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Rifle Shooting Tips: Choosing the Right Time to Fire

Mar 15, 2008
You should choose your shot carefully. Ideally, you want to drop your target with the first shot. But you also need to decide when a shot is good enough you may wait for the perfect shot that never comes and you'll miss out entirely.

Of course, everyone would love to get that perfect broadside shot, where the deer stands perfectly still, giving you a lot of time to set up your shot before squeezing the trigger and downing the deer with a perfect shot through the lungs and heart. Unfortunately for hunters, this situation is extremely rare, if it happens at all.

If you can get a quartering angle, where the deer is at a three-quarters angle, still giving you a decent shot, go for it. As long as you have a good shot of hitting the target in the heart/lung area, the shot is good enough. Don't aim for the head, it moves with no warning, and more often than not results in an escaped animal or an injured animal that you will lose. The same goes for neck and spine shots. These areas are small, and the chances of hitting them just right are too small to gamble on the majority of the time. A good heart/lung shot will take the animal down quickly. If your animal is only giving you a quarter view this type of shot will still accomplish your goal.

When you are practicing, visualize the animal from different angles and line up your shot accordingly. Study the anatomy of the animals you'll be hunting, and you'll soon be able to know at a glance whether you can make a good shot or not. The ability to make the decision to shoot is important to your success in the field. Animals certainly aren't going to wait for you to feel comfortable. Knowing when a shot is good enough to risk it will enable you to bring home more venison than if you hesitate too long or shoot without assessing your shot.

Avoid going-away shots on an unwounded animal, chances are if you do hit it, the animal will just run off and you'll never find it. Straight-on shots are similar, though you have a better chance with this angle than you do on a target that is moving away from you.
Another obstacle to the perfect shot may be your surroundings. While it is preferable not to shoot through brush, sometimes it is unavoidable. Line up your shot as best you can. If possible, practice shooting through brush, twigs, foliage, anything you would encounter while you are hunting. This will make you comfortable with these difficult shots. Practice shooting from a blind, up in a tree, or anywhere else you may decide to hide. This will make you a confident hunter that will be more successful in the long run.

Now you know what you need to do to improve your judgment on when to shoot at your target. As with everything else in life, practice makes perfect. The more comfortable you are with your abilities, the better off you'll be in the woods.
About the Author
Scott Peters is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. For more informaton please see Nikon Buckmaster Rifle Scopes.
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