LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) - Did you miss a shot at a deer in this last deer season? If so, you have plenty of company with other Arkansas hunters.
Chances are you have given thought to some shooting practice, and this is logical. Accuracy with a rifle comes through practice.
For this, a hunter can buy several boxes of ammunition for his or her deer rifle and head to the range. An alternative, and much less expensive, is to take a .22 -caliber rifle and plenty of ammo to the range.
Sure, the .22 is a gun you won't use in deer hunting, but it provides an easy and convenient means of improving your skills in shooting, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Truthfully, how much did you shoot between the 2009 deer season and the 2010 deer season? None? Just those three shots to "sight in" your deer rifle the day before the season opened?
OK, this can be changed. A shooting range makes a better and safer place to practice than putting up a target out in a field somewhere. A quick phone call to an AGFC regional office or to a sporting goods store will give you the location of a range open to the public in your area. In central Arkansas, the Dr. James E. Moore Jr. Camp Robinson Firing Range is on Clinton Road, just north of Arkansas Highway 89 east of Mayflower.
Shoot first with the aid of a bench rest. Using sand bags or a cradle will steady the rifle and remove the shaking element from the shot. With the use of the bench rest, the shooter can make sure the .22 is on target.
When satisfied that the rifle is shooting on target, practice from both sitting and standing positions. These are the ones you are most likely to use in deer hunting. The most accurate of the field-shooting positions is prone, but seldom will an Arkansas deer hunter have occasion to use this. The sitting position is what many deer-stand users and ground-blind hunters will take when a deer appears.
The standing position is the most difficult in which to hold a rifle steady. Practice will help this, however.
The steps in shooting a rifle after it is loaded are raising the firearm into position, moving the safety into the fire mode, sighting, breathing and squeezing, not pulling, the trigger.
Breathing? Yes, this is important.
The tried and true recommendation of experts, including military shooting instructors, is to take a breath, let out a comfortable amount of air, and then squeeze the trigger. It shouldn't be a deep breath, and the upcoming trigger squeeze should be smooth. Ideally, the rifle should fire before you realize it. However, many shooters familiar with their firearms may be able to anticipate when the trigger will break. Anticipating the firing can be a route to flinching, and this means a less-accurate shot. Therefore, shooters should concentrate on a proper follow through when the trigger breaks.
A result of a few sessions with a .22 rifle at a shooting range is that you will become much more accustomed to the feel and the routine of shooting a rifle. This practice will pay off when it's time to pick up the deer rifle.