George Little: Practice your shooting now

August 01, 2011 at 06:09 PM

Regardless of the shooting scenario—hunting, target shooting, cowboy action shooting, trapshooting or plinking tin cans behind the barn—if someone is taking aim with a shotgun, rifle, pistol or bow, there are only two kinds of shooters: those who hope to hit what they are aiming at and those who expect to.

Hunters know the instant they take the shot in a hunting situation is just a small part of the hunting experience. We practice and refine our hunting skills, plant food plots, put out trail cameras, build blinds and work our dogs, all with the goal of giving ourselves a better chance of hunting success.

Most of us think we are better shooters than we really are. We shortchange the practice it takes just to maintain shooting skills, let alone refine them.

Our hunting moment of truth frequently produces an unsatisfactory conclusion because we haven’t pulled a trigger since last November. Far more game is shot at and missed than ends up in the freezer.

It is disappointment squared, trudging back to the deer cabin to tell the guys there’s nothing out there to field dress. If you’ve just watched the buck of a lifetime hightailing it to thicker cover after missing an easy shot (or two or three), fumbling at the goal line takes on new meaning.

The dog days of summer will soon be nipping at our heels. If you want to shoot better than you did last season, this is a good time to work on it.

We all want to blame the equipment, so eliminate that excuse first. Take the gun you hunt with and put it on a rest and shoot from a realistic hunting situation distance.
If you need to adjust the sights, do it now. If you’re like me and get confused as to which way to move your sights to zero the impact point, look it up before you go, and take a printout of the instructions with you.

Before you make any sight adjustments, ask someone else to shoot the same gun from the same position, just to make sure it’s the equipment and not the shooter.

Once your sights are set, get off the rest and practice shooting from positions that simulate hunting situations. If your hunting ammo is too expensive to burn up in practice, get out your .22 rifle. Shooting doesn’t get any cheaper. Your shooting mechanics and your ability to acquire the target quickly will improve without breaking the bank.

It’s fun to just go shooting. After you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll wonder what took you so long. For many of us, tin cans and .22 rifles were the gateway to the entire outdoor experience, and we were better shots then than we are now.

The difference between hoping for shooting success and expecting it might be as simple as going back where we started.

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