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Without a doubt the majority of lost opportunities come from the delay in target "lock on" time. Way too many guys are obvious bench shooters when they come hunting. You can tell them pretty quick because when it's time to shoot they need to settle in and prepare for the 80 yard shot as if it were from the bench at 300 plus yards.

The comments about their rifle and skill capable of sub 1MOA groups at extreme range is of no use when you cannot make an improvised rest shot under 150, or a free hand shot out to 75! We don't use a bench rest for hunting.

After a few days of no shooting or lost opportunities the pressure begins to build and the poor fellow starts shooting with poor quality hurried shots and we then spend the days tracking wounded game. By this time we are half way through a safari and have had no shooting, poor shooting and possibly lost game which has made the pressure and sadness for the hunter even greater.

The very simple solution to this in any hunting I have experience with is to buy equipment and prepare yourself for the majority of situations not the extreme. By this I mean, the distance you shoot game most of the time. Lets face it, almost anyplace in the whole world and for most species you will be shooting well under 300 yards. Truth be told most would be under 200 yards. Sure there are extreme locations and species with longer range conditions but those are the very small minority of hunting trips.

Why then do so many folks prepare for the 400 plus yard shot and buy guns and scopes for this purpose? Why are so many hunters today focused on the outer limits of hunting reality? Why do so many prepare the loads guns and equipment so strongly for the 1 in a 1000 chance they will actually have this shot come up? The shots under 200 yards should be "point and shoot" with no thought needed to cleanly harvest the animal. These should be a given with no stress, risk, or effort. It should be a simple effortless shot.

However when you have your "lightning spewing" long range rifle with hyper velocity projectiles sighted in 4-5" high at 100 yards so you can reach out to 500 with out unreasonable holdover you end up with a high point in the trajectory of about 6-7" at 225 yards. Combine this with the uncomfortable freehand shooting because the rifle is heavy, they are not a frequent enough freehand shooter, and they have "freehand wobble" with the 5-6" rise in trajectory. This makes for horrible shot placement at closer range where the shot given should have been a no brainer. Adding another common problem with these typical hunters is a 50mm scope bell with a low stock causing difficult eye allignment and relief to get a quick scope picture and a magnification set to 10 power (or more) for the animal at 80 yards which can no way be located quickley in the scope. Not to mention the AO is set wrong on the bell of the scope and it's also out of focus! Add to this a bit of flinching and what have you got? Lots of tracking time in the bush.

Would it be better to have a light rifle, with moderate recoil easy to hold and shoot freehand. Zeroed for 200 yards or even 250 with a 2-3" high point in the trajectory and a 5" drop at 300 yards? This is a point and shoot setup. Add a fixed 4X, 6X , 2.5-8 scope or a 3-9 scope with a 40mm bell in the lowest rings possible. This allows a tightly planted cheek to stock fit with easy eye allignment. Combine the freehand practice and you have a winning setup for REAL hunting!

Try this. With rifle safe (unloaded) hold it in your hands and close your eyes. Raise the rifle and hold it to your face just as if you are going to shoot. Open your eye and see if you can look through the scope. Can you see the crosshairs perfectly clear? If not, the stock and scope mounts you have do not fit you properly. Your face should naturally fit to the stock so your eyes allign with the eye relief, and scope height. A little shuffle of the adjustment is fine but if you're not getting a bright clear view through the scope it's not correct for freehand shooting or "real hunting conditions".

What you have is a great bench rifle with a no limit sight time. Hey I don't claim to know everything about this stuff but I have been fortunate enough to see 1000's of animals hunted by folks with the best and worst equipment in the world. I have gained a lot from my 20 plus years of Professional Hunting. I freely share that info on the wonderful sights provided like this one. If folks have a specific application and they don't buy my opinions that's fine with me. I have no arguement with them and won't debate it. I have had a very high resolution of experiences with 100's of hunters. This is how my opinions were formed.

I firmly, and very strongly believe that the majority of hunters today prepare for the extreme rather then the majority. It's the number one reason for failure when hunting. All of the nit picking seating depths and special twists, enormous scopes and heavy fluted barrels are a joke in real hunting. If I have a guy who can shoot a 3" group at 100 yards and gets on target as quick as I point it out, we will whack a lot of game from Alaska to Africa. The folks with the fancy sub MOA target rifles will be fidgeting and screwing with rangefinders etc and blowing the short shots watching the game wander off on the long ones.

There have been a few folks who have really figured out the "right stuff" with long range capable shooting. They are the very small minority of hunters. Those few who have built the "right stuff" usually practice the right way. The problem is way to many read the articles about the 500 yard shooter and buy the same stuff or what they think is the right stuff. They forget the custom fitted stock or think it's a waste of money. Then don't practice enough the right way. They think what they have is right but the work was not put in to complete the program. Most of these folks also have 20-30 rilfes and scopes. All mixed and matched gear of which they are not familliar with any of it to the extent it is a no brainer to operate. Different safeties, different scopes, some with AO, some with reticles in different plains, different hold overs different handloads. Different zero points, These long range wannabe's are the biggest nightmare to a guide or PH.

They actually try for and deliberatley attempt the long shooting instead of making the easy stalk to a better or higher % shot. I have heard plenty of times when a guy shoots clear over the back of an animal at 100 yards " wow I fogot the trajectory of this rifle I am used to the "XYZ" rifle I use at home for blah blah blah. Well why not bring that rifle if it's what your used to? Do you realize how long it takes to become expert with a single cartridge and rifle? You should be shooting hundreds of rounds to become a perfect fit with a thoughless magic connection between you and the gun. How does anyone develope this with 10 or more rifles of different makes with different scopes and loads? Heck I have only 2 hunting rifles with identical trajectory and I still don't have the time I would like with both. I just had the 30/06 rebarreled by John Ricks because I had 3500 plus shots through it. When I pick up that 30/06 it's a magic wand of death to anything I see under 250 yards. And not all that lucky for the game out to 350 either. It takes a lot of time to get into the groove with a single rifle.
 

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Botched shots and lost shooting opportuniti

JJ,
Very well said. Those situations apply to just about anywhere in the world. Whether whitetail deer hunting in the south to dall sheep hunting in Alaska. There a few exceptions, but 1 in 1000 is about right.

Great post.

Most of my shooting is about 5-10% from the bench to sight in or develop loads, after that, I shoot clay pigeons at varying distances with "field supports and positions". I do tons of snap shooting off hand out to about 125 yards with paper plates. I take field rests and shoot clay pigeons to 200 yards and paper plates out to about 300 yards. I do use a rolled up jacket on a rock or log and shoot paper plates to 400, but have never taken a shot at animal that far, at least not in a long long time. I practice in sitting, kneeling and prone positions at "guessed" yardage that constitutes about 90-95% of my practice. Shooting from a bench is a great way to learn your rifle and loads, but isn't very helpful when the ram is walking away into oblivion at some unknown distance right at sunset and you've just finished climbing up 2,000' vertical outcrop.

I'd guess 80% or so of missed shots and opportunities are because of not being prepared to take the shot when it has to be taken. I know about 80% of my missed opportunities have been.

Great post.

YJ
 
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