I am going to put together a hunter marksmanship program for a Venturing Crew of teenagers I work with. I would appreciate your thoughts on developing a program with a view to having them hunt big game in the Spring.

I’d break the program into three phases:

  • Position shooting
  • Timed shooting
  • Field shooting

Position shooting would be working on fundamental marksmanship from shooting positions. Unless you are working with physically disabled people, use no benchrests.

I’d do this as 3-5 shot slow fire exercises shot and scored on appropriately-sized bullseye targets. Appropriate size would be an aiming mark scaled to vital zone size with at least two interior scoring rings. For example, the B-6 pistol target is an eight-inch mark (suitable for smaller big game animals) with a 9, 10 and X-ring inside. The SR-3 rifle target is an 18-inch mark (suitable for large big game) also with a 9, 10 and X-ring inside. If you’re limit to, say, a fixed range of 100 yards, use scaled targets (a four-inch bullseye for an eight-inch vital at 200 yards)

Let the shooters work various positions, sling, and other equipment options. Rather than dictate a given group be shot from specified positions, let shooters decide what intermediate position (sitting, kneeling, squatting, etc.) better suits them. Recruit shooters with a High Power, Smallbore or similar background to help with coaching.

Timed shooting is single shots starting from some ready position and fired on the clock. Don’t establish or enforce a time limit, rather, have shooters determine the best way to secure hits quickly. I’d do this on appropriately-sized steel (same size as the estimated vital zone) scored hit or miss. Strictly enforce an accuracy standard based on percentage of hits, which should be nearly 100% on the vital-zone targets. Going faster is encouraged but missed shots are NEVER acceptable. Doing this after scored position shooting ensures fundamentals are learned first. If possible, recruit 3 Gun, Service Conditions, or similar action shooters with long gun experience to help coaching.

Field shooting is shooting on silhouettes with performance and time pressure in some sort of scenario. In other words, a HunterShooter event or similar.

Obviously, this template took me all of five minutes to spell out, so there’s more detail worth considering. Just spitting out some ideas.