Most of your readers probably know most of the following by now, but for the sake of those for those who have not grown up hunting and have not had the luxury of being able to shoot often and learn the information below. Please note that my goal is not to show what I have learned, but to help those who may have missed these facts along the way to consider what they need to do in order to become more prepared:
Guns are one of the highest priorities on most survivalists’ buy lists, yet many people are not fully experienced on how they will work under field conditions. Some of us have grown up shooting and hunting all our lives. Other folks have only shot their guns once or twice and may not realize a few facts that could bring about negative consequences if they ever had to count on their firearms.
As a hunter, I work reasonably hard at becoming a good long distance shot. Over the years I meet and get to know folks from gun shows or at the local range – many of whom seem to be relatively well on their way in their preparations, I am amazed to find out how many of them have misunderstandings of “shooting skills”. For example, several people I know have multiple rifles, but have not ever fired them, yet consider them part of their “home defense arsenal”. The don’t really know if they would function or not, and what ammo will shoot well and what ammo will fail to function in the semi-automatic actions. Others, have ammo cans filled with mixed loose rounds, some may be good, some bad but all are UNTESTED but “believed to be good”.
Most folks I talk to do not understand that different types of ammunition and even different lots of the same brand ammunition can have different points of impact on their target. Some are very different points (up to 12 inches variance at a hundred yards!) – even with the same bullet weights. This can be especially true if you are comparing some of the Chinese or Russian ammo to European or US made NATO stuff. It’s a little hard to believe, but even a few ex-military guys who are used to shooting whatever they were given don’t realize this.
Other factors such as ambient temperature, barrel temperature, uphill/downhill shooing, and wind can have a big effect on bullet point of impact. The effects of all of these factors get multiplied when you are shooting long ranges. I heard another fellow say he only had short range weapons because he would only be shooting short distances (100 yards or less). If we do have to defend our home and country – we should do it at long distance if at all possible so that we can hit our targets but we cannot be hit. It is also quite important to know the distance you are trying to shoot at. If your rifle is zeroed at 100 yards (I recommend 200 yards) you will probably need to hold a little high at 300 yards. Sometimes in “big country” the distance you are shooting may be much longer or even shorter than you think and it is easy to shoot under or over your target. A range finder can be invaluable for determining the distance to your target, and therefore getting a correct aim point on your target.
In conclusion: I encourage all those who are not rifleman to get out and function test their weapons with the ammo they have on hand. Buy your ammo in bulk, getting as much as you can from the same lot. Test and know the difference between the ammo you have for each gun you own. Shoot at as long of distances that you can once you have your rifle zeroed in. Know the trajectory (the path of the bullet your shooting) at the various distances you may plan on shooting. Practice shooting close, medium and long distances and know where your bullets will hit. Shoot in the various field positions – prone, standing, seated, kneeling, etc. Know that shooting from a barrel-mounted bipod usually results in shots that hit in a different place on the target than when shooting offhand or some other standard rifleman method.
Don’t forget to check you rifle’s zero from time to time. Things can change; scopes can shift – especially when traveling bumpy roads. Even different forms of lubrication can affect your guns over time. Check how well your scope does in low light (near dawn or dusk).
Practice regularly. Test your gear and KNOW that it works. Then leave it clean, properly lubricated, and ready for use when the time comes.