11 Gun and Shooting Tips
Bores, Clean and DirtyFor best accuracy, a rifle's bore needs to be clean of excessive powder and copper fouling. When you prepare your rifle for off-season storage, clean it thoroughly. You might use special copper-removal agents and follow that treatment with a rust preventative. When your rifle comes out of storage in preparation for the season, clean the oil residue out of the bore before sighting in. Next, fire a couple of fouling shots, because the first shots from a really clean bore seldom fly true. After you finish zeroing, clean the bore again. Then shoot one more group to verify the zero, but remember the fouling shots. Unless you hunt in a very damp climate, you might not need to clean again until season's end. However, should the rifle get wet, you must clean it to prevent rust. Then you should foul the bore again to be sure of your first shot at a buck.
Successful Sighting InThe most important factor for a successful sighting-in session is a steady rest. No one can shoot well enough to really zero a rifle without a rest. A rolled up sleeping bag or a sofa cushion is better than nothing, but a solid table or benchrest is best. Always make sure your bedding screws and scope mounts or sights are tight before starting a sighting-in session. Always sight in with the same brand of ammo and bullet weight you plan to hunt with. Most rifles will not shoot a variety of ammunition into a true group. Always base sight adjustments on the center of a group of three or more shots. Adjusting after a single shot can lead your group badly astray. Always shoot a verifying group. Don't assume that the final adjustment gives you a good zero. Always wear hearing and eye protection when you shoot. All centerfire rifles powerful enough for deer hunting produce enough muzzle blast to damage your hearing.
The Perfect Deer RifleThis is one of the oldest arguments in deer hunting. It remains so because many centerfire calibers are effective under certain circumstances. In terms of raw power, assuming proper expanding bullets and decent shooting skills, a standard of 1,000 to 1,200 ft. lbs. of energy delivered at target is considered minimum for deer hunting. Ammo company ballistic tables tell you the .30/30 is great at 100 yards and suspect beyond 200. The .30/30 falls short in trajectory as well. Cartridges need more than 2,500 fps of velocity to reach targets beyond 200 yards without excessive holdover. Bullet weight helps carry velocity, energy and momentum farther. Bullets weighing in on the light end of the deer bullet scale might perform OK at short ranges, but may not do the job at long distances. If all your deer shooting is at ranges under 150 yards, there are many perfect deer cartridges. If you expect to shoot over 200 yards, the perfect deer rifle is probably a high-velocity number.
Long ShotsThese days there is much fuss about shooting whitetails at extreme ranges of 400 yards plus. Truth is the technology is available to do this. Another truth is that most of us don't have that technology or the requisite skill to use it if we did. It takes more than a super-fast cartridge clocking 3,000 feet per second plus. It also takes a super-accurate rifle that shoots one-inch or fewer groups at 100 yards. Every once in awhile we luck on to a from-the-factory rifle that shoots that well but usually such accuracy is the result of some fairly expensive tweaking by a professional gunsmith. It also requires the best scope money can buy and we are talking pretty big money. Absolutely precise range-finding ability is another requirement. This is beyond eye-ball-it-and-guesstimate range and requires a laser rangefinder accurate to within a few yards at a quarter mile. Combine all this technology with well-honed shooting and wind-doping skills before dialing for long-distance bucks.