Olympic Platform of Rifle Preparation
In early August, the NBRSA Score Nationals were held in St. Louis Missouri. I had the pleasure of staying with Don (Pete) Crunk in his mobile home. Pete’s camper had all the comforts of home, including a satellite TV.
Each night, after our “campfire” supper, we would watch the Olympics. I love watching the Olympics. Even more so, I love the idea of the Olympics. Some of the world’s greatest athletes, training years for a single chance at success, against the best competition in the world.
Listening to the announcers explain the athlete’s training regimes made me correlate to the upcoming hunting season. How many throws did Ryan Crouser do in preparation for the single throw that earned him the gold medal and Olympic record? How many double legs has Gable Steveson performed so that his Olympic performance was flawless? How many handoffs has Allyson Felix completed so that she could do it once to earn her eleventh Olympic medal? How much time have we invested so that we can flawlessly perform the shot on a trophy this season?
Just like earning an Olympic medal, there are a plethora of factors that go into a successful hunt. Many of those factors we do not have control over. Rifle preparation however, is a factor that we are in the driver’s seat. Let’s relate rifle preparation to the Olympic platform.
Didn’t make the Podium:
These hunters did not do anything to get their rifles ready. After last year’s hunt, they put the weapon away not to be seen again. Their philosophy of, “it worked last year, it will work again.” does not cut the mustard. No medals for these people.
To make the podium, these individuals covered the two basic fundamentals of rifle preparation. First, they cleaned their guns. Hopefully, this chore was done after last season's adventures.
However, points can still be earned if the cleaning was done before the second requirement of checking the zero of the rifle. Yes, even undisturbed scopes, in a safe, can “magically” move. A bronze medal is awarded to all those who covered these two basic fundamentals.
This group of medalists have added two more items to their “to do list”. These hunters have tuned their rifles, either through handloading or testing different lots of store bought ammo. Their rifles are shooting the smallest groups possible based on the components that are available.
To stand on the middle platform, one must also have tested drop and wind charts for their finely tuned rifle. No more, “just hold high and right”. Having earned the silver medal, these shooters know exactly how many clicks are needed for different situations.
The cream of the crop. These hunters have cleaned their rifles, zeroed their scopes, tuned their loads and made drop charts. They already have done more than most. However, gold medals are not given away, they are earned by constantly going above and beyond.
In order to stand on top of the podium, one has practiced shooting from multiple positions and angles. These hunters fully understand the difference between shooting a half inch group from a bench compared to hitting a demanding target in the field. Concerning their rifles and expected shots, the gold medalists have all the bases covered.
Just like the Olympic medalists, the key to a hunter’s success is in the preparation. Regardless of the circumstances, when the shot at the trophy presents itself, these champions will be ready. As hunters, we owe it to the animals we hunt to make the podium. Until next time, enjoy the experience.