Head to the shooting range
We have a group of four reloaders, both rifle and shotgun. This is a fun and rewarding experience. Reloading the rifle cartridge case and then shooting a deer or elk with it is similar to tying a fishing fly and then catching a fish.
My rifle reloading involvement includes a .303 British, .243, .270 and .30-06 rifles. We work up a load using each caliber, going to the range to determine the speed or velocity of the bullet.
The speed can be increased by adding more powder to the case, but there are limits for safe shooting. Look for a series of columns about reloading in this space in the near future.
At least one trip to the range is necessary each year to assure the rifle is sighted-in, meaning to make sure the bullet is hitting the spot where aimed. A common goal is to have the bullet hit the target 3-inches above the bullseye at 100 yards. This puts the bullet in the kill zone of a big game animal out to 300 yards without holding over or raising the point of aim.
There are several computer programs available, some online for free, which will provide the exterior ballistics of a bullet. For example: My .243 is loaded with a 100-grain Nosler Partition bullet and has a velocity of 2,780 feet-per-second at the muzzle.
The bullet hits the target at 3-inches high at 100 yards. Where is the zero, or point where the bullet would hit the bulls eye? The answer is 244 yards. Again, more on this during the reloading columns.
A range finder is an important tool for hunters. It will give a hunter the exact range to the animal. Is the animal 150, 300 or 500 yards? This is important, as explained above, so the hunter knows where to aim.
My experience demonstrates most people over estimate the range to an object. When asked to judge the distance to an object, a friend answered 600 yards, when the range was only 300 yards. Many hunters shoot over the animal when misjudging the distance.
It is possible to shoot long ranges when hunting elk in Eastern Washington. Knowing the distance and where the bullet will be at the range is vital to success. My longest shot, so far, was 390 yards. A hunter who expects to shoot at 300-plus yards needs to practice. My neck carries a binocular and a range finder.
Next week: More hunting preparation suggestions.