I do a lot of practicing with my airguns before, during, and after hunting seasons. A good portion of this is after work in my basement range at 15-20 yards, and you may wonder what value that has. If I was just shooting off a bench, not much. But I find that using field positions; prone, sitting, standing, off hand and off sticks while shooting a FT target with the smallest kill zone is great for a tune up or for refining technique.
My basement is unfinished, so I lay one of my wife’s yoga mats down to soften the concrete contact points where knees and elbows meet the floor. And try to get fifty to a hundred shots every day, focusing on guns I’ll be using for upcoming hunts. I also shoot off sticks when possible during my hunts, usually sitting or kneeling. When I’m going to Africa I spend a lot more time shooting off sticks while standing as this is the most common shot option.
Some years ago I got a letter taking me to task for shooting off sticks instead of shooting offhand. My response was that you want to take the highest percentage shot whenever possible, and I don’t care how good an offhand shot you are, you’ll do better when rested. A lot of places you’ll encounter will have grass or other obstructions that preclude shooting prone with your gun over your pack. Many of the others will not have natural objects, such as rocks or trees, to rest on. A good set of sticks is the perfect answer for these situations.
The other advantage of this practice with respect to the hardware, is that you get accustomed to each guns trigger. Pulling it three or four hundred times in low intensity (non hunting) conditions gives you time to study the trigger while committing it to muscle memory. And moreover, you get accustomed to the general shooting characteristics of your rifle. With all the loading you’ll be doing, it will condition you to move quickly in the field where it counts.
I know I can belabor the point, but for the vast majority of us an airgun is the only hunting tool (aside from a bow) that will allow this much practice. It’s all that much better when we’re using the same guns will be depending on in the field.
Well summer is winding down; I got out on four prairie dog shoots, a few trips out for jackrabbits, groundhogs, and pest birds ……. but the real season is just getting started. In the couple weeks since opening, I’ve already been out of seven hunts in five new places and, have bagged a dozen and a half bushytails with a few different guns. Granted most of these are a couple hours in duration after work or on weekends before family time kicks in, and usually only a squirrel or two before I pack it in, but it seems like I’m getting a lot of field time in. In addition I’ve got four weeks of vacation that I’ll be stringing together to use on several major hunts between now and early next year. I love these filler hunts though. After the EBR I’ll be hitting the dairy farms with my buddies Scott and Steve. I know I’m repeating myself, but you gotta love this time of year!
By the way, just wanted to mention again the joys of a compact full power gun. I was out early this morning with the Brocock Specialist .22, and it was a joy to carry and shoot in the heavy fall foliage. Using JSB Exact Match pellets, the gun is putting out about 21 fpe and along with the accuracy is all out of proportion to the diminutive size of this carbine…… love the gun!