Problems like that are hard to figure out without being there to see it. Usually the reverse is true that the 2nd & 3rd shots are closer with a bit of fouling taking place. I've never been a proponet of pellets. What bullets is he using? I too would switch to BH or 777 loose powder and change bullet weights and switch primers to CCI or Remington. If he is using 250 gr bullets I'd opt to a heavier weight 260-290 gr. Good luck in helping your buddy.