How to Determine Your Effective Range for a Hunting Shot

Along with learning about the terrain, doing some research on the animal you are hunting will aid in determining your maximum effective range. This is something that we often take for granted but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Reading up on the actual size of the vitals of the animal you are hunting, as well as the actual location of them, will help you to determine the distance the animal can be at and still allow you to hit a target of that size. You should also know how far your bullet needs to penetrate to cause traumatic damage to the internal organs of the animal. Although the vital area of a cape buffalo is much larger than that of a whitetail, offering a larger target, cape buffalo are also much tougher and require more penetration than a whitetail, potentially limiting maximum effective range.

Shooting position is another factor to keep in mind. Shooting prone with a bipod will greatly increase your maximum range when compared to shooting offhand. Just as you probably won’t know the weather, it is unlikely that you will know the exact shooting position you will be in when you take your shot. Therefore, you should practice different shooting positions at various ranges to determine how far you can accurately place shots in each position.

The final major variable to consider when determining your maximum range for a hunting shot is experience. Experience, both hunting and target shooting, will help you to decide how far is too far. A more experienced hunter will usually be able to make a better judgement call of when and when not to shoot. Though all hunters enjoy bagging game, there is never a good reason to take a shot at an animal that is beyond your maximum range.

Experience can only be gained by engaging in the activity. For this reason you should hunt and practice shooting often if you want to take game at extended ranges. Experience is arguably one of the most important factors when determining your effective range for a hunting shot. For example, if I were to play a round of golf with Tiger Woods and we would switch clubs, so that he would be using a cheap set of no name clubs and I would be using some of the best clubs in the world, he would still win. No matter how good your equipment is if you are unable to accurately shoot your rifle your range will be limited.

Determining your effective range for a hunting shot may seem quite complicated and in some ways it is. However, when you tie everything together, it all comes down to one simple question. How accurate are you under the conditions you will be hunting in, with the equipment you will be using? It doesn’t matter if this means your effective range is 100 yards or 1000 yards. All of these variables apply. As previously stated, the only way to determine this is to get out to the range and do some shooting.

In the end the only person who can determine your effective range is you. Keep all of the factors mentioned above in mind when determining this range and remember that if something doesn’t seem right there is nothing wrong with passing up the shot.