For many hunters, summertime finds us camping, boating, fishing and doing a myriad of other outdoor activities with our friends and families. It’s easy to fall out of our regular shooting habits by assuming we have plenty of time to pick up our bows or guns before hunting season this fall. Truth is, hunting season usually surprises us all by arriving quite suddenly, and hunters often do the “last minute” scramble to assemble their gear, tune up their bows and sight-in their guns. Don’t get caught trying to play “catch up” at the end of August! Plan now to shoot regularly all summer.
Make it priority this summer to maintain a regular shooting schedule which will enable you to be more relaxed and confident when season opens in the fall. Whether your calendar allows for weekly sessions or daily outings, commit yourself to the task now. Better yet, get the entire family involved! Doing so will almost certainly guarantee you’ll stick to the schedule while creating some great family time together. Shoot in your backyard or woods; attend 3D shoots, sign up for summer shooting leagues or simply visit the local gun range regularly. Unless you’re shooting at a large tournament, most of your shooting can easily be finished in an hour or two, leaving the rest of the day for other summer activities. For a fun outing, consider inviting other friends and families who hunt and make a day of it with some shooting followed by a picnic at the park or beach.
By shooting regularly throughout the summer, not only will you see your consistency improve, you’ll see improvement in shot placement and judging distances. Both your form and strength will be enhanced; also a good reason to bring young or new hunters along. This is a great time to help build confidence in new hunters and prepare them for the fall. Shooting is a great time to discuss shot placement, shot distances and to instruct others on when the best time to execute a shot is. Use this time to instruct new hunters on what to do after the shot also. What to watch for, how to “mark” where the animal was standing at the time of the shot, how to record what direction the animal went after the shot, whether or not to take a follow up shot, and to begin teaching them about tracking an animal and recovering an animal. It’s a great time to review safety procedures so they become second-nature by the time season opens.
Remember to check your gear each time you shoot. Keep your hunting tools in top shape by keeping them clean, doing maintenance checks and promptly repairing any parts that appear worn or faulty. The off season is a wonderful time to teach maintenance and cleaning routines to new hunters also. You have more time to do so now and it teaches them essential procedures they will remember and use for life.
Taking action now to guarantee your shooting skills remain sharp will translate into a hunting season full of anticipation and confidence, and hopefully, a freezer full of game.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!