kid hunting art

We tell new hunters it’s more about the experience than the result. It’s important, as mentors, that we make sure to tell ourselves the same. Hunts featuring youngsters or any new hunters are always about them, not their mentors. Share with them the knowledge and enforce safety rules, but let them have fun.

Like so many other undertakings in life, the way a new hunter, especially a child, gets started in the outdoors goes a long way toward determining how likely they are to enjoy it for the long haul.

A new hunter doesn’t know what they’re getting into. That’s up to the mentor to consider. If it’s going to be cold, hot, windy or a long walk, they absolutely must be prepared accordingly. Make sure they have approximately the same camo and equipment you have, appropriate to their age. Make sure their clothes and boots fit and that they’re comfortable. If they’re not going to be able to walk far, hunt close. If they’re not going to be able to last long, quit early, and before they’re miserable.

If seeing some deer involves sitting in a shooting house, blind or ladder stand until dark, pack along plenty of snacks, plenty of drinks and a sleeping bag to wrap them up in if it’s going to be cold. Show them how to do the hunting whisper and keep the conversation going. If you tell them what’s going on all the time, even when it look like nothing’s happening, you’re more likely to last long enough to show them what you’re after. Make sure they have binoculars and a compass. Show them how to glass for things and let them tell you which way to walk to get back to the truck, even if you can still see it from your stand.

In sight

Teaching new rifle shooters how to use a scope is a step of mentorship that can be more challenging than it sounds. With some exercises like using a bait cast reel or swinging a shotgun on a clay pigeon, it’s easy to see and point out their mistakes. In helping a youngster take his or her first look through a rifle scope, and then subsequently look at their first live critter through one, showing and telling don’t go nearly as far.

If the eye is too far from the scope or too close to it, the shooter won’t get a full sight picture, if any. More importantly, because of recoil, it’s necessary to have the rifle’s stock shouldered properly to make sure the scope doesn’t make contact with the shooter upon firing.

The new shooter will need to start with the scope’s magnification, if adjustable, set to the lowest power and the rifle on a shooting bench in some sort of cushioned or sandbagged rest, with the stock properly against their shoulder. Then they should find where along the stock they should rest their cheek to be able to see, not the other way around.

Before the session begins, it can be helpful for the instructor to draw on paper the crosshairs of the scope they’ll be using. That way, when the new shooter is asked if they can see a full picture, they won’t have to wonder, “A full picture of what?”

The next exercise will be letting them learn to find the target in the scope from scratch. They’ll do this by first pointing the rifle while looking over the top of the scope, then dropping their cheek to the stock to peer through the glass and home in. This stage is similar to learning to ride a bicycle. You can show them and tell them but, ultimately, they’ll have to get the hang of it on their own.

Ready to fire

To be ready to take final aim and then shoot when the moment is right, the new shooter will need to have his or her hand within reach of the trigger, a step that sounds too simple to merit mention, but it’s not. Swinging a gun on a rest or over a sandbag to point at a deer or turkey is one thing, and being poised to shoot is another. Because of the gun’s length, reaching the trigger with the gun butt on the shoulder while sitting in an other-than-perfect angle often means they’ll naturally begin with their shooting hand somewhat back of the trigger area. With the safety on, have them squirm however they must to slide their hand up to the grip and extend their trigger ‘finger along the bottom of the trigger guard, staying off the trigger itself until you say. This way, you can know they’ll be ready to take advantage promptly when a five-second shooting window opens.

In the field, with their shooting hand in the ready position and their sights on the animal in question, you can take the safety off for them and tell them to put their finger on the trigger. This is a move that needs practice as well, for the sake of both parties.

Also practice giving the instruction to shoot when ready as calmly as possible and don’t rush them. Once you make this call you become a spectator and the responsibility to make a good shot is theirs, so force yourself not to rush them from this point on and the whole enterprise will meet with success.

Managed recoil

In 2004, Remington introduced special loads for the .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum and .30-06 Springfield, each advertised to reduce recoil by 50 percent while delivering effectively the same ballistic profile out to 200 yards as its standard load counterpart. This was achieved by the use of lighter projectiles and powder charges. Further, the loads included a custom bullet built to deliver effective on-game performance.

Ammunition maker Hornady has entered the game with reduced-recoil offerings in their Custom Lite brand. Their products offer recoil reductions whose rates vary by caliber from 25 to 43 percent.

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