The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

September 30, 2012

Practice makes perfect

As gun seasons approach, find time to work on your shot

BECKLEY — West Virginians are considered great shots — it’s simply part of our mountain heritage. The Mountaineer doesn’t carry around a shrimp net, for crying out loud, and although I have never seen a nationwide poll, I can only assume that the people watching the Mountaineers play ball are somewhat confident that the Mountaineer knows a thing or two about shooting a firearm.

Most of us grew up participating in such extracurricular activities as squirrel hunting, rabbit hunting and filling freezers full of fresh venison. Unlike other areas of the country, we were raised blessed in a gun-friendly culture with plenty of room to enjoy the natural world sharing nature’s bounties. Our rifle skills were tuned and sharp because we participated regularly at shooting. Even though we might not have known it at the time, we were practicing to become great shots.

Fast forward to today, when everyone seems to be overworked and overbooked, and many of us simply do not have the time to practice. Yeah, ammo and guns are more expensive, but since when have sportsmen allowed costs or time to get in the way of our pursuits or passions?

Unlike bowhunters, who practice religiously from different yardages and at different hunting scenarios, rifle hunters can sometimes undervalue the need to practice on a regular basis.

This past week, I was asked by a local writer and a professional in the firearm business to set up a range scenario for some long-distance shooting at my hillside farm in Fayette County. I was honored to be asked and we spent a day crawling around in the hayfield shooting at little targets far away. I have to admit I was a touch rusty, but after a few shots and a little luck, the practice of my youth paid off. I wouldn’t have won any gold medals at the Olympics, but I left the backroads feeling pretty confident that if a bugling elk happened to want to meet me on a foggy mountain morning, there would be plenty of room in the bed of the truck to accommodate him.

I am often asked by West Virginians about hunting out west. I mostly get questions about specific rifle calibers, scopes and other gear. I rarely get asked what kind of practice drills they should be concentrating on to make that shot on an elk or mule deer of their dreams.

My point is simple. Whether you are learning to play the guitar, blow bubbles or shoot a rifle, practice makes perfect. And with many West Virginians familiar with the drill, a little practice goes a long way.

As a friend of mine once told me after a successful practice session when I was shooting well, “The only problem now is making up an excuse as to why you missed the deer. You had better be thinking of a real good one, too; not something lame like the sun was in your eyes.”  

Before this year’s opening day of West Virginia gun seasons, find a little time to practice shooting in field situations with the equipment you plan on carrying in the woods. After all, Mountaineers are well known for our shooting ability and we have a reputation to uphold — even if the sun does get in our eyes.

1
Text Only
Outdoors
  • Gettin’ ready for gobbler season: Step 4 — the setup

    This just in — in a recent study on turkey hunting and turkey hunters it was found that 98.7 percent of the time when hunters were unsuccessful when calling in a gobbler, the hunter made some mistake during the last 50 yards of the bird’s approach.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041314 Ellis.jpg Spring break is an attitude

    Finally, warmer weather has arrived to the Mountain State. I’m told, it’s socially acceptable to be late nowadays and there is even a term for it — being fashionably late. Of course, I have also been told that camo is the new black in fashion. I don’t care much for tardiness, or for fashion for that matter, but I am perfectly content with the weather forecaster’s report as of late. And if wearing camouflage is trendy, I will fit in just nicely at any social gathering.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Coming soon to a garden near you: Hummingbirds!

    One of the things I look forward to each spring is the northbound migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds. Until 1997, that meant waiting until one showed up at my feeders. But that year a website (www.hummingbirds.net/map.html), began mapping hummers as they moved north.

    April 13, 2014

  • Morel mushrooms are a W.Va. delicacy, but be careful

    The morel mushroom is one of West Virginia’s best-known delicacies that grows wild in the woods statewide. Mushroom hunting is a wonderful way to get exercise and be in the outdoors at the same time. There is no expense involved, and a bag is all that is needed.

    April 13, 2014

  • 041014 Turkey Call Gettin’ ready for gobbler season: the mystical world of calling

    Do you think that calling wild turkeys into shotgun range is some sort of art form that can never be yours?

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fishing is a good way to introduce kids to the outdoors

    Few experiences are more rewarding than introducing a child to the outdoors. I remember teaching my daughters at the age of 3 to recognize the voice of a barred owl — “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all!” They were amazed they could identify a bird without seeing it.

    April 6, 2014

  • ‘A river runs through it’

    He was a natural at reading water. Whether in a kayak, a whitewater raft or a fishing boat, he simply saw water differently than most. He was good, no doubt about it. When I was learning to row a raft down whitewater, I asked him for his guidance. He would sit in the back of the raft coaching me on waters and their currents. With his help, I too began to see the waters differently and read the river.

    April 6, 2014

  • 040314 turkey feather Gettin’ ready for gobbler season: Step two — scouting

    So you want more hero pictures this year crouched behind a big gobbler fanning his tail out? Either that or the ever popular gripping him around the neck and straining to hold up his 20 plus pounds?

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • 033014 Ellis.jpg Sportsmen’s tax dollars prove very beneficial

    If you enjoy wildlife recreation and conservation, you may want to find the nearest sportsman in your neighborhood and shake their hand. Ultimately, it’s their spending of dollars on the equipment to fuel the passion of the lifestyle they cherish that brings in millions of dollars to our state for wildlife.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • You may know more bird songs than you think

    Early migrants began returning several weeks ago. Turkey vultures, killdeer, and phoebes were probably as befuddled by the late winter weather as we were. But by early April, we should be safe from any more extended cold snaps. And that means the parade of returning migratory birds will accelerate every week.

    March 30, 2014

Web Special Sections
  • Special Web Sections

    Click HERE for stories about natural gas and Marcellus shale gas extraction.

    Click HERE for stories about the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

    Click HERE for stories about the passing of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

    Click HERE for stories from The Greenbrier Classic PGA TOUR event.

    August 6, 2010

Helium debate
Helium
AP Video