Reloading 301 – Working up a Load for ELR

The following are the findings from shooting up to 100 shot groups, as per the following Hornady YouTube videos:

Taking these learnings here is a suggested approach for working up a load for ELR (Extreme Long Range):

  • Seat your projectiles to a 25-30 thou jump and forget your seating die is adjustable
  • For a given projectile load up 10 rounds for each suitable powder you can find
  • Shoot a 10 shot group for each powder and look for promising candidates
  • Explore those promising candidates with more 10 shot groups
  • Use computer software such as OnTarget to calculate mean radius, and to combine targets together (shot in the same environmental conditions) to form 20 shot composite groups for your given projectile/powder combination
  • If none of the powders look promising change your projectile, don’t faff around with powder charge weight or bullet jump
  • When you’ve settled on a projectile/powder combination that works in your rifle system set your zero angle using a 10 or 20 shot composite group

Explain this crazy talk!

  • Small sample sizes (3 and 5 shot groups), can sometimes tell you how bad something is, but can never tell you how good something is. They cannot be relied upon to give you accurate dispersion, velocity, or zero information.
  • OCW (Optimal Charge Weight) and Velocity flat spots are mirages which are not repeatable and disappear when you fire 30/50/100 shots at each powder charge weight.
  • Large changes in dispersion can be found by changing projectile/powder combinations
  • Small changes in dispersion can be found by fiddling with powder charge weight and jump distance
  • The higher the powder charge, the higher the velocity, the marginally higher the dispersion
  • Standard Deviation figures can only be relied upon as a predictive tool if your sample size is big enough to form a normal distribution.  Anything less than 30 shots in your sample, you do not have a normal distribution and your SD’s are not useful as a predictive tool.

How variable is my dispersion for different samples sizes smarty pants?

As you increase sample size you funnel your dispersion values into a tighter and tighter band.  At some point you will reach a tight enough band to satisfy your expectations.

For example in this rifle system, 5 shot groups vary in size from 0.20 to 1.40 inches, all factors remaining the same.  Every gun will pull off a 5 shot quarter minute group if you shoot enough groups, but if you want to know what your system can consistently do, you need to shoot larger groups.

How far off is my rifle’s zero? 

If you zero with a 3 shot group, it can be a couple of clicks off in any direction.  At extreme long range, this zero error will lead to target misses.  A 10 shot group will get you closer, a 20 shot group closer still.

Those busterds just want me to buy more Hornady bullets!

Of course they do.

No one wants to shoot 30 shot groups for every change in a variable.  It’s not viable for many reasons including affordability, burning barrels etc.

However hopefully what they have learned, and shared, by burning up tens of thousands of rounds is give you the data you need to come up with a strategy for working up a good handload for your own ELR rifle system, with a good zero angle, to avoid making costly assumptions and adjustments with 3 and 5 shot groups.

Reloading 202 – Rifle Zero and Ballistic Solvers

The following information is for those engaging targets and/or animals at ranges far beyond what until relatively recently was considered consistently achievable.

As you stretch out to engage targets at 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000 yards it becomes critical to have precise inputs for your ballistic solver, and set a highly precise zero angle (not zero distance) for your rifle.

You are also stepping beyond the capabilities of traditional Ballistic Coefficient based ballistic solvers which take a limited number of inputs and base their calculations on a standard bullet profile which doesn’t sufficiently match the projectile you are using.

For a ballistic solver to return the correct dial up at long ranges it requires more input parameters than a BC based calculator, in conjunction with high resolution in-flight data for the actual projectile you are using.  An example of such a solver is Hornady’s 4DOF, which utilises doppler radar acquired data for several bullet manufacturer’s projectiles including its own.

What are the issues with setting a zero distance and using BC based solvers at very long ranges?

  • a rifle’s zero distance changes with local environmental conditions.  If you’ve zeroed for 100 yards, in different conditions your zero distance will be less than or more than 100 yards.  This leads to errors that amplify at longer distances. Shooters using zero distance will often re-zero their rifle at a shooting venue prior to a match to align their zero distance with local environmental conditions.
  • A BC based solver cannot provide sufficiently precise dial ups at longer distances.  As you push the range out the error exceeds the size of the target and you will consistently miss.  Shooters will then lie to the solver by changing inputs such as BC or muzzle velocity to get the rounds on target at that particular distance.  These lies need to be repeated at each distance engaged.

How do we address the above issues?

  • use a solver that uses zero angle.  This is the angle between your scope and bore, and unless you fiddle with your rifle system never changes.
  • use a solver that has a highly accurate model of your projectile’s trajectory.

In conjunction with environmental inputs, an accurate muzzle velocity, and several other inputs your solver will now give you a precise scope dial up.

Can you say “First round hits on target”?





Reloading 201 – Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Several aspects of reloading are influenced by statistical considerations, particularly in terms of achieving consistency and predicting performance. Here are some aspects of reloading that involve statistical considerations:

1. Velocity and Standard Deviation:
Velocity, or the speed at which a bullet travels down the barrel, is a crucial factor in ammunition performance. Reloading manuals often provide average velocities for specific loads, and reloaders use statistical measures, such as standard deviation, to assess the consistency of velocity across a batch of reloaded cartridges. A lower standard deviation indicates more consistent velocities, contributing to improved accuracy.

2. Group Dispersion and Accuracy:
When assessing the accuracy of reloaded ammunition, reloaders often measure the group dispersion, which refers to the spread of bullet impacts on a target. Statistical analysis of group sizes helps reloaders understand the consistency and precision of their loads. Smaller group sizes indicate greater accuracy and consistency.

3. Powder Charge Weight and Consistency:
The weight of the powder charge in a cartridge significantly affects ballistic performance. Reloaders aim for a consistent powder charge to ensure uniform pressure and velocity. Statistical analysis, such as measuring the standard deviation of powder charges, helps reloaders gauge the degree of consistency in their reloading process.

4. Bullet Weight and Uniformity:
Bullet weight consistency is critical for achieving predictable and reliable performance. Statistical analysis is applied to assess the uniformity of bullet weights within a batch. Deviations from the average weight can be measured to ensure a consistent ballistic performance.

5. Primer Performance and Ignition Consistency:
Primers play a crucial role in igniting the powder charge. Statistical analysis may be used to assess the consistency of primer ignition across a batch of reloaded ammunition. This includes measuring factors such as the velocity spread caused by variations in primer performance.

6. Case Dimensions and Case Neck Tension:
The dimensions of cartridge cases, especially the case neck, impact bullet seating and overall cartridge consistency. Statistical analysis is employed to measure case neck tension, ensuring that it remains consistent across a batch of reloaded ammunition.

7. Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation in Ballistic Measurements:
Extreme spread and standard deviation are statistical measures used to assess the variability in ballistic performance, including velocity and point of impact. Reloaders often use these metrics to evaluate the consistency of their loads and make adjustments to enhance performance.

8. Pressure Signs and Safety:
While not strictly statistical, the observation of pressure signs (e.g., flattened primers, ejector marks) involves assessing consistent patterns associated with pressure. Reloading manuals often provide guidelines on recognizing these signs, helping reloaders avoid over-pressure situations.

In summary, statistical considerations play a vital role in reloading, helping reloaders assess and improve the consistency and performance of their reloaded ammunition. By applying statistical analysis to various aspects of the reloading process, reloaders can make informed decisions to achieve optimal results in terms of accuracy, velocity, and overall reliability.

Reloading 103 – Get yourself a mentor

Having a reloading mentor can be immensely important for individuals who are new to the world of reloading ammunition. Here are several reasons why a mentor can be valuable:

1. Safety Guidance:
Reloading involves working with potentially hazardous materials and processes. A mentor can provide essential safety guidance, emphasizing the importance of following proper procedures, handling components safely, and understanding potential risks. Learning safety practices from an experienced mentor helps instill a strong safety mindset from the beginning.

2. Knowledge Transfer:
Reloading is a skill that involves a combination of technical knowledge and hands-on experience. A mentor can transfer practical knowledge gained through years of reloading, sharing insights into the nuances of different reloading components, equipment, and techniques. This practical wisdom can be challenging to acquire solely from books or online resources.

3. Hands-On Training:
Reloading often requires a hands-on approach, and having a mentor allows for direct, in-person training. Learning how to set up and use reloading equipment, measure powder charges, seat bullets, and perform other tasks is often more effective when demonstrated by someone with experience.

4. Problem-Solving Assistance:
Inevitably, reloaders encounter challenges and questions. Having a mentor provides a valuable resource for troubleshooting and problem-solving. Whether it’s addressing issues with specific equipment, resolving reloading inconsistencies, or navigating unforeseen challenges, a mentor’s guidance can be invaluable.

5. Building Confidence:
Reloading can seem complex and overwhelming for beginners. A mentor provides a supportive environment for learning, helping the novice reloader build confidence in their skills. The reassurance that comes from having an experienced guide can make the learning process more enjoyable and less daunting.

6. Introduction to Best Practices:
A mentor can introduce a novice reloader to established best practices. This includes following reliable reloading manuals, understanding the importance of precision in measurements, and emphasizing the need for consistency in reloading processes. Learning these fundamental principles from the start contributes to the development of good reloading habits.

7. Community Connection:
A mentor often serves as a gateway to the broader reloading community. This connection can provide access to local shooting clubs, reloading events, and online forums where reloaders share experiences, tips, and advice. Being part of a community can enhance the learning experience and foster a sense of camaraderie.

While having a mentor is highly beneficial, it’s important to note that if a mentor is not available, individuals can still learn to reload safely and effectively through diligent study, using reputable resources, and gradually gaining hands-on experience. However, the guidance and support of a knowledgeable mentor can significantly accelerate the learning curve and enhance the overall reloading experience.

Reloading 102 – Get yourself a reloading manual

A reloading manual is an essential tool for anyone involved in the process of reloading ammunition. Here are several important reasons why you need a reloading manual:

1. Safety:
Safety is paramount in reloading, as it involves working with potentially hazardous materials and processes. Reloading manuals provide comprehensive safety guidelines and precautions to ensure that reloaders handle components, equipment, and firearms in a manner that minimizes the risk of accidents and injuries. Following the recommended load data and safety instructions in a manual is critical for maintaining a safe reloading environment.

2. Accurate Load Data:
Reloading manuals contain precise and validated load data for various cartridges, including information on recommended powder charges, bullet types, primer types, overall cartridge length, and more. This data is based on extensive testing by experts and provides reloaders with a reliable starting point for developing safe and effective loads.

3. Component Compatibility:
Reloading manuals provide information on the compatibility of different components, such as powders, primers, and bullets. Using components that are not compatible can lead to safety hazards and poor performance. Manuals guide reloaders in selecting components that work well together to achieve desired ballistic results.

4. Technical Guidance:
Reloading involves understanding various technical aspects, such as pressure levels, bullet seating depth, and powder burn rates. Manuals offer technical explanations and insights into these factors, helping reloaders make informed decisions and adjustments to optimize their loads.

5. Equipment Setup:
Reloading manuals often include guidance on setting up and using reloading equipment. This can be especially helpful for beginners who may be unfamiliar with the operation of reloading presses, scales, and other tools. Proper equipment setup is crucial for achieving consistent and accurate reloads.

6. Troubleshooting:
Inevitably, reloaders encounter challenges or issues during the reloading process. Manuals typically include troubleshooting sections that address common problems and provide solutions. This guidance can save time and frustration by helping reloaders identify and resolve issues effectively.

7. Consistency and Reproducibility:
Achieving consistency in reloading is key to producing reliable and accurate ammunition. Manuals emphasize the importance of consistent practices, such as precise measurements, uniform crimps, and consistent bullet seating depths. Following these guidelines ensures that reloads are reproducible and perform predictably.

8. Legal Compliance:
Reloading manuals often include information on legal considerations and regulations related to reloading. Adhering to legal requirements is essential for responsible and lawful reloading practices.

9. Educational Resource:
Reloading manuals serve as educational resources, providing insights into ballistics, firearm mechanics, and the science behind ammunition. This knowledge enhances the reloader’s understanding of the entire process and fosters a deeper appreciation for the intricacies involved.

A reloading manual is an indispensable reference that ensures safety, accuracy, and success in the reloading process. Whether you are a novice or an experienced reloader, consulting a reputable reloading manual is a fundamental step in producing safe, reliable, and high-quality ammunition.

There are many fine options for reloading manuals, most from bullet manufacturers who want to provide you with a safe minimum* and maximum** powder charge range for each powder/projectile combination:

  • Nick Harvey’s Practical Reloading Manual
  • Hodgdon 2023 Annual Reloading Manual
  • Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading: 11th Edition
  • Lee Modern Reloading 2nd Edition
  • Lyman 51st Edition Reloading Handbook
  • Sierra 6th Edition Rifle and Pistol Manual of Reloading Data Reloading Manual
  • Speer Reloading Manual #15

* It doesn’t seem intuitive but not enough gun powder is also unsafe.  Enough pressure needs to build to expand the cartridge case to form a gas seal in the chamber to stop rapidly expanding gases blowing back in the shooters face.

** Stick within the minimum and maximum charge weights in the reloading manual,  they aren’t some bullshit lawyer mandated range, they are a range that will produce safe reloads, confirmed using precise chamber pressure measuring equipment not available to the typical hand loader.  The absence of flattened primers, ejector marks, or bulged cases does not guarantee that the load is within safe pressure limits.

Reloading 101 – Why reload?

Reloading ammunition, or handloading, has been a practice embraced by shooting enthusiasts for decades. While some may view it as a meticulous and time-consuming task, there are several compelling reasons why individuals choose to reload their own ammunition.

1. Cost Savings:
One of the primary motivations for reloading ammunition is the potential for significant cost savings. Commercially manufactured ammunition can be expensive, especially for avid shooters who frequent the range regularly. By reloading their own rounds, enthusiasts can cut costs by reusing spent cartridge cases and purchasing components like bullets, primers, and powder in bulk, ultimately leading to more economical shooting habits.

2. Customization and Precision:
Reloaders have the unique opportunity to tailor their ammunition to meet specific shooting requirements. This level of customization allows for precise control over factors such as bullet weight, powder charge, and primer choice. Handloaders can fine-tune their rounds to achieve optimal accuracy and performance, catering to the unique characteristics of their firearm.

3. Availability and Scarcity:
In times of ammunition shortages or during periods when specific calibers are scarce, reloaders are less dependent on commercial sources. By maintaining a stockpile of reloading components, enthusiasts ensure a consistent supply of ammunition, even when market conditions make it challenging to find factory-made rounds.

4. Environmental Stewardship:
Reloading promotes environmental responsibility by reducing the amount of spent cartridge cases left behind at shooting ranges. While this might seem like a minor concern, the accumulation of brass casings contributes to environmental waste. Reloaders, by reusing these cases, actively participate in sustainable firearm practices.

5. Educational Value:
Reloading is a skill that demands knowledge of ballistics, chemistry, and metallurgy. The process requires a deep understanding of how various components interact to produce a safe and effective round. As a result, individuals who reload their ammunition often develop a greater appreciation for the intricacies of firearms and ballistics.

6. Recreational Enjoyment:
For many, reloading is not just a practical necessity but also a rewarding hobby. The meticulous nature of the process, combined with the tangible results of producing one’s ammunition, can be a fulfilling and enjoyable pastime. It fosters a sense of craftsmanship and self-reliance that resonates with those who appreciate hands-on activities.

Reloading ammunition is a multifaceted practice that appeals to a diverse range of shooting enthusiasts. Whether motivated by financial savings, a desire for customization, or a commitment to sustainable firearm practices, individuals who reload their own ammunition find satisfaction in the process and enjoy the benefits of a personalized shooting experience.

Application Process Updated

Our new member application processes have been updated to reflect legislative changes relating to the operation of firearms club ranges. Further changes may be required to ensure compliance.

The updated application form can be found here.

Ranges reopening Thursday 14th May

Our ranges will be reopening this Thursday under COVID Alert Level 2. 

Our esteemed president Mike will be setting up hand cleaner at various stations on the range, please use after handling anything that you didn’t bring out with you, eg. the flag, gates, clubhouse padlock and door handle, signing the range book, club stapler, targets and target stands etc.

In the range book we will require additional information for Contact Tracing, so there will be columns for capturing name, date/time in/out, and a contact phone number.  The pages will be removed regularly from the range book and dropped in to the Secretary.

Please maintain 2m distance from other shooters and avoid sharing equipment with shooters outside your bubble.

For rifle shooters, if all three shooting benches are in use please arrange to come back at a later time.  Pick a bench and stick with it, or shoot prone from a mat.

Feel free to bring out your own PPE and cleaning products if you would like an extra level of comfort.