Rifle Shooting Tips to Improve Hunting Success

Supporting a rifle while shooting on shooting sticks

Hunting season is finally here. You’ve been working hard all summer long and nothing is going to stop you from bagging that bug buck this season. But let’s be honest, no matter how much you have practiced and prepared, sometimes even the best shooters have bad days. We all get excited when we have a big buck walk out in front of us. Our heart begins to race, our palms begin to sweat and we start to get tunnel vision as we look at that big ole rack. Knowing what to do next can be the difference between venison stew and tag soup. Below are four tips to help you tag out and overcome “buck fever” this season.

Rest in Peace

The adrenaline rush that comes with seeing a big buck is unbelievable. It allows you to focus on the task at hand while keeping distractions at bay. Unfortunately it can also lead to uncontrollable shaking which does not translate into hitting a target. If you are attempting to shoot free handed this will lead to a disaster, unless you find a way to steady yourself and your rifle.

There are several shooting positions that can be helpful in stabilizing your rifle for the shot; such as the prone, sitting, or kneeling positions. Most of these shots are not practical in the field as they require, in some form or another, coming into contact with the ground. If this is not an option for you, your best bet is to find a tree, rock or even a pair of shooting sticks to rest your rifle on to steady your aim and allow you to hit your target. A word of warning, avoid resting the barrel directly on a hard surface as this will have a negative effect on accuracy. Try and place some type of padding, like a jacket, gloves or hat, between the rifle and the hard surface and fire away.

Waiting to Exhale

Rifle shooting tips: breathing matters

Even when you are as calm as can be, breathing can affect your shot placement with each heave of the chest. The rhythmic breathing elevates and lowers your rifle barrel mere millimeters. Those millimeters, over the course of a hundred or so yards, can add up to a missed shot.

When you are ready to fire, draw a deep breath and then exhale, stopping about halfway through. This stops the barrel movement just long enough for you to get a shot off. Holding your breath, squeeze the trigger.

Don’t be a Jerk

Rifle shooting tips: squeeze dont pull

You’ve found a proper rest and you’ve taken a deep breath; it’s time to pull the trigger, except it’s not. Pulling the trigger is the last thing you want to do. Sudden movements can throw the crosshairs or sights off the target. It’s far better to slowly and steadily squeeze the trigger until the guns fires. Following in that line of thought you should not try and anticipate the gun going off as you pull the trigger which can lead your muscles pulling or jerking the muzzle to the side. If you squeeze the trigger properly it should almost surprise you when it goes off. Make sure not to flinch, keep your eyes open and on the target so that you know if you hit the mark or not.

Follow Through with It

rifle shooting tips: follow through

There is one final thing that can affect the path of your bullet before it finds its target and that is following through with your shot. Just like in basketball the proper shot mechanics and what you do after you shoot have an impact on your ability to hit what you are aiming at. Once you squeeze that trigger keep squeezing the trigger and keep your head down, looking through your scope or down the sights. This will help ensure that you don’t pull the rifle up ever-so-slightly when you try and raise your head to see if you made a good shot on that big buck. Keep that head down and your eyes on the prize and you’ll be amazed at how accurate you will become.

Guest Blogger Shawn McCardell

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