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Elements Of Good Shooting When Game Hunting

Aug 17, 2007
When a ground squirrel or woodchuck sits up to consider the advisability of modestly retiring to his burrow, out there at an actual 200 yards, and an experienced hunter takes the shot with a .220 Swift, .22/250, or some other excellent sniping caliber, he is seeing that target in reference to rifle performance and not in reference to actual 200 yards of range.

The fact of a 200 or 300 yard kill is always established after the shot, when the distance has been paced.

The basic factors of accurate field shooting are sight picture and trigger squeeze. But alone they are not enough. The reason many excellent target range shots are not top performers in the game covers has been pondered by both the practical game shot and the very much more accurate target shot. Each time such enquiry is started, the investigation is centered about sight picture, trigger squeeze, the intangibles of woodcraft, with the probing for answers always stopping short of the actual cause of the discrepancy between range and field shooting.

When a skilled field shot snaps his rifle to shoulder, his sights reaching for a running fox squirrel scurrying along a high limb toward the security of his den, the hunter checks his rifle in a certain unchanging manner, but there is no sight picture in reference to his quarry. A decision must be made as to aiming point, and that will change with the target, the range, the time of day, to name just a few factors affecting uniformity of sight picture. There simply cannot be an unchanging target at an unchanging range in field shooting, with a rifleman getting the same sight picture each shot.

There is also a difference between the let-off of a good field shot and an equally good target shot. This difference becomes more pronounced as a hunter takes to the woods after squirrel, rabbit or other rifle targets, such as deer or elk. Open range woodchuck, sod poodles and crow shooting have much more in common with target positions, with the rifleman taking his shot from long range, using orthodox target stances for his shooting.

Afield shot is conscious of let-off. He wills the shot at the most opportune instant, unlike the range shot who is taught to put increasing pressure on his trigger, the rifle being fired without the rifleman being conscious of the exact instant it will fire. But even here the good field shot must have more than a precise let-off for top performance.

That other, and all important factor in accurate field shooting is range picture. All skilled game shots, hunting anything from squirrel to moose, must have a range picture in reference to their rifle and target. This is the dividing line between good and mediocre field shooting. You must remember it if you want to clinch those vital targets that can take hours upon hours to make possible. The cost of factoring in a range picture is so little too, it just takes a little extra concentration.
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