While deliberating the merits of various shooting competitions and their usefulness for developing practical marksmanship skills, one commentator, whose opinion I hold in high regard, made the point that the true test of field marksmanship is in the field! He comments:

“What I propose is that people go hunting…yes, HUNTING. Egads, no cardboard, no steel, no points. Just shoot a damn animal and eat it. No animal, no shot, no food. Its motivating far more than any point system.”

At its best, HunterShooter, or any shooting system for that matter, can only attempt to simulate some facet of the real world. Even the most elaborate shooting systems, such as multi-million dollar live-fire shoot houses for police or military training, is only one organization’s best attempt to simulate reality as they see it. And with hunting you don’t have to wait for a tragedy or war to find our if your skills are adequate. Hunters can find out if their skills are up to speed in the real world every hunting season. This brings up the point, why bother? Why do hunters need an organized shooting system like HunterShooter?

We feel there are two major reasons why organized marksmanship events are important for the future success of hunting and shooting. There are specific benefits that can only be provided by such organized activity. These benefits are:

  • Better and more thourough development of individual skills
  • Superior promotion and publicity of hunting and shooting sports

Let’s look at them one at a time.

Developing individual skills

The first thing an organized shooting system provides is a greater awareness of shooting skill. The very nature of hunting requires hunters to pursue their activities alone or in small groups. Their knowledge is limited by their personal experience. By participating in a National-level organization open to the public, gun owners can learn first hand what the very best shooters are capable of and smash their preconceived notions. I like to call this smashing of barriers the “Bannister Effect.”

Let me give you an example. At a HunterShooter match I ran we had a “Standards” scenario where Participants engaged circular plates while being timed. The first part was a snap shot from “standard ready” (muzzle up, butt on belt) on an eight-inch plate at 25 yards. After the match, a few of us wanted to work out on this drill. I took the line and one of the new participants ran me through a few strings.

“I think these numbers are wrong” he said. Assuming he meant something was wrong with the watch, I dug an electronic shooting timer from my bag and repeated. Being a bit out of practice, I was taking around 1.2 seconds to deliver a hit.

“Oh, I guess the watch was fine,” my friend said. When I questioned him, he replied he didn’t believe you could present and shoot a rifle that fast. I explained that my times were mediocre at best and a good shot could cut the time to under a second. “By rights,” I went on, “we should be using a four-inch circle. Really good hunter-shooters can hit that in about 1.5 seconds.”

My friend has been hunting for decades, but this was his first HunterShooter Event. It really opened his eyes to what could be accomplished with a rifle up close. Our later trip to a KD range to shoot a High Power match was equally enlightening.

A National-level shooting organization provides motivation and drive to improve. First of all, the simple fact that Events happen regularly and on schedule provides a timeline for you. Every gun owner wants to improve their skills “some day”, but a regular HunterShooter Participant can’t wait as the next match is next month or weekend.

Also, any regular, organized shooting program for score motivates competition. We emphasize “Participant” and “Event” over “competitor” and “match” for more than semantic reasons. Organized shooting events don’t have to be run as a pure competition, but if there is a score involved, people will naturally compare notes. As noted firearms guru Jeff Cooper once said, “[T]he universal drive to excel spur[s] us to prove our shooting to be better than the next man’s”

Organized shooting sets standards. To date, no state in the Union requires a minimum marksmanship qualification to apply for a license to hunt. As a volunteer Hunter’s Education instructor I know the only “standard” to graduate from a safety course is to pass a written test and avoid shooting yourself during the field day! These courses have done much to promote safety (that’s why I donate my time), but do little to promote skill. HunterShooter fills this gap by providing set standards to meet. The Instruction Manual includes our Classifier. This standardized course allows any hunter-shooter in any part of the country to easily gauge their abilities. This eliminates the meaningless title of “Good Game Shot” and demonstrates who has really done their homework!

Finally, there is the issue of cost. Participating in a local HunterShooter Event provides more experience for less cost than hunting. A typical Event will have about four Scenarios with about five strings each for $5 – $10. Participants can gain the experience of shooting 20-30 bucks in varying situations at every match, and they are guaranteed to find abundant “game.” Here in Wisconsin, a deer license costs $20 ($135 for out of state) and you have nine days to shoot a single deer if you can find one. That means you’ll also have to invest adequate time for pre-season scouting before you can start. And then wait a whole year to try again . . .

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