Making your first shot count is of the utmost importance, especially when you’re hunting. Often, you won’t get a second chance.
Today, we’re blessed with accurate, repeating rifles, capable of firing projectiles at extreme ranges, and with almost unbelievable accuracy. Many semi-automatic rifles come standard with 30 round magazines. We’re no longer limited to the single shot, flint lock, muzzle loading rifles and muskets that we won our independence from King George and Britain with. Now, that was a time when a man knew the importance of making every shot count. Every shot could mean the difference between life or death. Whether your family would be fed or go hungry. Being a rifleman, a marksman, was a true badge of honor.
The First Time Shooter
Now, I love a good AR. My preferred hunting rifle, for many years has been a bolt action rifle with a 4 to 6 round capability. When I’m duck hunting or chukar hunting, the 3 shots that a pump or semi-automatic shotgun gives can really come in handy.
But for a first time shooter, there’s nothing like a single shot. A .22, a center fire rifle, or a shotgun. Spraying bullets downrange may just be good, clean fun. But when you’re really trying to accomplish something, there’s nothing quite like the careful, considered aim. That technique gets the job done right the first time.
With a shotgun, learning the basic mechanics of the mount, the lead, and the follow through, and practicing until it is all second nature, are the first steps. With most forms of shotgun hunting, especially waterfowl and upland bird hunting, speed is second only to accuracy. If you can’t place a quick and accurate second, and possibly third, shot, you’re simply not going to come home with as many birds.
Shooting with a Rifle
Hunting with a rifle is a different game. With most big game hunting, you’re only allowed one head of game at a time. I know there are exceptions to this rule, but for the case I’m trying to build, let’s just assume that my first statement is ‘Mostly True’. Big Game Hunting is often a game of stealth, not speed. If you’ve done everything right, your quarry isn’t aware of your presence, until it’s too late.
Many factors can come into play with a successful shot on a big game animal. How successfully are you judging the distance to your target? Is there a light wind, no wind, or too much wind? Is it too early, and not light enough, too late for enough shooting light, or is your target hidden by shadows? Most importantly, though – have you correctly and adequately sighted in your rifle, and practiced with it enough to where you know, that when your shot presents itself, you have both the skills and the confidence to follow through, knowing that your shot will be successful.
There is a lot that goes into making your first shot count. The bottom line is – you, and only you are responsible for everything that it takes to making your first shot count.