Above: The Armageddon Gear Game Changer bag pairs well with a tripod and can be placed on a slew of surfaces to create a super stable shooting platform.
When it comes to testing our skills, competitive shooting is where the rubber meets the road. Hours of practice and many dollars spent all come down to three little words and an ominous beep. Competitive shooters live for this moment, but it doesn’t have to be the only time that our skills are put to the test—enter hunting.
Not all hunters shoot competitively, and not all competitive shooters are hunters, but there is a bit of overlap between the two. A lot of the skills we utilize in competition boil down to the fundamentals, but the benefits of both the skills and the gear reach much farther. They make us better hunters. But how?
The Gear Game
Having the right gear can either help you or hurt you. We all know the very basic things we need to go on, let’s say, a deer hunt: firearm, ammunition, rangefinder, flashlight, knife and safety gear. However, when we go to a match we take everything. Why? Because we want every piece of gear that could potentially help us at our fingertips. At a PRS match, my pack is filled with multiple shooting bags, a tripod, a Kestrel, a RifleKühl, ammunition, extra mags, tools and even a stool. My pack is heavy, but full of trusted gear that has a purpose. The gear you carry should be seen as a tool. A tool to help you accomplish an objective to the best of your ability. So, when you head out on a deer hunt, why limit yourself? While you certainly do not need all of the gear listed above for a successful hunt, utilizing just a few pieces of gear can give you a definitive edge on a hunt. Three of my favorites are a Kestrel (or other types of ballistic calculators), tripod and shooting bags.
The Arcalock Rail from Area 419 pairs well with this RRS tripod and ballhead to create a very stable platform for shooting whether in competition or in the field.
While I don’t take my Kestrel on a hunt with me, I do input data for every rifle that I either compete or hunt with, and I check this data often. Having accurate data can make the difference in a hit or a miss both at a match or in the field, so it’s important. Use this tool to make a detailed range card so that you never have to second-guess your elevation adjustments in the heat of the moment.
Tripods are one of the most prevalent pieces of gear found at a precision rifle match. Some stages directly call for their use and competitors use them frequently for rear support when having to shoot from unstable positions. If ground hunting, tripods are a great tool to add to your pack. Tripods provide an added layer of stability, and their adjustability means that even shots taken from an awkward position can still be solid.
When it comes to gear, shooting bags reign supreme in PRS. They are a necessity. Shooting bags come in a seemingly endless selection of shapes, sizes, and fabrics, all designed to meet specific needs, but with one goal in mind—stability. Whether hunting from a ground blind or a treestand, shooting bags can be utilized for added stability and therefore better shots. Shooting bags can be placed on the shooting rail of a treestand, over the opening of a ground blind and I have even used them on top of a tripod head as a support for my .30-30. The beauty of shooting bags is that they can help you turn almost any sort of structure into a stable platform for your rifle.
Scott Satterlee used this RRS tripod and Wiebad Fortune Cookie to take down an Impala on a recent hunt in South Africa.
I recently caught up with Scott Satterlee, former Green Beret and accomplished precision rifle shooter in both the NRL and PRS, and spoke to him about how using competition gear helps him in the field.
Satterlee says, “My RRS tripod has by far changed the way I hunt and I take it everywhere. I know I can take a very well-placed shot from the tripod on deer size game out to 700 yards. I also take a light fill Wiebad Fortune Cookie with me for the same reason as the tripod. I know it and am always looking for a work space that is high enough to clear brush that allows me to use the bag.”
On a recent hunting trip in South Africa, he says this gear directly contributed to the successful taking of all six animals, “Every shot was taken with the RRS tripod and Fortune Cookie bag in order to be able to use intermediate cover, get over the grass and under the tree branches.”
Honed Skills and Ethical Kills
Clean, ethical kills may culminate when we pull the trigger, but they don’t start there. Making an ethical kill is the combination of sound fundamentals, good judgement and maintaining both of these under intense situations. Sounds a lot like competitive shooting doesn’t it? There are several fundamental skills to focus on when shooting a precision rifle match, such as:
Building a stable shooting position
Really, these skills apply to any discipline of competitive shooting, but they should also be applied when hunting. When the adrenaline is pumping, it is easy to let the fundamentals slide, which can mean missing your target or making an unethical shot on an animal. Practicing your fundamentals before a hunt just like you would a 3-Gun match keeps them sharp and ensures that you’re doing your part to make clean, ethical shots.
Bringing It All Together
You have the gear you need, your gear is properly functioning, you know your dopes, and you have rehearsed the shots—you’re ready. Whether at a match or in the treestand, the only thing left to do is get your mind right and make it happen. Being able to perform under pressure is the final piece to bringing it all together. Most importantly, whether you are competing or hunting, just get out there and shoot.