Column and photos by Josh Boyd, Edmonson Voice contributor:
During the summer months, many hunters find themselves having withdrawals of sorts due to the lack of game in season. Turkey season has ended, and deer, dove, and numerous other fall hunting seasons are still just out of arm's reach. This can often lead to a touch of cabin fever for the avid hunter and leave them longing for the fall.
Fortunately, the cure to your summer time slump might be no further than the few steps it takes you to reach your gun safe. Instead of staring at a calendar, awaiting your next hunting opportunity, grab your firearm of choice and put in some quality range time. Whether the range that you use consists of an open hay field, or a station at a dedicated gun club, many different varieties of target practice and recreational shooting can be readily enjoyed.
Among the most widely recognized forms of recreational or sport shooting are those involving clay pigeon marksmanship. There are several different categories of clay pigeon competition, with trap, skeet, and sporting clays being the most popular. All of these shooting disciplines offer their own unique challenges and have the capacity to thoroughly test an individual's shotgun marksmanship.
Trap shooting tests a shooter's ability to make split second decisions and react accordingly to score highly. Skeet shooting emphasizes an individual's level of skill toward accurately calculating lead on a target moving in a crossing path of travel. Sporting clays allow a shooter to challenge their capabilities when faced with a variety of shot opportunities closely related to those encountered in a hunting scenario.
If you are looking for rifle practice, silhouette shooting will fit the bill. Silhouette shooting centers around one's ability to hit targets of differing sizes and shapes at various yardages. Targets also commonly vary in height and angle as well. Although silhouette shooting is often conducted using small caliber rifles at distances out to one-hundred yards, longer range shoots can be held at distances upwards of one-thousand yards using high caliber rifles.
Bench rest shooting is another popular form of rifle competition and practice. Conducted off of a bench or similar steady rest, shooters strive to pattern their rounds in as precise a manner as possible. Bench rest shooting is a detail driven discipline that strives to push the limits of a marksman's accuracy as well as that of their firearm of choice.
Many other forms of firearm competition exist and have gained a large following among shooting enthusiasts. Cowboy action shooting and three gun competition are just a couple examples of specialized events that have large followings within the firearm community, as well as with hunters who seek to be versatile in their off season shooting endeavors. Through research and attending events at local gun ranges, an individual can assess precisely the type of events or shooting that they find of interest.
Outside of competition shooting or attending shoots at a local gun range or club, an individual can use the basis of many of these shooting disciplines to form their own practice routine at home. Whether shooting clay pigeons with friends in a field close by, or shooting store bought silhouette targets in your backyard, much enjoyment can be had on a sunny Saturday afternoon, target shooting with your firearm of choice.
An afternoon of shooting with friends and family is not only a great means of summer time entertainment for the avid outdoorsman, but also serves to better prepare an individual for the shot opportunities that they will encounter in the fall of the year. Like any task based in skill, quality marksmanship is an attribute built through repetition. Whether with shotgun or rifle, with every round fired, an individual fine tunes their capabilities.
As fall lingers just over the horizon, prepare yourself for the coming season rich in hunting potential, by spending an afternoon shooting at the range. You will grow as a marksman, all the while spending quality time enjoying the therapeutic qualities of a day spent in nature's vast beauty.
Note: the thoughts and opinions expressed by Edmonson Voice guest columnists and authors of submitted articles are their own, not necessarily those of EdmonsonVoice.com