Appropriate Size Target for Practice off Sticks

jcnelsn1

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Been dry firing off shooting sticks for awhile. Got my steel target range set up this weekend and shot off the sticks for real the first time this evening. Just using my .17 HMR to start. Thoughts on the appropriate size steel target for practicing for an Africa hunt? I have mainly 6 inch round targets set up with a few 8 inch and 10 inch spaced from 100 to 250 yards.
 

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Can give this a try at 100.
 

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If you can ding those on the regular, you should be able to put a few critters in the salt.
 

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Before our trip in June we shot 50-300 mostly 6 inch steel. At 50 yards we hit paper to 1-1-1/2 moa. In Africa shortage shot was 60 yards and longest was 257. Most were under 100. I had my son practice dry firing with snap caps off the sticks while looking at the shot placement photos from this site. 30 Days before we flew out. Set up the sticks fast, aim then shot and reload.
 

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6" is about the vital area on the small plains game. If you can do this, no medium or large PG with vital areas 8" or 10" stands a chance :)

"Aim small, miss small" has always been an extremely valuable advice for shooting practice, as well as the famous Jerry Barber quote "the harder I practice, the luckier I get."

I can assure you that getting to 100% hit on a 6" steel plate is daunting at 100 yards for the first few months, but that after a year or so and many thousands of .22 LR rounds, and with the proper shooting form, you will find it quite doable to hit 6 to 8 times out of 10 that very same 6" plate at 300 yards with a .223. This is why you want to have both .22 LR (first), and .223 (second) training capabilities. If funds are unlimited one .22 and one .223 barrel for your upcoming R8 is the ideal solution, but if funds are not unlimited, any full size, decent quality bolt action .22 rifle will do in the beginning, and you only need the .223 barrel in the long run :)

Of course the .17 HMR works great too, but I understand that ammo for it is significantly more expensive than 500 rounds bulk .22 LR. I have personally used Thunderbolt ($25 for 500) and while they spread about 4 to 5 MOA at 150 yards, this is good enough to stay inside a 6" plate...

By the time you get to 80% hits on a 6" plate at 300 yards, there is not much Africa can throw at you that you will not kill cleanly, because, in truth, most PG have vital areas far bigger than 6" ;)

Bog Adrenaline & Blaser R8.jpg

6" plate at 300 yards with the .223? Yes, you can! But not before burning a few thousands .22 LR rounds at 50, 100, 150 yards for a few months, and increasing the range to 200, then 250...

My own experience is that a range finder with ballistic program and a scope with ballistic turret are necessary: MPBR drop on most calibers will not forgive much on a 6" plate when walking back and forth from 100 to 300 yards and shooting at random distances... I use a Leica RangeMaster 2000 B and I have a Swarovski 4-12x50 BT on my R8 .223 barrel. They work great.
 
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jcnelsn1

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6" is about the vital area on the small plains game. If you can do this, no medium or large PG with vital areas 8" or 10" stands a chance :)

"Aim small, miss small" has always been an extremely valuable advice for shooting practice, as well as the famous Jerry Barber quote "the harder I practice, the luckier I get."

I can assure you that getting to 100% hit on a 6" steel plate is daunting at 100 yards for the first few months, but that after a year or so and many thousands of .22 LR rounds, and with the proper shooting form, you will find it quite doable to hit 6 to 8 times out of 10 that very same 6" plate at 300 yards with a .223. This is why you want to have both .22 LR (first), and .223 (second) training capability. If funds are unlimited one .22 and one .223 barrel for your upcoming R8 is the ideal solution, but if funds are not unlimited, any full size, decent quality bolt action .22 rifle will do in the beginning, and you only need the .223 barrel in the long run :)

View attachment 425526
6" plate at 300 yards with the .223? Yes, you can! But not before burning a few thousands .22 LR rounds at 50, 100, 150 yards for a few months, and increasing the range to 200, then 250...

My own experience says that a range finder with ballistic program and a scope with ballistic turret are necessary. MPBR drop on most caliber will not forgive much on a 6" plate when walking back and forth from 100 to 300 yards and shooting at random distances... I use a Leica RangeMaster 2000 B and I have a Swarovski 4-12x50 BT on my R8 .223 barrel. They work great.
My plan is very similar except using a .17 HMR instead of a .22. I already own a pretty accurate .17 that I have taken prairie dogs out to 200 yards with. My .22 is a semi auto with less than stellar accuracy. Getting an R8 that I will get a .223 barrel for practice and some varmint shooting
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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Been dry firing off shooting sticks for awhile. Got my steel target range set up this weekend and shot off the sticks for real the first time this evening. Just using my .17 HMR to start. Thoughts on the appropriate size steel target for practicing for an Africa hunt? I have mainly 6 inch round targets set up with a few 8 inch and 10 inch spaced from 100 to 250 yards.
@jcnelsn1
Using the 17hmr I would make my target at 100 yards 3"and a maximum of 6" at 200.
With my son I used a spinner target with 1,2,and 3 inch discs. Started at 50 yards with the 1 and 2" then moved to a hundred and he had to be able to hit the 3" off the sticks and field positions.
This was with his 22lr.
It is cheaper than the 17hmr and challenges you. If you can do this with a 22 you will have no issues with your full size rifle.

You will be amazed how hard it is to consistently hit a 2 or 3" inch target off sticks and in field positions with a 4 power scope..
Bob
 

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I would suggest 10 inch gongs but paint a 2 MOA dot in the middle

it is not beyond the skill of most hunters to train themselves to reliably hit a 2 inch target off sticks with a centre fire @ 100m

that sort of competence on the range leaves a margin for error in the field

something else I do for myself and clients is put up a silhouette of a dear (or any quarry) in plywood but have a gong hidden behind the silhouette at the correct heart and lung area

that way the shooter learns his way around the animal without a target area giving away the correct POA

as said above .22lr practice is cheap and invaluable

I have youngsters that come to me Monday to Friday- all of them can hit a 2” gong @ 100m 4 out of 5 times with the .22. Most can hit it even if it is still swinging

Most can hit an 8” gong out of hand whilst standing at 100m. Shooting freehand is a perishable skill though and requires regular practice
 
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Forrest Halley

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I would suggest 10 inch gongs but paint a 2 MOA dot in the middle

it is not beyond the skill of most hunters to train themselves to reliably hit a 2 inch target off sticks with a centre fire @ 100m

that sort of competence on the range leaves a margin for error in the field

something else I do for myself and clients is put up a silhouette of a dear (or any quarry) in plywood but have a gong hidden behind the silhouette at the correct heart and lung area

that way the shooter learns his way around the animal without a target area giving away the correct POA

as said above .22lr practice is cheap and invaluable

I have youngsters that come to me Monday to Friday- all of them can hit a 2” gong @ 100m 4 out of 5 times with the .22. Most can hit it even if it is still swinging

Most can hit an 8” gong out of hand whilst standing at 100m. Shooting freehand is a perishable skill though and requires regular practice
I agree with a target on the gong especially larger gongs. Gongs are featureless and will cause your groups to open up and walk all over as you use the whole gong. Drawing crosshairs on it allows you to see your drop at various ranges and become in tune with trajectory. Also avoid the tendency to shoot the gong so much that you are making an unknown hit.
 

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African sporting creations has to scale sized targets in plains game and dangerous game. Example I think the springbok was scaled to shoot at 47 yds as if you are shooting at a live springbok at 100 yds.
 

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On those targets the reverse side shows the vitals so you can see if you made a killing shot.

I have a few of those

They make great training targets

Further to my last

Two of my students hit a 2" gong 2 out of 5 whilst freestanding today

One of them even hit it whilst it was presenting a .5" target as it had spun onto its edge

Clearly the student is better than the teacher now

J
 

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Training objectives: skills, confidence, realism...

This is an interesting discussion because two concepts emerge: something like 6" @ 100 yards, and something like 2" @ 100 yards.

First let me observe that 2" @ 100 yards is 2 MOA. Therefore, theoretically, to hit reliably 4" at 200 yards, or 6" at 300 yards, requires the same shooting skills as hitting 2" at 100 yards. There is therefore a strong logic for the 2" plate at 100 yards.

However, although I do use 6" at 300 yards, which is 2 MOA, when I invite friends to learn to shoot off the sticks I do not use 2" at 100 yards. I still use 6" at 100 yards, which is 6 MOA, then 200 yards, which is 3 MOA. Why?

The reason for this is that the other objective of training, besides developing skills, is to develop self confidence and trust in one's shooting.

Skills and confidence...

As Bob Nelson 35Whelen stated: "You will be amazed how hard it is to consistently hit a 2 or 3" inch target off sticks and in field positions (at 100 yards) with a 4 power scope."

It was not all that long ago that shooting 1 MOA from the bench was the gold standard, often unattained, for hunting rifles and hunters. Countless piles of ammo were shot (and still are) to find which load would do this in which barrel, and countless dollars were spent (and still are) on gunsmithing accurizing jobs to go down from 2 MOA from the bench.

Shooting 2 MOA standing off the sticks is a lot more difficult than shooting 2 or 1 MOA seating from the bench, and it is my belief that setting immediately the goal of shooting 2 MOA standing off the sticks, especially with centerfire rifles of appropriate PG caliber (say .25 and up) is counter productive for shooters new to the sticks. They will likely almost never hit and will get discouraged...

Yes, a 6" plate at 100 yards will encourage less precise rifle control skills, but it will also encourage confidence-building in the beginner. As confidence and skills grow, that same 6" plate that represents 6 MOA at 100 yards, will represent 3" MOA at 200 yards, and in time 2" MOA at 300 yards.

As to realism, ANY hit in a 6" vital area will reliably kill any PG bigger than the Tiny Ten (and any DG - except for elephant, hippo, croc brain shots, but these shots are taken typically at close range).

Keep in mind that hunting shots are not judged with a scoring gauge, and that staying within 6" AT THE DISTANCE THE ANIMAL IS SHOT already provides a safety margin that grows as the animal size grows, because, actually, the vital areas of commonly hunted game are larger than 6":
--- Pronghorn / small deer / small African antelopes: ~8"
--- Medium size deer / medium African antelope: ~10"
--- Large deer / North American wild sheep / mountain goat: ~12"
--- Elk / large African antelope: ~14"
--- Moose / Eland: ~16"

I am certainly NOT advocating for "spray and pray", but I am advocating for realism. Any hunter who keeps his shots consistently, reliably, predictably in 6" AT THE DISTANCE THE ANIMAL IS SHOT will kill cleanly and ethically, and it is absolutely great for someone new to the sticks to hold 6" at 150 yards, which is a very common shooting distance in many hunting scenario in Africa. Believe you me, any PH that I know would be ecstatic if most clients showing up in Africa could do that; it is the exception rather than the rule...

Additionally, there is a lot more real-world hunting value in shooting relatively fast in 6" at 150 yards rather than shooting slow in 3", never mind 2".

When the range opens to 200 or 300 yards in open plains or hills, there is generally more time to take the shot, and having practiced, and been humbled, on 6" will yield great confidence and success, as straying a bit wider than 6" due to excitement, fatigue, wind, uncertain position, rush, etc. will still produce great killing shots on medium and larger PG.

I would recommend to start building the skills and confidence on 6" at 100 yards, because it represents the reality of hunting, and as skills and confidence grow, there is a lot more value in pushing the 6" plate to 200 and 300 yards than there is in reducing the size of the plate to 2" at 100 yards.

Just my $0.02, and to each their own :)
 
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My, how technology has progressed since I practiced for my first Cape Buff hunt!

All that I had was paper targets with pictures of the game. I accidentally used the wrong targets and practiced on smaller images intended to simulate distant game. That may have helped.

For the first run through, my PH friend , Joe,, had me approach the sticks from different angles "see the game" and then place my rifle on sticks and fire my first shot, followed by two more shots. I did this by myself two to three times per week for a month and then packed up and flew to RSA.

When it became real, all went well as if I had been doing it for years. PH told me where my bullet should exit , I picked the entry point and shot, the 400 grain Woodie went through the heart and exited between the front legs, and it was all downhill from there.
I just love it when a plan comes together!
 

jcnelsn1

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Training objectives: skills, confidence, realism...

This is an interesting discussion because two concepts emerge: something like 6" @ 100 yards, and something like 2" @ 100 yards.

First let me observe that 2" @ 100 yards is 2 MOA. Therefore, theoretically, to hit reliably 4" at 200 yards, or 6" at 300 yards, requires the same shooting skills as hitting 2" at 100 yards. There is therefore a strong logic for the 2" plate at 100 yards.

However, although I do use 6" at 300 yards, which is 2 MOA, when I invite friends to learn to shoot off the sticks I do not use 2" at 100 yards. I still use 6" at 100 yards, which is 6 MOA, then 200 yards, which is 3 MOA. Why?

The reason for this is that the other objective of training, besides developing skills, is to develop self confidence and trust in one's shooting.

Skills and confidence...

As Bob Nelson 35Whelen stated: "You will be amazed how hard it is to consistently hit a 2 or 3" inch target off sticks and in field positions (at 100 yards) with a 4 power scope."

It was not all that long ago that shooting 1 MOA from the bench was the gold standard, often unattained, for hunting rifles and hunters. Countless piles of ammo were shot (and still are) to find which load would do this in which barrel, and countless dollars were spent (and still are) on gunsmithing accurizing jobs to go down from 2 MOA from the bench.

Shooting 2 MOA standing off the sticks is a lot more difficult than shooting 2 or 1 MOA seating from the bench, and it is my belief that setting immediately the goal of shooting 2 MOA standing off the sticks, especially with centerfire rifles of appropriate PG caliber (say .25 and up) is counter productive for shooters new to the sticks. They will likely almost never hit and will get discouraged...

Yes, a 6" plate at 100 yards will encourage less precise rifle control skills, but it will also encourage confidence-building in the beginner. As confidence and skills grow, that same 6" plate that represents 6 MOA at 100 yards, will represent 3" MOA at 200 yards, and in time 2" MOA at 300 yards.

As to realism, ANY hit in a 6" vital area will reliably kill any PG bigger than the Tiny Ten (and any DG - except for elephant, hippo, croc brain shots, but these shots are taken typically at close range).

Keep in mind that hunting shots are not judged with a scoring gauge, and that staying within 6" AT THE DISTANCE THE ANIMAL IS SHOT already provides a safety margin that grows as the animal size grows, because, actually, the vital areas of commonly hunted game are larger than 6":
--- Pronghorn / small deer / small African antelopes: ~8"
--- Medium size deer / medium African antelope: ~10"
--- Large deer / North American wild sheep / mountain goat: ~12"
--- Elk / large African antelope: ~14"
--- Moose / Eland: ~16"

I am certainly NOT advocating for "spray and pray", but I am advocating for realism. Any hunter who keeps his shots consistently, reliably, predictably in 6" AT THE DISTANCE THE ANIMAL IS SHOT will kill cleanly and ethically, and it is absolutely great for someone new to the sticks to hold 6" at 150 yards, which is a very common shooting distance in many hunting scenario in Africa. Believe you me, any PH that I know would be ecstatic if most clients showing up in Africa could do that; it is the exception rather than the rule...

Additionally, there is a lot more real-world hunting value in shooting relatively fast in 6" at 150 yards rather than shooting slow in 3", never mind 2".

When the range opens to 200 or 300 yards in open plains or hills, there is generally more time to take the shot, and having practiced, and been humbled, on 6" will yield great confidence and success, as straying a bit wider than 6" due to excitement, fatigue, wind, uncertain position, rush, etc. will still produce great killing shots on medium and larger PG.

I would recommend to start building the skills and confidence on 6" at 100 yards, because it represents the reality of hunting, and as skills and confidence grow, there is a lot more value in pushing the 6" plate to 200 and 300 yards than there is in reducing the size of the plate to 2" at 100 yards.

Just my $0.02, and to each their own :)
Some great advice on there. Thanks
 

jcnelsn1

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My, how technology has progressed since I practiced for my first Cape Buff hunt!

All that I had was paper targets with pictures of the game. I accidentally used the wrong targets and practiced on smaller images intended to simulate distant game. That may have helped.

For the first run through, my PH friend , Joe,, had me approach the sticks from different angles "see the game" and then place my rifle on sticks and fire my first shot, followed by two more shots. I did this by myself two to three times per week for a month and then packed up and flew to RSA.

When it became real, all went well as if I had been doing it for years. PH told me where my bullet should exit , I picked the entry point and shot, the 400 grain Woodie went through the heart and exited between the front legs, and it was all downhill from there.
I just love it when a plan comes together!
I was thinking of having a buddy put on some buddy armor and a buffalo costume and then charge me
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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Another fun way would be to get your target and place some tenerrite in the vital areas, if a cape buffalo or elephant int the brain region for a charge.
If you hit it the effect will be instant and dramatic plus a bloody good hoot.
Bob
 

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Just regular paper targets and a spotting scope will work just as well. Not to mention you can tell how you are doing from session to session and measure progress.

That way every round has a purpose instead of turning $$$$ to noise.
 

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