A day on the range can pay dividends in the field
Nothing beats having confidence in your skills and equipment when it comes to successful hunting, so be sure to pay a visit to your local rifle range for a pre-season checkup/sight-in, or to the trap range to sweeten your wingshooting swing before seasons gather full steam.
Recently, I served as rangemaster for Elmore Conservation Club in its annual Dick Gremling Memorial Charity Sight-in Day, and it was satisfying to see the steady stream of shooters who showed up for a shooting session. I told my assistant, Larry Kosbab, that “way busy” was a high-class problem. We never even had time for a lunch break.
We assisted the usual gamut of shooters, from experienced hands quite familiar with their rifles or slug guns to newcomers with a new firearm fresh from the sporting goods department. You find out in a hurry at such an event as this that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, eventually. Witness the experienced shooter whose scope base worked loose after a long session of shooting, and who had begun to wonder why the rifle shot so well to start with and then saw fired rounds start to wander all over, and even off, the target.
I always bring my gunsmithing toolbox to the sight-in day, just in case…but be sure to take along any specialty tool that may be specific for your rifle or slug-gun when you head to the range. Having it sitting on the workbench at home when you need it on the range is no help. That happened too.
And never trust the assurance when you purchase a new piece that it was “bore-sighted” and good to go. At this recent sight-in day we handled at least two rifles with scopes supposedly bore-sighted at the dealers’ counters, and they could not even place a round on the paper, let alone the bull’s-eye, to begin with. One shooter finally achieved a proper zero with the last round of ammunition in the only box of cartridges that he brought with him. Which is another lesson: Always bring more ammo than you think you will need.
So, a day on the range will pay big dividends in the field. Trying to troubleshoot a problem while sitting on a deer stand is sub-optimal, and avoidable with good preparation. But be advised, that will eliminate one of your excuses if you miss the big buck. You will not be able to blame the rifle.