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October 15, 2007

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How To Miss

There are lots of ways to miss shots on game—if you’ve done much hunting you probably already know this first hand. The good news is that most things that cause errant marksmanship are under our control. For example, if you’re unable to trot 50-yards uphill and get your crosshairs on target because you’re blowing like a whale and seeing spots you might want to rethink your pre-season conditioning. Or stick to hunting on your butt.

Another great way to send a bullet sailing into the ether, rather than into a deer’s vitals—is to use a complicated scope. Reticles that calculate bullet drop, distance to target and other ballistic data are, with precious few exceptions, more likely to hurt rather than help your shooting.

A friend of mine—I’ll not mention his name so he can keep his head up in public—recently returned from a caribou hunt in Alaska and had one of these gee-wiz scopes on his rifle. In an effort to use the correct holdover based on the distance to the bull he launched four bullets over the back of the astonished animal. In his frustration, he centered the reticle on the caribou and shot once more. The bull flopped over dead.

The main lesson here is that it is hard to go wrong with a plain duplex reticle. Just sight in two or three inches high at 100 yards and, assuming you’re shooting something with .30-06 or .308 type ballistics, you’ll be good out to 300-plus yards. At anything approaching reasonable hunting distances you’ll never want to shoot when your crosshairs are not on the animal. If this sounds simple, that’s the point. The fewer things to think about when making a decision on whether to shoot, the better.

John Snow



There is not enough room here to speak of my misses. Most of them have been my own fault. Rushing the shot. Breathing to heavy, off balance etc.... My best gun was a win. 30-30 with iron sights. I shot it better than almost any rifle I ever had. Im sure it was because I was so comfortable with it. It was an extension of my arm.


But John, if people figured out that simple was fine, that simple works, that simple is.....better, what would optics, ammo and gun companies have to push on us each january?