Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Shooting Tips for the Handicapped Hunter

You are in the blind.  The deer you have been watching on trail-cam finally presents himself.  It is the moment of truth.  Adrenaline, butterflies in the gut, maybe a little sweat begins to form on your forehead and upper-lip. Not the time to have to do an algebra equation to figure out bullet drop to the target, right?  It is also not the time to discover that your gun is moving much more than you would like to make a good shot because of all the excitement of finally having the deer in your sights.

This week, I hope to give you some simple tips that can make a huge difference between success and ultimate frustration.  These tips are meant to make the entire process more enjoyable, relaxing and give you much needed confidence when THE MOMENT arrives.

Caldwell Tree-Pod
Tip #1 - Use a shooting rest.  Able bodied hunters use shooting rests.  If they do, trust me, you should too.  I understand that a disabled hunter wants to sometimes challenge themselves to be able to do things as normally as possible despite their personal challenges.  More important however, is to take an animal as humanely as possible.  This requires accuracy.  Accuracy requires a stable base from which to make the shot.  Thus, a shooting rest.

I use the Caldwell Tree-Pod.  It attaches right to my wheelchair with minimal assistants.  It gives me a stable platform to operate the gun or crossbow efficiently and with confidence.  And it also provides flexibility to move a little.  Amazon has great prices, just click the link above and it will take you right to them.

Tip #2 - Confidence.  I cannot over-emphasize confidence.  When the "moment" comes, you have to have this essential ingredient to get the job done.  Every hunter who has taken an animal stretches for words to describe the feelings just before the shot comes and the exhilaration or despair just after the shot has been fired.  All of the prep work, the feeding, the trail-cams and practice have culminated into this one moment.  The juices are flowing!

In the midst of all of these emotions, there is something inside of every successful hunter that centers and calms them so that they can act in all that turmoil.  You hear pro athletes talk about "the zone" where the game slows down and they become laser-focused on the task at hand...confidence.

You watch a pro-golfer sink a 10 foot putt to win the tournament.  They have actually done that a thousand times in their head and in practice so that when the moment comes, they are bigger than the moment...confidence!

Tip #3 - Trust the rise, not the fall.  There is nothing more frustrating than to have the animal of your dreams, be it a deer, a hog, a coyote, fill in the blank, to walk out 50-100 yards beyond what your gun is zeroed in for.  Now you have to guess-timate bullet drop.

Courtesy of

Now I don't know about you, but I would rather know and not guess in these situations.  Most people sight their rifles in at 100 hundred yards here in the south.  But when I ask them, "What yardage are you comfortable at shooting?"  Their answer is typically 200-300 yards.  This creates a conundrum.

A bullet when it is fired rises and then falls back to the yardage you have zeroed in the scope for.  If you are zeroed in at 200 yards, the bullet will rise to it's highest point around 100-125 yards and will only be 1.5-2 inches high of zero at this point.

Once it passes zero (200 yards in our example), the fall off is tremendous and can be very difficult to guess when shooting whether in practice or at a live animal.  Being accurate passed the zero point can prove tough for even experienced able bodied hunters.  In the chart below, notice the drop off from 200 yards which is zero to 300 yards being 7 inches low.  Good luck guessing a 7 inch difference at 300 yards on an animal.  Is it do-able?  Yes, but not very practical.

Courtesy of

Now I am a simple man who likes to keep things as simple as possible.  If it is only a 1-2 inch difference between 100-200 yards in our example, can you live with that bullet placement consistently?  I can!

In other words, set your scope for your maximum comfortable yardage and practice shooting from there back to shorter yardages. I use Hornady ammunition (image above).  They provide bullet flight charts and calculators that are very reliable, even down to 25 yard increments.

Make it a personal rule that anything outside your comfortable longest shot gets a pass.  This will save animals and your ego when you mishit that deer of a lifetime, track it for hours and find it a few days later half eaten by predators.

Ok, so let's recap.  Use a shooting rest that you like.  Be confident, perfect practice makes perfect.  And lastly, sight your rifle in for your longest shot and trust the rise of the bullet out to your zero yardage.


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