact is, our techniques and stances change over time and now I know it’s important to check if the way we set up our hardware needs to change, too. Those changes can come about through personal development – basically finding better ways to do things – or when we change rifles, scopes and even jackets, and I’m told that age, changes in body size and reduced mobility can do it, too. Whatever the cause, it now makes sense to me that when my technique changes, my rifle set-up may well need to change with it. From now on, I’ll be checking this at least every six months or so.
Once I’d accepted that my hardware settings were not set in stone, I thought about my trigger and how I got on with it. After ten shots or so, I decided that it was set a fraction too light for me, and that I was tensing my hand just a little to avoid releasing the shot too soon. A tense trigger hand is not ideal, so I tweaked the adjusters a tiny bit at a time until the tension in my hand went away and I was no longer ‘afraid’ of the trigger.
Then I noticed that the reduction in tension in my hand had produced a more relaxed arm and with it an even more relaxed stance. This, coupled with my ‘new’ scope/ head position, has definitely had a beneficial effect on the way I shoot, and whilst some of it may well be psychological, the benefit is there and I’ll take it as a win.
I think the lesson that comes with these small but worthwhile changes is obvious; don’t just accept that the way your set-up has been working for years is automatically the best it can be. If you re-set your scope position and you discover that it was already perfect, then knowing that is a benefit in itself, so it’s still worth doing. The same goes for every area of the way we interact with our gear, and it may be a bit of a pain to re-zero, but it shouldn’t be that much of a hassle – and it can make a real difference!
Above: A minor tweak on the trigger had a major effect on relaxation.
Above: Removing the scope and refitting it could bring a genuine benefit.
Marking the original scope position ...
... showed me how much I’d been ‘adapting’.
Above: I went through the whole scope-fitting precedure again - and I’m glad I did.
Above: Since my re-fit and trigger tweak, things just feel better.
Above: Cleaning the rifle proved to be more productive than I thought.