I recently drew a tag for a trophy bull elk hunt in a wilderness area in central Idaho. The odds of drawing this tag were just barely over 5%. That means for every twenty applicants, 19 will spend elk season plopped in front of the tube watching the Outdoor Channel. With odds like that, isn't it worth spending a little extra time and money making sure you're ready to make a difficult shot when it counts?
No amount of preparation can guarantee that you'll fill your tag this fall, but a lack of preparation almost certainly guarantees you won't. Following these 7 tips will make you a better shooter and a more confident hunter when you hit the field this fall.
1. Know Your Gear
As elementary as this sounds, how many times have you had someone in hunting camp with a borrowed rifle (scope, binoculars, etc.) and they had no idea when or how the weapon had been sighted in? Clean your gun, oil your boots and anything else necessary to prevent problems while you're in hunting camp. Make sure you're familiar with your rifle's action, accuracy and cartridge feeding characteristics.
2. Buy a .22 LR with the Same Action Style as Your Hunting Rifle
With the current price of ammunition, few of us can afford to become truly proficient marksman shooting center-fire ammuntion. A .22 LR however costs literally pennies per round. Steel Targets such as the Impact-22 Rolling Steel Target are an excellent addition to any shooting session. Practicing with a .22 LR is of course a supplement to, not a replacement for shooting with your hunting rifle.
3. Get in Shape
No matter how accurate your rifle is, you won't be able to ventilate an animal's rib cage while gasping for oxygen. Your pulse and breathing are the biggest factors in accuracy when shooting from field positions. Get in shape so you can keep both under control.
4. Sight-In Your Rifle with Hunting Ammunition
Bullet weight and shape are major factors in where your bullet will hit several hundred yards down-range. Sight in with the exact ammunition that you will be hunting with. I should add as well that bore-sighting is not a substitute for sighting in with live ammo at the range.
5. Practice Shooting from Field Positions
Of all the animals I've shot, not a single one of them happened to be down-range from a bench rest. Get used to shooting from field positions and with any accuracy aids (such as bipods) that you carry.
6. Know Your Limits
With modern ammunition and optics, nearly every rifle can theoretically snuff a game animal 6 or 7 football fields away. I've found it's rare however to find a hunter capable of doing the same (despite what you hear around the gun counter of the local sporting goods store). If you don't feel comfortable taking the shot, don't risk wounding an animal.
7. Use Impact Rolling Steel Targets
Many of us think of sighting in our rifles and practicing with them as a chore that we have to take care of before hunting season, and therefore drag our feet a bit when it comes to getting it done. Because of our patent-pending rolling steel target design, our targets are the funnest steel targets available today. They turn an otherwise boring practice session into a dynamic, competitive experience and are proven to improve your shooting. Your hunting season is worth the investment.
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