I've been thinking rather a lot about the range day last weekend, and I think I have gleaned a few more nuggets of wisdom on the subject of precision rifle shooting. And while shooting at a 5" target at 200 yards isn't really all that precise, the fundamentals remain the same.
The first thing I've realized is that the semi-auto precision rifle is clearly the way to go. If you're going to spend a few thousand dollars on a precision rig, the bolt gun really doesn't have many advantages left. Thirty years ago, it might have been true that semi-autos weren't as accurate as a bolt action. Today, the difference is so slim that you have to be a very gifted shooter to see much advantage in the bolt gun. Additionally, the SASS allows you to send your next round without breaking down your shooting position to operate the action. That is a pretty huge deal.
Second, a brake makes a huge difference. My Savage 10FCP, despite weighing around 20lbs, would jump an inch or two to the left on every shot. This is less than optimal and eventually leads me to flinch, even though felt recoil is pretty minimal. Also, having a barrel threaded for a brake isn't terribly expensive, and decent brakes are everywhere. For a minimal investment, you can get dramatically improved performance from you and your rifle.
Third, spend money on good optics, and good barrels. Save money on triggers. While a good trigger pull is important, it ultimately isn't what makes or breaks a precision rifle. That's down to a quality barrel and a clear, durable optic. Rings make a difference too. I went through three sets of cheap aluminium rings before buying 'Merican steel rings from Warne. Now all I use are Warne steel rings, and they've all been great.
That's all for now. Hopefully I can wring out my AR15 next weekend, and if I have time, I'll get to the match with the Hi-Power tomorrow.