- Familiarize yourself with your firearm before you head to the shooting range. Learn how to operate and check the chamber to see if it is clear. Then learn how to load and unload it.
- Practice shooting your gun at the range. You’ll want to make this a force of habit because, when shooting a big game animal, your adrenaline will be pumping and you could make an errant shot. In turn, the more you practice the more prepared for any situation in the field, adrenaline or not.
- Rehearse your reload. You need to steady yourself and reload. This if you haven’t rehearsed, is where a jam can occur. Practice taking your shot and then quickly pulling the bolt back, ejecting the cartridge. Then rapidly, yet smoothly, slam the bolt forward. As most hunters know you aren’t always going to make the perfect shot and you might wound an animal. With that said you can see why this is essential skill in making a follow up shot(s) and being an ethical hunter.
It’s important to practice these steps at the range because in the field, you’ll need to keep an eye out for what’s beyond the animal you’re intending to shoot. Unlike at the range, there could be other animals near the one you are going to shoot and you need to be careful not to shoot them, too. Also when they hear your shot, they may jump, run or shift positions. Your re-load needs to be second nature so you can keep your attention on your target as well as not shoot another unintended one.
For more info on NSSF's Project Child Safe go to ProjectChildSafe.org.