Have you ever noticed your shots hitting the target at a different point than where you were aiming? This is often caused by barrel vibrations occurring in the firearm you’re using. Barrel vibrations are caused by something called “harmonics.” When you pull the trigger on your firearm, either manually or via a semiautomatic action, the firing pin strikes the bullet. This sudden impact creates an incredibly fast spike in pressure that travels down to the base of where it’s being held by its barrel within microseconds. This pressure is what’s causing the vibrations in your barrel.
It should be noted that each time you pull the trigger, it creates a new harmonic vibration with its own unique frequency and amplitude (amplitude is how strong or weak these vibrations are). This means there can potentially be thousands of different harmonics within every shot. A lot of these harmonics are out of the range of human hearing, but not all.
If you focus on these vibrations with your mind’s eye, you can actually see them as they move down through your barrel and towards your target. This is why it is recommended that you locate a solid shooting position that allows for minimal movement or disturbance when pulling the trigger. You want to minimize the movement and disturbance of your barrel as much as possible because it’s directly affecting where and how your shots will impact your target.
The key here is finding a solid shooting position that works for you. The best way to do this is by using something called “muscle memory.” This essentially means practicing your positioning until you’ve trained yourself so well, you don’t have to think about it. You can simply get in your shooting position and go by feel alone.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is using a technique called “bottom up” or “backwards muscle memory.” This works because when you’re shooting targets at the outdoor range, pick an object that’s at least 20-30 yards away. Get into your shooting position, aim, and slowly squeeze the trigger until you feel it break. Then track where your shots are hitting on average with each shot throughout several different pulls of the trigger. This will allow you to see if there are any patterns in these vibrations for how they’re affecting your shooting.
After you’ve done this for a few days, pick another object that’s at least 20-30 yards away and do the same thing. You’ll likely notice your shots are impacting in different areas than where you were aiming before even though the circumstances under which you’re shooting are technically the same. This is because of how harmonics work with each shot being unique to its own frequency and amplitude. The next step is to go out into the field and use this “backwards muscle memory” technique at your target.
Now you can begin practicing by focusing on keeping perfect form throughout each pull of the trigger until you’re hitting dead center at your target every single time without fail. The most important thing here is to practice as often as possible with hunting rifles because with these firearms, it’s even more essential to develop this muscle memory. When you’re hunting, there’s no way to make a follow up shot if your first one misses its target.
Another important point is that it’s generally better to shoot several smaller targets instead of only one large group when you practice because it allows for more accurate data collection. You can then use these average points to focus on when you’re in the field. This will give you an accurate representation of what your barrel is doing when you’re shooting, and allow for quick retakes, if needed, until you get it right where you want to be.
Harmonics can be reduced or eliminated altogether with some simple modifications to your firearm. Some of these modifications include installing a muzzle device like an A2 flash hider, adding weight to the end of the barrel (like adding lead weights), and balancing it out with counterweights that attach directly to the buttstock. It’s important to note that not all firearms will need these adjustments in order for them to be more accurate – it largely depends on what type of rifle you’re using, how much power it has behind each shot, and how much you’re willing to practice to master your shot.