Rifle Shooting: Hit the Mark

Imagine you’ve saved a year’s worth of overtime pay to book the elk hunt of your dreams. On day one in the Rocky Mountains you’ve stalked within range of the bull of your dreams. You’re in the sitting position, like Dad taught you when you were a kid. The wind is buffeting the muzzle of your rifle, and it’s a bit of a poke, but you’re confident you can hit the vitals of the 6×6. You squeeze the trigger … and you miss.

“That’s hunting,” you say. “I’ll get another chance.”

But what if you don’t?

I’ve seen this scenario play out more times than I care to count, my friends. I’ve seen grown men return to camp who were at a loss for words to explain how they missed that bull. Heck, it’s happened to me.

In fact, a couple years ago I admitted to myself that it was happening more times than I cared to recall. And try as I might, I couldn’t explain why. So I sought help.

Last year I attended not one, but two shooting schools: Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Ariz., and Sportsman’s All-Weather All-Terrain Marksmanship in Barksdale, Texas. Like many NRA members, I’m a lifelong shooter and hunter. I’m also a former Marine infantryman and an NRA-certified rifle instructor. But I have to admit what I learned about marksmanship at both places can fill a book.

You’re probably thinking, “I don’t need to pay anyone to teach me how to shoot.” That may be true. But it’s also true that we spend a lot of time and money on our pastime. So think of shooting school as continuing education for hunters.

At Gunsite Academy I took the five-day Hunter Prep course, an amalgam of riflecraft from their General Rifle 270 class—gun carriage, field positions, trigger and breath control—and topics aimed at big-game hunters such as anatomy, range estimation and mind-set.

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