It's that time of year again. The days are getting shorter. My maple tree in my back yard has been in full fall color for over two weeks now. As a mater of fact, I'm going to have my work cut out for me this year trying to find the time to keep up on the yard work and fishing trips. At some point in there I try and find the time to knock some holes in the paper. It's not a question of whether or not I can hit the target, more of a re-acquaintance with my rifles. Some people like to call it good after three or four shots a week before season. I could never figure it out ... Some bow hunters will spend countless hours shooting their bows at target of various ranges and angles, but only shoot their rifles a half dozen times one week before the gun season. How many people look at a ballistics chart to see how well their bullet will perform? Like a bow, you have to tune your rifle to see what it wants you to shoot through it. Some arrows preform better set at lower pound draw weights and grain in tip weight as well. Why would we think anything less of your rifle? Some aspects of tuning are better left to a professional, but you can try a few things at the range to help with grouping your shots better. Don't start off by thinking something is wrong with your scope if your pattern is all over the place on the paper. Each rifle will have a magic bullet weight that it likes to shoot best. For example, my .308 will drive tacks at 300 yards with a 168 gr. bullet. But if I try a 150gr in it the bullet flys all over the paper. And not all brands will shoot equal. My .243 will split hairs at 200 yards under the right conditions with a 95gr Winchester Ballistic tip, however, if I shoot a 95 gr. Federal or Remington in it the bullets start to stray a bit. Knowing the rate of twist in your barrel will help, but you don't have to know it. Just pick up several different brands and weights of bullets and head out to the range and see for yourself. The Minnesota Twins would not start me out hitting as a DH if I was to only step into the batting cage once a year before the season starts, so why would we head out to the stand with only six shots threw the gun? It is our responsibility as hunters to make ethical choices in the field, and to be able to make a good clean killing shot with the first shot is always the best plan. I've never really like hearing the story's from some people who say ... "Heck, I'm still shooting on a box of shells I got 3 years ago" That might be all fine and dandy if the box was really a case of ammo and not just a 20 round box.
Good Luck, be safe, and please respect land owners and their right to say no.