I think the best practice is to actually practice with each rifle you own. You cant expect to achieve the same results with every rifle you own or use
Take for example a 22RF, Virtually no felt recoil, Shoot this rifle off sticks at say 50 yards then swap the rifle for a 243 or 308 & try the same thing Not only the felt recoil will have an effect but take into account different trigger pulls, weight, type of rifle etc etc & these can all have an effect on your shooting ability with each rifle.
I own a few rifles but always tend to take the same rifle out every time, I know i can achieve the best results with this rifle time after time so i really have no need to take any other
I have tried this theory with my own rifles on the range, My steyr 243 with set trigger, I can punch holes the size of my finger nail with 5 rounds every time at 100 yards, My Tikka T3 in .223, spit rounds in a "3 group until i get used to the feel of the rifle again & only then does it pull in to the "1 mark at 100 yards
I agree i practice with the rifle i shoot and most times after stalking it gives me confidence the next time out and means i have used all the available time while out. I shoot off sticks or free hand and practice this all the time .I will take a steadier rest if i feel my rifle is not holding its zero.
Shoot the .22 a lot to practise my of hand shooting.
Running moose range through out the summer. Easy to go through 50 rounds in a session shooting that.
3 ranges within half an hour of my place where i can shoot clays the rifle and the .22 or slug at the small game running target (,boar Roe target).
Like to try and shoot sporting clays at least once a fortnight.
if i'm off stalking i allways put a few through the 6.5 before i go as i don't shoot it very often, if im out with the .223 i just stick one through it to make sure it's on.
If i haven't shot for a week or if i've been using the shotgun i take one of the centerfires out for a shot at a coke can or similar (not so frequently now due to the cost of ammo)
A while ago i sold my .22 and bought a .17hmr, i noticed my off hand shooting went crap so i bought another.
I allways found practicing with a different calibre is better than not practicing at all and an airgun is very different to a rifle but it helps to keep the urge to go shooting at bay (a few pellets at a empty 12 bore case helps relive stress as well as anything)
Unfortunately I don't the opportunity to exercise a lot of what I have learnt about this due to money restraints but this is a bit of what I have picked up (mainly through competition clay shooting but it applies just as well to any form of shooting) First of all, forget the phrase 'practice makes perfect'
Any parctice method that is worth doing should start with the only slightly, but importantly different, 'perfect practice makes perfect'
I would forget what gun you take out, the aim must be to get to the desired level with each gun you have. (Not always possible for a good many reasons but that is the starting point.) If you can't practice to the required level with all your guns use just one for as much as possible. We all love to use different guns but get to know one as best you can. I have a very 'one gun - one cartridge' mentality.
I will admit here that I have guns coming out of ears but out of four shotguns in my safe you will find my trusty old Beretta in my hand 95% of the time and it probably fires 99.9% of the shots. I trust it, know how it works an have 100% confidence in it. Rifle wise I only have a 22LR and .243 so they have their very specific purposes.
First thing to do, is set up your practice session so you know what you're doing. No point blindly firing expensive ammunition for no gain.
Fortunately with a rifle there are a good few less variables than with moving targets. I would set up a tin can or similar and at 10 yards standing, pop it. back to 20 yds, pop it, 50 yds, pop it. etc etc. do this standing, free hand until you miss. when you miss try again until you hit it. back 10 yards do it again. Eventually, over time you will find you are getting further an further away without realising it. Do this for each shooting position as appropriate. If you are in your comfort zone say shooting prone you start at 50 yds, get to 60 yds but at 70 yds you miss when you would normally expect a gauranteed hit out to 90, stop, back to 50 and start again. You can set up appropriate tests for each rifle, with your stalkig rifle maybe sart at 25 yds free hand, 50 yds off sticks and 100 yds prone as your starting skill and shooting position dictates. Once you have shot a full series say prone shooting at a target with stalking rifle at 75, 100, 125, 150, 175 & 200 and have a succession of one shot hits, Stop you can do that. Move on. Anyone can lay on a range at 50 yds punching holes in a paper target all day and it will get you exactly nowhere.
My old uni coach would have me shoot a clay target where I wanted. Now shoot it 5 yards quicker, 5 yards quicker, 5 yards quicker, miss. back to the beginning and quicker, quicker, quicker until he decided it was too quick. then back to the middle. Slower, slower, slower until it was well out of range. right you can hit that, back five yards! we even used to work a grid system, that was hard work!
Practice what you can't do, make it hard for yourself, shooting off sticks at 100 yards, 150 yards etc. You will find that your technique will improve slowly and allow to consistently shoot at ranges and from positions that you didn't think possible.I'm not gettig into a debate over the rights and wrongs of shooting off sticks at 150 yards as its to each individual to decide where their level of competence is not sufficient to ensure a humane kill.
Finally, If you can't do something ask someone who knows to help and enjoy your practice. Its not a chore!
I am far from an expert in stalking and matters of training but I have learnt how to practice my shooting and it works for me. Unfortunately as I say certainly my shotgunning is starting to slip through lack of practice now but my rifle shooting as I am doing a bit more is improving no end.
This has turned into a bit of an article but I hope it is something to think on and it might even help a bit!
I joined a local club
and enjoy firing all my kit Have 24/7 access to 100 pipe range full bore, outdoor range from pellets to full bore , new 50 yd for .22rf and sub Cal's, a cracking set up for clays, If I am going out I check zero prior to each outing no pressure and in my own time , plenty of chaps who have a wealth of advise and experience. I personally like to practice all positions(some not even in the Kama Sutra) . Practice makes Perfick! or as damn close as you can get Must try reloading as I have a shed load of carts ,. Swampy has already kindly agreed to mentor me on that just cause!.So far practice has paid dividends, I am more confident as I know each weapons capabilities, and Thus far my beasts have gone not knowing what hit em!Which I feel is the goal of our sport, humane cull on every occasion.(BUT) I try not to be complacent.
Thanks for the responses, it is quite interesting. There seems to be a tendency to practice with the rifle you are going to use for hunting, correct?
Steyr: I'm confused a little about the effects of "felt recoil" on marksmanship practice. I don't usually feel recoil when I'm shooting at game.~Muir
I practice a lot with my .22LR, newer counted but buy ammo in cases for it. I da have small private range near my home and have hung up various steeltargets at distances from 15 to 120 meters.
For the heavier stuff I go to the proper range, all sigthing-in done prone with a military sling. For the practice I try to shoot as much as possible sitting, kneeling and standing, as thats the way one have to shoot if one wants to bag a norwegian deer. Never liked sticks, but guess it has to do with getting used to them.
Our range has distances from 0 to approx 340meters.
Nope. Of the 4 Principles of Marksmanship only the last one involves actually firing the thing and even then you still need to be able to follow through and call the shot. You can get a shed load of benefit from simply handling your rifle and dry practice.
Frankly a monkey can make a rifle go bang - didn't a spaniel shoot his owner a year or so ago? It's the application of all the other stuff in all the different positions and conditions that sorts out the monkeys from real riflepersons - don't want to offend anyone!
I currently use a five and a half inch barreled, double action Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum for my mainstay deer gun. I have, in the past, used Thompson Center Contender single shots in various calibers as well as an assortment of .357 Magnum Revolvers. I gave up the pistol-chambered-for-rifle-cartridge idea I was hung up on in my Thompson Center days. Now I like it a little more traditional and personal so I stick with traditional calibers and revolvers
My self imposed maximum for .44 magnum mule deer is 70 yards, elk would need to be around 50 yards with the .44 and a 250 grain bullet. I have yet to shoot an elk with the .44 but I would like to. I have killed deer with the .44 as well as the .357 Magnum. In fact, the first deer I ever killed with a handgun was with a Ruger Blackhawk, 4 5/8" barreled single action. I was walking down to a copse of trees I was planning to set up in and the deer stood up out of a small patch of scrub-oak brush. I drew and fired pretty much from the hip at about 12 feet hitting behind the left shoulder. The deer dropped and started to roll back onto it's feet when I put a second round into it's neck, finishing the matter. "Well" I thought, "that was easy!" It took many years of hard hunting with little reward to get that notion out of my head!
I recently bought a vintage (used) S&W Model 27 .357 magnum with an 8 3/8" barrel. This is probably the finest quality revolver anyone ever made and I have wanted one for many years before finding this one. Accordingly, I will probably use it for whitetail deer this fall, hunting along the Big Horn River country here in Montana. I will use a 160 grain RCBS lead bullet at around 1600 fps.
Of course, all shooting is off hand as any form of sticks would be too cumbersome to manage with the handgun. This necessitates a lot of practice for which I cast my own bullets. I truly love hunting with a rifle but I loved handgunning first.~Muir
Sounds great fun, I have read the memoirs of a guy in New Zealand who after the war years hunted pigs and deer with a 32 S&W pistol as a teenager very succesfully.
I did take a 9mm Hi Power into the woods a few years ago in Europe but never came across anything except a few trees that stood still long enough to get a shot off
I suppose it is highly unlikely we will ever get the chance to do it here again, I will have a look on the weird wonderful web see if I can find any vids.
It is a shame that you folk on that side of the Pond can't get out with handguns. The deer you have, and much of the forested areas seem natural for handguns. THe downside is that handgunning requires a lot of practice, hence, a lot of ammunition. If you don't handload (or aren't very well off) you'll find yourself behind the ball when you're out in the field. And, as I said, the kind of shooting I do is all off hand with no support.
That fellow with the 32S&W was a ballsy Cuss. I own one and wouldn't shoot rabbits with it unless they were very close. The 32 S&W Long I might try though. The oddest gun I hunted deer with was a .44 caliber flintlock (no, I didn't get one) and the most deadly was a scoped Remington XP-100 bolt action in 7mmBR. That was a real precision instrument! I have killed coyotes and jackrabbits at 150 yards plus from a sitting position using it. Sadly, I never got off a shot at a deer with it. Now, I view these "short rifles" as unsporting when looked upon in the light of "handgun hunting".~Muir