I have been in a dead run since I got back in Sunday, and I'm still 'way behind the 8-ball. We had to meet with the builder on the Secret Hidden Bunker Ver. 2.0 property, and it was like driving through a maze with all the roads closed or washed out in Boulder and Larimer counties. Then, amazingly, the trusty Honda Element refused to start...a little worrisome since we were on the side of a mountain. We finally got it started and taken to the shop in Boulder (after driving all over the place), then frantically got back home to do the podcast. I haven't even uncased the Guide Gun!
As I catch my breath, some lessons from Africa...
1) Aim small, miss small. For the most part I was pleased with my shooting in Namibia. Of the 5 animals I shot — Burchell's Zebra, Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, kudu, impala and eland, 4 of the shots were one-shot heart/lung kills, at a ranges averaging around 100 yards (the kudu was 150 yards or a little better). I tried very hard not to see the great big animal, but rather the 10-inch "plate" of the kill zone, advice from Cory Trapp at GUNSITE. It worked.
2) Know the rifle/scope. Luckily, the Guide Gun uses the same stock as, and is very similar to, the GUNSITE Scout Rifle, so I was very comfortable with it. Ditto on the Leupold FireDot scope VX-6. As I mentioned in the podcast, if you're used to shooting a red dot/illuminated scope, by all means do so (I carried 3 extra batteries I didn't need, too). If not, Africa is a bad place to start. I was comfortable with the illuminated red dot and I think it helped my shooting. Be aware that as daylight fades, the illumination eeds to fade as well...that caught me off-guard once.,
3) Speed to set-up and shoot is everything. Those pesky animals actually have the gall to move! Seriously, you've got to set up very quickly. That means you need to be familiar with your rifle and how you're carrying it. I use a muzzle-down weak-side "African guide" carry I learned at GUNSITE years ago. It allows me to quickly access the rifle and "roll" it into position on my shoulder, and I can use my binoculars with my right hand. Competition training was invaluable here, because I'm used to setting up quickly for a shot.
4) Practice shooting off sticks. Because that's what you're going to be shooting off. One of the best things I did was spend time setting up sticks and shooting from different positions...two shots...move, set sticks, two shots, repeat. Make sure you practice awkward or "broken" positions...the kudu was from both knees, bending forward with the sticks almost at bipod level so I could thread the shot through the bush. It was VERY similar to a position I'd had to use in a 3-Gun match. Hmmmmm...
5) Remember, you're not shooting a group...you're making one excellent shot. It's kind of a different mindset, and it affects how you practice. If I was going to design a training program for this type of hunting, I would quickly go from shooting a reference group to 10-inch plates at varying distance. Make the practice as real as possible, which means get off the bench!
6) Run the gun. That is, work the bolt on the assumption you'll need a follow-up shot. It is REALLY easy to get into the habit of taking a shot, then pondering the universe for a bit. Run the gun...and practice. I short-stroked the bolt once, and I do practice running the gun. The solution, I think, is to NEVER be gentle with the gun...it's all blunt trauma time.
7) Walk, a lot. Because, hey, you're going to be walking, a lot. Walk with weights as you get closure to your departure date. Rifles get heavier the longer they're carried, so you might as well get used to it. In retrospect, I wish I'd walked with a 12-pound pole weight slung over my left shoulder, a la guide carry. That's what Illd do for next time.
8) Suck it up. Sometimes it hurts, but hey, as Mad Season once sang, "...my pain is self-chosen, or so I believe it to be."
This is all new newbie stuff to be sure, as I am a newbie...more as I have the time...