Introduction to the Ladder Test, Shooting and Aiming

by Admin | Last Updated: June 5, 2020

Loading your own ammunition can be beneficial, but handloading or reloading can be an intimidating process when trying to determine the true potential of your loads and rifle. Here we provide a basic introduction to load development.

One reason why hunters handload or reload ammunition, other than being cheaper and choosing better components, is to have ammunition custom made for a specific weapon or rifle. Custom ammunition should be loaded in such a way that the full potential of the rifle and equipment can be exploited. But how is the ideal load and combination determined? Determining the load for a specific rifle, with a combination of case, primer, propellant and bullet, can be an intimidating and long-winded exercise. You may want to refer to the Modern Reloading 2nd Edition for reloading information, or ask experienced reloaders with a similar rifle and caliber for help or advise.

One thing is for sure, one never determines the ideal load with little effort and just a few shots. This usually involves burning a lot of gunpowder with the associated unnecessary wear on the weapon and often a sore shoulder.

Okay, now you know the recommended safe starting point and maximum load. A reloader should usually start at the minimum load and gradually move up in increments to the maximum. Load a few cartridges at each load increment – about three to five cartridges for each 0.5 grain increment. These cartridges are then shot in their groups for groupings at 100 yards. The best grouping at the desired velocity is chosen as the ideal load.

One thing is for sure, one never determines the ideal load with little effort and few shots. This usually involves burning a lot of gunpowder with the associated unnecessary wear on the weapon and very often a sore shoulder. And what happens when the climate changes, you go beyond 100 yards or there are slight differences in the composition and loading of cartridges? Is a load determined in the above way really ideal under different circumstances and distances, and will it be able to forgive small variances during the reload process?

Fortunately, there was a very famous French gunsmith named Creighton Audette. He came to the rescue of reloaders with an excellent method of addressing many of the above shortcomings. With his method, the ideal load combination can be determined in less than 40 shots. He called his method the Incremental Load Development Method, but it is commonly known as the Sweet Spot, or Ladder method.

Aiming and Shooting:

However, before you get to this method, there are other critical aspects that you must first pay attention to, such as how to shoot accurately from a shooting bench. For this you do not necessarily have to have the latest custom rifle, blueprint action, imported barrel, competition crown and rifle scope of stargazing quality. You have to at least pay attention to the following:

load development shooting tips