Testing if you and your rifle are ready for hunting?


Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2007
Patagonia Mountains, Arizona
Ok, you just bought a custom 7mm Ajax Roadrunnner rifle. You've taken it to a local range and it shoots 1/2" 5 shot 100 yard groups off bags with factory ammo. You should be happy with that, You practice with some groups at 200 and 600 yards (what the range allows but how do know at that point if you're ready to hunt, and at what range.

I'd suggest finding a place where you can shoot as far as you expect to hunt with the rifle. Make up some two foot square cardboard targets ( 6 or 7) and paint an 8" black spot (maybe 6 or maybe 10 depending on what you plan to hunt) in the middle of each. Then put them on 4 foot stakes and carry them into the field. Don't measure the distances, just put them in places where you can see they'll have a safe backstop at random distances.

Then go back to a firing point and use the same equipment you expect to take into the field hunting. The same range finder (if any), the same wind meter (if any), the same supports (bipod, bag, sticks (if any), and the same range cards or calculator (if any). This assumes you've already zeroed your rifle at the range recently, but don't do that now.

Then take one shot at each target using whatever aids you've brought which you think you need. (like the rangfinder). Have another person spot each shot but don't have them tell you where each shot hit, only record it . That person should have a good range finder and record the distance to each target. Repeat the set of targets a couple of times but don't shoot at the same target twice in a row. Then gather all of the targes and study them. This should give you a fair idea of what range you're good for deer or other big game hunting. It's no guarantee of hunting success, but you probably shouldn't be hunting at ranges beyond where you can regularly hit the targets in a controlled environment.

I'm interested in now others determine what their practical capability is before they go hunting. That 5 shot group shot at the range from a bench means very little in my opinion. Certainly there's more to hunting than than just the ability to shoot, but I've seen too many "hunters' who go into the field and haven't even zeroed their sights.
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you have some good ideas i only have one thing to add. if you are planning on hunting with a rifle you should check to see how accurate your first shot out of a cold bore is. i practise by going out into an area that has targets (rocks). i then set up on a target at an unknown distance and go through my list. i then take the shot. if i miss i then make correction and try to hit it as fast as i can to simulate a bad hit. i think we all are capable of bad hits and thats not the time to practice a fast second shot. if i made a great hit i then let my barrel cool while i pack up and take a walk through the hills till i find a new target(rock). i then repeate. i keep track of all of my hits and misses. after a few times going out i check my notes if i was able to hit 800 9out of 10 times then i would call that my limit. i will not except 8 out of 10. i also limit myself depending on the wind. for me i am comfortable with a 1200 yard shot with less that 5mog wind but only 800 in 10mph or more.

Couldnt agree more. I think knowing your limits is very important. The method you described is one good way to know how far out can any hunter shoot accurately.
Good post, Lou.
I just wish I lived out west somewhere to find easier places to shoot at distance. Hard to practice your field shots here in the midwest cornbelt.
And forget about shooting at angles up or down hills. We don't have any. But I like your thoughts on getting out in the field for more practice and not spending it all at the bench. Did some of what you mentioned this past summer and enjoyed it alot.
This was my full intention after i came back from Co. a month ago. I even took it one step farther of buying another wildcat 6mm-284 since i hunt with a 25-284. This reason is there close in ball. and by next year at this time i want to have had the barrel burnt out of the 6mm by shooting like this so much in the next 11 months. Then my primary rifle is un hurt.
You should go out and do some off hand stuff too. Shoot at 50,100,300 yards and see what you feel comfortable with.
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