SHOOT­ING ETHICS

What is the max­i­mum hunt­ing range? How do you find it? Does it even ex­ist? Phill Price de­bates

Air Gunner - - Contents -

One of the ques­tions I’m most of­ten asked is, ‘ How far will this gun kill?’ It might be some su­per-ac­cu­rate, new PCP, or hugely pow­er­ful FAC model but my an­swer is al­ways the same. ‘ How far away can you hit a 20mm disc?’ I don’t mind telling you that it isn’t the an­swer most peo­ple were hop­ing for; many think that a bet­ter ri­fle or more power will add a huge dis­tance to their max­i­mum hunt­ing range, but I chal­lenge that as­sump­tion ev­ery time.

Let’s con­sider rab­bits. Their brains are about the size of a grape and only a di­rect hit into it from your pel­let will kill the an­i­mal cleanly. A shot that goes low will dam­age the jaw, and a shot that goes for­ward will dam­age the nose or eyes, but nei­ther will achieve a clean kill. Ac­cu­racy is ev­ery­thing in our sport and it’s a ba­sic law of physics that the closer you are to your tar­get, the more likely you are to place your shot pre­cisely. More power is not the an­swer. A badly placed pow­er­ful shot will still fail to de­liver a clean kill.

IN FLIGHT

As­sum­ing that you are hold­ing your cross hair ex­actly in the right place as you gen­tly re­lease the trig­ger, your pel­let still has to fly true and there are many things that can stop that hap­pen­ing. The first is, if you mis­judge the range. If the rab­bit is fur­ther than you thought, then your pel­let will strike low. Se­condly, the wind will try to de­flect the pel­let and this can send it left or right, and can even make it go low or high. The longer the pel­let is in flight, the greater this ef­fect will be. Judg­ing the wind is a skill you can work on all your life and still have room for im­prove­ment, so short­en­ing the range is a very good idea.

If you want to know your real max­i­mum hunt­ing range, then prac­tise on pa­per tar­gets un­til you can get ev­ery shot into a group you could cover with a 20p coin. When you can do that at 20 yards, work on 25, and so on, un­til you find the limit. Do this from real-world hunt­ing po­si­tions, not from a seat and a bench. I warn you that you might well be dis­ap­pointed at just how close you need to be to get ev­ery shot right, but it will make you a more eth­i­cal hunter by re­duc­ing the chance of wound­ing an an­i­mal, and that has to be a good thing.

“More power is not the an­swer. A badly placed pow­er­ful shot will still fail to de­liver a clean kill”

Even a 5mph wind makes a big dif­fer­ence to ac­cu­racy as the range in­creases

Even very high power ri­fles like this Wolverive .303 are af­fected by the wind

Can you get all your shots un­der a 20p coin at 25 yards?

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