Letter Re: Know Your Limits

Dear Sir,
Regarding the article in SurvivalBlog by “Molon Labe” titled: Know Your Limits: The thing is to also know your real personal limits.  Too many people think that if “I have this gun and this ammo then I can hit anything.”  I recently tried to talk some sense into a guy who was looking at a $3,000 .338 Lapua Magnum rifle with a $5,000 scope in a sports shop.  He was looking at it as his first firearm. I tried talking him out of it.  He insisted that he had friends who were snipers so he knew what to do. The guy was in his fifties.  I could only stare at him.  I agree that shooters shouldn’t buy junk–since you cannot get better at shooting, when you are shooting junk like a shot-out Mosin Nagant. But you should be realistic about what your abilities are. He asked me what I thought about the rifle. I said it was nice.  He asked me if I would buy it. I said no. It was more rifle than I would ever use. I do not shoot past 400 yards.  It would be nice to be able to shoot at 1,000 yards but let’s be realistic. He dismissed my advice and called me a “Wanna-Be”, once we got into a rifle care and bore breaking-in conversation.  His friends and blog buddies said that he needed to “Buy big.”  Apparently once you pay big bucks rifles all shoot sub-minute of angle groups, right out of the box. “No need to sight them in if the store mounts and bore sights the rifle.” 

The sad truth is that some people are just poor shooters, right out of the box.  No amount of practice on their own will get them much better.  Maybe they should stick to shooting under 200 yards with a rifle.  With a deer you are wasting meat if you wound it and it gets away but with two-legged coyotes if you miss then all you have done is give away your position at best and at worst really infuriated them. 

As for pistols, I have seen trained people miss at ten feet consistently. It would be nice if people only ever pulled the trigger when absolutely sure of the shot but we all know that is never going to be reality.  The best they can do is practice under the tutelage of someone who is better, and learn what their abilities with their firearm really are, so that when the time comes they’ll have the best chance of getting it right.  – Byron A.

JWR Replies:  I concur wholeheartedly about the need for training. I would much rather have a $2,000 scoped rifle with great training than I would a $4,000 scoped rifle and no training.  Get the best training available, folks!  For long range rifle shooting, you should talk to the folks at Gunsite in Arizona, or at Darrell Holland’s school in Oregon. I can promise you that for even most “experienced” shooters, in three or four days you will gain more knowledge and skill in rifle shooting that you’ve already accumulated in your lifetime.