Tips and Articles

SHOOTING TIP FOR ANY SHOOTING DISCIPLINE.

If you are having a hard time hitting your target, or you are trying to improve your shooting skills and things are not progressing the way you would like them too, you need to stop and regroup.  The best tip you can live by is: GO BACK TO THE BASICS. Sometimes over a period of time we tend to forget our good shooting habits and sometimes we even pick some bad habits. It could be because we are trying too hard or we saw someone shooting a certain way and thought we should give it a try. Whatever answer you come up with going back to basics will usually solve your problems. If possible have someone watch you shoot, they might be able to pick up on what you are doing wrong. The two most important things to remember is FRONT SIGHT AND TRIGGER SQUEEZE for hangunners. FOCUS ON TARGET AND TRIGGER SQUEEZE for rifle shooters. BRING THE GUN TO YOUR FACE AND FOLLOW THROUGH for shotgunners.

GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN

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For those that are thinking of getting into reloading your own ammunition. Here are 4 videos that break it down for you. It doesn’t go into complete details but, I thought is pretty good info. Hope this helps.

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Here is a site that I found and really like for troubleshooting your shots.  Hope this helps.   Shoot straight and shoot often.

Pistol_Shot_Analysis

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10 TOP SHOTGUN QUESTIONS

No. 1
Are Magnum Loads Faster Than Standard Field Loads?

I have been told that I will have to lead a duck more when using a standard field load than when using a magnum load because the latter is loaded to higher velocity. How much faster are magnum shotshells?

Unlike magnum centerfire rifle cartridges, which are usually faster than standard cartridges, magnum shotshells of all gauges are often slower than regular field loads. Use of the word magnum in shotshell terminology refers to a heavier shot charge and not necessarily an increase in speed. As examples, Remington’s 12-gauge 2 3/4-inch Premier Magnum turkey load has 1 1/2 ounces of shot and a 1260 fps muzzle velocity rating while Remington’s standard Game Load delivers 1/4 ounce less shot but is rated at a quicker 1330 fps. Moving on up in payload size, respective shot charge weights of the Premier Magnum loadings of the three-inch and 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge Magnum shells are two and 2 1/4 ounces respectively while their muzzle velocities are only 1175 and 1150 fps respectively. It all has to do with the maximum chamber pressures within which the ammunition makers must work, and when light and heavy shot charges are loaded to the same pressures, the latter will be lower in velocity.

No. 2
What Is A Shot Tower?

The gunshop owner from whom I recently bought some No. 8 lead shot made by Winchester said it was formed in a shot tower. What is a shot tower?

When free-falling through the air, the surface tension of any liquid, whether it be water from a rain cloud or a molten metal like lead, causes each droplet to become spherical in shape. In the making of shot, molten lead is poured into a large pan, the bottom of which is full of small holes. The size of these holes determines the size of the shot. As the pan is vibrated droplets of lead fall through the air and land in a pool of water where they are cooled with little to no deformation. Since it was once thought that the formation of uniformly round lead droplets required a drop through the air of 150 feet or so, the process took place in a tall structure commonly referred to as a shot tower. Some shot manufacturers still use shot towers while others use the Bleimeister process in which the lead droplets fall only a few feet.

No. 3
Can Choke Be Measured With A Coin?

At a recent gun show I observed an old gentleman placing a coin in the muzzle of a 12-gauge shotgun and pronouncing it as having a Full choke. Can the choke constriction really be measured with a coin?

Some shotgunners believe the amount of choke in a barrel can be determined by simply measuring its inside diameter at the muzzle, but this has never been true (and it never will be true unless all manufacturers decide to get together and start making barrels of the same gauge with a common bore diameter). The amount of choke constriction in a barrel is the difference between its bore diameter and the constriction at its muzzle; the best way to measure both is with a special dial caliper (available from Brownells, Dept. ST, 200 S. Front St., Montezuma, IA 50171). Bore diameter can vary considerably among the various manufacturers, and the same holds true for muzzle constriction for a given choke designation. Taking the 12 gauge as an example, while standard bore diameter is supposed to be in the neighborhood of .729 to .730 inch, barrels from various makers can range anywhere from .720 to .735 inch, and those that have been backbored can be even larger. Assuming that the correct amount of constriction for, say, Full choke for the 12 gauge is .040 inch, it is easy to see how actual inside diameter at the muzzle can vary from .680 to .695 inch for that designation.

No. 4
What’s The Most Common Mistake Made By Inexperienced Shotgunners In Choosing Equipment?

When it comes to choosing the right equipment, what single mistake is an inexperienced shotgunner most likely to make?

I’d say choosing more choke than is actually required for a specific application is the single most common mistake made by those who are new to shotgunning. In many parts of the U.S. (and the world for that matter), a very large percentage of aerial targets are taken inside 25 yards; for this reason most shooters would miss fewer birds if they chose one of the more open chokes such as Skeet or Improved Cylinder. In addition to averaging a lower number of shells per bird, those hunters would also damage the meat of fewer of the birds they do hit. Other applications do require tighter chokes, but the beginning shotgunner who starts out with less choke than he thinks he needs and then works up to tighter chokes as required is a lot better off than one who starts the game with an extremely tight choke. The chart below shows the approximate diameters of patterns produced by various common chokes at several ranges; it should give you an idea of how difficult it is to hit close-range targets with extremely tight chokes.

Choke Pattern Diameter
Approximate Pattern Diameter (Inches)
Choke
10 Yards
20 Yards
25 Yards
30 Yards
40 Yards
Spreader
23
37
44
51
66
Cylinder
20
32
38
44
57
Improved
Cylinder
15
26
32
38
51
Modified
12
20
26
32
46
Full
9
16
21
26
40

No. 5
Does The 12 Gauge Shoot A Bigger Pattern?

How much larger in diameter is the pattern thrown by a 12-gauge gun than a 20-gauge gun with the same choke?

Everything including the degree of choke constriction being the same, gauge has nothing to do with pattern size. At any given distance patterns from the 10, 12, 16, 20, 28, and .410 will measure approximately the same diameter so long as they are choked the same. The only exception is when extremely soft shot is used. Smaller bores sometimes throw slightly larger patterns with extremely soft shot due to a higher level of pellet deformation during firing, but the difference is seldom great enough to make a difference in the field.

No. 6
Is One Trigger Better Than Two?

When I was a youngster practically every double-barrel shotgun I saw had two triggers, but most of the newer models made today have a single trigger. Is one better than two?

Some shotgunners have a specific preference between single and double triggers while others use either with equal satisfaction. I regularly use doubles with both types, and even though I would just as soon have one as the other, I do recognize that each has slight advantages. While pull length always remains the same with a single trigger, it is longer for the front trigger than for the rear trigger on a gun with two triggers. This seems to bother some shooters. Barrel selection can be a bit quicker with two triggers, but their biggest advantage as I see it comes when hunting flushing birds such as quail. On a number of occasions I have fired one barrel at a single bird and then had a second one flush while my gun was broken down for reloading. A double gun with two triggers can be closed on an empty chamber and the bird quickly taken with the second barrel by simply squeezing its trigger. If this is done while hunting with a gun equipped with a single trigger, the barrel selector has to be switched prior to pulling the trigger in order to fire the loaded barrel, making it a bit slower to get back into action. The advantage of a double-trigger gun in the field is slight, but it is there just the same.

No. 7
Will Copper-Plated Shot Damage An Old Shotgun Barrel?

I have a very nice old Winchester Model 21 double and would like to try factory ammo with copper-plated shot. I have been told that type of shot is harder than plain lead shot and might damage the barrels of my gun. Do you agree? What types of shot are safe to use in my Model 21?

The antimony content of shot is what determines its degree of hardness, and copper plating serves only to prevent surface oxidation of the shot and to make it pretty. Nickel plating does increase shot hardness a bit, but even it is not hard enough to cause any damage to the barrels of your Model 21. Any type of lead shot, whether it be plated or nonplated, is suitable for use in old doubles like yours. Three of the nontoxic shot types now readily available-tungsten-matrix, tungsten polymer, and
bismuth-are also suitable for use in your Model 21.

No. 8
How Do I Become A Better Wingshot?

I have long taken great pride in my marksmanship with a rifle, but wingshooting gives me fits. What rules would help me become more proficient with a shotgun?

The two most common mistakes inexperienced shotgunners make are lifting the head from the stock as they fire and stopping the swing as the trigger is squeezed. Keeping your cheek glued to the stock as the gun fires is an absolute must as failing to do so will usually cause you to shoot over the target. Stopping your swing just as you pull the trigger will cause you to shoot behind the target. Other rules are important, but learning to keep your head down and pulling the trigger as the muzzle swings through the target will go a long way toward making you a better wingshot. If you have a gun club nearby, you will likely find an experienced skeet shooter there who will be happy to instruct you in the fundamentals of shotgunning. You might also want to consider attending one of the many shotgun schools and clinics held across the country each year. I highly recommend the Remington Shooting School, and you can obtain rates as well as a location schedule by calling 1-800-742-7053.

No. 9
What Is Backboring?

I keep seeing the term backboring used in describing shotgun barrels, but I’m not sure I fully understand what it means. Can you explain it and any benefit it offers?

Also called overboring, backboring simply means that the bore diameter of a barrel exceeds what has long been the industry standard. Depending on whose chart you believe, .729 to .730 inch is standard for the 12 gauge while the bore diameter of a backbored barrel usually measures from .735 to .740 inch and sometimes a bit larger. As for any major benefit, some shooters are convinced that backboring along with lengthening of the forcing cone of a barrel reduces recoil, and while I don’t believe this has been proven to be true scientifically, I am sold on the concept. The idea of backboring a shotgun barrel is a very old one, but it did not prove to be entirely practical until the introduction of the modern plastic wad with a flanged overpowder cup capable of obturating sufficiently to seal off the oversized bore.

No. 10
Is A Straight Or Curved Grip Best?

While shopping for a new shotgun I noticed that several are available with either a curved or a straight grip. I prefer the looks of the straight-grip guns but have never tried that style. Which is best?

Like many features seen on various types of firearms, choosing between a straight or curved grip boils down more to individual preference than anything else. I prefer the curved grip for shooting clay target games such as skeet, trap, and sporting clays because it allows for more uniform positioning of the hand from shot to shot. The straight grip (or straight hand as the English call it) is often touted as the best choice for a double with two triggers since it allows the hand to move more smoothly from one trigger to the other when shooting. While this might be true for some shotgunners, I find that I shoot equally well afield with either style. Two of my favorite upland game guns are a Westley Richards side-by-side double with two triggers and straight grip and an L.C. Smith double with dual triggers and a curved grip. Just for the fun of it I sometimes start a hunt with one and finish up with the other, but I find my shells per bird average to be the same regardless of which gun I use.

A straight grip does tend to cause the trigger-hand elbow to be held higher as the gun is mounted, and while it is believed by some that this discourages lifting of the head when shooting (a common cause of misses), I find missing about as easy with one type of stock as the other. Perhaps the best thing the straight grip has going for it is its looks; to my eye a fine side-by-side double with twin triggers, straight-grip stock, and splinter forearm is one of the most handsome of all firearms.

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Tips for tricking wary predators

Most hunting lessons are the result of making mistakes. This is especially true of predator hunting. Have you ever had a fox swing downwind and hightail it for cover after catching your scent? What about a coyote that hangs up at the edge of the woods? Did it catch you moving? Or did you over-call? Lessons like these are the best teachers, and they’re free every time you hunt.The exasperating part is, predators rarely react the same way twice. It’s what makes hunting them so exciting.

My area is typical farmland: rolling hills, plenty of crop fields, woodlots, and creek bottoms. I dabbled with predator calling for four years, with mixed success. I had spectacular encounters with coyotes, once luring in three together that ran within 15 yards(14 m)of me before I managed to bag two. More often than not, though, I drew a blank. Unsatisfied, I decided to get serious about predator hunting.

The first order of business was to upgrade equipment. As in other sports, top-of-the-line gear moves the odds in your favour. This premise provided the justification for buying a new rifle. Isn’t it funny how that works? A Remington Varmint Synthetic in 22-250, topped with a Bausch and Lomb 6 X 24 scope, fit the bill nicely. Since I already owned an electronic game caller, I purchased a few more tapes and several different mouth-blown calls.

I analysed my successes and mistakes and adjusted tactics accordingly. One big problem with calling eastern coyotes was getting them to emerge from the woods for a shot opportunity. Many times they stopped inside the forest edge and howled like crazy. My luck started to change when I chose calling spots that gave them just enough protective cover to feel comfortable stepping out. I soon discovered that places such as pipelines and power right-of-ways were good locations. Coyotes venture unhesitantly into these brushy openings. So far, I’ve developed six guidelines that improve success.

The first, as mentioned, is to always call coyotes to a spot that they’ll feel comfortable coming out to. Next is to call near bedding areas. Finding them might take a bit of scouting. Brush-choked valleys holding thick cedars are primary bedding sites in my area. Those with a lot of open fields around them tend to concentrate coyotes. Calling near these areas in the evening usually produces coyotes within minutes.

Don’t overcall, especially to coyotes. I’ve learned through experience and comparing notes with other hunters that certain styles of calling produce different results. I used to play an electronic caller for 5 to 8 minutes, followed by silent breaks of 5 to 10 minutes. I started to pick up a lot more foxes. My buddy, Al, uses a mouth call sparingly, with 1 minute of calling, followed by 15 minutes of silence. He gets an incredible number of coyotes, but no foxes. My theory about this is that the longer you call, chances increase of a wary coyote pin-pointing you or entering the area undetected and, finding no real rabbit in distress, departing unseen.

Have lots of places to call. Sometimes you get to fool coyotes only once. Whether one comes in and detects you, or even if you make a kill, the rest of the pack has been educated. I wait a minimum of two weeks before hunting such an area again. Changing calling tapes helps. If I bagged a coyote using a dying-rabbit call, the next time I use another type, such as canine puppies. Getting permisssion to hunt coyotes is easy, and lining up 15 to 20 spots is within reason. It’s a great way to establish a relationship with farmers, which could blossom into other hunting opportunities.

Practise shooting from positions you’ll use when hunting. Sighting in your gun off the bench is essential for ensuring it hits where aimed, but shooting from a sitting position, especially with a high-powered scope, is an entirely different matter. A typical set-up has the hunter, with knees drawn up close to serve as a rest, sitting against a tree. From this position there is a 120-degree shooting radius. Practising from this stance is critical for accuracy and in order to know your limits. Ranges beyond 150 yards(183 m) call for a bi-pod. Shoot when the animal is standing still. Be patient. Use a lip squeak or other sound to get it to stop.

Most predator hunters already know that total camouflage is a must. I believe that many times a coyote comes in and, from concealment, checks out the situation, sees something it doesn’t like, and disappears undetected. To be successful, predator hunters need everything in their favour. Try to be invisible.

Be conscious of wind direction. Your success depends on it. I hunt in two ways. If I’m calling a wood’s edge from open fields, I want the wind coming from the woods to me. Coyotes usually come to the edge, where I can get a clean shot. They don’t venture too far from cover, so they can’t get downwind. When calling in an abandoned pasture or meadow, I sit upwind and watch downwind.This means I often have to do some fast shooting before the quarry hits my scent line. It’s a situation where predators feel most comfortable showing themselves. A bit of cover scent, such as fox urine or skunk, helps.

I’ve come by these guidelines the hard way. Learn by your mistakes, too, and be open-minded about trying new techniques. It will make you more successful at the most challenging hunting anywhere.

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SIGHTING IN YOUR RIFLE

So you’ve acquired a new hunting rifle. After saving your hard-earned cash and landing permission from your other half, the gun rests in your hot little hands. It looks great, feels great… it probably smells great… but more importantly does it shoot great? Now its time to hit the range and get this baby sighted in.

Truth is the same holds true for rifles we’ve had for many years. Chances are they don’t require the full-meal-deal, but sighting in, confirming that our equipment is in good working order, or realigning sights is something we should do on a regular basis.

Unfortunately many of us try to kill two birds with one stone. We visit the range infrequently and attempt to sight in and practice shooting all at the same time. It’s important to remember, sighting is very different from regular shooting practice. The process of sighting in involves aligning the scope (or other sights) with the firearm when using a specific bullet and load. Shooting practice involves discharging and often experimenting with different positions to allow our bodies to grow accustomed to the form and function of shooting.

Believe it or not, many of us don’t sight in properly. It never ceases to amaze me how many hunters pick up their guns once or twice a year, assume it’s shooting straight and hit the woods without a second thought. As a professional outfitter I see it all the time. In fact, I’ve seen guests take it personally when, after arrival in camp, I ask them to take a few practice shots – just to make sure their gun is properly sighted in. As though I’m insinuating that they haven’t prepared for their hunt, once in a while I get a hunter who thinks I’m a control freak. Then the truth comes out. After a few shots it becomes obvious; better than half are inevitably in need of scope adjustments. Every one swears that they were shooting one-inch groups at home, but now their rifle requires major scope adjustments. In their defense, a multitude of things can happen to guns in transit. Blunt trauma to cases or directly to the scope itself can throw it way out of whack; hence the need to sight it.

To be honest many of us are guilty of not maintaining our rifle and scope. If you shoot regularly that’s one thing; you’re constantly checking it and tweaking the scope when necessary. In reality, most of us don’t. By in large, recreational hunters pick up their guns a few times each year. Whether you’re tuning a brand new rifle or confirming the accuracy of an old one, here are a few tips for sighting in:

1) Bore sight your rifle before shooting
This first step applies mostly to rifles and scopes that have a new marriage. The first time a scope is mounted to a rifle the gunsmith will usually use a bore sighting tool. This tool is used to approximately align the crosshairs of the scope with the rifle barrel. Unfortunately some folks erroneously rely on bore sighting alone to zero their gun. Remember bore sighting can be precise but most often it only approximates accuracy. If, when you visit the range, you discover that you’re not even hitting the paper at all, consider rough bore sighting your gun. Practical with bolt-action rifles, by removing the bolt, you can stand behind the gun, look through the barrel and center the target. Then without adjusting the gun, look through the scope and make the necessary adjustments to bring the crosshairs in alignment with the target. This should get you hitting the paper in no time, then you can move on to shooting.

2) Shoot from a stable platform and rest
To reliably confirm the accuracy of your rifle and scope, you must shoot from a rest. I’m not sure I should say this or not, but I will. To illustrate the naivety of some, I’ve actually witnessed guys trying to sight in their rifles at the range by shooting freehand from a standing position. Needless to say these are the guys that get frustrated because they’re not hitting anything.

Remember, when we’re sighting in our rifles we’re not testing our shooting skill, but rather the accuracy of the gun, scope and bullet being used. Our goal should be to eliminate or at least minimize human error and allow the equipment to do its thing. With this in mind, a stable shooting bench or table is always recommended. Most shooting ranges are furnished with suitable tables or benches and adjustable stools. If you’re using a portable bench, make sure it is resting level on solid ground. Likewise, it’s imperative to use a shooting rest. In my opinion a vice can be that much better. I really like MTM Case-Gard products (www.mtmcase-gard.com). They make a variety of shooting supplies that are both affordable and practical. Few of us exhibit perfect shooting form. By understanding the biomechanics involved with aiming, breathing, squeezing the trigger and following through we can better acknowledge how to eliminate torsion while shooting from a rest. By cradling the rifle fore-end on a rest or in a vice, we can align our sights with the downrange target and maintain that alignment for a long period of time. Then, by gently squeezing the trigger to discharge, we minimize our human influence thereby allowing the firearm to perform more or less on its own.

3) Begin at close range, then move out to 100 yards and further
I’ve heard much discussion about the standard 100 yard shot and arguably for most bore-sighted rifles, sighting in at that distance is fine. But talk to the pros and most will agree that you should begin at 25 yards if you want to do it right. Making adjustments at close range is easier than at longer distances. At 25 yards you’ll find it easier to acquire your target; it simply appears larger and is easier to center the crosshairs at this short distance. Inaccuracies are simpler to rectify and adjustments can be made quickly at that distance. Remember, inaccuracies are exaggerated that much more at greater downrange distances.

As you make your fine adjustments to your scope, be aware of the increments and don’t overdo it. For example, with my Leupold VXIII, one click = 1/4 inch adjustment. So, if my shots were hitting consistently two inches to the left of center, I would likely need to dial the adjustment eight clicks in that direction, then shoot another round of bullets. Some folks disagree, but in my opinion it is better to make subtle adjustments, then shoot to confirm that you are working toward the zero mark. As long as there are no fliers, a series of three shots is typically representative of where the gun is shooting. Although with today’s scopes I don’t believe it is as crucial, I still like to give it a firm tap to seat the crosshairs after each adjustment.

When your rifle and scope are in sync at 25 yards, move to 100 yards. Most big game rifle and bullet combinations that are sighted in a couple inches high at 100 yards will shoot a hair low at 25 yards – with most deer hunters this is considered ideal (e.g., I like my 300 Win Mag to be 2″ high at 100 yards). Once your rifle is sighted in, try shooting at 200, 300 and 400 yards to better learn how your rifle, scope and ammunition perform at greater distances.

4) Use the same ammunition that you plan to hunt with
Not all ammunition performs the same. Be sure to sight in your rifle with the load that you plan to hunt with. Ballistics of variable bullet weights and designs (not to mention manufacturers) will perform differently. For instance, Winchester Ammunition’s 150 grain Supreme Elite XP3 (www.winchester.com) will inevitably perform differently than Remington’s 180 grain Core-Lokt, PSP (www.remington.com) shot out of my 300 Winchester Magnum.

If you reload your own ammunition, then you’re likely acquainted with factors affecting bullet performance. Working the right load may take some trial and error, but the same applies – always sight in with the bullet and load you intend to hunt with.

5) Record and reference each shot
Sighting in can be as labor-intensive as you make it. As a rule, several items are required and several more make the job that much easier. As an absolute necessity, we require a table or bench, a shooting rest, our rifle, ammunition and a target. Beyond these basics, the job is much easier with a spotting scope, tripod, and additional targets along with a marker.

As you begin shooting, be sure to analyze and record each shot. I like to use a Bushnell Elite 15-45x 60 mm spotting scope (www.bushnell.com) mounted on a solid tripod. At 45 power magnification, I can see every detail on the downrange target. My scope allows me to closely assess where I hit in relation to where I aimed. Further, many shooters like to keep a matching target on the bench while they are shooting. By checking their shot, then marking it on the target beside them, they can better track their progressions to confirm any scope adjustments and accuracy. This eliminates much of the guessing about which shot was which.


Kevin Wilson is a freelance outdoors writer and professional big game & waterfowl guide/outfitter from Alberta, Canada. Confessing an obsession for big whitetails and bighorn sheep, he has hunted most North American big game species with either bow, muzzleloader, rifle or shotgun. Specializing in archery, freshwater fishing, waterfowl and big game hunting, his articles can be found in several well known outdoor publications across the U.S. and Canada. For more information on his outfitting services, visit www.venturenorthoutfitting.com.

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