View Full Version : Off season practice - tips and techniques

Al Thompson
February 24, 2001, 10:10 AM
We're at that stage where the fishing rods are coming out and the hunting gear is getting checked, cleaned and packed away.

IMHO, not so fast... :D

Several years ago, I noticed that the average hunter who came to our range for his annual rifle check usually had a frustrating time getting zero'd. The active shooters usually took a but a disgustingly brief amount of time to check zero with their hunting ammo and were off to the woods.

Seems to me that a program of as few as 10 rounds a month make the transition much simpler.

My program (fourth year) is pretty simple. I have a decent practice load built for my rifle (.30-06) and try to shoot about 20 rounds a month through it. As time is usually a factor, I re-zero the rifle in January/Febuary for the practice stuff. When I hit the range, I drag the '06 along and take a few shots on our plinking range. Targets vary from beer cans to half gallon jugs. Positions are usually kneeling or offhand. I find that if you can shoot offhand, any other position simply gives you better accuracy. The other nice thing is that there is no equipment needed for off hand shooting. Put the targets up, blast away.

I also use a scope sighted bolt action .22 with some expectation that there is a carry over factor. I know that having the same sighting system helps.

Couple of tips..

Keep an eye out for ammo sales at the chain stores. I stocked up on Federal 165 Trophy Bonded '06 ammo a couple of years ago for an idiotic price.

Remember that your focus using a scope should be the crosshairs, not the target. Strange that I've never seen this mentioned in mainstream magazines, but it works. Sort of like focusing on your front sight with an iron sighted firearm.

Once your zero'ed, get off the bench. Unless you have a bench in your stand. :)

Reactive targets are more fun than shooting paper. I like anything that moves or explodes when hit. Fruit, clay pigeons, jugs with water....

Set a number of rounds for cleaning purposes. I run a oily patch down my barrel after each practice session. (20 rounds or so) Every 60 rounds, I clean my rifle. The high power folks shoot more than that between cleanings and suffer no adverse consequences. The main idea is to make practice a routine comfortable event.

Bird shooters - look into a local sheet club. I shoot from a low ready position and, if possible, try to shoot stations 3 though 6. I have problems with crossing shots and this maximizes my practice dollars/time.


February 24, 2001, 03:21 PM
Way to break the silence Giz;)

I am amazed at how much alot of people shoot and target practice, I'm probably considered and "unethical" hunter by some of you because I never put more than 20 rounds through any one of our big caliber guns a year. I also rarely go to the range. Every year before big game season we take our rifles out, pace of 100yards, and make sure they're still on, with a few rounds through them, mostly they are. We also go out about every weekend and hunt, shoot our .22's and shotguns, do a little small game and varmint hunting. Like Giz said, we save our Milk cartons too, we have a bunji cord running across the ceiling of our garage, and we store our milk jugs till they're full. Fill them with water, (sometimes food coloring, it shows up better....) and blast away. We've talked about filming it, and freeze framing the pictures, but never done it yet. I just can't see going out and shooting a box a month, we don't reload, and it gets way to expensive otherwise. We shoot alot, and keep in practice with cheaper bullets, like .22's, but 200+ rounds at paper a year isn't what I do:( Guess I'll just be unethical;)

February 24, 2001, 05:20 PM
I think that shooting alot of muzzle loader rd.s w/ dark goggles is a good idea. it simulates the conditions you will most likley find at dusk. shoot at distances that are not known in various positions. try putting 10 bowing pins out at unmeasured distances and pick the off, then try w/ the dark glasses on. it really helps when your shooting in thas waneing moments between day and night.

February 24, 2001, 05:50 PM
I'm fortunate enough to live on a farm with some rolling hills and some scattered timber. The dog and I take a walk every day. I almost always carry something. Sometimes I snap shoot osage "hedge apples" with a shotgun. Sometimes I plink waknuts with a .22 rimfire or centerfire lever gun. And sometimes I hike with one of several hunting rifles. I may take a couple shots under "field conditions" or I might just carry it, but when hunting season comes around I am very comfortable with chosen arm.
A side benefit is the dog is steady as a rock come bird hunting because she has been sitting at-stay watching me shoot non-game stuff all year.

February 24, 2001, 06:07 PM
Bird shooters - look into a local sheet club. I shoot from a low ready position and, if possible, try to shoot stations 3 though 6. I have problems with crossing shots and this maximizes my practice dollars/time. Great point.
You know that's what I've started doing at my trap range. The old line trap fellows nearly pooped themselves to see someone shoot from a low ready. They stopped me and said "Did you know you can shoot from a high ready?". I explained the fact that I practiced trap and clays to get better at hunting. I think some of these guys hunt to get better at trap!!

Art Eatman
February 24, 2001, 07:50 PM
Hey, Bad Medicine, while I agree with what Gizmo99 sez, a lot of it has to do with both your background--how much shooting you have done--and the style of hunting you do. Somebody who hunts from a stand or who mostly has short-range shots doesn't have the pressure of a "plains hunter" who walks a lot in open country...

Hey, Giz, mix your pleasures: Take a .22 with you when you go fishin', and hunt water moccasins!

:), Art

February 24, 2001, 11:06 PM
I varmit hunt with my deer rifle.

Mostly Crow and Coyote sniping with a 7MM Rem Magnum & 150 Grain Nosler Ballistic tips.

I think the crows are planning some sort of revenge.


February 25, 2001, 12:35 AM
Ditto to Zorro..

Try varmint hunting with your big game rifle. Try it off hand and at a variety of ranges. Shoot your game rifle once in a while, even if it is taking pot shots at tin cans and water jugs.

An easy drill with a friend.. (you need a 100 yard range or so)

Take turns setting up "reactive" targets ie.. milk jugs, clays, whatever at a variety of ranges. While you set up you buddy keeps his back to you. Try to set up more targets than he has in his Magazine.. that way he has to reload. Even at short range with a 22 its a fun game.. provided your partner doesn't "peek'" as you set up.

Start him facing you with his rifle slung and say "go" you can time each other with a stopwatch or even a wrist watch. Shoot everything off hand or kneeling.. or whatever position is more "natural" for each of you. Just don't use the bench.

Dave McC
February 25, 2001, 08:12 AM
Great thread, Giz, and timely...

Besides the other good ideas, don't forget the lowly 22. Plinking with a 22 means stance, sight pic, squeeze, breathing, all the things needed for accuracy with ANY rifle.

Necco wafers explode nicely when hit with a 22, and are biodegradeable to boot. So are oranges and apples past their prime.

Even the lowly tin can, chased across a shooting pit with 22 fire, is a lot of fun. Remember to police the area when done.

As for shotgun practice, trap/skeet/clays is a great way to learn your shotgun and improve your skills until your shotgun feels like a body part and not a tool you tote.Run a few "Tactical" courses after hitting the trap range every weekend for a couple of months and note how much your scores(and skills) improve...

February 25, 2001, 01:19 PM
I take my deer rifle with me to South Dakota for my annual prarie dog hunt. I have found that when I can consistently hit dogs at 200-400 yards with my 308, then I have a lot more confidence in my skills and equipment come deer season.

February 25, 2001, 06:43 PM
Milk jugs, prarie dogs, ground hogs or paper ... just get out and shoot your hunting gun. That is the main thing.

March 1, 2001, 12:02 AM
When I was a kid, my dad used to pay my brother and I a bounty on woodchucks we shot or trapped. By the time deer season rolled around, we were pretty good with our 30-30s.

March 2, 2001, 02:52 PM
Down here in Houston, hunting season never ends. From November 6th till February 6th is deer season. Then squirrel season is off and on till May. Then crows, coyotes, hogs, bobcat till November.

The fun never ends.

Al Thompson
August 10, 2002, 09:10 AM
Floating a few of these threads as hunting season rolls around..

August 10, 2002, 10:19 PM
.22's Pellet Guns and Varmits.

Practice, Practice, Practice! and it is fun too.