Do you practice with your rifle in the off-season? Don’t feel bad if you don’t. It’s safe to say that most hunters drop the ball when it comes to practice with our rifle leading up to the hunt. Sure, we spend a little time at the bench as we check our sights or get a scope dialed in, but any shooting practice beyond that rarely happens. But if you want to be a more consistent hunter, practice with your rifle should be a part of your pre-season routine.
As mentioned above, the majority of hunters simply shoot their rifles a few days before the hunt to make sure their scope is still on the money. Doing so builds confidence that you’re good to go when the opportunity arises. This confidence is magnified all the more when we make a diligent effort to practice with our rifles during the off-season. Your confidence level will soar when you hit the woods knowing that you’ve been driving tacks all summer long with your favorite rifle. Confidence is the key to any shooting sport. Build that confidence with a practice routine before opening day.
Spending time at the shooting bench will greatly improve your confidence as you head into the hunting season.
Eliminates Target Panic
We hear about target panic a lot when it comes to archery, but it can be a real monster for rifle hunters as well. Target panic can strike in several ways, but the results are typically the same – you struggle to get your sights on target without flinching at the shot. Those struggling with target panic tend to jerk the trigger when they see the crosshairs come across the target rather than squeezing slow and steady. Target panic will make you miss. It’s a beast. Many opportunities are blown each season because of the struggle to get our sights where they need to be and remain calm all the way to shot execution. A summer practice routine will tame this beast.
Target panic can be a beast, particularly when shooting off-hand. However, consistent practice will help tame the beast.
Reveals Your Capabilities
A lot of hunters never shoot their rifle any further than 100 yards. The day before hunting season comes and we head to the range, plop down at the bench and send three shots downrange at 100 yards. “She’s an inch high at 100 yards,” we boast and then head back to the house. But have you ever tried shooting at 200, 300, 400 yards, or more? Could you be steady enough to make the shot at these distances? How will your rifle perform at these distances? How will you need to hold for long-range shots? These are all questions that many hunters simply can’t answer because they’ve never tried it. However, practicing with your rifle at these distances will reveal to you what you’re capable of at varying distances. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to punch a tag this season simply because you are uncertain of what your gun is capable of when the shot presents itself.
Have you ever wondered what your rifle is capable of? Practice will reveal just what you can do.
Improves Your B.R.A.S.S.
Some say that practice makes perfect. However, I tend to think more along the lines that practice makes permanent. So are you practicing the skills and fundamentals that you want to be permanent in your shooting form? Practice with your rifle will ensure that you get the fundamentals of shooting down right. You can remember those fundamentals with the word, B.R.A.S.S.
B = Breathe (or Breath-control) - You should breathe normally with a slight pause for the shot. Don’t try and hold your breath for very long. It will only make things worse.
R = Relax - Your muscles should be relaxed as you prepare to take the shot. Tight muscles only lead to flinching and a jumpy shot.
A = Aim – Focus on the exact spot you want to be hit. Hold steady, aim without wavering as you prepare to squeeze the trigger.
S = Squeeze – Squeeze the trigger with slow, steady pressure.
S = Shot – When done right, the shot should surprise you. If you’re flinching or reacting before the shot even happens, you’ve got trouble. Keep practicing.
Practice with your rifle helps you stay on the fundamentals of shooting and keeps things fun for family and friends.
Aside from all the preparation and focus on your hunt, practicing with your rifle is just plain fun. Who doesn’t love the smell of burnt gun powder and the sound of a spent round being ejected from the rifle after the shot? It’s good for the soul. It brings back memories from the past and keeps us looking ahead to what our next hunting adventure will bring. Practice should prepare you for the hunt, but practice should also be fun.
Want to be a better hunter?
Be sure to practice with your rifle in the months ahead. Take the time to get behind the trigger a little more this year as you prepare for opening day. It’ll improve your skills as a hunter and allow you to hunt with greater confidence this season.