How relevant is organized range training to the hunting field? Can matches and classes and other HunterShooter events really help you become a better hunter?

The following was sent to me by a retired professional big game guide.

“I was never a famous name guide, but facts are facts and this is what I experienced.

“Have to believe you are right about the importance of organized shooting. I shoot NRA and CMP Service Rifle. I am not that great a shot, generally shoot in the low end “Expert” range, but I shoot these matches for precisely the reasons you push HunterShooter events: Competition and time constraints make you do funny things, unless you know how to handle the pressure (mostly from experience) and the problems that crop up.

“I routinely invite friends, buddies, and shooting acquaintances to give matches a try. I always offer the use of a rifle and ammo and gear, and am always more than happy to give some pre-match training, etc. I have had exactly TWO people take me up on it. One was a former High Power shooter, now back into it after his feet were rewet, and the other a complete newbie.

“The old saw about ‘can’t hit a target but I never miss my deer’ is pretty old and soggy in my book. I have never taken a competent shot out and had a lousy performance from them in the field. I have taken plenty of ‘good game shots’ out and had them discover that animals move and there is no bench rest handy. What can a guy say after seeing this type of thing over and over?

“I always preferred guiding prairie goats and muleys. The goaters I like the best, cause to me it was like chess on a giant scale. Outwit, outthink, be where they WILL be and have your hunter set up and ready. Mostly I’d have fellows set up for a 75 to 125 yard shot. Most would guess it to be anywhere to 200 yards and beyond. Never let a client shoot over 200, cause you don’t have enough hours in the day to chase the cripples.”