The DIY Hunter

I like shooting from a sitting position. It is very difficult for me to get down into a prone shooting position. Often it is not possible to even be able to take a prone position shot because of the terrain. In a prone position grass and sagebrush can be blocking your view. Shooting from a sitting position is much more comfortable for me and gets me above the grass and sagebrush, but how do I get steady enough to take long-range shots from a sitting position?  Here's what I have found to work best for me.

For the past few years, I have been tinkering with different shooting sticks and techniques. From my tinkering, I have found a great way to get prone accuracy from a sitting position and with equipment that is light to carry.

I use High and Heavy Outdoors Double Cross Shooting Sticks combined with Browning's ultra-light shooting bag that is attached to the top of my Alps Outdoorz day pack. What I do is set up on the sticks (as seen in the photo below) and I then stuff a shooting bag that is attached to the top of my day pack under my right armpit. When I am locked in this position it rivals the steadiness of shooting prone and is so much more comfortable for me.

High and Heavy Outdoors Shooting Sticks.

Prone position steadiness in a sitting position with High and Heavy Outdoors Shooting Sticks and a backpack with ultra-light shooting bag under my right armpit.


X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed with Browning ultra-light shooting bag.

Having an ultra-light shooting bag also gives you options to get steady shots off terrain like cliffs.

Lightweight Hunting Rifle - X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed 300 WSM

I often get asked what my favorite scopes are for my rifles. For my long range hunting rifles, my favorite scope has been the Vortex Optics HS-LR 4-16x50 with the generous 24 MOA per rotation elevation turret and a capped windage turret. In my 28 Nosler X-Bolt I can dial up shots waaaaay out there with this combination. So why did I break from Vortex and go with this Leupold scope for my Browning Hell's Canyon Speed X-Bolt?

I wanted to keep this rifle really lightweight. To do so I needed a scope with a short windage cap to make sure that the fat WSM shells cleared the turret on ejection.  Why do I need a small windage cap? Because with a scope with large windage caps that is mounted close to the barrel does not provide enough clearance for shells to eject... so you either have to raise the scope up a lot or go with a small windage cap. If I raise the scope up high enough for clearance on ejection I then also have to put something on the stock to raise the comb hieght up for proper head postitioning behind the scope. To keep it lightweight and simple a small windage turret is the best option.

I also wanted to have the ability to dial up most of my shots and have a capped windage turret.  So here is my solution. I have went with a 4.5-14x40 VX-3i with 30mm tube (had to get 30mm tube to get an adjustable objective) and I had the Leupold custom shop place an Impact 32 MOA reticle in it. I also have one of Vortex's small steel bubble levels mounted around the scope tube as well.

I really like the setup for keeping my rifle lightweight. If I had a Vortex, Nikon, Burris and many other brands of scopes I would have to put the scope up on a rail or use really high rings. With a scope up so high I would then have to build comb height adjustment into the buttstock

What I have now is a lightweight long range hunting rifle that shoots Hornady 200 Gr ELD-X bullets sub 1/2 MOA. I have an awesome tree showing 32 MOA of holdovers in the reticle, I can dial up 14 MOA on the turret (700+ yards) and I have a sticker on the top of the turret marked with actual yardages to dial, currently set for 6,500 ft of elevation. I can always place another sticker on the cap and mark it for a different elevation and bullet combo.

This rifle as shown with a full magazine and a Clincher sling has a total carry weight of 8 lbs 1 oz.

Vortex Viper HS Scope - Burris Signature Zee Rings

Burris Signature Zee Rings pinching a Vortex rifle scope tube.

I purchased a 2.5-10x44 rifle scope for my CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader this year. I had my favorite scope (4-16x50 Viper HS LR) on the muzzleloader last year but I moved that scope over to my 28 Nosler X-Bolt. After many trips to the range, I had just found that 300 yards was the extended range my muzzleloader, bullets and my abilities to ethically shoot were. With that knowledge, I felt a smaller scope was in order so I went with this 2.5-10x44 HS scope.

My only hunt with a muzzleloader this year was for elk here in Utah. After a number of trips to the range in preparation for the hunt, I kept getting poor accuracy with 300 Gr Aerolite bullets that have always shot really accurately for me in the past. I also noticed that vertically an adjustment of 2.5 inches up would change the point of impact by 5-6 inches at 100 yards. What was up with that? Then on two occasions, I noticed that when I went back to the range my zero had been lost and I would have to adjust the scope again. What the heck?!? None of my other Vortex scopes had ever acted this way.

After a couple of phone calls and emails with Vortex they very nicely let me know that they felt I had over torqued my rings and I was convinced that this couldn't be the problem. I use a Wheeler torque driver and originally torqued the screws to 18-inch pounds. After talking with Vortex I cleaned the Loctite off the screws and torqued them to 16-inch pounds and back to the range I went. And once again the scope was changing the point of impact by double the amount I was adjusting. Ha, I was right or was I???

So back I went to Vortex convinced as ever that there had to be a problem with the scope. I had lost all confidence in the scope and wanted another one. It was at this point that I was just about ready to send it in when I had a great conversation with Adam at Vortex. Adam explained how the scope worked and why overly tightened rings could cause issues exactly like I was experiencing. Thank you, Adam! Being a DIY kind of guy I wanted to figure out what was going on myself to make extra sure that is was or wasn't the scope before going to the trouble of sending it back to Vortex.

In discussing how the scope operates with Adam I learned that when a scopes rings get torqued too high it creates extra tension that makes any adjustment change the point of impact by more than it is supposed to, that is until over time the scope settles back to where it was "really" adjusted too. As I thought about it this was exactly what was happening to me. Adjusting the scope would move the point of impact twice as far as it was supposed to change. When I would go back to the range another day my zero would be off by half of the distance from what I adjusted the time before. And because it was in the process of settling to the right position my groups would be less than stellar.

So what was causing the extra tension on the scope tube? I figured the first thing that I would do would be to try some different rings. Before I ordered some rings I decided to give the set up a really good inspection. Had I messed up placing the wrong corresponding MOA shims in my Burris Signature Zee rings or something else? So before I pulled the scope off I looked it all over closely and I found what I believed could be the problem.

Because this scope was on a slow shooting muzzleloader I wanted to tip the scope down 10 MOA in the front to keep the reticle centered closer to the center of adjustment. So, I set the front rings with a minus 10 MOA on the bottom and a plus 10 MOA plastic insert on the top and on the back ring just two "0" MOA plastic inserts. In this manner, I would tip the front of the scope down for a 10 MOA incline. What I couldn't see was because of the 10 MOA incline the self-aligning plastic insert on the bottom rear ring was sticking out from the ring just ever so slightly and it was putting pressure on the tapered incline of the rear of the scope tube. This happened because I had set the scope as far forward as possible. When mounting the scope originally I was looking down from the top and could see that I had clearance from the ring to the taper of the back of the scope tube but I didn't realize that the insert was sticking out on the bottom and was applying pressure to the taper of the scope tube.

So, was this the problem? Yes, it sure was. I mounted the scope an 1/8th of an inch farther back giving it plenty of clearance and headed back to the range. The scope is now tracking perfectly and my accuracy has returned. Awesome! Confidence restored and I didn't have to look like a novice shooter to the Vortex team by sending it back to find nothing wrong with it. :)

Vortex, thank you for your patience, help and for making great products!