How well does the average big game hunter shoot?

Seriously… I agree with all the comments about people dropping a rifle with bullets and asking to sight it in .
Then take it hunting next week.
I’ve asked them to come shoot after sighting to confirm their aim point. I most often get the “ if it shoots good for you then I’m good” comment.
A few weeks later they may come back and ask to check zero because they shot five times and missed.
I’ll ask, “how far”.
Then I hear…” not sure, but far” !

We do what we can.

That’s all I’ll say.
I know from personal experience, the way my son and I hold and align the rifle to the target, he shoots to the left of my on mine and I shoot to the right of him on his. So yes, confirming it works for the hunter is paramount
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When I zero the sighting system (irons or optics) on a new build, I move in one direction only and not even full value correction to the center at that. If the adjustments follow a straight line, it gives me a good indication that almost everything is working fine in the system; rifle, ammo, sights, and trigger monkey.

It does not matter which axis I move first, it depends where the 1st shot landed after boresight.

The 200 yard line at our range is open most of the days, everybody is at the 100 yard. Since the 1st stage of our matches is at 200 standing, I developed the habit to get bench zero, then to standing. One time when I was out of town, John at WOA sent me an upper that did not arrive till the Friday before the match. He assured me he had roughly aligned the irons at 100. I had to utilize the 2 sighters to zero the upper in standing at 200. And the two sighters at 300, and 600 to get zeroes.
I do the Red Army "one shot sight in" initially and fine tune after
Just like many of you high volume shooters… I get bored with my bench rifles shooting steel every weekend.
That’s why I try to make some fun and occasionally bring the hunting rifles to do the hunting scenario shooting.
My range has 100 yd to 800 yd then skips to 1000, then 1330, then the loooong one… 1750 yds.
I always try to help the guys that are interested in shooting long range.

True story-
Once, a couple of guys went to a long range shooting school, bought a rifle that has had load development done included with the package and came here bragging how good the rifle and the LR Ballistic Rang-finder combo and is.
I said “show me”.
They hit the 600 plate 50% of the time and hit 1000 once in 5 shots.
They blamed the ammo.
I then pulled out my 6.5-284 hunting rifle and dialed 600, bang, dialed 1000, bang.
They put the rifles in the truck and left.

Practice, practice, practice
Okay, I’ll see your story and raise you.

There’s a 300 yard “private” range I have privileges at but hate to shoot there due to the fuds they always seem to find to RO. My daughter had just gotten a new rifle so she could reach out farther and start shooting matches (she was 13 at the time) and I had worked up some loads that were doing well in the backyard at 100 but I wanted to stretch them out some just to confirm all was well. So we hit this range because it’s easy and incremented and when we arrived it happened to be at a pause for checking targets so we dropped her case and bag, stuck a few stickies on a white printer papers and started walking.

There was only one other guy on the rifle side at the time who had an AR he had obviously been shooting prior to us getting there (I love ARs, not a judgment just saying) judging by the amount of brass and the target at whatever it was less than a 100m. Just having fun, all good. But on the bench was a M40 clone (also not judging) and he picked up some zombie target and started walking and started small talk about stretching his range out some today and whatnot and…okay I lied, I had already judged. Anyway we walked past the 100 without slowing down and his comments got more interested about my daughter coming to shoot with me etc and I said she was shooting not me. He got a little quite. 200 was obviously where he planned to stop but since we didn’t he didn’t…I think mostly because he had a ~30% size zombie torso and we had pasties on a sheet of paper. Up to 200 there are stands with binder clips for the targets but at 300 there’s just pallets and you have to staple and he asked to borrow my stapler. There’s also a rack with six bowling pins hanging from strings.

So we get back to the line and I start setting up my tripod/spotter and the daughter gets to work doing her thing. You can now see on his face he’s not real excited about how this is playing out. Range goes hot and my daughter and I are still getting set up but he start shooting, I don’t pay a lot of attention but do see his first round strike the dirt in front of his target. So she shoots a string and we make some adjustments but the data was pretty dang close, I think the barrel had less than 80 rounds on it at the time, and it was her first precision rifle so I was pretty happy with what I saw through the spotter. Meanwhile guy with sniper rifle is really struggling to hit this zombie torso and pretty much walked his rounds onto the paper and seems to be hitting the paper more than he’s missing. After forever we finally got to go down and pull the targets.

He was suddenly done shooting. On the way home I told her she made him cry and she reminds me to this day that she made a grown man cry with a rifle, I’m fairly certain that’s true. Or close enough.

Took pictures, because like I said it was her first time with that rifle at any meaningful distance.


And she still works at making grown men with rifles cry…mostly me, but that’s okay.
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I am going to agree with the OP. Most PHs I know won’t let hunters shoot beyond 400 yards and most people shouldn’t shoot beyond 200.

At one time as a competitive shooter I shot 500 arrows a week with my bow and could put 5 arrows in a softball at over a hundred yards. We shot 200, 400, and 3x600s in the off season. Most range sessions consisted of a full day of shooting around 300-400 rounds between 3 or 4 rifles out to 1250 yards. I have hit cold bore shots with a 6.5x284 past a 1000 yards and shot groups at 2,4,&600 yards that measured .25 moa… Wait for it!!! And miss a 140-150 class 250 lbs ten point at 150 yards!🤣 Buck fever gets the best of us!🤣 I don’t think I have ever missed with my bow, but my furthest shot ever was 42 yards. People get nervous. Over confident! And sometimes stupid with a gun. They shoot more gun then they need or can handle because they want to go long. But, as has already been stated, they don’t practice enough and then their heart rate gets up and bam!!! They can’t hit the broad side of a barn.😂

I remember a friend of mine who was a shooting instructor talking about a guy who had killed 8 recorded book animals. He came to him for help. The last one he killed he shot in the butt, an elk. Told my friend I was aiming behind his shoulder!😂 Said he got so nervous he nearly wet himself. He hit the artery is the only reason they recovered the animal. 🤣 Even the best of us can flub a shot under the right circumstances. I have been hunting for over forty years in seven states and on three continents and I have never had to take a shot on a big game animal beyond 400. Got a buddy who has killed several book animals, elk, whitetail and mule deer and his furthest kill is just over 450 on a mule deer.

We see incredible shots done on this forum all the time. People make great shots on incredible animals at ranges well beyond 500 yards. With today’s equipment a shot at a 1000 yards is completely within reach but not for the “average” hunter or weekend warrior who shoots a gun maybe twice a year. I personally start over thinking things around the 450 yard mark and I can ring still all day at 1000+ and not miss an 12” target. There is so much more to it than hitting steal from the prone or bench when an animal is involved. I would say most people need to keep it inside 200.🤔

That said, we are head out to Texas and New Mexico this fall on a sheep hunt and if the shot comes at 6-700 yards we are probably going to take it.😁

Ginger Moorhead once said, “At the practice butts everybody is equal. It is the one with the best mental game that wins!”😉
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Oh! I've had my share of misses!
Not so much on deer but coyotes! OMG
I once took a coyote stand with a bolt 223 (in avatar) with 4 down below because it was safe to carry and easy, and of course that's all I needed...wrong!
A double shot out in a springy gallop about 80-100 yards to my left immediately after the call started. I followed through with the first shot. Bang, nose dive. I quickly bolted and went for the second which had turned and ran quartering away. Miss! Again I tried to get a hurry up shot before it hit the woods and... miss #2.
I bolted again and was looking towards the first hit coyote that was down and suddenly, since my e-caller switches to yelping pups upon shot report, I notice the second coyote came out and was running head on towards me.
I raised and settled the cross. As soon as my finger began the pull she apparently saw me and darted to the side and the bullet threw dust behind her. As soon as I bolted again she stopped about 75-80 yards away and looked back towards my call. Out of bullets. 😖

So... yeah. The fever can get ya!
Look man, I get you have a hard-on for me, but I did not address you specifically. I can only infer based on your response you took offense to what I stated. I'm sorry if it offended you. Feel free to put me on ignore if you don't like what I had to say.

I am trying to be polite.

Your apology is accepted and I will also apologize for taking offense so easily!
Yes your comments, whether directed at me or not….do rub me wrong! I agree that many hunters/shooters are “over rifled” and shoot poorly. However, several times you have stated or eluded to….. anyone shooting a heavy recoil rifle cannot shoot proficiently! I think that some of your previous statements incorrectly lump all heavy recoil rifle shooters into one group!

Moving forward, I’ll assume that you are not stating that “one size fits all”! memtb
I know from personal experience, the way my son and I hold and align the rifle to the target, he shoots to the left of my on mine and I shoot to the right of him on his. So yes, confirming it works for the hunter is paramount

I experienced a very similar occurrence with a good friend of mine! Not a fluke, every time and even with different rifles! memtb
I know from personal experience, the way my son and I hold and align the rifle to the target, he shoots to the left of my on mine and I shoot to the right of him on his. So yes, confirming it works for the hunter is paramount

I experienced a very similar occurrence with a good friend of mine! Not a fluke, every time and even with different rifles! memtb
Same experience here. I’m drilling bullseyes with his rifle after mounting a scope for him. His group was darn near 3” right!
Biggest problem I see is people shooting their rifles only at 100yds when sighting in, and then relying on various drop tables and bullet manufacturers stated BC’s for their long range data.... and this happens with some quite good bench shots!
If someone shows up talking about their long range trajectory charts I find out if they’ve actually verified them by shooting out to the max distance of their charts. If they haven’t, I know to expect problems 🙁