More in Sports
River Valley Outdoors
I sat nursing my wounds after an exhausting hike, and began thinking about why I climb up and down mountains.
Of course, I like the view when I get to the top – and the trailside display to and from the mountain always provides plenty of fulfillment.
Besides the scenic views and exiting discoveries along the trails leading to the summit, hiking gets me in shape for the upcoming hunting season.
There, the cat’s out of the bag. I’m not really a hiker; I just use climbing mountains as an excuse to prepare for hunting season. Yes, I like walking through the woods, but I don’t think I’d go hiking up mountains if it weren’t for the approaching hunting season.
And being completely honest about it, I don’t do enough hiking to really prepare myself for some of the hunting situations that I get into. I hope to do more hiking the next few months to prepare for the physical demands of hunting.
Hunters should also get in plenty of shooting practice during the summer months. I get bored with the usual practice of shooting at paper targets, so I make a game of it with several different methods for adding fun to the session.
After sighting in on a paper target, I move on to what some call “reactionary” targets. Reactionary targets, like small blocks of wood, bounce around when hit and add a little excitement to the shooting session.
Balloon targets work great, too – some folks enjoy shooting targets that explode when hit. The most important thing to remember is safety, of course, but make sure to have fun at the same time.
Making up competitive shooting games adds a measure of healthy stress to the target practice sessions. I like adding a little competition to the game to imitate the pressure of a hunting situation.
Hunting shots can sometimes be fast and pressured, so practice must include adding the stress of speed to the game. One game I often use to increase my ability to shoot fast and accurate under pressure creates a fun way to spend an afternoon with a hunting friend.
Take 10 hunks of 2x4 pieces (approximately two inches long) and line them up at varying distances. Have a hunting companion line up at the firing line with you. The shooter on the right takes the five targets to the right, and the other shooter on the left takes the targets on the left. Count down (three, two, one) and begin attempting to take out your five targets (the wood blocks) as fast as you can. You only get five rounds to fire so the shots must be fired accurately or you lose points.
When the shooting is done the person with the most hits wins the game. When the two shooters finish at the same time the one with the most hits wins. If a tie occurs, shooters reset the targets, increase the distance by five paces and try it again.
The same game can be played with balloons. The main thing to remember in any shooting practice session is to follow all rules for safe shooting. Practicing shooting skills for hunting can be both fun and safe.
One game I’ve been enjoying the past several years, sporting clays, helps small game hunters with speed and accuracy.
In this shooting game hunters use shotguns to blast clay discs that are thrown in the air in varying directions. The angles and manner that the clay targets get tossed imitates what game animals might do in the woods. Hunters that become good at the game of sporting clays definitely will do better in the woods during the fall hunting season.
Hunters have a responsibility to make clean shots on game. Nobody wants to wound a game animal, allowing it to suffer. Better shooting skills instill a confidence in the hunter, also, as well as assuring a humane hunting effort.