Have you ever mastered something without putting in hours and hours of practice? Of course not! You can’t expect to bring your hunting skills to the next level without working hard at a shooting range during the off-season. Make target practice a part of your training routine and watch the number of your successful hunts increase.
Shooting is a Combination of Muscle and Mind
One of the reasons hunting is such a challenging endeavor is the sheer difficulty of using a gun to hit a target consistently. Firing a weapon takes a significant amount of muscle control and the ability to focus both your mind and breathing on the mark. Unless you don’t mind missing the target most of the time, it’s critical to hone your skills on the shooting range before you take your first hunting trip of 2019.
Backcountry Chronicles reminds us that consistent target practice gives an understanding of our abilities, which is invaluable when we take the step into hunting. With enough exercise, you’ll know when you’re close enough to take a shot and when you need to watch that glorious bull elk continue to his destination.
Locate a Shooting Range Near You
The best time to visit a shooting range is during the months and weeks before you plan to go hunting. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) maintains a directory of gun ranges throughout the United States and is a terrific place to look if you’re searching for a shooting range in your area.
The NSSF also operates a star rating system for shooting ranges so customers can quickly find high-quality practice locations. The shooting range must meet strict criteria to qualify for a three to five-star rating, and you can be sure that a high NSSF rating is a reliable indicator of quality.
Gun Range Etiquette
Shooting ranges are potentially dangerous places. Anytime you mix guns, ammunition, and people there is the chance of a shooting accident taking place. Reputable gun ranges maintain safe environments by enforcing gun safety rules. Whether you’ve been practicing at a gun range for years or you’re just starting out, it’s vital you demonstrate proper gun etiquette at all times.
The basic rules of gun safety include
1. Pointing your gun away from people
2. Only touching the trigger when you’re about to shoot
3. Storing an unloaded weapon.
Beyond the primary gun safety rules, shooting ranges have additional controls in place to keep everyone safe.
Well-run gun ranges use a range safety officer to provide safety instructions. NRA Family recommends you brush up on gun range safety terminology before arriving at the field. Remember, always ask the range safety officer if you’re unsure of any instruction.
Read here for more information about proper shooting range etiquette.
TIP: The NRA blog posts different printable range targets every month that you can print out to take with you to the shooting range.
DIY Target Practice
There comes a time for many veteran hunters when the thrill of going to a local gun range turns into boredom. If you want to change up your training, it’s time to consider designing a target practice course.
The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out where you’re going to set up your target practice spot. Unless you own property where you can safely fire a gun, you’ll want to locate an appropriate place to practice. Fortunately, many public lands are open for recreational shooting, and venturing out onto them is an excellent way to get back into a hunting mindset.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allows recreational target shooting on its lands as long as no laws disallow shooting on a specific property. Since the BLM manages enormous amounts of land, as much as twenty-five percent of the area in Oregon for example, you’re sure to find an appealing place to polish your target skills.
As hunters, it’s up to us to show respect for the sport and for our fellow hunting enthusiasts by treading lightly upon public lands. Examples of respectful behavior include the following:
● Get authorization from the owner before entering any private land
● Follow firearm safety rules
● Avoid shooting at non-targets
● Carry out everything that you brought with you
● Protect the land
Pew Pew Tactical suggests you also designate someone from your group to act as the range safety officer throughout your time on the target range.
Once you’ve found your location, it’s time to give some thought to your targets. Keep in mind that while hunting, your live targets come in a variety of sizes, show different angles, and move. So, it’s important to mix up the targets to continually challenge your shooting accuracy.
Bring Your Targets
You don’t need to go broke purchasing hunting target practice accessories. Indeed, you probably have many potential targets sitting around your home. Wide Open Spaces suggests using the following items as targets:
● Golf balls
● Tennis balls
● Tin cans
● Grocery bag cut-out silhouettes
● Empty shotgun shells
● Junk mail
Of course, you can also significantly improve your skill at hitting a hunting target by practicing with more life-like targets. Read here for ten examples of terrific hunting-related targets that will get you ready for the opening of hunting season.
Think about the challenges you’re likely to face while hunting and try to replicate some of them in your target practice. For example, it’s helpful to practice uphill and downhill shooting if your hunting experiences involve diverse terrain. Experienced hunters know you’ll only get one shot at a prized prey, so it’s essential to practice hitting the target under time pressure and from less-than-ideal shooting positions.
Lastly, there is no substitute for target practice when it comes to getting ready to hunt. Focused target practice tones your mental and physical skills to prepare you for a successful hunting experience.
ScopeShield knows that practice and proper equipment are the keys to making 2019 an exceptional year of hunting. Contact us for superior scope covers from a company that celebrates the American hunting tradition.