Scope – reputable manufacturer (we use Leupold), 16 – 20 power, set on highest magnification
Scope mount – torqued to manufacturer’s specifications and checked before shooting
Front rest – bipod or shooting rest with bag
Rear rest – sandbag
For 223 – 77 grain Freedom Munitions
For 308 – 168 grain Freedom Munitions
For 6.5 Creedmoor – 140 Grain ELD Match Hornady
The target used is an important consideration. The one we use is designed so that the edges of the gray box fit into hash marks on the scope reticle, and the reticle is as wide as the black and white lines; this makes it easy to see if we’re really on target.
Whether using a bipod or front rest it is important where the handguard touches it. We mount the bipod directly under, or just behind, the gas block. If using a front rest we also set up so that it is directly under, or just behind, the gas block.
The rifle is set on a stable shooting bench on the bipod or front rest, then we put the rear sandbag under the buttstock. We get into shooting position and the front and rear rests are positioned until the scope reticle is centered on the target and at its natural point of aim, meaning we don’t force it on target. A good check for natural point of aim is after getting on target, close your eyes and take a couple breaths, then open them. The reticle should be within an inch or so of the center of the target. If it isn’t, adjust the front and/or rear rest until you can stay on target. To make fine elevation adjustments the rear sandbag is squeezed.
We typically fire (3-5) five shot groups per rifle at a measured 100 yards with time between groups to allow the barrel to cool. With a new rifle there is a break in period; groups will typically start tightening up after twenty shots or so. Some rifles group better when clean, and some group better when dirty; you’ll have to find what your rifle prefers.
Good shooting techniques (such as trigger discipline, breathing, contacting the shooting bench with bone, not muscle, etcetera) are used by our very experienced shooters that have the ability to accurately call their shots.
We’ve found AR pattern rifles tend to be more accurate when pulled into the shoulder by the pistol grip, and putting moderate down pressure on the buttstock with the cheek weld, than shooting them in free recoil (barely touching the shoulder or cheek). This has a lot to do with the collapsible buttstock; they always seem to want to wiggle just as you break the shot if they don’t have some pressure on them.
After each shot we go through the set up process again, paying particular attention to getting the bipod back in the same place on the bench, or if using a front rest, that the handguard is resting in the same place on the rest for each shot. We do this to try and be as consistent as possible from shot to shot.