Get your rifle ready

Deer season is already in full swing, and getting your rifle ready should be at the top of the to-do list. Here are a few tips to help you shoot straighter on the range and in the field.

  • Make sure you have the correct ammunition for your firearm. Take several brands and bullet weights to see which shoots best out of your rifle.

  • Thoroughly clean your unloaded firearm, lightly oil all moving parts and make sure all screws are good and tight.

  • Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction when at the range and in the field.

  • Use a rest. One of the cheapest and best rests you can make is by filling an empty shot bag with sand and tying it off. You can find empty shot bags at shooting ranges that reload shotgun shells for trap or sporting clays shooting or from a friend or parent who reloads shotgun shells. You also can use the legs from an old pair of blue jeans. Have your mom stitch one side closed and leave the other side open to fill with sand then tie it off with a piece of string or rope. A bag or two for the front of the gun and a bag for the butt will really steady your aim. A shooting stick or bipod works great in the field. Bracing your gun with a sling will help steady your aim, too. Take a big breath, let out half and hold.

  • Squeeze the trigger slowly. You should be surprised when the rifle fires.

  • Shoot a three-shot group, waiting about five minutes between shots to allow the barrel to cool.

  • Adjust your sights after seeing how the group relates to the bullseye. To adjust iron or fiber-optic sights, move the rear sight in the direction you want the bullet to go. For example, if your bullet hits below and to the right of the bullseye, move the rear sight forward (up) and left. If you are shooting a scope, follow the instructions on the adjustment knobs.

  • Unload the firearm completely and clean and dry the barrel between each three-shot group. This removes any fouling, grime left by a fired bullet and powder, that could cause a misplaced shot.

  • Repeat these steps until your groups are where you want them. A good group is 1.5 inches or less at 100 yards.

Remember, safety should always come first when you are handling a firearm. First, never handle a firearm without your parents' help. Second, always wear shooting glasses and ear protection. Third, always treat a firearm like it is loaded. Fourth, always keep the muzzle in a safe direction. For all of the rules on safe shooting, log on to



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