The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One Shot, One...

Today while shooting SKRAP (trying to hit wobble trap targets from skeet stations) with friends at the Southern Michigan Gun Club, I was listening to some rather “intense” rapid fire coming from one of the rifle ranges and started thinking about the benefits (or lack of) of rapid fire.

On the occasion that I got my first whitetail deer (Opening Day or November 15th of 2003) someone was just blasting away with what I believe was an extended magazine shotgun, and from first light to 9:00 AM I heard this person shoot at least two strings of eight shots from it.

That was at least a bit unnerving, and today I wonder if that person was a card-carrying member of PETA just trying to keep deer out of harms way!

Anyhow, I just continued to consider the benefits of rapid fire versus deliberate or precise shooting, and remembered a scene from the film “River of No Return”, which besides featuring a wonderfully beautiful Marilyn Monroe, has one of the best dialogues on proper rifleman ship that I ever heard.

Matt Calder (Robert Mitchum) is teaching his son Mark (Tommy Rettig) how to shoot, and before Mark takes the first shot they have the following conversation:

Matt:    “What is important?”
Mark:   “To hit the target.

Matt:    “When?
Mark:   “The first shot.

Matt:    “Why?
Mark:   “Because I might not get another.

If that is not the best and most concise lesson on rifleman ship ever, I don’t know where to find a better one.

To continue to pursue the point of accurate shooting versus “spray and pray” I also looked for some for some data on military snipers. Several years ago I read (don’t remember where) that during the Vietnam War on average 12,000 (that is right, twelve thousand) shots of small arms ammunition were required to cause an enemy casualty, while snipers had an average of 1.42 shots per “kill”, or 70% hit ratio.

Finally, I tried to recall my own record of big game hunting (which is not particularly extensive), and if memory serves me, I shot to date twenty-four animals from multiple species, at ranges varying from less than ten feet (alligator which I shot with a .38 Special revolver) to over 300 yards (a Kudu shot with a .30-06 rifle). The total number of shots that I fired at game was twenty-nine, which would result on average of 1.20 shots per kill, or 83% hit ratio.

In no way I want to compare myself favorably against military snipers. First, my shots are at much shorter distance; second, animals are not shooting back at me.

In the 1993 Gun Digest (47th Annual Edition), Ken Warner, the editor at the time, made “A Modest Proposal” (page 6). Basically he proposed that the sportsmen should limit the amount of ammunition they bring afield as a way to either cure or prevent slob hunters.

The point is that we hunters, shooters and sportsmen are probably much better if we concentrate in being better shots than just increasing the amount of lead and other metals that we pour in our woods, fields and mountains.

This is not only safer and good for the environment, but also easier on our wallets and brings more game to our ladders.


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