SKILLS FOR THE HUNT

HUNT­ING SEA­SON IS RIGHT AROUND THE COR­NER, AND YOU’RE GONNA NEED SKILLS.TRAIN FOR THESE THREE SKILLS AND MAKE YOUR TIME AFIELD A SUC­CESS.

Gun World - - Train -

Atime­less sport—hunt­ing and pur­su­ing big game—en­tices many of us.

Be­tween the time spent wait­ing for hunt­ing sea­son to start and the money we spend on li­censes, travel and equip­ment, we should ar­rive pre­pared for the mo­ment of the shot. Not to have trained for that mo­ment would be a shame­ful waste of time and money—not to men­tion the risk of a wounded/lost an­i­mal.

Be­cause I am a po­lice of­fi­cer, com­pet­i­tive shooter and whitetail deer hunter, I know there are cer­tain skills nec­es­sary for long-gun suc­cess. You should know how to run your gun and keep it run­ning; ma­nip­u­la­tion skills should be sys­tem­atic and pre-pro­gramed. Mak­ing quick shots from off-hand po­si­tions

in­stills con­fi­dence in your ri­fle and your­self. Cre­at­ing a hasty, sup­ported po­si­tion when you have a lit­tle time to make the best-shot pos­si­ble can get you that tro­phy you’ve dreamt of.

Here are three skills to work on to­ward pro­fi­ciency in or­der to in­crease your suc­cess rates.

SNAP SHOOT­ING

While you are stalk­ing or merely walk­ing to a hunt­ing spot, a shot could present it­self. Don’t be caught off guard and un­skilled, should that op­por­tu­nity arise. Be­ing skilled at mak­ing quick shots ac­cu­rately is es­sen­tial.

Whichever method you use to carry your ri­fle—el­bow carry, trail carry, two-hand ready, cra­dle carry or sling carry— prac­tice get­ting your gun into ac­tion, pointed down­range and on tar­get. You should also think about what dis­tances you are likely to have to make a quick off-handed shot. On your own or with a friend, prac­tic­ing can be as sim­ple or com­plex as you want it to be. Sim­ple tar­gets, such as a sheet of card­board with an 8-inch pa­per plate sta­pled to it, is suf­fi­cient. The 8-inch pa­per plate is a good ap­prox­i­ma­tion of the vi­tal area for deer and larger game, and the large card­board backer shows how far off you are if you miss.

Choose a carry po­si­tion and a dis­tance. On your own com­mand, a friend’s com­mand or timer sig­nal, prac­tice get­ting your gun into ac­tion: Shoul­dered, on tar­get, safety off … make the shot. Prac­tice each dis­tance for eight to 10 rep­e­ti­tions. No more than one or two misses is ac­cept­able, and that de­pends on how far off tar­get it is. It also mat­ters if you called the miss or if you have no idea what hap­pened.

Try this drill from 50 yards to about 125 yards out and move in in­cre­ments of 10 or 15 yards. You can go closer or far­ther, de­pend­ing on your skill level and com­pe­tence.

BRACED/SUP­PORTED SHOOT­ING

Know­ing how to use your en­vi­ron­ment to brace for a pre­cise shot makes sense. Whether it’s a hasty po­si­tion or a slow, methodical po­si­tion, you need to have the skills to get locked in and on the tar­get for the most eth­i­cal kill. If there’s enough time to “scope-out” a par­tic­u­lar an­i­mal, there’s cer­tainly enough time to brace up to make a good shot.

Shots as close as 50 yards can be missed due to “buck fever,” and get­ting solid hits with ad­van­ta­geous body place­ment

KNOW­ING HOW TO USE YOUR EN­VI­RON­MENT TO BRACE FOR A PRE­CISE SHOT MAKES SENSE. WHETHER IT’S A HASTY PO­SI­TION OR A SLOW, METHODICAL PO­SI­TION, YOU NEED TO HAVE THE SKILLS TO GET LOCKED IN AND ON THE TAR­GET FOR THE MOST ETH­I­CAL KILL.

from a sup­port doesn’t hap­pen with­out prac­tice. As dis­tances in­crease, you will want more sup­port and to get closer to the ground. Stand­ing, high-kneel­ing or kneel­ing on two knees are po­si­tions that can ben­e­fit from sup­port. Kneel­ing (with your butt rest­ing on your foot) and sit­ting po­si­tions don’t re­quire ex­ter­nal sup­port, but it can only help to have it. How­ever, you need to prac­tice shoot­ing from these po­si­tions be­fore the hunt.

If you have woods to shoot in, you’re lucky. Shoot from the right side and the left side of a tree. Know­ing how to place your hand to cre­ate sup­port on both sides of the tree is manda­tory, be­cause you might not get the op­por­tu­nity to shoot from your fa­vorite side of a tree. Foot place­ment can aid in manag­ing re­coil to view the bul­let im­pact, as well as to track an an­i­mal you hit.

In the ab­sence of a sup­port­ive struc­ture, there are al­ways “seated” and “front-knee-up” sup­ported kneel­ing op­tions. Know­ing how to drop down to these po­si­tions is im­por­tant, but un­der­stand­ing how to use your limbs (legs and arms) to in­crease or de­crease el­e­va­tion is im­por­tant in wild coun­try. Up­hill, down­hill and shots in tall scrub will dic­tate the fi­nal fir­ing po­si­tion.

BOLT-AC­TION GUN SKILLS

Mod­ern sport­ing ri­fles are more present than ever in hunt­ing to­day, but much of big-game hunt­ing is still done with bolt-ac­tion ri­fles.

Hav­ing good bolt-ac­tion skills is an art. Work­ing a bolt gun while main­tain­ing a sight pic­ture and track­ing a tar­get is some­thing that many don’t do well. Shoot­ers fir­ing bolt guns, even from a rested or prone po­si­tion, of­ten lift their heads off the stock and away from the op­tic ev­ery time they work the bolt. More than just keep­ing the ri­fle mounted and in your shoul­der when work­ing the bolt, you need to stay on the gun for mul­ti­ple rea­sons. Fir­ing at game that is far off or in a busy, clut­tered back­ground re­quires sight to track your quarry af­ter a hit.

If a miss hap­pens, you might get a chance to send an­other round and make a cor­rec­tion based on what you saw in the op­tic ref­er­ence to the im­pact. Don’t shoot at a tro­phy and lose sight of it in re­coil. You might have to reac­quire it by back­ing off the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. Re­mem­ber: The field of view gets smaller the higher we turn up the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. In­crease the chance of suc­cess by manag­ing your ri­fle cor­rectly.

TRAIN FOR IT

Train­ing with long guns for hunt­ing or com­pet­ing in­volves way more than zeroing and fir­ing from bench rests and prone po­si­tions. Long guns are fun, and train­ing with them can be even more fun if you use your imag­i­na­tion.

So, get out this fall and work on your snap shoot­ing, be­ing sure to keep it in the vi­tals. Prac­tice hasty shots, sup­ported po­si­tions and bolt-gun skills, and you’ll end up be­ing a well­rounded long-gun op­er­a­tor who is ready for the field. GW

TRAIN­ING WITH LONG GUNS FOR HUNT­ING OR COM­PET­ING IN­VOLVES WAY MORE THAN ZEROING AND FIR­ING FROM BENCH RESTS AND PRONE PO­SI­TIONS.

Stand­ing sup­ported on the side of a tree is a com­mon po­si­tion. Keep­ing knees, hips and shoul­ders square to the tar­get helps man­age re­coil. Be sure to prac­tice from both sides of the tree so you know how to place your hands to sup­port the ri­fle in a hurry.

This 3-gun tar­get mounted to a backeris per­fect, with its 8-inch cen­ter for snapshoot­ing from the cra­dle carry po­si­tion.Plenty of tar­get around the cen­ter gives you a chance to see just how far offyou are.

Us­ing your arms and legs to­gether can help you cre­ate a sup­ported po­si­tion that al­lows for el­e­va­tion ad­just­ments.Bring knees in and el­bows to thighs for high shots, and lower your legs and stretch out on the backs of your up­per arms to lower the gun. Of course, seated is even more sta­ble than kneel­ing.

Know­ing how to shoot over a sup­port seems sim­ple, but notevery­one knows to keep the rear knee up to sup­port the el­bow and the shoot­ing armon the gun. And, of course, don’t rest the bar­rel on the sup­port be­cause of im­pact shift from flex­ing against the hardsur­face.

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