Newbie Question

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by akeate, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. akeate

    akeate AH Member

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    I, probably like most of you, have spent hours on this forum. It's great. But in all my searching I haven't found this answer so I apologize in advance if it's been asked before and I am repeating what has already been asked.

    I am a relatively new hunter. I have shot guns quite a bit but not consistently up until recently haven't really made a concentrated effort to dramatically improve my shooting. So what do I do? I book a quick PG hunt to South Africa to provide motivation. Brilliant? No. But I'm committed so here we go. And what's better than booking a great hunt? Buying a new, bigger rifle of course. Again, not the smartest thing in the world. So now I have made another bonehead move.

    See, I am comfortable shooting my .270 deer rifle. I bought a .300 Rem Ultra Mag. I have committed to the rifle (Form 4457, Hunter Support Documentation sent, etc.) but shooting steady off of shooting sticks standing is something I have never really done....... at all. I always slung a pack on the ground, kneeled with sticks, or sat with sticks. So with a new rifle and an unfamiliar shooting position, I am questioning myself. But my main question is distance of the average PG shot. What is the average distance? When we elk hunt and deer hunt we try to close the distance as much as possible and make a clean and ethical shot. No 500 yard running on the other side of the canyon shots. We are hunting Gemsbok, Warthog, Impala, and Blue Wildebeest.

    So basically, at what distance do I need to be deadly proficient? Thanks ahead of time.
     
  2. saeng101

    saeng101 AH Veteran

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    The .270 is a good choice if you are not comfortable. I was a POOR shot before I did my first trip in 1975. Went to the range and shot 20 bullets a week for 10 weeks, made all of the difference. Not that this answered your question. 100 yds is a normal range, all but the Gemsbok will probably be less than 50yd. The Gemsbok are open veld animals so a shot is usually longer, but then the target is bigger. Consider sighting in about 1.5" high at 100, this gives you dead on at 50 and 200.

    While sticks are nice I vastly prefer a tree to brace to. One of the positions in the SA test (CHASA) is 200m from a natural brace. As I am sure that you know, only the stock touches the brace.
     
  3. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    welcome to AH...

    Make a set of shooting sticks from garden 6 ft. bamboo stakes. use vacuum cleaner drive belt to secure the top about 6inches from the top. set up in living room and use dummy loads to practice shooting and being steady on the sticks. Use a plains game target to aim at and see if you are steady before the trigger pull and after the pull. more that one dummy load allow you to practice cycling the bolt action.

    then to to the rifle range and start at 50 yds and work out to 200 yds. off the sticks...
     
  4. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    All depends where you hunt? While there are plenty of areas where careful stalking can get you a close shot of 100 yds or less. There is also plenty of open area in Africa and it may require a shot of 250 yds. All depends if you are hunting for the right animal or any animal.

    I can tell you I wouldn't be good with a 300 Rem Ultra Mag. unless it had a big muzzle brake. I'd rather hunt with a 270 Win and Barnes bullets. The 300 Win is overkill in most cases. I should know I have shot it enough to know. I think the 7mm Rem Mag is more than plenty. Shot placement is EVERYTHING and if you can't shoot a pie plate everytime off sticks at 250 yds standing it's time to find another gun. And I would practice off of standing sticks.

    Some guys on here are really good shots with big guns and I can too with practice. But if you wanted a fancy shooting lesson from me any day of the week....I'd be carrying my 270 Win or 7mm Rem Mag out.
     
  5. firehuntfish

    firehuntfish AH Veteran

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    Dear akeate,

    First off, I would practice with your new .300 ultra-mag as much as humanly possible between now and then. That cannon is night and day from the .270 you are accustomed to....You can shoot prone, kneeling, crosslegged, or whatever you feel comfortable with. The issue is that 99% of your practical shot opportunities will come from a standing position shooting from sticks....Lots of tall grass and low bush to deal with.... I would get a good pair of sticks and practice upright standing, and be proficient out to 100yds...Your shots will average 70-100 yards in a bushveld type terrain. You may need to shoot much longer if you are hunting one of the open cape regions.. A good Ph will alwyas work hard to get you the best shot possible...

    The good news is that you have a much bigger margin of error with the .300UM... The damage created is much greater than that of your .270...A decent hit with the right expanding round, and they won't go far.... If you are not shooting sub-3" groups @100yards by the time you leave. I would plan on taking your .270 as well.....have fun!
     
  6. Thunder head

    Thunder head AH Enthusiast

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    Remember,
    Shooting off sticks is not like shooting of the bench or even seated off short sticks. I was quite frustrated at first because i couldnt shoot groups as tight as i wanted with my .223 much less the .375. After plenty of practice i am okay out to 200 yards with the .375. Probably average 2-3" groups which is good enough for most of the bigger stuff anyway.
    At every range session start off with your .270 to get a feel for the sticks then switch too the big boy.
     
  7. TerryR

    TerryR AH Veteran

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    Check with your outfitter regarding how long of a shot you can expect. In my 4 hunts in Botswana, the okavango delta and the kalahari desert, most of my shots were less than 100 yds and only one was over 200. Shoot from a standing position as much as you can before going. I suggest that you shoot 50 - 100 rounds of 22Lr a week heading up to your hunt, and at least 50 rounds (over several sessions ) with the rifles that you are planning to use. the 22 to ingrain proper technique, the others to get used to your rifle and load. When you actually shoot there you won't feel the recoil.
    If you are going for plains game, with the exception of eland, a 300 ultra mag is at the high end of recommended calibers. For most species your 270 will suffice and a 30-06 is ideal. If you reload i would download to the level consistent with a 300 WM. Why put up with noise and recoil that you don't need. If you don't reload I suggest that you work up to the ultra mag slowly shooting no more than 5 rounds a session until you are comfortable with it. Also I echo the suggestion that you make or buy shooting sticks and get comfortable with them. Regarding where to hunt. My suggestion is to keep going to Botswana and do 2-3 days on a photo camp in the okavango delta then move on to Ghanzi for a plains game ranch hunt in the kalahari. Namibia also gets rave reviews. regardless do you homework and go.
     
  8. Hank2211

    Hank2211 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    Akaete, all good advice. I second in particular TerryR's question - where will you be shooting? In hunting Zimbabwe, 100 yards has been a long shot for me, and I always kept the rifle zeroed at 100. When I got to the Northern Cape in South Africa, the PH wanted my rifle (.300 Win Mag) zeroed at 200 yards, and that was a bit short for some plains species that are hard to sneak up on - springbuck and black wildebeest in particular (longest shot was just shy of 300). Having said that, you need to tell your PH what you're comfortable with, and if that's shorter shots until you get used to the sticks, he'll adapt.

    I have no doubt you'll also adapt very quickly!

    Good luck!
     
  9. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Committed you are.

    As others have said you are using a flat shooting rifle. Zero out to 200 and practice off the home made sticks.

    Develop your own sense of what distance you are comfortable and you are willing to pull the trigger at.
    If not, the wonderful pay for the trophy fee Wounded animal plus VAT will be added to the bill.

    I never had to shoot at anything beyond 200 yards.

    Welcome to AH.
     
  10. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Practice at least a few shots out as far as you can shoot on your range and hit at least 2 out of 5 shots. Shooting the longer shots always makes the ones within your known effective range seem like chip shots and the farther ones tend to help you concentrate on your shooting form. Just concentrate on letting your crosshairs settle as much as you comfortably can and gently squeeze the shot off and you will be suprised how many of them hit closer than you expected, if you miss oh well, you knew you were shooting too far anyway, these long range misses are easy to sluff off without hurting your confidence and really improve your shorter range accuracy.
     
  11. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    You have received some excellent advice. The last time I went to Africa I shot around 300 rds from my 22-250, 100 from my 7mm and more from my .22 mag. EVERY night I practiced dry firing my 7mm. I used a set of Trigger sticks and took them to Africa. My sons PH kept them. Practice dry firing 10-15 min AM and PM the 3-4 weeks before you go. It will help trigger memory. Have a great hunt. Bruce
     
  12. timbear

    timbear AH Enthusiast

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    Welcome to AH. I think you asked a very pertinent question that has been bugging me for a while. I have gone and bought a Zastava .22LR (because it was the heaviest .22 I could find, and therefore closest in weight to my hunting rifle), made shooting sticks from bamboo as James recommended, and spent a lot of time shooting it off sticks at game targets. When I was comfortable, towards the end of each shooting day, I used my deer rifle (6.5x55mm) and my big rifle (.375 H&H) off the same sticks, 5-10 rounds each. It has improved my shooting considerably.
     
  13. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    I had the same idea. I bought a Ruger 77/22 target model which is similar in weight and feel to my big game rifles, after the initial hit it really saves alot of money in ammo and never heats up so I can shoot as much as I want in a session. Its great! I literally shot 1000s of rounds off of my porch before heading overseas.
     
  14. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I bought a M77 Ruger in a .223 a long time back to practice with, I can tell you it not even remotely effective in teaching you how to shoot a 300 Rem Ultra Mag. They are not even close!

    While shooting a 22 or whatever may teach you how to acquire a target fast and shoot quickly or the proper way to hold a gun steady....it ain't going to prepare you for the teeth jarring hit of a 300 Rem Ultra Mag.. Shooting a BIG BORE takes practice shooting it and not being afraid of getting punched in the shoulder or face from the recoil. And heck just learning how to hold the beast still through the shoot is probably the hardest thing!!! I have seen plenty of people learn to hold a 270 WIN still but anything that shoots 3X harder they will never learn.

    I thought my 7mm Rem Mag shot hard...after shooting the 300 Win Mag I never complained about the 7mm Rem Mag and in fact learned to really LOVE the gun. I have shot up to 416 Rigby (hot loads) and am still amazed at how much a 300 Rem Ultra Mag shoots. I could never hold one steady at long distance. The last time I was in Africa a lot hunters had them and were missing everything at long distance and I was not shocked at all. I figured they couldn't hold the gun hard enough through the recoil.
     
  15. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Certainly if someone is recoil sensitive that must be taken into account but assuming recoil is not an issue with the shooter (we all have our limits) then I think that large volumes of small bore practice is very effective and far better than little or no practice with a bigger rifle. Also if someone is recoil sensitive then shooting a bone jarring caliber until their shoulder turns a nice shade of purple will not help them.
     
  16. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Veteran

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    If you reload then load it down. If you do not reload the factory make 3 power levels for the 300ultra mag. If I remember correctly they are 30-06/300win mag and then 300ultra mag. You will probably find the middle level is all you need and they have considerable less recoil than the all out loads. The ultra mag is a huge step from a 270 and unless you enjoy recoil it is a bad choice in full power loads. Remember a well placed shot from a 270 or lower power level of the 300 is much more desirable than a poorly placed or missed shot from an all out 300ultra mag. Plus if you do not already have one, get a good brake on that mag. As much as I hate brakes that is one rifle that really needs one.
     
  17. buffybr

    buffybr AH Veteran

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    A lot of good advise has been given here, and it all boils down to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE. Practice dry firing daily with the rifle that you will be hunting with. Practice at least weekly at the range with a light kicking rifle, like a .22 rimfire, AND with your hunting rifle. And practice shooting from field positions: standing, sitting, kneeling, prone, and off your sticks. I have killed game animals in Africa from all of these positions.

    Like others, I built my own set of 3 leg bamboo shooting sticks. I fastened mine together with strips cut from an old tire inner tube. I also padded the tops of my sticks with inner tube strips to protect the stocks of my rifles. When you are shooting off the sticks, if you can rest your right elbow (for right handed shooters) on something solid, you will be able to hold more steady on your target.

    The .22 rifle that I do most of my practice with is a Remington 541T that has a 3-9x scope on it and it has the same length of pull as my hunting rifles, so it feels the same to shoot as my hunting rifles.

    I also handload all of my ammunition and for each of my hunting rifles, I have developed light kicking and inexpensive loads with cast bullets, reduced or lighter kicking, and less expensive practice loads, and of course full power hunting loads. For several months before a hunt I will go to the range every week and practice with all of these loads.

    In 2005 I booked a Cape Buffalo hunt in Zimbabwe and another week of plains game in South Africa. For the Buffalo, I bought a .375 Ultra mag rifle. I have hunted western deer and elk since 1965, goose and duck hunted, and have shot over 500 12-ga shells per day in Trap and Skeet competitions, but none of that compared to the first 6 rounds that I shot through that .375 RUM. To say that it was brutal is an understatement, and it was not fun at all to shoot. To tame the recoil on that monster, I had a KDF muzzle brake installed on it, and I put a mercury recoil reducer in it's stock. Since then I've shot hundreds of rounds through it and have taken it to Africa twice, shooting 18 animals with it. I have even shot several animals with it from prone positions, without any problems from recoil.

    Last month I took my .300 Weatherby to South Africa and made 6 one shot kills with it. The closest shot was offhand on a Sable bull at 40 yds, and the longest shot was from a kneeling position on a Klipspringer at 314 yds. This rifle also has a KDF muzzle brake and an in-stock recoil reducer. I let my PH shoot it off the bench, and he said that it kicked less than his 7x64 that he was shooting.

    Akeate asked "So basically, at what distance do I need to be deadly proficient?" Like others have posted, most PH's will try their hardest to get you within 200 to 250 yds, and probably to get you within 100 yds of your quary. With proper shot placement, your .270 would easily kill any of the animals that you listed. On my first South African hunt, I used a 7 mm Rem mag shooting 140 gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets to make one shot kills on a gemsbok, an impala, a blue wildebeest, and several other animals. Perhaps not the best bullet, but shots were all about 100 to 150 yds, and bullet placement was good because I was comfortable and confidet in shooting that rifle.

    I think the big magnum rifles (Weatherbys, RUMs) have a bad reputation in Africa (and elsewhere) because guys think or are told that their deer rifles are not enough gun for the African PG animals (or elk). So right before their trip they will buy a bigger calilber rifle, and not practice enough with it to become familiar and proficient with it, and perhaps they are afraid of the increased recoil, so when they get to their hunt they will either flinch or not stay on their gun at the shot and they will miss their targets.

    Choose a gun that you are comfortable shooting and are proficient with, choose a bullet that will carry to the vitals of the largest animal that you will be hunting, learn where to place your shots, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
     
  18. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Hit the nail right on the head. The other performance buster is sighting your gun in different than normal for a hunt. When you have to shoot quick instincts kick in and you WILL naturally aim like you normally should and if you have some different zero than you are used to you will mess up. Stick with what you know and are farmiliar with.
     
  19. Bert the Turtle

    Bert the Turtle AH Enthusiast

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    Call Gunsite or Thunder ranch and tell them what it is you are planning to do. Take a week of time and whatever it costs and get professional instruction from one of these top schools. You will learn more and make more improvements in a week learning from the best than you can possibly imagine.

    From a hardware standpoint, I'd rather have an old reliable 270 that I've put 500 rounds through in the last month than a 300 whatever magnum with a box through it. My '06 has been enough gun for everything up to eland, and a 270 isn't much different.

    In the end, it is not a matter of "how far do I need to learn to shoot". Of course, the farther you can shoot, the better off you are, but what really matters is knowing how far you can shoot and then sticking to your abilities. To take it to a ridiculous extreme, if you have to get within bowhunting range, tell your PH right up front, and make shots only within that range. But it is critical for your enjoyment and for the respect of the animals that you stick within your effective range, whatever that is.
     
  20. akeate

    akeate AH Member

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    I really appreciate all the answers. I put a different recoil pad on and have now shot 200 rounds thru the RUM. Yes, 5 40 rounds sessions. Believe it or not, my iron sight .22 off of the shooting sticks while sending has helped the most. I found a body position that I am more relaxed and comfortable in standing and it's been much better. I have a week and a half before I go to SA so I will probably have another 100 rounds thru it by then.

    All of the suggestions have been extremely helpful. Thank you.
     

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