Thursday, May 27, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Reactive Target Shooting

By John Simeone

“Always quit on a good shot.”.....Dave Miller

It can be anything from plinking in a dirt pit to formal metallic silhouette shooting, but when you get to whack something with your rifle or pistol and you see the results it makes for a better shooter. Why? Because its fun.

Now this has been around a long time, while only the imagination and safety should dictate the target. I see many Dad's at the range training their kids on a simple paper target. Sure its fun but it gets old after a while for a new young shooter. My job at the Ft Polk Shooting Range is to make the shooting sports fun for the whole family. So periodically Aunt Sandy and I head to the range just to draw a crowd, and have some fun.

The first rifle out of the truck was Aunt Sandy's Marlin Model 60 P, in Pink Camo, with the Redfield Scope. I fired a couple of test shots, and swung over to the Birchwood Casey sight and glow target about two inches in diameter. The first shot cut the tiny Red dot in the middle and glowed back at us instantly. No reason to shoot anymore, it was Sandy's rifle so I turned the show over to her.

In rapid fire she shot the center out of the target for all to see, put the gun on safe and said with that cute little lisp of hers, “I need some more bullets,” the Range Mother had arrived.\

The next fun shot was to zero the Pink Tiger, sure enough all the women came down to see if a woman could really shoot the powerful 44 Magnum rifle. Of course the truth is you can hardly feel it kick. A pinwheel shot on the tiny sight and glow target confirmed her zero for all to see. Next was the real fun shot, the water filled plastic milk jugs. I lectured that the rifle displays excellent accuracy so now watch what it will do when it hits. The Water filled jug is a good representation of what the 225 grain Hornady Flextip bullet will do when it strikes a game target. You get what we call DRT, (dead right there.)

This was one of those perfectly timed photographs, as the gun and the camera went off at the same time, showing the perfect hit as water sprayed in all directions. This reactive target demonstration left no question in the minds of the onlookers what the Pink Tiger was all about. Then we showed everyone how to make one for less than $250.

Some of the more learned shooters were interested in my CZ-452 in 22 long rifle. I demonstrated the usage of two bullet brands that I have been using for years. I fired 5 shots on one target with CCI Blazer which is our standard Practice and Metallic Silhouette round, and then 5 shots with the Wolf Match Extra that is our top target round. Although both groups were superior, the Wolf ammo showed amazing results, the kinds that win world class matches. All of this could be seen by the spectators without going down range.

The reactionary targets can be a real time saver when you are a long range shooter and need to test ammunition and make scope adjustment without going down range. The talented sharpshooter Adam Rubin showed us the magnificent accuracy of the Remington 700 XCR compact tactical rifle, with a Nightforce 12X42X56 bench rest scope. It was a. .223 Remington shooting Fiocchi 69 grain Sierra Matchking BTHP. He recorded a 1 and 1/8 inch, 5 shot group at 300 yards. That means Adam can whack a golf ball any time he wants to at that range.

Aunt Sandy felt it was time to give me a challenge and got out the playing cards as I uncased the Marlin 1897 Cowboy, my long-barreled iron sighted 22 demo gun. “You can't do it in 5,” she said.

I announced, “I’m a fixin to do me some shootin.” Then I surprised myself as much as everyone else by splitting the card with the first try with an offhand 20 yard shot. Rapid Fire Sandy then took out the other two cards shooting from double tapping from the bench, “Hey that ain't right.” For the record this in not an impossible shot, it is a highly difficult shot anyway you try it, that when accomplished gives the shooter some real bragging rights.

The rest of the day was spent shooting old shotgun hulls all the way out to 100 yards. This is about as cheap a target as it gets for the “Aim Small Miss Small” 22 shooters. I use this reactionary target instead of digging out the small bore metallic silhouettes, noting if you can hit a 12 gauge shell at 100 yards off hand with the 22, a small bore Ram target is not a problem. Anyway good practice.

Being spoiled rotten for reactionary targets our pistol range has a full complement of steel plate and gong targets for the handgun shooter. Lou Ellison's, “Flyswatter Target” is for the close rage 22 shooter with a scope. You can see the bullet hit each fly at 25 yards making this a real challenge.

Jim Callaway came up with a devise for Black Powder shooters that lets you split a musket ball on an ax blade and hit two targets on either side. Then we have our long range gong targets at 500 yards. The ultimate 500 yard target is “Skeet Shooting”that's right, our long range shooters, readily pick of clay pigeon on the berm, using everything from elaborate sniper and long range hunting rigs to WWII M1 Garands with iron sights. The tiny orange dots just disappear in a dust cloud when the Ft Polk Sharpshooters decide to go for the long shot.

So it is moor than just punching a hole in a piece of paper and making a sight adjustment. Reactive Target shooting brings out that special inner ego and personal satisfaction that makes the shooter whatever the discipline, just plain better. So now you know what it is all about, imagination and setup. The next time you go to your own range have a little fun on reactionary targets and remember Dave Miller's words, “Always quit on a good shot.” Pass it on.

Read More About Guns And Ammunition for Hunting
Thursday, May 20, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Bad Weather Hunting -- and Why it Works

by Naomi K. Shapiro

When inclement weather strikes, 90 per cent of hunters in the woods will turn tail and run for home. On the contrary, guide Phil Schweik says. Unless the weather is life threatening, it's the best time for you to be in the woods. Phil says that he has taken more deer, wild turkey, and other game animals in adverse weather conditions than when it's "blue sky and apple pie." First off, take wind out of the equation. If it's blowing like a "nor'easter," the animals will hunker down – and that's when Phil heads for a local diner and enjoys a cup of Joe, keeping his eye on the weather. We're talking about hunting when there's rain, snow, or an incoming or outgoing storm or front.

Watch The Video and Listen to this bird gobble at the thunder durring a rainy day hunt.

What happens when you have fronts or weather systems coming into an area is that the animals sense that and they become far more active. Now, unlike people, who look for cover and shelter, the animals move around in the woods. The savvy hunter who understands this prepares himself (or herself), and who can withstand the weather conditions can take advantage of some of the best hunting of the year.

Take into consideration adverse weather when choosing clothing and gear. Take QUIET rain gear so you're silent and blend in with the environment. Then, use a ground blind. You're out of the weather and still can hunt very capably. Indeed, hunters will stock up with vittles and NON-ALCOHOLIC liquids, bring along one of those little portable heaters, and sit out the storm in comfort, waiting for that big buck to come in.

When there's nice weather, there are lots of hunters in the woods... deer recognize this and hunker down. When it's adverse weather, the deer sense that people go home, so they move around since there is a lack of human presence. And Phil Schweik says, "the worse the weather, the more animal movement there is." If a deer senses an incoming storm, it will want to immediately stoke up on food and be prepared to hunker down AFTER it feeds. It's nervous. It doesn't want to be deprived of food. It moves around scarfing down what it can find, and to heck with everything else. That's when YOU want to be "right there."

Another thing to note is that bad weather means cloud cover and darker conditions during daylight hours. Deer normally move early morning and early evening, when "low light" is their backdrop. With a storm rolling in or present, it's darker, so the envelope for low light deer movement exponentially increases.

Then, use your common sense. If you see a front or storm moving in, set up in your most opportune hunting spot and "wait." Don't be moving around looking to set up once the storm has arrived. Do it beforehand and you'll be ready for that biggest buck in the woods to make a mistake and meander into your area – and Phil Schweik says it happens all the time -- usually to the savvy hunter who knows about the positive results of being out in adverse weather.

So, next time you see bad weather coming in, forget the comforts of home or the corner bar, and don't turn tail and run in. Everything will still be there AFTER you've nailed that trophy buck. Remember, bad weather is one of the best times to be in the woods.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Best, Most Ethical "Kill Zones" On a Whitetail

When you're deer hunting -- bow or gun – it's very important that you make a clean, ethical kill. You don't want to be the hunter who wounds a deer, which means you may have to trek for miles, and for hours, and may end up never finding it – AND, the deer will have to endure a long, agonizing death. That means you want an accurate shot that kills the animal immediately.

For a clean, ethical kill, almost all hunters aim for the chest area. That's the cavity that holds the heart and other major vital organs. There is a simple procedure which will maximize your chances of making a perfect kill shot:

You want to target the animal as it walks past, and "quarters" away from you. If you do this (you're shooting at an angle) by aiming at the front third of the body, the projectile – arrow or bullet -- will almost always stand the best chance of ending up in the chest cavity vital organ area.

What you don't want to do is shoot a deer broadside -- as it stands in front of you. If you shoot broadside, there's a better-than-even chance that your arrow or bullet may be just a tad forward or back of the vital organ portion of the chest cavity – and that means you'll just wing or wound the deer. The "angle" shot done while the deer is "quartering" past you is your best choice by far.

Here are some specific examples of why shooting choices other than the "quartering shot" when deer hunting are not as successful:
  • If you shoot broadside, particularly with a bow, your arrow may be partially deflected by the protective bone of the shoulder blade or rib cage because of hitting the wrong spot, or the bow not being powerful enough to drive the arrow through bone structure.
  • If a deer is facing you, again particularly with a bow shot, there is the brisket area with bones, and these bones are simply too hard to pass through and get to the vital area.
  • With a rear or hind quarter shot, there is simply too much distance for the projectile to travel, and/or can be deflected by bone, preventing it from reaching the vital cavity area.
  • With a "straight down shot" from a tree stand (according to guide Phil Schweik this is the least likely shot to be successful), you may very well paralyze the deer by hitting it straight in the backbone -- and that's fine, except that this area is so small that it's almost always missed, and then you're just going to wound the deer.
  • As for a head or neck shot, guide Schweik wouldn't ever advise taking it. It's just too easy to make an error, and the head vital areas are so small that you're almost assured of ending up just wounding the animal; and in the facial area, this shot will cause the deer to suffer immeasurable pain.
We use the term "ethical-kill-shot," because hunters, we believe, are obligated to cause as little suffering as possible in the animals they hunt – and, in addition, making a clean kill means YOU won't have to spend hours – even days – trekking the woods looking for your deer -- and maybe never finding it!

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