Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

Lessons Learned The Hard Way Are Often Worth Repeating!

Lessons Learned The Hard Way Are Often Worth Repeating!

By Darrell Holland

We can all look back over our shooting career and note dreadful if not embarrassing moments when we really blew it. Anybody who claims to have never experienced such a moment is either telling a “Big Windy” or hasn’t shot much!

Lessons Learned

After the humiliation of the screw-up, often in front of witnesses, but not always, we internally beat ourselves to a pulp on the trip home. Often displays of foul language, kicking dirt and occasionally hurling objects into trees and off canyon precipices accompany such mental lapses in our shooting performance.

Vowing to “NEVER AGAIN” repeat such newbie transgressions we swallow hard the “crow” and “humble pie” on our plate. If our errors are made in the presence of friends we usually callous over from the “ribbing” we take on the way to the home front, unless of course they use a little salt on our tender ego.

“Jesus, Harold, how could you forget to dial into the wind?” your friend scoffs. Or, “What a moron. You forgot to cycle the bolt after the shot and the animal got up and escaped.” Coyote callers, have you ever left your rifle behind while retrieving the electronic call and have a coyote appear while you are midway between the two points? Be honest now!

Ever grab the wrong ammunition for the rifle you are hunting with? Or forget your data card and have to “wing it” after boasting to friends how bad you are going outshoot them in the prairie dog fields with your new rifle? Ever fail to tighten the bipod to the rifle because you were interrupted by a phone call and then discover the faux pas after missing the buck of a lifetime at 400 yds? Ever go to a field match and shoot your targets out of order, losing valuable points from which you can never recover?

Such displays of extreme intelligence can haunt us for years if not decades. Often times, we feel we’ve learned from our mistakes and confide in ourselves that we would never repeat such an egregious error. This artificial pedestal we build can get pretty high, and under the right circumstances cause us to experience gravity when we least expect it.

Note the following ballistic screw-up.

As a gunsmith and long range shooting instructor, I always advise customers and students to confirm “ZERO” prior to hunting with their rifle. The risk of a screw-up is in direct proportion to the distance traveled and the amount of money spent on a hunt. Always confirm your zero when you get into camp.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have hunted quite a bit in the U.S. and abroad and have heeded the above advice when traveling. More often than not, the rifles have survived the trip and the efforts of anti-hunting zealots who are employed by the airlines.

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