Head to the Shooting Range for Summer Predator Practice

If it's too hot to be out chasing coyotes or varmints, at least get in some summer predator practice by going to the shooting range with your favorite rifle.
Head to the Shooting Range for Summer Predator Practice

Not everyone likes to hunt predators in the warm-weather months. Some prefer to keep those critters around until their fur is as thick as 1970s shag carpet. Despite this reluctance to tip over a toothy predator you should still consider getting in some rifle practice between summer thundershowers.

A few of you may revert to varmint hunting weekends, but if you are looking for just an hour to escape from lawn duties consider pounding pasture targets.

Begin your practice regiment by locating a safe shooting environment. A first stop should be any local shooting facilities near home. A managed shooting facility could have a long-range course ready for use, complete with metal targets.Metal silhouette ranges allow you to practice in real-world settings minus some of the vegetation you might encounter during an actual hunt. If a nearby range has a silhouette course with varying distances, make it a top priority to visit and evaluate if it will give you added practice advantages.

A bonus to utilizing a shooting range facility is you can make a quick stop at the 100- or 200-yard bench to confirm the zero of your rifle. If a local range doesn’t offer this metal luxury reach out to a friend, relative or a landowner acquaintance to gain permission for shooting practice on their property.

Your goal is to find a remote pasture with safe backdrops where you can hide targets in settings comparable to your hunt scenarios. Show respect and offer to help the landowner with any chores if permission is granted. The relationship could even lead to predator hunting opportunities in the future.

Shooting metal silhouettes is a great, fun way to enjoy summer range practice to get ready for autumn and winter predator hunting. (Photo: Mark Kayser)

Now Stretch It Out

It’s now time to move beyond the bench.

To get the most out of your pasture pounding, ditch the standard bull’s eye target and switch to targets that don’t stand out. They should also be approximately the size of future predator goals. Metal silhouette targets or water-filled milk jugs come to mind, but you can also craft predator outlines on cardboard boxes. Regardless of what you use, make sure the target doesn’t stand out. Use spray paint to camouflage filled milk jugs or to dull boxes with attached targets. Coyotes don’t stand out in the brush and neither should your targets. You may also want to veil targets behind brush and limbs, specifically lining up a few branches to guarantee a bullet obstacle. Try this with branches immediately in front of the target and several yards out in front to alter conditions and effects. This lesson will help you see how bullets react or deflect when contacting foliage.

After setting up your targets at varying distances you need to take on the same mindset you have while predator hunting. In brief, select shooting positions like you would use during a typical predator hunt. This means shooting at targets from odd positions and from unsteady shooting platforms. Shoot from standing, kneeling, prone and seated positions, with and without shooting aids. You should also confirm your dope chart by tackling longer distances and judging how far your bullet will drift during breezy conditions.

I’m fortunate to have a son who is an even more avid shooter than his dad. He’s literally littered our horse pasture with handgun and long-range metal targets. When he’s home during a school break it’s almost a guarantee he’ll challenge me and my Bergara to a pasture shootout to see who can land the Hornady bullets better. I typically lose, but it’s the practice that counts!


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