There are many weekends where I can’t hunt or fish or I am at the ranch doing work for the next hunting season; these are the times I make sure I take a little extra time to have a little fun and shoot my guns. Although I mostly bow hunt, I still enjoy predator and varmint hunting with various guns and I enjoy shooting my handguns as well. I practice with my bow as much as I can to stay sharp and consistent and I apply the same guidelines to shooting my guns.


It is important to shoot your weapons on a regular basis to stay familiar with the weapon; the feel in your hand, the recoil, the ejection, and ensuring if it has sights or a scope that it is still sighted in. You would be surprised how many people I have hunted with bring a gun with them that has not been sighted in. Not only is this irresponsible but it is also unsafe when hunting with others. Take the time to go to the range or your nearest legal area to shoot and sight your gun in, get familiar with it, and become comfortable with its personality. If you travel anywhere you should re-sight your guns in often, especially before a hunt or the next hunting season. Even if you don’t travel much, an annual trip to the range is the minimum needed for accuracy and safety.


For me, heading to the range or shooting at our ranch isn’t a chore; it’s a relaxing time and a great stress reliever. I tend to bring as many of my weapons as I can and have a fun day of shooting. Changing between various guns not only keeps me aware of each ones potential and power but also forces me to change my stance or grip relatively quickly; by doing this I force myself to use my instincts for each gun instead of having to reset my mind each time. I want to be able to pick up each weapon whenever I want and know exactly how to operate it safely and accurately.


These types of weekends are also great for education. If you are introducing a child or a new hunter/gun enthusiast to a weapon for the first time, this is the environment to do so. It is not wise to hand a weapon to a rookie for the first time during a hunt and expect them to operate it safely. Take the time to explain how the gun works, the safety, the action, the ammunition, etc in a safe and controlled environment and allow them to ask as many questions as needed.


Another benefit of enjoying a weekend of shooting is being able to identify any malfunctions or safety concerns during target practice instead of on a hunt. For example, if you notice while you are target shooting your action is sticking and your casings are not ejecting properly, you can troubleshoot the issue there in a safe environment rather than in a tree stand or blind. Does it just need oil or is there a true malfunction that needs a new part from the manufacturer? Being able to analyze a potential problem with a weapon is crucial before moving forward with further shooting. A gun or weapon is like any other tool that needs to be handled with care and maintained regularly.


A weekend at the range or ranch will provide a great place for gun education, allow for someone to get comfortable with various calibers and styles, is a prime time to identify safety issues or malfunctions, and is necessary to sight and re-sight in your guns before a hunt. So if your hunting seasons are over and you can’t make it to the water for some fishing, grab your guns and head to the ranch or range. Release a little stress, have a little fun, and shoot your gun!