Early fall is one of my most favorite times of the year because hunting season is in sight. My only apprehension is that I know my shooting skills have taken a dip from not exercising those skills over the summer.
That summer shooting league I meant to join and those trips to the range I put off suddenly have some urgency to them.
Every time I visit the range I am reminded by how much fun it is just to shoot for recreation. In my opinion, trapshooting, skeet and sporting clays are a much better way to spend money than with golf. I’ve never been much of a golfer anyways, but even the worst day of shooting beats the best day of golf.
Smacking a ball around for a few hours just can’t compete with firing on clay Frisbees flying through the air and exploding into pieces. Besides, away from the gun range I can use those skills while I hunt. Smacking a ball into a hole is hardly a skill outside the golf course.
If you haven’t kept up with your shooting this summer, then this is a great time to find that gun range near your house and get into shape. Bring the shotgun out, buy a case of target load shells, and commit yourself to not hunting until you’ve blown through all of them.
Practicing your shooting is critical for avoiding embarrassing situations like that miss on an “easy” shot. It’s also an essential part of being a true conservationist. It’s a waste of an animal to make a less than lethal shot that can lead to unnecessary suffering. Anti-hunters love inaccurate shooters because they make the sport look bad in the eyes of others.
On a selfish note, being a good shot makes hunting a much more enjoyable experience. Few people feel good lobbing three rounds of steel shot into the lake with nothing to show. At a dollar a shell, on average, those range fees quickly pay for themselves when you pound out a double on three shots.
Not only that, but the impressed applause you receive from the others in your hunting party provides for an added bonus. An inflated sense of self is not to be underrated!
In the past week, I’ve shot two rounds of skeet at the LakeShore Conservation Club near Brainerd and two rounds of five-stand sporting clays at Hunts Point near Pequot Lakes. Total investment of time? Just over an hour. Improvement of confidence for the fall? Tremendous. Cost? For everything from shells to range fees and gas costs, about $100.
My Dad came along with me so that only added to the fun and at the skeet range, my kids hung around near the clubhouse under the watchful eye of their grandmother. A two-year-old and four-year-old are hardly ready to shoot just yet but being around it, seeing it in action and learning gun safety are valuable experiences.
As the calendar hits September, and the opening morning of the early goose season arrives, I’ll definitely be a better shot and have more confidence in my ability to knock down a few feathered cows.
A few more trips to the range are definitely in store. There’s also the need to put a dozen or so rounds through the deer rifle and get the muzzleloader in shape as well. The time it takes is minimal as is the cost, but the payoff and fun are well worth it.
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