By Glen Wunderlich
Getting ready for hunting season always seems to be a seasonal ritual. Annually, many hunters get the hunting firearm out of its storage place, grab some ammo, and shoot just enough rounds to perforate a few paper targets and declare, “Good enough.” But, that style of “preparation” has a way of developing excuses afield, where there are no do-overs or instant replays to analyze. Now is the time to practice.
At a private shooting range, a group of us hunters gathered last week under the shade of an instant canopy with one simple goal: to have some fun! Rifles from .22 caliber to a mighty .35 Whelen were on hand for paper punching and reactive target demonstrations throughout the day. <iframe widthhttp://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou45hazEHsw”
When shooters assemble for any event – be it formal, or as in this example, informal – camaraderie is in the air even more than spent powder and bullets. Not only is there a sharing of experience and techniques, but firearms are shared, as well. And, there’s no better way to determine what a gun is like other than to try one out.
One challenge for deer hunters is to be familiar enough with a given firearm to handle it flawlessly in the field. But, if a gun is only used in hunting situations, a lack of familiarity can lay the groundwork for failure. Fumbling with a safety or a scope’s adjustment is all it takes to ruin a season; practice minimizes such possibilities. Beside all that, it’s just plain fun to shoot, and adding reactive targets to the mix adds to the excitement.
Call it recycling. Plastic milk or water bottles filled with water make for explosive fun and the used material (once collected) doesn’t take up much space. Old phone books can be soaked in water, strapped together, and shot to see how bullets perform. Flipping through the pages to find what remains of a projectile tells much about its integrity and makes for relative comparisons between samples. http://www.youtube.com/embed/UD24bYRJHGE
Maybe you’ve stored some old ammo for years and no longer trust it. Informal target shooting is the place to test it. And, if you handload ammo, the empty cases can be brought back to life with modern bullets, powder, and primers.
If a shooter encounters a problem with a firearm, there’s enough time to get it resolved without getting in line behind all the other procrastinators in hunting season. Hunters can become acquainted with the feel of a trigger, a manual safety, recoil or any other aspect of a given firearm, while learning what ammo performs best.
In addition, the weather is more conducive to playing. No gloves or heavy clothing is required but having a shoulder pad available is a good idea, because nobody can shoot accurately when badly bruised.
Other gear necessary or helpful in a shooting session includes a spotting scope, binoculars, hearing and eye protection, and a range box of tools for repairs or adjustments. Also, don’t forget the camera, because it’s almost as much fun to share the experience as it is to partake.