Safari 2014: The Caprvi Strip / Update 04/28/2014 Killing an Elephant with a .22 ?

by david on April 28, 2014

This week, I finally got around to doing some shooting. I have been letting the cleanup from “Icemageddon” win out in the battle for my time but after being spurred on by a friend I decided to take a break from tree removal and do a little shooting. In the end, another friend joined in and the three of us took some time on Saturday to burn a little powder. While my friends wanted to practice with rifles and pistols, I was only interested in getting my rifle form back by shooting my custom .22 Safari Trainer.   I call it a “safari trainer” because I had this .22 built to match my medium and heavy safari rifles in function and form. Although it does not weigh quite as much as the two more powerful rifles, the bolt works the same and the sight picture is the same and I can shoot / practice all day without hurting myself. I like to put 400-500 rounds down-range with this rifle before the first round is ever chambered in the 9.3 or 416. The question this time is how to practice killing an elephant with a .22. While the other guys were shooting, I started running the hunting scenario though my head, trying to think up a practice routine. The hunt would involve stalking up to within 15-25 yards of the elephant and then getting into a position that would allow me a side brain shot. There would not be time for the shooting sticks, so I would have to take the shot off-hand. More than likely, the shot would involve me stepping into the open for a clear sight picture, and I would have to get the shot off sooner rather than later in order not to discovered by the elephant. When elephants suddenly discover a human that close, one of two things happen. The elephant runs away and you have to start the process all over, or it decides to see just how flat it can make you. While I personally never had the misfortune of coming across human remains after an elephant attack, I have read firsthand accounts, and I promise there is not much left of the unfortunate object of the elephant’s rage. In addition to shooting quickly, I would also have to shoot a target that could be covered by approximately a six-inch circle. All the while, this six-inch circle is moving every time the elephant moves his head. It suddenly dawned on me that I was too hung up on how to practice shooting a moving six-inch target while it was obscured by the rest of the elephant’s head. Since there are no wild elephant where I live, I would have to visualize the sight picture from a book or video. There will also be time to fine-tune the sight picture in Africa while under the excellent tutelage of my PH. With that sorted out, I decided it did not make too much difference what I was shooting at as long as I could get the shot off quickly and accurately. To see if I could do this, I sat up several targets with a six-inch outer ring and a one-inch bullseye. I then backed off to 25 yards (the longest distance I hoped to shoot from) and started mounting the rifle, acquiring the target, and getting off a shot as quickly as possible. With the scope turned to its lowest magnification, finding the target was no problem. However, with me trying to get the shot off in two or three seconds, I was unsure of where the bullets were hitting. After firing each shot, I lowered the rifle to a safe position and started the mount, acquire, and shoot routine all over again. I fired a total of ten rounds during the first session. I was a little apprehensive as I approached the target because you can’t really see a 22/100 of an inch hole until you get very close. Imagine my surprise when nine of the ten rounds were in the six-inch circle. Six of those nine were inside the four-inch circle, and two of those were inside the one-inch bullseye. Next, I removed the scope and tried the drill over with iron sights. Low and behold, the results were almost the same, with the only difference being there were now three holes in the one-inch center. It dawned on me that this type of “snap” shooting was more like shooting a shotgun rather than a rifle. Shooting this quickly, the sight cannot really stop on the target; rather, you must pull the trigger as the sight passes through the target. With this epiphany, I ran several more practice rounds at the paper with the same nine or ten out of ten results. Next I moved on to shooting four inch balloons tacked in various locations around my backstop and hit about 75% of those. While not perfect shooting, my safari trainer is doing wonders for my confidence. After a few more sessions with it, I can break out the heavy rifles.

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