Contributor: Ryan McSparran
Prey: Pronghorn Antelope
Location: Casper, WY
Years of Experience: 30
Shooting Practice For many hunters, a Wyoming pronghorn antelope hunt, or any western big game adventure represents a significant investment. For some, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. We asked our guides to list the top things hunters should do to be best prepared for a pronghorn antelope hunt. Their top answer, coming in just ahead of “physical conditioning,” was “shooting practice.”
Here is the advice of our guides when it comes to shooting practice for a western big game hunt: As hunters and sportsmen, we believe in taking only ethical, high percentage shots. And in order to do this, we need to be practicing with our weapons year-round. Both rifle and archery hunters need to spend serious time at the range in order to hone their shooting skills and truly dial-in their weapons.
Spending a couple days at the range in the weeks leading up to your hunt is no way to prepare. In addition to the ethics of shooting, just think about your investment in a hunt. You’re investing in license fees, travel costs, equipment and more. The last thing you want to do is blow a shooting opportunity. If you’re investing in everything else, you should be investing your time at the shooting range as well.
There is certainly more to shooting than sighting in your rifle at a shooting bench or your bow at a 20-yard hay bale the week before your hunt. Antelope hunting, as well as mule deer and elk hunting in Wyoming and across the west, frequently requires shots of 200 to 300 yards or more for rifle hunters. Being a proficient shooter at these distances requires patience, practice and time. We recommend starting your practice at short distances. This might be 50 yards for rifle hunters and 10 yards for archers. In these early sessions, work on your breathing, posture and trigger squeeze or release. When you feel very confident, move to incrementally longer distances, taking your time and focusing first on the fundamentals.
Next, begin shooting from different positions, first from short distances and then, progressively longer. Practice shooting from kneeling, sitting and offhand positions. Take your time and continue focusing on fundamentals, but from more realistic hunting positions. When you begin to feel very confident in your shooting from a number of positions, begin to add layers of difficulty. Sprint 25 yards, then pick up your weapon and shoot. Do 20 pushups, then get into position and shoot. We recommend that you even wear the clothing you’ll be taking on a hunt, including jackets. Make sure that you can maneuver in your hunting clothes.
Finally, in the weeks leading up to your hunt, we recommend that you mix these types of exercises with a steady focus on fundamentals and basic shooting. When it comes time to leave on your big hunt, you want to feel extremely confident in your abilities to execute an ethical shot – even under difficult conditions. For more information on hunts with SNS Outfitters, please visit our home page at huntwyo.com.