NBS Outdoor Fall Issue 2020

Beyond that range, you must learn bullet impacts at different distances and decline a shot when it’s beyond your ability to calculate the range. Learning to estimate the wind’s impact on bullet flight also requires experience. However, many charts exist for estimating bullet drift in wind; try to memorize them for your ammunition as range increases. For example, at 200 yards, drift in light to moderate winds is negligible for deer-sized game with a .30-caliber bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2,750 feet per second (typical .30-06 performance). However, drift from a 90-degree, 20 mile per hour wind for the same bullet exceeds 9 inches at 300 yards and 16 inches at 400 yards. Shooting uphill or downhill creates problems because, while the actual distance between the gun and target may be long, the bullet’s flight will only be affected by gravity over the length of its horizontal path. This is a difficult

concept for some shooters, but if you pursue deer in broken terrain you must learn it. The only way to learn to shoot more skillfully under any condition is to practice under that condition. Most hunters sight-in their rifle/scope combinations and never take an offhand shot or shoot at a target from a field rest. A lot of them also miss. Since you never know when or where a shot opportunity may occur, it pays to practice from a variety of positions, especially from stands you’ll hunt from during the season. Set up targets at different ranges and start shooting. It’s surprising how many different shots and rifle rest positions can result from hunting a single stand. Practice with deer-caliber rifles can become expensive and recoil can take a toll on shoulders and nerves. Therefore, practice with factory light-recoil ammunition, such as Remington Managed Recoil or handload your own ammunition (a skill in and of

itself.) Or, buy a rifle similar to your deer hunting rifle, but in a smaller chambering such as a .22 centerfire that has similar trajectory. I use reduced velocity handloads for practice. As a basis for the powder charge, I use Lyman’s reloading handbook, which gives velocities for cast bullets. Casting bullets is one way to go. I use cast bullet powder charges as a starting point because they’re reduced but load the cases with factory jacketed bullets. The point of impact is different than with hunting loads, but I don’t adjust the scope settings. Instead, I set up two targets — one for aiming and one to show where the bullets strike to determine my accuracy. It won’t teach you the trajectory of hunting loads, but will make you a better shot. Back to that buck. As most hunters would after missing that buck, I checked my riflescope and found it was dead on the mark. What had happened was, the wind was blowing so hard

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Fall 2020 • NBS OUTDOOR • 33

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