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Practice time on the range spells success in the field 


Last updated 10/16/2018 at Noon

For the Record

Capt. Chuck Uzzle

It happens every year at this time, they come in huge numbers with that

panicked look of “I am way behind schedule” etched all over their faces. They

scurry to the shooting table with a rifle that has not seen daylight since last

hunting season or a cleaning kit since who knows when? As they line up and start

blasting away at the down range targets each one hopes that they can just put

together a group that will kill a deer. Invariably these groups are sloppy and

unpredictable at best, not even close to what the hunter and his weapon are

capable of but they are acceptable for the time being. Then all at once the

rifles are tucked away in their protective cases and stowed in the hunters

vehicle never to be looked at again until opening morning. Now these hunters are

the same ones that have been feeding, scouting, plotting, and planning for

months in preparation for the opening of deer season. The same hunters who have

4wheelers or 4 wheel drives that are more show than go. They also have the

latest and greatest camo, tree stands, blinds, and gadgets on the market. Now

what’s wrong with the picture? The most important element of the process has

been the most neglected, their weapon.

Easily the most overlooked element in shooting sports today is the lack of

practice or familiarity with ones weapon. It could be archery, shotguns, rifles,

or handguns, most people simply do not shoot enough to become proficient in the

field under hunting conditions. Archers spend lots of time shooting at targets

and learning how their set ups perform because they can shoot just about

anywhere, gun hunters on the other hand have to get to a range which takes a

little more effort. In general most hunters are guilty of not shooting enough

rounds through their weapons. Wing shooters greatly benefit from practice

sessions on the skeet or trap range, the actual sharpened skills they develop

not only make them better hunters it also makes time in the field much more

enjoyable. Missing shot after shot is not many hunters idea of a good time.

Rifle hunters need to spend some time at the range getting comfortable with

their chosen caliber and learning what both they and their guns are capable of

doing. Once they have their gun dialed in and shooting well from the bench it is

important to take some practice shots from different positions that simulate

hunting conditions. The more prepared you are as a hunter the more successful

you will be in the field. Another often overlooked aspect of shooting is keeping

your weapon clean. Neglected guns will not shoot nearly as well, rifle barrels

that have build up in them will cause “flyers” or shots that stray off the mark

dramatically. Proper care and maintenance can keep you gun shooting like new for

many years.

Take some time before opening weekend gets here and hit the range, you owe it

to yourself and the game you pursue to be the best shot you can possibly be. The

extra practice will pay off big in the long run.


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