Hunting in Wyoming – Are You Ready? I Bet not…yet.
I am not an avid hunter. There, now that is out of the way. I love shooting rifles and have made shooting instruction my life’s work. From working in taxidermy back in the 80’s to owning a Trophy Animal Mount Cleaning business in the 90’s to shooting instructing of thousands of students on a range filled with hunters, I have learned a bit about many hunter’s abilities and attitudes.
I don’t know about the best hunting jacket, the best guide service or the details of terminal ballistics on the latest and greatest bullet. Here is what I DO know; most hunters are not very good shots. Yep, I said it. They can just barely hit the broad side of a barn, they have a nice rifle and a nice scope, but I bet most can’t consistently (5 out of 5) hit a 200 yard 14″ gong from seated or kneeling field positions within 90 seconds of doing some jumping jacks.
Sitting at a bench and using rests to hit targets is great for testing your gun, but it has little to do with actual hunting shooting situations. It is important to sight your rifle in but you must also be highly skilled in its use if you expect to be an ethical hunter. This comes from proper practice.
Too many hunters shooting from a comfortable bench-rest position hit a few shots, miss a few shots and then when they hit another declare, “I think that is good enough.” This is NOT ethical.
Whether you participate a world class instructional program like our Pre-Hunt Rifle Instruction service or the Gunwerks University, or if you choose to read articles available on the internet machine, watch YouTube videos and practice extensively on your own, for the love of all things good, PLEASE MAKE SOME EFFORT!
So, I lambaste hunters that are lousy shots and are too cocky & lazy to prepare. This leads to the common sentiment that, “All of my family and friends know I am a fearsome hunter, I can’t lose face by asking for help. I am a man.” I call Bullshit. Those that are good at things know that they still have more to learn.
“Amateurs train until they succeed, professionals train until they fail.” -Chris Costa
So, here are my suggestions. Challenge yourself. Decide what you are and are not capable of. Push it on the range, but not when a deer or elk is in your cross-hairs. Get Training. Get a professional instructor to help you up your skills. Test Yourself. Using a shot timer (download free or cheap on your smart phone) test yourself on a course of fire. The vital area on an elk is about 10″ so whatever distance at which you can shoot a 10″ group is probably appropriate for hunting, right? Actually, you might round down to factor in buck fever issues.
Shepard’s Hunter’s Basic Rifle Test A (SHBRT-A)
1) Set up a paper target at 100 yards.
2) Put on your gear as you would when you hunt. If you will be wearing a jacket, backpack, binoculars on a harness and shooting sticks strapped to your back – put ’em on. Now, spray your glasses with glass cleaner.
3) Start your timer, and as soon as it beeps, do 10 jumping jacks, spin in a circle 3 times, then get into a field shooting position. (kneeling, seated or standing) You are welcome to wipe the water off of your glasses. You may use your backpack as a rest, your shooting sticks or a sling. Take a shot, then change to a second field shooting position of your choice and take another shot. Take one more shot while standing.
Scoring: How many seconds did this take you? ____ Measure the size of your 3-shot group from the center of the most distant bullet holes. Now, divide 1000 by that number. For example, If your group size was 8 inches, 1000/8 = 125 yards. You can take a shot an elk if you are within 125 yards.
Methodology: You won’t do jumping jacks, spin in circles or spray glass lens cleaner on your glasses while you are hunting, but we add these elements to simulate the non-duplicable factors involved in actual hunting. In a real hunt, we hope that our first shot will be a clean kill, but in many cases; a second or more shots might be needed.
How did you do? Are you happy with your performance? If you are happy with your performance, I applaud you! I very much appreciate good hunters that make the effort to be good. What did you learn from the SHBRT-A test?
- What part took you the longest amount of time?
- What did you learn about your gear?
- What went better than you had expected.
- What do you need to practice on?
- Which position was your favorite? Does the terrain in your hunting area allow it? (Sagebrush does not typically allow prone, etc…)
Is this test fair? If you don’t like it, come up with your own and share it in the comments section. 🙂