Hardware only gets you so far in the precision rifle game. Software - specifically the kind between your ears - is what really separates the field in a precision rifle match, and it's almost exclusively been software that I feel has held me back.
So, what do I need to work on?
1) Recoil management: While I've always felt like my recoil management was pretty solid, I've also been shooting a 6 Creedmoor almost exclusively for the last 5 years. 6 Creedmoor isn't exactly known for having a lot of recoil, especially with a high-efficiency muzzle brake, and I want to make sure that my skills haven't languished. That means going to a cartridge with a little more recoil, but I'm not looking for a magnum, either.
2) Wind Reading: There's no doubt that shooting a fast 6mm can cut your wind deflection at distance, and buy you more margin for error on your wind calls - but that extra margin only gets you so far. So, how do you get better at wind reading? Shoot something that's not as good in the wind.
3) Body position behind the rifle: I've noticed that I sometimes get neck pain when I spend any significant amount of time behind my rifle in prone. I'm confident in my chassis itself not being part of the problem, but I do worry that my scope might be mounted too low, or I don't have something adjusted correctly. So this will be a combined hardware and software change to see if anything can help with comfort behind the rifle and better recoil management. I also want to check and make sure I am building a consistent position behind the rifle.
4) Trigger control: I'm horrible about not keeping the trigger pinned to the rear during and after recoil. I know this, and I have video evidence to prove it. I need to fix that. While I'm at it, I am going to also look at my hand and finger placement on the trigger, and make sure I am being consistent on both of those.
5) Reloading technique: This is really a combination of hardware and software, but the software is just as important. I've never had any significant difficulty in controlling my SD and ES in my ammo, but I still feel like there's room for improvement when it comes to consistency. So, I am going to be experimenting with changes in my reloading process - annealing vs not, neck lubrication, and anything else I can think up or stumble across to test out. Thankfully, I can think of a long range cartridge with mountains of reloading data, testing, etc already done on it, and I can leverage some of that to my benefit.
6) Mental management: This is something that's hard to practice, frankly. No matter how many mock stages you go through at the range, there's nothing quite like the pressure of a match to wreck your mental processes. While I am taking some time away from 2-day matches this year, I will still be sneaking in the occasional one day club match just to make sure I keep my mental skills up. I'm also going to spend a little more time shooting USPSA and NRL22 matches for the same reasons - plus they're fun.
So I have 6 points of software (with a little connecting hardware mixed in) to work on, in addition to the hardware changes I outlined in the previous post. It's a lot of work on both fronts, but I am hoping the results will be worth the time and effort.
Now it's time to get to work.