What Counts Before a Shot?: By Jordan Grimes
When I was a young hunter, before I ever took my first deer until much after I hunted on my own, my father would always remind me to set up my shots. He would tell me to make sure I was stable, aim true (with my finger off the trigger,) breath and then squeeze the trigger calmly when I was sure of my shot. The first few times it was a relief, and calmed my hyped up nerves, but soon I felt an annoyance at the repetitive nature of it. Now that I am a more seasoned hunter, that list of checks is always on my mind when I'm about to make a shot, and a list my young daughter will hear until she too is tired of hearing it.
For young and old hunters alike, there are a few simple but powerful things to check before you pull the trigger or release that arrow. These thing are: get yourself comfortable, pick your shot, calm yourself/breath and squeeze. It sounds easy, and to a seasoned hunter, it's probably something they already know. However, after a long stalk, seemingly endless waiting, or a biggest-buck-ever-walks-out situation, sometimes "easy" goes out the window of your mind. Sometimes these little things can have a big impact on the hunt. There is nothing worst than having to tell the story of a miss, and/or not be able to recover a wounded deer.
"Are you comfortable?" means several different things. Do you feel confidant with the distance you are shooting? Are you strained in the body position you are using to shoot?
Most of us that practice at a range, can hit a target many yards out, but when practicing,think of the difference in the way you may have to shoot in the field. It's not a shortcoming to need to make a plan to get closer, or wait for the animal to come closer to you, in order make a shot. Nor is it a weakness to need to readjust, or get a better rest, if possible. Remember the best shots are the one that kill swiftly and ideally anchor the prey. Shoot in your comfort zone and get the best "feel" before taking the shot.
Choosing your shot is simple in the broadside shot, but that's not always possible, so you need to make sure you know where to place the shot on the body of your target. If the shot is not right, don't risk a shot that will ruin too much meat or one that will just wound the animal. If you need to, wait for the right moment to put your booger hooker on the bang switch. The deer, more than likely (or possibly, hopefully) does not know you are there, and you should have a window of time to properly assess your shot.
Place your finger on the trigger and keep your sights on your selected target. Relax and breath. Visualize the shot and keep confidence. Don't rush the shot. Calming yourself gives you a steady hand and nice breathes give you a stable body.
Once you're steady, watch the scope. As you breath, push the gun in tight to your shoulder and smoothly exhale while squeezing the trigger. DON'T jerk the trigger... squeeze.
This may sound like a long-winded attempt to over-complicate the basics, but it's not. This whole series of steps can happen in a few minutes or a few short seconds. These things are to be thought as you see your animal, and right after you decide its a shooter. The better predator and shooter you are the more good meat the family will have!