OK, you’ve purchased great shooting gear, but can you use it to its full potential? If you feel inadequate in your ability to hit running game, shoot long range or handle weather-driven accuracy issues, seek out help. Local sportsmen’s clubs, shooting ranges and even specialized shooting schools all have experts on hand, and instruction to make you a better shot. Some advice may be free, others may cost you an annual fee and schools, like those at Gunwerks, might cost more, but it could help you get rid of those shooting demons hiding inside. You can also home school yourself and that begins by ditching your shooting bench.

Sight in your firearm and leave the bench behind. Your goal is to practice like you hunt. Shoot offhand, off shooting sticks, off bipods, at extreme angles and extreme distances. Most dedicated predator hunters shoot year-round, but if you can’t afford that much time at least set aside a few weekends over the year to hone skills. In the process determine your lethal range and know when to say “no” during a hunt.

Are you looking for more reality in your practice hours? Try shooting at metal silhouettes or even popup targets. Paper gets the job done, but metal provides the clank of success with targets that last a lifetime and some even reset. This saves you money and time while providing years of service with proper care. Just add paint when the target shows bullet wear. Hide them in brush or peeping from behind shrubs for reality without the skinning chore.

Many firearm ranges now include metal-silhouette targets and your annual fee gives you access to those targets. For an economical target check out Hornady’s Self-Healing Targets, good for all calibers. It may not clank, but it flips when smacked, yet reseals itself. MGM Targets manufactures one of the largest lines of popup targets to save you time from changing out paper. Simply shoot at the silhouette target and it will reset after a solid hit. Do-All has a variety of re-setting targets including several metal targets constructed for centerfire calibers. One makes you shoot the colored targets and then you re-set the target trio by hitting the third, black target. You can also purchase their Vital Addiction models in deer and coyote. They offer realistic game species targets with a metal zone that noticeably flip out when hit and automatically reset without assistance.

It’s satisfying to post a target with sub MOA results, but it’s even more satisfying to hit a coyote peeking from brush as you maneuver a bullet through branches. Practice can help you make that shot.