When shots go wrong – how to learn from and avoid bad shots

When a shot goes wrong in the field it may cost you a lot of time and heart ache. Bad shot placement may result in a game animal that is injured, scared and is on an adrenaline rush that may allow it to run for a long distance and it may even live for days. Tracking this animal could turn into a nightmare. The bad shot could have hit the gut region of the animal instead of the vitals making field dressing a mess and contaminating much of the useable meat. Best case scenario is that you have missed the animal all together and will only have stories to tell about the days hunt.

Learning from bad shots can give you the answer to what’s going wrong and will help you decide what to do to fix the problem. The best way to avoid bad shots in the field is to practice a lot at a range before going on the hunt. You need to get to know your gun and the way it shoots. When you have made a bad shot try to think what you may have done wrong. Did you flinch or jerk the trigger? If you are shooting a large group with holes all over the target it may be your fault by flinching or jerking the trigger. Try to relax and pull the trigger very slow because you want the shot to be a surprise. If the shot is a surprise you will not know when to flinch. This will give you one less thing to worry about and add to your accuracy. If you are flinching because the recoil of your rifle is bothering you it may be a good idea to buy some managed recoil ammunition. This ammo will be more forgiving. After you have mastered this you may notice that you are still making bad shots, but the group is tighter. Look at the group and determine if you are consistently shooting low, high, left or right. If you are shooting low or high adjust the sights or scope up or down. If you are shooting left or right it could be do to wind. If there is a cross wind you can compensate to one direction or the other in small increments until you have found the sweet spot. If it is a calm day you may just need to make an adjustment to the sights or scope. If you have tried all of these things you may want to inspect the firearm and make sure nothing is loose such as the stock or scope mounting hardware. These things may be in the perfect spot for one shot then move for the next throwing your group off. Remember that practice makes perfect.

Another way to avoid a bad shot is to practice with same ammunition that you will be using in the field. For instance if you are shooting a 243win and you are going to use a 100 grain bullet to hunt with than you should not practice with a 85 grain bullet. The heavier 100 grain will drop sooner and if you have been practicing with the 85 grain bullet all of your shots will be low and get lower as you shoot at longer ranges. If you use a 100 grain bullet of a different brand make sure the ballistics are the same. The feet per second and drop rates at various yardages should match.