hunting rifles from the shooting range to the field | Whittaker Guns

Hunting Rifles | From the Shooting Range to the Field

The Overall Process for New Hunting Rifles

With various hunting seasons upon us, a lot of people have been heading to the woods lately to see what they can put in the freezer. Many hunters have owned and used the same hunting rifles, shotguns, or muzzleloaders for years. But there are many new hunters who have just bought their first gun to use this year. If you’re not quite at that stage yet, but are considering it soon, there will be a lot of decisions to make. Which animals are you targeting, how much money do you want to spend, and what kind of gun are you thinking of getting? For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you’re looking at hunting rifles since it is prime deer season time across the country.

Hunting rifles, where legal to use, are excellent weapons for big game animals. You can shoot very accurately and reliably at long distances, provided you have a quality set of optics with it. The ammunition types are very customizable, depending on what animal you’re chasing. You can find many different types of rifles that are either very lightweight for spot and stalk hunts or heavy duty for tree stand hunting. There are plenty of accurate actions to choose from as well.

What You Need for Hunting Rifles 

If this all sounds like a good fit for your hunting preferences, it’s time to consider buying one. It might get confusing when you’re just starting out, especially when you look at the long rows of gun accessories on the store shelves. It can seem like you’re going to have to break the bank to possibly buy everything. But you don’t need every last accessory to get out hunting. Instead, you only need a few basic items.

Hunting Rifle

The hunting gun you choose should really depend on your personality and hunting goals. For example, if you’re not likely to hunt anything larger than a whitetail and you’re smaller-framed, buying a high-powered .338 is just asking for regrets. Similarly, buying a .243 is insufficient if you’re a larger person who wants to take on a moose head to head. Take time to read about the best caliber and cartridge for various North American game animals to see which one might be right for you and your situation. The best deer rifle caliber is often debated as the .270 or .30-06, but it really depends on your preference. You can usually find a quality brand and model of guns for sale cheaper than you think, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find anything right away.

The Ruger® American .270 Winchester is about the best all around hunting rifle for most wild game species and body shapes, but many people prefer the .270 for deer hunting. Its sleek synthetic stock reduces the overall weight of the rifle, and the rubber buttpad helps absorb and reduce the recoil force. Additionally, the bolt action is considered a very dependable style, which is always a bonus for new hunters. Hunting guns need to be dependable above all other things. Ruger® rifles are also known for their high quality, along with Remington® rifles or Winchester® rifles.

hunting rifles from the shooting range to the field | Whittaker Guns

Scope/Optics

Sure, you can shoot hunting rifles without a scope, but that really takes the advantage away from using a rifle in the first place. Plus, you don’t need a crazy, high-end version to extend your ethical shooting range by a significant amount. A simple 3-9×40 mm scope will set you up for hunting at close and far distances alike. They’re relatively cheap and pretty easy to mount and sight in too, which we’ll discuss below.

Sling

Having a sling to carry your firearm is definitely a nice item to have; especially if you have to walk a good distance to your tree stand. They’re cheap too, so there’s really no reason to not have one for all of your deer hunting rifles.

Cleaning Kit

As with any firearm you own, you should have a corresponding kit or various gun care tools to clean it thoroughly. This should include a rod/brush attachment or bore snake to clean the inside of the barrel, some solvent and lubricating oil, and a rag to wipe down the exterior. If you have just these three items, you can do a very good job at cleaning your hunting rifles.

Hunting Rifles Out of the Box 

When you finally purchase your firearm, the fun can really begin. Before heading to the woods, you need to unbox it, assemble it, and sight it in. Just about any gun you buy from a reputable source will contains simple instructions to assemble and operate a firearm. Many people get intimidated at this stage, thinking they don’t know enough about guns to do it themselves. But it really is a piece of cake.

hunting rifles from the shooting range to the field | Whittaker Guns

Ammunition for Rifles

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the operating manual and the anatomy of the gun, you can go pick up some ammunition. Again, this will depend on the animal you intend on hunting. Explain to an associate what you will be hunting, if that makes you feel more at ease, so that they can help guide you to the right ammo for sale. For deer hunting with the Ruger .270 example above, a 100 to 150 grain cartridge is more than enough to ethically and quickly kill a deer. It always helps to use the same ammunition you would use for hunting at the shooting range, so you know exactly how it performs and you can get comfortable using it.

Sighting in Hunting Rifles

Now that you have a box of cartridges to shoot, it’s time to find a shooting range near you. It’s even nicer if you know somebody who owns some land where you can practice in privacy. But many new hunters are more likely to use a shooting range for the initial sighting in process. If you have a brand new scope set up on the rifle and you’ve never shot it before, the first few steps will take a while.

A bore-mounted laser is the easiest way to sight a new scope in. You simply insert the bore sight into the muzzle of the rifle, mount the gun to your shoulder (a shooting sled is better), and look through the scope. Adjust the windage and elevation of the scope slowly until your crosshairs are roughly lined up with the laser dot on the target downrange. A bore sight is meant to get you shooting on paper, but the final adjustments need to be done through shooting practice. You can remove the bore sight and take a few shots, adjusting the scope further after each one. It really helps to shoot at grid paper, so you know exactly how far you should adjust the scope each time. Once you’re happy with how it’s shooting, take a few shots that will simulate a hunting scenario. For example, set up at a distance that you anticipate to shoot from and take your time to really visualize a hunting situation.

After squeezing the trigger, focus on keeping the rifle in place for 3 to 5 seconds, which will feel like an eternity. But doing this in practice sessions will get your body used to focusing on holding it steady. Most people tend to quickly look up from the scope sights after shooting, especially when their adrenaline is pumping from a wild encounter with a big deer. Unfortunately, this could cause you to bump your gun in anticipation and interfere with long shots. The steadier you remain throughout the shooting process, the more accurate you will be and the better hunter you will be. If your rifle is still shooting accurately in this hunting simulation, it’s time to move on to a real hunt.

Into the Woods 

Assuming you’ve gone through the steps above to get your hunting firearm ready, you need to reflect back on the questions you initially asked yourself. What type of hunting are you going to do? Would you prefer to ambush wild game animals from a tree stand or ground blind, or stalk them on foot? The answers to these questions will influence how you approach a hunt.

For the Ruger .270 example above, you could either hunt from a stationary point or stalk animals, since the gun is fairly lightweight, yet heavy-duty enough to easily kill a whitetail. Hunting rifles for deer can be very variable. Regardless of which method you choose to hunt, the actual shooting process will go about the same way. When you see a target game animal, very slowly move your rifle into position. A mature whitetail is certain to spook if you move very quickly. Settle the crosshairs on their vital area and slowly let them circle around. Most people try to quickly pull the trigger as soon as the crosshairs slip behind the front shoulder, but this can cause you to jerk the gun and make a poor shot. By letting the crosshairs make circles around the general vital area and slowly squeezing the trigger, you get way more accurate and consistent shot groupings. It’s important that you don’t intentionally try to circle the target area, but that you merely think about it circling. You’ll start to notice it moving on its own. If you practiced before the season, you should have developed some muscle memory that will hold you steady for a few seconds, ensuring a better shot. Then it’s time to get on the blood trail and collect your prize.

It’s Action Time 

If you’re a new hunter or haven’t bought your own hunting weapon before, hopefully this post explains the process for you. Hunting rifles really are a valuable piece of anyone’s hunting equipment. Looking for hunting rifles for sale in Kentucky? Visit Whittaker guns for all your gun needs.