Sep 2, 2009

Parachuting and Hunting

Parachuting and Hunting: The Importance of Shooting Skills Afield

Let's pretend you're going to learn how to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft and survive the ordeal. For you straight legs, or those of you that believe the only things that fall from the sky are paratroopers and bird excrement, please follow along.

You will spend hours, if not days, in ground training. In the military, Airborne school is a full three-week course. You will enjoy several solid minutes under the canopy enjoying the ride and scenery (much less for a typical mass military MAMO jump). However, the actual leap, from exiting the aircraft to the chute deploying, takes only a few seconds.

Imagine completing ground training and anticipating your first jump. You're rigged up, waiting for the steel bird to roll in when the jumpmaster quips, "The actual deployment of your chute is such a small part of the actual jump, so when preparing for that portion we paid the least attention to it."

How would that make you feel?

In part, this is a true statement. The actual exit and deployment of the parachute is shortest portion of the ordeal. However, assuming you wish to retain an intact hide, it is the most important detail and deserves the most emphasis. If that part should fail everything preceding it was a waste of time and money, and everything planned afterward will never happen.

This is the same attitude with which hunter-shooters must approach their field marksmanship skills.

Some folks have commented that skill-at-arms is a tiny part of hunting. These folks harbor the same attitude as that misguided jumpmaster.

A hunt may be planned months in advance, from obtaining licenses and planning the trip, to scouting and saving dollars. The actual hunt could last for over a week. Even for the majority who remain in the vicinity of their home turf, established seasons reduce opportunities to a few short days or weeks each year. And the harvested venison can be savored over the course a year afterward.

The actual shot opportunity, when presented, may well be over in a few heart-pounding seconds. Despite how small of a percentage of time this entails, what you do there decides the outcome of everything else. The final result of the entire hunt hinges on your actions in those seconds.

Thus, preparing for successful field shooting is similar to preparing for a jump. The key element of the entire enterprise rests on how well prepared you are to handle those critical seconds.

Unlike the parachutist, a failed attempt is rarely lethal but it can have dire consequences. A poorly placed shot that causes prolonged suffering for the prey, or worse, game that escapes to die a lingering death later. A negligent discharge that damages property, or injures or kills someone.

Don't be a dirt dart. Give the most important part, no matter how short, the full attention it deserves. Your success as a hunter depends on it.

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