If you’ve been missing every shot you line up while hunting, chances are you’re doing something wrong. Perhaps you haven’t practiced enough, or maybe your equipment isn’t suitable to your physique. Whatever the case, a good hunter should be able to make nine shots out of ten without significant preparation, so keep this goal in mind for the future.
1. Target Only Vital Organs
Many novice hunters will say, “But I can’t aim that well on my best day!” My advice: Get so that you can aim that well, and your shot placement while hunting will increase significantly. If you learn how to shoot by putting your bullet where you aim every time, you’ll spend more time looking for more game than tracking wounded animals through the forest. Shots to the heart, lungs and liver are best, though major arteries will also drop an animal quickly.
2. Wait for the Right Position
You’ll get better shot placement while hunting if you consider not only where you want to hit the animal, but also how best to accomplish this goal. Your basic heart and lung shots are easiest when facing the broad side of the animal, with his head quartered away from you. Most animals will give you this shot at some point during your hunting day, and waiting for it is worth the effort. Novices often wait to shoot the animal head-on, which is much harder.
3. Learn Some Anatomy
No matter what type of game you’re hunting, you’ll get better shot placement if you understand the anatomy and physiology of the game you’re hunting. You’ll set up each shot differently if you’re hunting deer than if you were hunting turkey, and the same goes for every other type of game animal. For example, elk hunting requires that you consider the strong bones of their chest, ribs and sternum, which can impact how you place a lung or heart shot.
4. Don’t Attempt Running Shots
In most cases, it is not necessary to shoot a game animal while it is running—or even walking, for that matter. You’ll get far better shot placement while hunting if you wait until the animal is completely stationary, and preferably focused on eating or some other activity. This gives you time to set up the correct shot, prepare yourself, and adjust your sights accordingly.
5. Maintain Your Equipment
You can be the best shot in three counties, but you’ll miss every time if you don’t properly care for your equipment. Make sure that all of your weapons are well-oiled and cleaned, and don’t hesitate to have a professional look them over before hunting season starts. Store them in a cool, ventilated, dry area of your home when not in use. These precautionary tactics will ensure that your equipment is there for you when you’re ready to use it.
6. Practice on New Weapons
The last thing you want to do with a new rifle is take it hunting. Your shot placement will be significantly off because you’ll be used to whatever you were shooting before, and then you’ve ruined a perfectly good hunting trip. Instead, practice on new weapons before you use them in the field until they feel like an extension of your own body. Then, test them in the field only after you’re assured of its accuracy.