Shooting is not a chance event, practice is needed


Pre-season target practice is a basic requirement for hunters. To depend on last year’s shooting performance is to ask for problems. Indeed, what it was does not predicate what it will be.


Here’s what is known about shooting. Erratic scores, inaccurate groups, missed targets, and other shooting fu-paws are typically not caused by the firearm. Sorry, but more often than not, poor shooting lies squarely on the shoulders of the person pulling the trigger.

So pre-season target practice is a must.

A close knit group of four will be looking at a lot of pavement next month as we truck it across the middle of the nation on our way to Colorado in search of Rocky Mountain elk. Of course we’ve created and recreated our camp menu, packed and repacked duffels, and rehashed hunt strategies. Some of us have logged saddle time in preparation for a prolonged trail ride to camp and we’ve done a considerable amount of target practice.

Need power

Elk are large animals and require accuracy and power to harvest. We’ll all be shooting center fire rifles in a variety of calibers ranging from .270 to 30-06.

One of the fellows is going new. That is, he’s carrying a new rifle attached to a new scope or maybe it’s the other way around. He’s punching holes in targets for several reasons. First, he wants to be absolutely sure the rifle is zeroed in. Second, he needs to be sure he is familiar and comfortable with the set-up, the recoil, and the action.

No easy target

Very few elk present easy targets. Our outfitter likes to interview every hunter and in doing so he has collected enough information to predict that the average shot is going to be in excess of 250 meters, probably closer to 300. For Ohio hunters, more used to shooting deer at 50 to 100 yards, a shot at an elk is a challenge. Thus the need for several sessions of serious target practice.

Besides practice comes the choice of ammunition. Base this choice on bullet weight, style of bullet, and most importantly, which shoots best in a rifle.

Recipe for power

The same rules apply to hunters everywhere, including Ohio hunters. Slug guns, handguns, and muzzle loaders all shoot best with one make of ammunition, one powder load, and in short, one power recipe.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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