Want to kill more big game this fall? Get a .22 long rifle and start shooting it now.
No, I'm not telling you to go out stalking deer, bear, or elk with your favorite rimfire.
What I am telling you is to practice your shooting--and practice a lot. You'll become a better marksman, which will translate into more meat in the freezer and antlers on the wall when fall hunting seasons roll around.
Why Shoot a .22 Long Rifle
You may be asking yourself why you should practice with a .22 instead of your big game hunting rifle. Well, a couple of reasons immediately come to mind.
First, the best way to get better at anything (including shooting) is to practice as much as possible, but even the manliest of men and the toughest of women will shy away from shooting 50-150 rounds from their favorite .300 Winchester magnum in a day.
Enter the .22, with mild report and virtually non-existent recoil, enabling shooters to comfortably shoot all day if they'd like to. This extra time behind the trigger helps master basics like breath control, trigger squeeze, and offhand shooting, while avoiding the risk of developing a flinch or the bad habit of jerking the trigger.
The second reason to take your .22 out of the gun case is the cost per shot. A typical hunting load fired from a big game rifle costs anywhere from $.50 and $3.50 per round, while .22 long rifle ammo can be had for as little as $.04 per round.
After an afternoon of shooting, the price difference can really add up.
Make the Most of Your .22 Long Rifle
Look for a .22 that is approximately the same size and weight as your big game hunting rifle. The action should be the same on both guns and the safety should be located in the same area.
When you put down your .22 and pick up your big game rifle, it will feel familiar and you won't be fumbling for the safety or the bolt in the field.
After sighting in your .22 from a bench or other solid rest, do some shooting drills that simulate actual hunting situations.
For example, shoot offhand, from a kneeling position, or try to hit a moving target. Give yourself a maximum of two seconds per shot and learn to work your gun's action quickly.
Start with your rifle in the down position or hanging from a sling on your shoulder and learn to acquire your target as quickly as possible. This type of realistic shooting will pay off when it's a big buck or bull in your sights this fall.
Pull your .22 from the back of your gun case and send a couple hundred shots downrange this preseason. Consider it part of getting ready for your best fall big game season ever.