Monday, August 11, 2014

Shooting Tips for the Wheelchair Bound Hunter

So as promised, this article is a continuation from last week in which we discussed crossbows for handicapped or disabled hunters.  This week we will focus in on how to get you and your weapon shooting efficiently and accurately with consistency.  Everyone ready?  w00t...let's go!

First, if you are someone who has difficulty holding a gun or bow, you are going to need some type of shooting platform that you are comfortable with.  If you are going to shoot recreational, this can be a saw-horse or anything like it that will enable you to handle the weapon effectively.  If you are going to hunt however, you are going to need something that will be small enough for a ground blind.

Say hello to the old photographer's tripod!  I got mine from a pro photographer who had upgraded all of his gear and had several old ones lying around.  He gave it to me for free...suh-weeeet!  These tripods are awesome platforms for weapons because they have a swivel ball head at the top which will give you some flexibility when putting the sites on a moving animal.  A friend modified it for me by placing a block of wood and attaching a U-Hook to rest the gun or crossbow on.  As blind luck would have it, my Barnett RC-150 has a vented forearm stock design that rests perfectly on the U-Hook.  Additionally, it balances perfectly from front to rear, so I don't have to spend a lot of energy just holding the bow on the tripod.

My recommendation is that you play and tweak until you find your perfect solution.  If anyone has designed something, let me know.  I would be happy to test it and write an article on it.

All right. You have your crossbow and a platform.  So, how do I become accurate?  Let's start with the correct form.  Shooting in general is a game of doing the exact same things again and again and making minute changes when you make mistakes.  Regardless if it is a bow, crossbow or rifle, these concepts remain true.  The picture to the right is from the site and is an excellent example of a key concept in archery - Anchor Points.  On a crossbow with a scope, you should hold it the same, touch the stock with your cheek at the exact same point, and be looking with the same angle in the scope each time you shoot.  Because weapons are rarely accurate straight out of the box, using anchor points will allow you discover how and why your weapon is shooting inaccurately so that you can make the proper adjustments. Once you know where it is missing consistently, you can zero it in as they say.

Ok, so we have our anchor points and are consistently missing the target in the same spot now what? Sighting your crossbow in is exciting because you begin to see the immediate results as you make the adjustments.  Begin at a distance of only about 10 yards to get your elevation (up/down) and windage (left/right) correct.  By adjusting these knobs on the side and top of the scope it moves the cross hairs to correct the miss you have been experiencing at first.

The dial on the right side of the scope is windage.  It is important to get this one dialed in first.  You don't want to miss the tartget completely and kill the neighborhood squirrel.  Make a shot or two for consistency and then make some adjustments and repeat until the target you are aiming at is in line and not left or right.  Once you've got your windage, begin working on elevation which is the top dial on the scope.  A typical 4x30 crossbow scope is meant to be dialed in at about 20-25 yards, meaning that the main cross hairs is spot on at that distance.  Again, make several shots and then adjust until you are right on at 20 yards in a nice tight grouping.

Now you are all set, and the real fun can begin.  Looking at the reticle, not rectal (pronunciation is very key - LOL), picture at the right you see the main cross hairs with additional lines below it.  You know the main cross hair is set for 20 yards, so now you can begin moving your target further out until you know what yardage each reticle line consistently shoots at maintaining the same anchor points you have been using.  When you get these mastered, you then should play a game where the target is placed at  random, unknown distances. This will make you have to guess which reticle like is the best to make an accurate shot.  This is as close to hunting as you are going to get before going out and aiming at a real live deer or hog so make it challenging.

Any last minute tidbits?  Yep!  For those of you in a powered wheelchair that has the ability to elevate up and down be sure to shoot with your chair always at its bottom most position.  I experienced a sudden problem with inaccuracies because my chair was slightly elevated one day. I was shooting everything very low on the target where I had been spot on just minutes before.  After discovering the issue, I bottomed my chair out.  I began shooting flawlessly again.  The difference of being elevated had caused my eye to look through the scope at a different angle than I had been.  Those anchor points are very important.

Lastly, shoot a lot.  Shoot at targets on different type of terrains - uphill, downhill, side-hill.  Every shot has minor differences. If you haven't experienced it, you are more likely to miss when the critical moment comes.

Here are some pictures of my setup:
The third picture above is a shot at 50 yards with a slight wind coming from in front and to the right.  Shots will never be taken on animals at this distance; however, I did have to win the game - hehehe.

- Scott Anderson


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  5. I am grateful I have finally come across a handicapped outdoor post. I have a handicapped friend with whom I have been planning to go hunting with for a while. We are planning to use crossbows. We will be able to do so with the help of your article. Thanks for the info. I also found additional crossbow hunting tips here:

    1. So glad we could assist in your planning for your hunt. Another article I wrote that may be even more helpful was on the Caldwell Treepod. It in invaluable to my success in hunting and attaches right to y wheelchair.

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