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
  • Some books for the rest of summer

    Stretching out in a hammock with a good book is a great way to relax on a warm summer afternoon. Here are a few titles that have recently caught my eye.

    July 27, 2014

  • Creating a week to remember

    After my traveling shoes were placed neatly beside the door, it was time to spend some much needed time around home.

    July 27, 2014

  • There are some changes on the way

    Hunters who have found themselves driving out of their way to check in a deer, turkey, or bear will no longer have to waste the time or gas starting in 2015. 

    July 27, 2014

  • The cure for the summertime blues: Go camping

    In case you haven’t noticed we are looking right down the gun barrel at winding down on another summer.

    July 26, 2014

  • 071714 Coda and Callie.jpg Coda and Callie’s excellent adventure

    How is it something that you profess to love so much can cause you so much anxiety and grief? No, I’m not talking about dealing with your children (or your spouse). This is worse. This is about dogs. More specifically, hunting dogs. 

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071314 Chris Ellis.jpg DNR’s ‘outdoor summer school’

    Attention all West Virginia hunters and trappers. It is once again time for outdoor summer school and the course materials are hot off the presses.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Eurasian collared-dove

    Back in 1974 a local pigeon fancier imported a flock of about 50 Eurasian collared-doves to the Bahamas. Ultimately he released the birds, and they took to living in the West Indies. By the late 1970s some had reached south Florida, and by the late 1980s, some had been seen in Georgia and Arkansas.

    July 13, 2014

  • July in W.Va.: Recreational opportunities abound

    It’s July in the West Virginia mountains, which brings vibrant orange tiger lilies, blooming rhododendron, and of course fireworks. Usually the heat and humidity is in full force, but so far the weather has been nice.

    July 13, 2014

  • Shotgun 101: Shoot more and live better

    “God is not on the side of big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”
    — Voltaire

    July 9, 2014

  • Fireflies are living lights

    At recent Fourth of July fireworks displays, spectators squealed with delight at the annual spectacle that illuminated the night sky. And I’m sure more than a few compared the spectacular pyrotechnics to the subtler displays of fireflies that punctuate backyards, parks, and campgrounds all summer long. We call these displays “nature’s fireworks.”

    July 5, 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
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN