The Science of Missing: Because it’s not the gun, it’s you

Go to any gun shop right after hunting season and you are bound to find a rifle or two that have been sold not because there is anything wrong with them, but because the previous owner missed his target, and not willing to blame himself can only blame the other party, in this case the gun. So why do we blame our guns when we miss the target and how do we keep from making it a bad habit?

The first thing that you must come to grips with is that everyone misses no matter if it is a gold medal Olympic shooter or some guy in the woods hunting for dinner. Sooner or later, everyone puts a bullet somewhere other than it was intended to go and you must come to grips with that. It’s nothing personal and it is most likely not the fault of the gun in question.

When I first started shooting handguns back in 1995 I purchased a Ruger Blackhawk in .357 Magnum and quickly found that I could not hit water if I fell out of a boat. I blamed the gun and in my haste and ignorance traded it off for another. Had I known better I would have learned to shoot that gun correctly and I’m sure my skills with it would have been better.

The first thing to do when you get a firearm is to practice with it, not just get in a few shots at the range right before the season opener. Take the gun out and shoot in different stances with it, particularly offhand which is the most difficult to master. Shoot the gun at different ranges to get a feel for what you might encounter out in the field.

Make sure that the ammunition you are practicing with is going to be the same you will be shooting whether hunting or competition. While a slight variance in velocity and weight might not make a big difference when shooting at an animal the size of a deer, try that on a squirrel or even punching a small bulls eye out when all the points matter. I know shooting a .22 rifle that ammunition from different manufacturers even the same grain weight will shoot at different points of aim. If you don’t know where that bullet hits, instead of celebrating after the shot it is very likely that there will be a fair amount of four letter words coming out of you like a Pez dispenser.

So to avoid that awkward embarrassment of explaining how the animal got away or how the other guy took home the first place medal just spend a little more time at the range where you like every great shooter before has learned the sweet science of missing. If not then you can check out the gun racks for those sweet deals after another shooter has blamed their gun for their mistakes.