Shooting Accuracy – Range to Field Prep
You waited patiently for this time of year…hunting season. In preparation you’ve undoubtedly gone through a list of items to ensure success. You make all the necessary arrangements, acquire access, purchase required licenses and gear. But, do you have your weapon dialed in for that moment when it all comes together? While it’s human to make mistakes and misses do happen, we can still learn to be more accurate by keeping in mind a few extra things and avoiding simple mistakes. Steve West and the hunting experts at Farwide share some tips that will help you shoot more accurately when you move from range to field this hunting season.
1 Check Your Rifle
Your weapon is your best friend when you are shooting on the field. It is extremely crucial to ensure that your rifle is in perfect condition. Ensure that it is clean, all the screws are tightly in place, the scope is fixed well and the barrel clean and maintained. Make sure you double-check and clean all other gun components and related equipment.
2 Good Quality Ammo
The ammunition you choose to use can be a game-changing factor. Be sure to pre-test different ammunition loads and specs. Also, consider other variables like distance, size, inclination and expected conditions you’re likely to encounter while out hunting. Use the same ammunition when you practice at the range, to maintain consistency. Again, it can’t be overstated – try and simulate hunting conditions as closely as possible before you head to the field.
3 Find a Stable Platform and Your Natural Point of Aim Position
At the range, set up your rifle and position yourself firmly in your natural point of aim position. The rifle needs to be as stable as possible. It is extremely important to ensure proper position and stability, to minimize the effect of body movement on your rifle’s impact point.
People use different ways to set up their rifles in the field. Some prefer using bipods, while others go for a sandbag or utilize their backpack. Whatever platform you use, ensure it’s stable and provides firm support. It’s absolutely fine to you use your own preferred base, but the key is to keep it consistent and have a plan.
4 Mount The Scope Properly
Check thoroughly to make sure that the scope is mounted properly. Double-check for any loose screws and be sure to fix it beforehand. If you have setup the scope properly to your rifle, you should naturally be able to relax in your stable hunting position.
5 Sight Alignment
To fire your rifle accurately, you need to ensure proper sight alignment and sight picture. Sight alignment essentially means that the front and rear sights are in line with your eyesight, allowing you to shoot directly at the target. The horizontal and vertical axis will be aligned. Sight picture means that your target is in alignment with your front and rear sights. Spend time to check that you are aligned well before you begin and focus on getting a crisp and clear reticle.
6 Avoid Inconsistent Canting
Often people miss a shot that is almost close to perfect because they forget to consider gun cant. While most experienced shooters understand the importance of keeping their rifles leveled, many do not understand what might happen if they allow their rifle to cant ( tilt left or right) even slightly. If the rifle has a cant towards the left, your bullet will impact left and lower than your actual point of aim. Similarly, if your rifle is canted to the right, your bullet will hit towards the right and lower.
This happens due to the presence of gravity because of which the bullet follows a trajectory and not a straight line when fired. Error in cant increases over longer distances. It might be beneficial to read more about cant errors and how to minimize them to increase your chances of an accurate shot.
7 Proper Trigger Pull and Finger Placement
The experts advise thinking of trigger movement as a continuous process rather than just an instant. Ryan Cleckner, author of the book, ‘Long Range Shooting Handbook’ advises thinking of trigger movement as drawing a line in the dirt. He suggests that you should think of it as constant pressure that you are adding to draw the line, and you continue to draw the line even after the rifle goes off. Even after the trigger breaks, there is still some momentum left in the rifle. If you let go of the trigger too soon, you might end up losing the target.
Finger placement on the trigger is an important factor because it translates into muscle interaction with the gun. You want to keep the muscle interaction minimal to avoid accidentally moving the gun due to a jerk. It is best to place the trigger somewhere between the crease and the tip of your finger to ensure a steady hold.
8 Practice Your Way to Accuracy
Practice is key to closing in on perfection, in all areas of life and shooting is no exception. Spend as much time as possible, practicing at the range. Fire as many rounds as you can from 25, 50, and 100 yards before you make your way to the field. Evaluate your results after each round and make adjustments to carve your way to accuracy.
9 Anticipate actual conditions and plan and practice accordingly
While practicing at the range, be as consistent as possible. Again, it is a good idea to simulate expected conditions. Don’t just practice shots, but include all variables such as proper stance, sight alignment and picture, breath and trigger control, target size, and distance. Mentally visualize the actual ground and terrain, weather conditions, and other external factors that might affect your overall hunt process and practice accordingly.
Sharp mental focus always helps in improving your performance. Try to follow the above-mentioned tips and make the one shot that matters.
Stay tuned to Farwide.com, to watch the soon to be launched Outdoor Adventure Series with Farwide Expert Steve West.