When planning any major hunt, it can be easy to get caught up thinking about travel plans and what gear you’re bringing. But don’t forget the most important part. It is critical that you spend time practicing with your rifle! Don’t wait to check your rifle until the final week before your trip. Practice starts early so that you can truly prepare to hunt.
1. Step Away From the Bench Rest
Assuming that your rifle is already sighted in accurately, your next step is getting some real practice. Step away from the shooting bench and begin practicing in more realistic shooting positions. Try shooting offhand, on one knee, in a sitting position, and in the prone position. Here in the widely varied terrain of northern British Columbia, you never know what a shot opportunity is going to present. Being ready and confident in a number of positions will be a tremendous advantage.
If you use any shooting accessories like a bipod or sticks, you never want to show up on a hunt without having given them plenty of practice. If possible, go take a walk out somewhere near your home and practice using these items on the side of a steep bank or in other realistic positions. Make sure that you’re comfortable and that you can deploy them quickly.
2. Practice In Your Hunting Gear
Next, it’s time to practice in your hunting gear, including your clothing, binocular harness, backpack and any other accessories that might get in the way. Practice in the same positions we’ve already mentioned, but now do it with the rest of your hunting gear. See how quickly you can get into position, steady your rifle, and make the shot.
On a B.C. hunting trip, you can expect to be wearing your rain gear at least part of the time. And with the unpredictable weather here, there are times you might be totally bundled up. That really changes things from practicing at the rifle range in a t-shirt. Save yourself the frustration in the field and iron out those issues now.
3. Elevate Your Heart Rate
When you find yourself comfortable shooting in multiple positions and while wearing your hunting gear, it’s time to make the situations even more realistic. When you’re leveling your crosshairs on that giant moose, mountain caribou or mountain goat, there’s a good chance your heart will be pounding. You might be out of breath from a climb up a steep ridge, or from trying to move quickly through spruce or willow thickets. No matter the situation, practicing with an elevated heart rate will allow you to be more steady and confident when that critical moment comes.
Do whatever you can to elevate your heart rate just before taking a shot. If you have a place where it’s possible, run sprints between shots. If you don’t have that much space, try burpees or jumping jacks for one minute and then settling in for a shot.
After investing so much time, resource and energy on an awesome hunting experience, make sure that you’re ready for that one critical moment of the hunt. Take time over the next several months and show up for your hunt this fall feeling confident in your ability to make a shot, even under tough circumstances.
Written by Ryan McSparran
Ryan McSparran is an outdoor writer, a hunting and fly fishing guide, and very proud to be a part of the Kawdy Outfitters team.