Skip to main content

How to Get the Most Out of a Box of Ammo

How to Get the Most Out of a Box of Ammo

I look at my ammo stash like my savings account. Both are valuable commodities, so I try not to spend either like the proverbial drunken sailor. When it is time to dip into the stash, I want to make sure that I get my money's worth.

Recently, someone asked me how to get maximum value from minimal time and ammunition spent at the range. The only limit was 20 rounds (one box) of ammo with the requirement to get maximum training value for each round.

Answering the question was a little harder than just coming up with a plan to shoot a box worth of ammo. The scope on the rifle is the first consideration. A standard duplex reticle in a 3-9X variable would have a much different range session than a rifle/optic combination devoted to long-range steel shooting.

Due to the popularity of the 3-9X duplex variable found atop bolt-action hunting rifles, I felt this would be the ideal place to start.


The first round fired should be at a 1-inch dot or square from 100 yards in either the prone or seated bench position. This is commonly referred to as a "cold bore" shot. I use playing cards that have a ¾-inch dot on them and then save the card from each range session. This process allows me to accurately predict where my first shot will go.


maxtraining_1Cold bore shots are important because a rifle's point of impact can change as the barrel heats or transitions from clean to dirty, especially from the first shot of the day to the others that may follow.

Barrel material, how the barrel is made and the barrel contour are all contributing factors to how much the first shot will differ from the others. Since a hunter is most interested in the first shot, a cold bore exercise is a great way to start at the range.

The next three rounds are for a group at 100 yards from the prone or seated bench position. This is as much to confirm zero as it is to work on the basics (mostly trigger control) and gain confidence in our shooting ability.

Prone and seated bench positions are beginner positions that eliminate a whole series of variables from the shooting equation. Shooting is easiest from either of these two positions.


The next step is to use a torque wrench to confirm that the rings around the scope are properly tightened, the rings are tight to the base and that the rifle's action screws are also tight. Rifles that ride around in trucks should be checked regularly. Another three-round group is in order after this check to ensure nothing has moved.

As you can see, the first seven rounds amount to a series of checks to ensure that the rifle is performing like we expect. This phase of range time is absolutely essential because rifles do strange things all the time. It doesn't take much jostling to affect the rifle's point of impact, nor does it take much movement before screws start working loose.

With preventative maintenance complete, the remaining ammunition should be devoted to learning how to shoot effectively from field positions.


Formal shooting ranges are the most difficult to train at, but it is still possible. One of my favorite drills is to shoot using a chair as a rifle support. The goal is to learn and practice building shooting positions at various heights.

We should try to get as low as possible (closer to the ground almost always means more stable), but never assume we will always be able to see the target from the prone or sitting positions.

A chair allows the shooter to build a position at a couple of different elevations. This forces us to work on getting stable, which should be the goal of any range session (not shooting groups).

Two of the more common field shooting positions are kneeling and sitting. The worst types of these positions are the unsupported classics used in formal competition. A hunter or rifleman should always try to find support for the rifle.

Kneeling with the rifle across the top of the chair's back replicates using a fence, rock pile or bush of similar height. Place the rifle's forend on the chair and brace the elbow of your firing hand on a raised knee. Fire three rounds at 100 yards.

maxtraining_11

The next drill uses the chair seat with the shooter sitting on the ground. Rest the rifle across the seat while getting as much support as possible under both elbows. At a minimum, the firing hand's elbow is always the first to get support. Fire three rounds at 100 yards.

I recommend taking the same stuff to the range that we use in the field. The trusty backpack that's on every hunt should also be at every range session. The backpack becomes very useful in helping stabilize field shooting positions.

It can be placed in our lap while sitting to support one or both elbows, greatly stabilizing the rifle. It can also be stuffed between the back of our thigh and the back of our calf when kneeling. This helps stabilize our position enormously.

The next position to work on is standing supported. Any vertical support will do. Place the non-firing hand against the support and rest the rifle on that hand. Fire three rounds at 100 yards.

The final drill is standing unsupported at 50 yards. Start with the rifle as it would be carried in the field, and then bring it up and quickly fire at the target. This drill replicates "snap shooting," which is sometimes necessary in the field.

The last round should be from the prone or from the seated bench at a 1-inch dot. This drill brings the shooter back to the fundamentals and also confirms the rifle's zero. I always like to confirm zero right before putting a rifle away. That way I'm as confident as possible that it'll be zeroed when I need it the next time.

Other than the zero-confirmation positions, all rounds inform the shooter whether or not that position is suitable to actually use in the field. If the shooter can keep all three rounds inside a 4-MOA group, they can be confident they are accurate enough to be effective in the field. Devote time at each range session to dry firing while making subtle changes in position to improve the stability of each.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket carry, as a method of concealed carry for a defensive firearm, can be a practical option when done right. This is especially true during the colder months when heavy outer garments can obstruct access to a traditional waistline holster. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts, joins G&A contributor Kimberly Heath-Chudwin to discuss guns, training and gear, including Blackhawk's TecGrip holster that can make pocket carry more successful.

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Jeremy Stafford traveled to Gunsite Academy to compare the speed of stock sights against express, three-dot, suppressor-height and red dot sights.

Savage Arms Impulse Rifle with Straight-Pull Action

Savage Arms Impulse Rifle with Straight-Pull Action

Savage introduces a must-shoot straight-pull rifle, the Impulse, with three hunting configurations.

Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light takes on EDC illumination segment.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a zeroed rifle scope. Here's how to sight in your rifle scope setup in five quick-and-easy steps.How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps How-To

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps

Craig Boddington - June 04, 2018

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a...

In this segment of Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle Rifles

Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle

Guns & Ammo Staff - September 02, 2020

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr...

Browning's new Citori 725 Trap Max is a purpose-built competition gun with all the adjustments needed to be competitive right out of the box. With well-figured walnut and polished steel, it looks great, too.Browning Citori 725 Trap Max Shotgun Review Reviews

Browning Citori 725 Trap Max Shotgun Review

Robert W. Hunnicutt - December 29, 2020

Browning's new Citori 725 Trap Max is a purpose-built competition gun with all the adjustments...

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight ready.14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See Handguns

14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See

James Tarr - December 20, 2018

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight...

See More Trending Articles

More Tactical

Jeremy Stafford gives good advice for vehicle security and how to be accountable for your rolling armory.Vehicle Security Tactical

Vehicle Security

Jeremy Stafford - January 19, 2018

Jeremy Stafford gives good advice for vehicle security and how to be accountable for your...

Garmin has upgraded two of its popular watches with solar augmentation to last longer between charges.Notable Upgrade: Garmin Solar Smart Watches Tactical

Notable Upgrade: Garmin Solar Smart Watches

Jeremy Stafford - November 12, 2020

Garmin has upgraded two of its popular watches with solar augmentation to last longer between...

G.P.S. Tactical's Range Backpack brings practicality to the firing line. GPS Tactical Range Backpack Tactical

GPS Tactical Range Backpack

Jeremy Cantrell - January 19, 2018

G.P.S. Tactical's Range Backpack brings practicality to the firing line.

Using the magazine to stabilize your shooting position allows you to have a more durable position.Shooting With Your Magazine On The Ground Tactical

Shooting With Your Magazine On The Ground

Kyle Lamb - September 13, 2017

Using the magazine to stabilize your shooting position allows you to have a more durable...

See More Tactical

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now