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Accurate Hunter

By Craig Boddington — With practice, you can significantly reduce that wobble, but it’s always going to be there. In field shooting, where “almost” isn’t good enough, this is what limits the range and utility of the kneeling position. Understanding this, and understanding there are no range rules in the field, the kneeling position is ripe for modification, and when modified, may be even more useful than sitting.
By Craig Boddington — When hunting alone, the outcome of any approach, opportunity, or shot is altogether between the hunter and his or her reflection in the mirror. When hunting with a guide or buddy, there might be a couple of witnesses, but ours is mostly a solitary pursuit. For many, meat on the table remains a primary and valid motivation to hunt. Today’s hunters are guided more by conscience, sense of ethics, and the drive to perform well.
By Craig Boddington — Despite the current rage for long-range shooting it’s important to remember that close shots can occur almost anywhere. Bowhunters deal with this routinely; despite the challenge, they get close! Primarily a rifle hunter, I’m usually prepared for a longish shot, but I ascribe to the motto, “Get as close as you can, then get ten yards closer!”
Building your house doesn’t have to be a large or fancy house, but what this means is use what you have to get as steady as possible—in the time available.
By Craig Boddington — Under certain conditions, I enjoy hunting with iron sights, which parallels using archery tackle, handguns, and muzzleloaders: You’re consciously surrendering range and losing critical first- and last-light capability. If you can’t see, you definitely can’t shoot.
By Craig Boddington — While bench shooting has little to do with shooting from field positions, it is excellent training for shooting basics such as breath control and smooth trigger press. Focus on holding that last breath, and maintain a smooth, consistent trigger press so the shot goes with the crosshair dead steady on the aiming point. If you run out of air before you get the shot off, relax and start over! Follow-through is important: The trigger squeeze doesn’t end until the bullet exits the barrel, so maintain trigger pressure throughout the shot.
I was pronghorn hunting, walking through rolling sage, when a coyote came out of a little draw and trotted across my view. I flopped down to shoot prone...
By Craig Boddington — Today’s interest in extreme-range shooting cannot be ignored. I have not tried to ignore it; I love to ring steel way out there. I don’t profess to be particularly adept at it, but with an early background in prairie dog shooting, I’m pretty good at calling wind. Thing is, both ringing steel and shooting prairie dogs are hit-or-miss propositions, and the results are “no harm, no foul.” Shooting at big game is a different deal.
By Craig Boddington — Without question the most accurate shooting can be done from a steady benchrest. Prairie dog shooters take portable benchrests to the field, but big-game hunters can’t do that. You must do the best with what you have to work with, and I believe the basics for almost all extemporaneous field shooting are found in the formal NRA positions: Prone, kneeling, sitting, standing.
By Craig Boddington — Field shooting is rarely done on a level, manicured range—and probably not often on a freshly mowed golf course. If you can lie prone to shoot, you probably should. However, all too often you have to get high enough to shoot over low brush or terrain roll. Over the years I’ve found the sitting position one of the most useful, and with practice, almost as steady as prone.
By Craig Boddington — There are no benchrests in the field, but when available, a sturdy, natural rest is the next best thing. We’ve discussed the four classic shooting positions: prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing. We’re not going to throw these out the window. In the field, the goal is to get as steady as possible and make the shot, so these positions can be endlessly modified. They are best enhanced by a solid natural rest that you can lie, sit, kneel or stand against.
By Craig Boddington — It’s hard to say exactly where shooting sticks were developed. Perhaps simultaneously all over the place—because they work so well! The image of the circa 1875 bison hunter with his big single shot rested over crossed sticks is part of the legend of the Old West. In the mountains of Europe I’ve noticed that a lot of jaegers use their hiking staffs to steady both spotting scopes and rifles. And of course the three-legged shooting sticks are almost universal in Africa.
By Craig Boddington — The larger your repertoire of how to get steady—fast—the more consistently successful your field shooting will be. That said, it is almost inevitable that, over time, you will develop a default setting, a position or setup that is your preferred option when possible…and thus unconsciously sought no matter how many other options might be available.
By Craig Boddington — These days, long-range shooting is “in.” It is not my place to suggest to anyone how far he or she should or shouldn’t shoot, but honestly, I’m a bit horrified by the shooting distances thrown around these days. From the media, it would be easy to get the idea that shooting at game animals at a half-mile and more has become routine.
By Craig Boddington — Ethical hunting dictates that any shot at game should only be taken when the hunter is reasonably certain of a hit in the vital zone. A hope and a prayer “Hail-Mary” shot doesn’t cut it, regardless of circumstances. However, I think it’s unreasonable to limit oneself to stationary shots altogether; it always depends on the circumstances and on the shooter’s experience and expertise.
By Craig Boddington — Long-range shooting is hardly new. Long-range competition was popular in the 19th century, but field shooting at longer ranges was unusual. The accuracy was there, and optics, though less common, existed. Telescopes, binoculars, and riflescopes saw use in our Civil War, and a few of the bison hunters used scoped rifles. But there’s a big difference between a target on a surveyed “known distance” range and an animal standing “somewhere out there.”
By Craig Boddington — Optics have improved dramatically during my career. I’m a child of the scope era, but when I started hunting, we used fixed-power scopes because variable-power scopes weren’t yet perfected: shifts in point of impact were normal with changes in magnification. Reliable variables have been with us since the 1970s, but for many years the practical limit was about “three-times-zoom.”
By Craig Boddington — Traditional rifle competition is based on the four “NRA” positions of prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing. Always and forever, these form a good basis for all rifle shooting. However, hunting is our focus here, and there is no rulebook for field-shooting positions. What matters: Get steady enough to make the shot count.
By Craig Boddington — It takes a lot of shooting to validate all the data and to gain confidence, skill, and speed. And guess what: all that hard-earned data is valid for only one load, and realistically, one set of atmospheric conditions! Change the load and you need to start over! But the tools we have today are amazing.
Sometimes there’s just no option but to stand and shoot. Range is much more limited from an unsupported standing position, but with a bit of practice most shooters should be able to handle such a shot.
Accurate Hunter By Craig Boddington, B&C Professional Member I almost always carry at least a light pack, so using it for a shooting rest is one of my favorite options. Depending on what is available to set it on, a pack can be used in almost unlimited ways to aid steadiness. Excerpt from...

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