Having fun while you practice

by david on December 27, 2011

I first had to beef up my backstop because of the .416.  I made my backstop by stacking a wall of logs that is four feet thick, six feet tall and ten feet wide.  I used logs but use whatever you have to make it as big as you can.  The logs actually facilitated my use of targets.  I drove nails an inch or so into the logs at random spots around the periphery of the backstop leaving enough room in the center to place one regular paper target.  To start a session I would blow up balloons and tie them off, leaving enough of the balloon behind the knot to force over the head of the nail.  I then took aluminum cans and skeet and sat them on the logs in between the balloons.  When I was finished, I had created my own shooting arcade.

I started shooting at fifty yards with the “safari grade” .22.  My practice routine consisted of shooting five rounds in the following manor.  With the shooting sticks set up in front of me, I would pick out a target, bring the rifle to my shoulder, get on the shooting sticks, center the target, and then pull the trigger.  When the target broke, I quickly cycled the bolt and moved to the next target.  When I cycled the bolt, I stayed on the sticks, kept the rifle against my shoulder and cheek, and kept my sight picture.  When I moved from on target to the next, I could almost simulate an initial hit on a game animal and then follow it up with an anchoring shot.  It took me more than just a few times to be able to stay in position and on target while I worked the bolt.  Shooting the .22 made a world of difference in my practice sessions while learning to do this.  The light recoil allowed me to focus on technique without worrying about being pounded every time the gun went off.

After I became proficient at fifty yards, I moved back to one hundred and started all over again.  By the way, my definition of proficient when using the .22 was five shots and five hits in less than twenty five seconds.  If I got board of standing behind the sticks, I would practice off hand or sitting.  If your schedule allows it, practice at different times of the day.  It helps to break up your routine and varying the amount of light and conditions simulates hunting better.  If you have quick detachable scope rings practice taking them off and shooting with your iron sights.  I would practice this at fifty wards or so but I would take a few shots from a little closer and a little further away.  Shoot enough to be certain that you know where your iron sights will put the bullet in a consistent manner.  Taking the scope off to use your iron sights will also give you practice with the release mechanism.  It will also give you confidence that your scope will return to zero if you do your part and put it back on correctly.  I probably spent three weeks with the .22 before I even took the 9.3 or .416 to the range and even when I did finally take them, I always had a practice round or two with the .22 before using the other rifles.  If I started flinching or getting frustrated, I could just break out the .22 and get myself back under control.  By starting out and getting plenty of practice with the .22, I got my form in shape.  With my form what it should be, the large rifles did not seem to kick quiet so badly.  With the large rifles not kicking so badly, I got more practice in.  With more practice, the better shot I became, and I did it all while having fun.  Get the picture?  Shooting your hunting rifles with full powered hunting loads is very, very important to a successful hunt.  Having fun while you practice is the surest way to make you practice a lot.  Before I left on my last trip, I had put close to two hundred rounds through my 9.3 and about one hundred and fifty rounds through my .416

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