Competitive shooters already have an understanding of firearm safety, trigger control, and know what it takes to make an accurate shot. Many of them, however, are not hunters. A large chunk of this is due to lack of knowledge, fear, uncertainty about hunting and its role in society, and how to even begin if one wanted to.
There are many different competitive shooting disciplines, and each competitor has a different level of dedication and reason for being in the sport. Trap, skeet, and sporting clay shooters focus on speed and hitting a moving target. Smallbore rifle, air rifle and air pistol have a focus on extreme accuracy. Three gun and action sports combine speed and accuracy. High power, long range, and precision rifle shooters contend with environmental factors at long distances. Though only a rudimentary list, the point is that everyone prefers different types of shooting for different reasons.
Build on Current Knowledge
Shotgun shooters may have the best luck starting out with bird hunting as it is closest to their respective disciplines. Long range shooters may prefer prairie dog hunting or large game. Turkey hunting may appeal to both shotgun and rifle shooters because the birds are not flying. It is important to start a shooter out hunting with a type of firearm they are familiar with so that they have the greatest opportunity for success. Success does not always mean a successful harvest, but rather that the individual will be comfortable with some variable, in this case, the firearm, before heading into a new learning environment.
Common Responses and Answers
“I don’t know how.”
Find a mentor or tag along with someone you know. Trying anything new, especially when the target is live, can be incredibly daunting. Investing in gear can get expensive and overwhelming. Borrow something or invest in some applicable outerwear that you can also wear on the range.
“I don’t know if I can harvest an animal.”
The harvest is actually a very small part of the hunt and you never know unless you try. There is always an option not to shoot. Ethics are imperative and every hunter should be aware of how to take an ethical shot on the game he/she is pursuing as well as when to shoot. Every hunter should understand how hunting fits into conservation and that ethical hunters have a positive impact on game animal populations. There is no guarantee you will see an animal, but the time in nature can expose you to things you otherwise would not notice.
“I don’t have time.”
How much time you invest depends on what time you have and what your goals are. You can spend just a few hours or days depending on what you choose. Hunting is also a way to spend quality time with the people you love. Investing time in nature may also rejuvenate you for all of your other activities and allow you to function better. Many hunting seasons also coincide with shooting off seasons.
Learning to hunt not only brings someone closer to nature, but is a life skill that one can use to feed a family. Though it is a much different application, hunting teaches that there is a reason accuracy is valued in shooting. While the center of a target may just be a goal in competitive shooting, it is the difference between a humane and inhumane death. This can make you a much more decisive shooter and while not everyone can earn a medal or trophy on the range, everyone can have the opportunity to harvest wild game.