View Full Version : Practical accuracy and range.....

Dave McC
December 20, 2000, 09:02 AM
A discussion got me thinking, always a risky thing(G)....

So I get to the range, post my target, lay out my stuff and when the line gets hot, so do I. I concentrate on the front sight, squeeze,and a hole appears right where I want it to be out there at the 50 yard line. After a few more shots pretty much go into that same hole, I get up and let the bbl cool. As we go forward to post targets, I hear a guy I know slightly telling the rookie he's helping sight in that old saw about....

" If you can keep them on a paper plate at X number of yards, you're ready and you're sighted in"....

Sound familiar?

Trouble is, at the range you're rock steady, shooting at an immobile target, a known distance, and so on. There's no adrenaline causing your heart to race, no heavy breathing, tunnel vision,etc.

But in the field, your target is capable of movement in a twinkling, your position is less than rock solid, your heartbeat is accelerating, and you've been smitten by, THE FEVER. SO, keeping them on a paper plate at the range is too loose a parameter to apply.

And, paper feels no pain. A bad shot on a critter means pain, and possibly prolonged, agonizing pain.There's enough on my conscience now, I don't need that.

So, let's redefine how accurate you should be, and, remember, this is my opinion.

That paper plate is 8-9" in diameter.The vitals on a deer run larger,especially on larger deer, but think of a volleyball sized target. There's why the paper plate idea is popular.

So,like that loudmouth on the Food Network says, let's kick it up a notch....

Instead of a paper plate, think paper saucer. Make it all shots in 4-5 inches at the range, that gives enough fudge factor to make it effective and HUMANE in the field.

If you and your shotgun are capable of hitting that 4-5" saucer under field conditions EVERY time at a given range, that's your effective range,and shots longer than that should not be taken under ordinary circumstances.

But, don't throw those paper plates away. Set up one and have at it with your buckshot of choice. For hunting, since there's probably not going to be innocent bystanders near your deer, I'd hunch it and say that the distance where half your load is on that plate is the practical accuracy range for you and that combo. Remember,buck depends on multiple hits for effectiveness.

For HD and tactical, ALL the pellets need to be on that plate, or you're shooting at something way too far out for you and that combo. Stray pellets in an AS scenario are egregious.

If you insist on using that paper plate criteria, do it offhand, after enough running or jumping jacks,etc, to make your heart pump and you breathe hard. THEN, that makes more sense.

I realize this may be controversial, but maybe some discussion is in order so that we're ALL more effective and taking realistic shots.

December 20, 2000, 09:42 AM
Very much agreed that there is a huge difference between sighting-in a gun and being "ready".

I can't count the number of times I have taken friends/acquaintences shooting only to see them squinting one eye, standing still, legs spread wide apart, then placing a few shots on target while they grin with false security in their "marksmanship" skills.

Of course they immdeiately get "the speech."

"OK, now stand at and angle, and keep both eyes open, and don't use the sights, and begin from the port arms position. Without exception they next proceed to hit eveything except the intended target. It's at this very instant that I dsicover if they're a whiner or a shooter. The shooter will look highly concerned and ask, "OK, what did I do wrong?". The (liberal) whiner will of course attempt to aviod anything that shatters his/her mental image of their superior skills.

Dave, your point is very well taken and I believ is one of the most important marksmanship lesson to learn - You also have to train under certian conditions to become proficient.

Can't wait for this weekend. There's going to be a whole bunch of stuff come out of the safe for my 4-day weekend "training session"! :D


December 20, 2000, 11:28 AM

Thanks for a very thoughtful post.

It is depressing that some "hunters" will go afield without having done the basic work at the range. Living in the country, we see their handiwork from time to time. There are few sights more sickening than the carcass of a wounded deer that died a miserable death because someone muffed a shot or was too lazy or incompetent to track and recover the animal.

I would add a few other points the first of which is learn how to judge distances. Three years ago while unloading the truck, two buddies and I noted a couple of deer break out of the brush. We scrambled to load the shotguns and get ready if they continued coming in our direction. They veered off just as I felt they were coming into shooting range of 75 to 80 yards. One of my friends who was tracking them with a laser rangefinder said they were 137 yards away when they turned. Too far for my taste and a good lesson.

The "fever" is another good point. The best way to cool the fever is to spend more time in the bush observing game. The more deer you see in their natural habitat the less likely you are to get over excited if you see one while hunting. The best bird hunter I know is, in the off season, an avid bird watcher.

Hunters have to be honest with themselves about their abilities. You just can't be good at shooting without proper practice. Not practicing, wounding animals, acting irresponsibly, and/or using untried equipment is the best way I can think of to give more ammunition to those who want to end hunting completely. More importantly it is an insult to other hunters and to the game we chase.

December 20, 2000, 10:08 PM
Would not a slug of some sort be the best choice for a humane kill, vs. buckshot? I could understand going with the buck in a survival scenario, wishing to maximize your odds of a disabling hit. But for hunting, you excersise your judgement as to whether you can successfully hit. If there is any doubt, then you probably shouldn't shoot. One of these days, I'll have to get out there and do it.:)

Dave McC
December 21, 2000, 06:24 AM
Thanks, folks.I guess it needed saying. A coupla things...

PJR,a good rule is, "If you think it might be too far, it's definitely too far". Everyone's range estimation bites.

We used a Lazer last year to check distances at a farm we've been hunting since 92 with great results,and we needed to take maybe another 40 does. So, we were trying to get permission from the DNR for rifles, since this is a shotgun area. Anyway, both of us were way off at ranges from 400 yards down to 75 or so. Between us, we've accounted for close to 120 deer(mostly his),so we're not exactly novices.

Thanks, CMOS, proper preparation is paramount. One note about THE FEVER. When it stops happening to me, I'll probably stop hunting. I get off on that rush,that adrenaline fix. The trick is control...

Vic, most of us that use slugs also use buck for something, and the folks that hunt not but have a need for social shotguns can use that criteria in the real world. And you're right, doubt equates to no shot.

If the peep or crosshairs are low on the shoulder,and I can think,"This deer's dead if I want it to be", then there's either a shot, or a slight smile as it leaves, oblivious.

What slug hunters need is the equivalent of a bowhunters' 3-D course, where shots are presented in realistic surroundings, and at realistic ranges.