Oct 22, 2008

Hunting Guns and Gear

Is your hunting equipment adequate?

You may be wondering if your equipment is up for the hunt. Is it good enough? Is it accurate enough?

In a word, Yes!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, one that you will probably never see anywhere else. The shooting equipment you own now is fine. Any standard, mundane firearm and ammo right from the shelf is fine. Unless it is actually broken or improperly set up, 99.999% of all current hunting gear will allow any hunter to win HunterShooter events, earn a ‘A’ class rating, and take any big game animal they set out to take.

How can I possibly know this without actually evaluating what you own? Because modern arms and ammunition have plenty of reliability and inherent accuracy, right from the box. And by “modern”, I mean almost anything manufactured within the past 40 years or so.

Most of the best cartridges have been with us for decades or longer. For example, the .30-06 was issued in 1906, a modified version of the original released in 1903. Our current firearms designs are even older. The Mauser bolt action, which serves as the inspiration for most modern bolt actions, was issue gear in 1898. Space-age designs like the AR-15 were invented in the early 1960’s.

The advertisers and writers for gun and hunting magazines like to tempt us with “bigger and better” every month, trying to convince us it is absolutely necessary. The reason? They can’t sell the one thing that is a near guarantee of hunting success: Skill.

The manufacturers can’t bottle field marksmanship ability and put it on a shelf, so they focus on what they can sell. And the manufacturer’s advertisement revenue is the only thing that keeps magazines in business, so they write and promote to appease the hand that feeds them.

Hunter’s and shooters may want newer and fancier equipment, but they almost never need it. I’m not saying that improved accuracy, better sights, a slicked up action and trigger, “better” ammunition and calibers, etc., don’t help at all. But the importance of skill is about 100 times more important than any equipment issue.

Do you honestly expect Mr. Buck to just drop dead because you happen to be toting a brand-spanking-new Super-X rifle, in “Magnum of the month” caliber? Quarry isn’t impressed with the price tag of equipment, or how many “gee, wow” reviews it got in the magazines when some misbegotten hunter flinches the shot, sending the bullet wild, or worse, into a non-vital area.

I created a simple course of fire call "The .30-30 Test" and have found most hunters do not possess the skills to engage targets in the field beyond 150 yards. I call it the .30-30 Test because it demonstrates if a hunter has shooting and handling skills to need anything more than a basic rifle and cartridge invented in 1895.

Bottom line: Can you put a bullet where it counts, when it counts? Solve this issue and the equipment “problem” becomes superfluous.

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