Oct 3, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
One of my early mentors was Legendary handgun hunter Hal Swiggett. He with me his practice method for the moment of truth to defeat buck fever, and this was when he was into his 70s when he had been handgunning for some 60 years. Hal would load dummy rounds into whatever gun he’d be hunting with on his next upcoming trip and turn on one of the TV channels featuring hunting. Then as game was shown on the screen, Hal would shoot it! On a good show, Hal would get in 20 or 30 “dry fireas” at nimals on the screen.
He didn’t just point his finger at the screen and say, “Bang!”
He sat on the floor across the room from the television with his pistol and the shooting sticks he’d be carrying in the field. He’d wait for an animal to present a shot. Steady the crosshairs on precisely the point he wanted to hit. And s-q-u-e-e-z-e the trigger. He made every shot “real” in his mind. If the animal started to move unexpectedly, he’d ease off the trigger and decock the gun. Hal had amazing control of even the lightest set triggers.
Even if you’re afraid your family will think you’ve gone over the edge if you start dry firing at the television set, hunting shows on NBCSports are great training for the moment of truth. Instead of shooting, simply practice visualizing the anatomy of the animals. Think about precisely where you’d hold and why. This is especially important if you’re hunting new, exotic game species for the first time. African antelope, for example, carry their vitals very differently within their bodies than do American deer for example. Same for many of the goat and bovine species around the world.
Every sheep guide has a story of a hunter he had to either physically drag or coax up a mountain into a shooting position on a trophy ram. The hunter is so “caved in” it doesn’t seem possible he’ll every make it. Yet when he finally sees the ram through the scope, he’s so excited the muzzle sways all over the mountain.
You don’t want to be the butt of that story! And if you practice visualization before the hunt, you won’t be.
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