The secret to accuracy with a rifle is the same as in pistols, archery, golf, etc That secret is the consistency you are able to attain in controlling all major variables affecting the outcome of the shot.
Doing the same thing in exactly the same way every time you address a shot is the definitiono of consistency in rifle shooting.
Those who have become really good at using exactly the same technique, or have become consistent, are the champions in this game.
There are several important variables in rifle shooting that you must learn to control if you want to get to the pinnacle of accuracy. Trigger press, sight picture, stance, foregrip support, etc. Cheek weld is no less important than any of these. In fact, I believe it is a variable that must be controlled properly if anything else you do in shooting will work.
Placing the cheek in exactly the same place on the rifle comb with the same amount of pressure helps eliminate errors due to scope parallax, sight picture, sight wobble and minor involuntary body movements
What is cheek weld ?
Cheek weld is established when you place your cheek on the comb of the stock to get a sight picture through the optics. The cheek part of your face should be touching the stock. Not your jaw bone, upper neck or chin……the cheek.
Why is cheek weld important?
Having no cheek weld because the scope is mounted too high or the comb of the stock is not high enough will cause several different issues that detract from accuracy.
If you are a bowhunter or have ever been involved in shooting archery, you know how important it is to have a peep sight wound into your string. It is equivalent to a rear iron sight on a rifle or pistol. This small little device improves shooting accuracy tremendously
It’s purpose is to narrow the angles at which you can view and align the front sight with the target. If you want to verify this for yourself, take the rear sight off of one of your bows, pistols, or rifles and try to hit a target aiming with just the front sight.
You’ll be lucky to get close. Having a good consistent cheek weld on your rifle will allow you not ony shoot more accurately, but make target acquisition much faster. Once you get accustomed to the exact location to place your cheek on a rifle, you will really start to see accuracy and / or consistency in groups improve.
A “flailing head” which is equivalent to no cheek weld, or a cheek weld that is so tight it causes trembling and/ or involuntary body movements will both guarantee poor results.
In addition, any error in parallax adjustment, especially when when shooting long range will be greatly magnified possibly causing misses of several inches even if the cross hairs appear to be on target. For more information on parallax check out this article.
How much pressure for a consistent cheek weld?
Cheek weld from rifle to rifle could be very different depending on the design and height of the stock comb. At the same time each shooter’s face is different. For a proper cheek weld the shooter must be comfortable and no part of his body can be stressed or straining at all to hold the cross hairs on target.
For best accuracy, each rifle’s comb height and scope height should be matched to the shooter’s face dimensions to give the most comfortable and relaxed shooting position.
To answer the question of how much pressure should be applied to your cheek weld, use the same answer that works for most “how much” questions about accuracy with a rifle. That answer is normally, not too much, and again not too little.
You want to place your head on the riser or comb of the stock so you can relax the muscles in your neck. You don’t want to have to strain to have your scope view centered.
Close your eyes get comfortable, think about something other than shooting momentarily. Pressure on the stock comb should be substantial but not so tight your neck, of other muscles, will get tired quickly or cause even a slight tremble.
The pressure on the stock comb should also not be so substantial that you introduce flex into other parts of the stock. If you are experiencing stock flex, get a better stock, or stiffen the stock you are using.
Then open your eyes. If you have to move your head to remove black edges in your scope or to get an optimum sight picture, your cheek weld is not right, the comb of the stock is not right for your face, and/or your scope is not set to the proper height.
Make the needed adjustments until you are comfortable and have a good centered field of view when you open your eyes.
A good rifle stock won’t flex when you do this, but we are shooting little rimfires here and you can easily flex some of those.
This can actually change the point of impact and hurt consistency / accuracy. Really baring down on your rifle will rob accuracy and your body can’t do this for long without beginning to tremble slightly.
You also don’t want to have the wandering head because you are not or barely making contact with the stock. The best technique is to be comfortable on the riser but firm so you won’t introduce any involuntary body movement into the hold and squeeze.
How to have the same cheek weld from rifle to rifle.
If you are like me and have many rifles and want to drive tacks at 100 yards with all of them, you need to consider either an adjustable stock for each one, or the addition of an adjustable cheek riser for each one.
You can approach creating identical cheek welds on all of your rifles by having stocks that are completely adjustable like the Ruger Precision Rimfire rifle pictured above.
On this rifle, the cheek riser can be adjusted forward, backwards or up and down for the perfect fit and to duplicate as closely as possible the same feel you have with your other rifles.
From an accuracy standpoint, this can make a world of difference. But you can go broke quickly buying custom rifle stocks or chassis for all of your rifles. They will range from $500 to $2000.
These systems come with action bedding systems to insure a very tight action that won’t move and clearance to insure the barrel is free floated. It is really hard to find a custom chassis right now for a rimfire rifle but I suppose you could modify one to fit almost anything.
The market right now is focused on supplying the big bore competition rifles. Check out MDT rifle chassis systems here. For rimfire, I have found it more practical to install cheek risers on the stocks I already have.
All of my stocks are already glass bedded and the barrels are free floated so I can have a rifle with an adjustable cheek riser for a fraction of the price of a new rifle chassis. And they work just as well. Here is some cheek weld advice from the most beautiful professional shooter in the sport.
I use the Matthews Fabrication .125″ cheek riser for all of my rifles. It can be adjusted anywhere from flat on the stock comb to .125″ above it. Check it out here on Amazon. Stay away from those made with foam padding or foam under leather.
They are very comfortable but don’t provide the stability needed to really improve accuracy. The video below contains some excellent cheek weld advice from the most beautiful professional shooter in the sport. She’s a pretty good shot too.
Cheek riser installlation
Installing the recommended Matthews Fabrication cheek riser is easy and doesn’t require special skills. The video below should tell you everything you need to know.