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Big Bore Practice Has To Hurt

The Myth: Big Bore practice has to hurt

The safari is coming up soon, and practice is key. Is it possible to practice effectively with heavy recoiling rifles without developing a flinch?  

The Solution:
1. Get off the bench:  You don’t hunt from a bench rest so why would you practice from one? Felt recoil from the bench is (to me) at least 50 percent more punishing than shooting from field positions that allow the body to move freely and absorb the energy. Once your zero is confirmed, practice from practical positions that you’re likely to experience in the field.

2. If your rifle doesn't have one already, buy a quality recoil pad like a Pachmayr Decelerator. And if you don't mine the carrying the extra weight, consider buying and installing a mercury recoil reducer like the Graco BreaKO.  

3. Spread the pain: We’re all busy, but if you can spread 100 rounds into 4 range trips instead of 1 or 2, you’ll give yourself time to recover and save your shoulder some punishment.  

4. Dry fire: This is simply the best practice there is because you can do it at home and it doesn’t cost a dime. Make yourself some “dummy” cartridges and practice reloading. 

5. Use light loads: Though you should include full power ammo in every range session, supplementing your practice with reduced recoil loads is a great way to get the rounds out without pounding yourself with recoil. IMR’s Trail Boss powder is like magic in this application.  20 grains of this powder with a 250 grain bullet in my .375 H&H produces only 10 percent of the recoil of my hunting load (3.83 ft. lbs. vs. 38.82) and results in surprisingly similar point of impact.

6. Go hunting: This time of year is a great time to take your big bore out and chase groundhogs, rock chucks, or even feral hogs.  And while shooting at game, you'll hardly feel a thing.

7. Analyze: Have someone video your shooting sessions. In this iPhone video clip from one of my first practice sessions with a .375 H&H, you’ll see two problems: 1. I’m breaking my cheek weld to cycle the bolt (something I didn’t realize I was doing), and 2. I’m having some problems with the shooting sticks. After looking at the video, I was able to critique myself and correct the problems, and good shooting form results in less felt recoil.  

The Conclusion: You have to practice shooting your big bore rifle, but with smart practice and proper technique it doesn't have to hurt.  

Tell us about your practice routines, we’d love to hear about them.  

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2 Responses to Big Bore Practice Has To Hurt

KW wrote:
July 29, 2011

Joe To replicate the sticks commonly-used on safari, I bound 3 6 foot bamboo poles from the garden store with e rubber band made from a bicycle inner tube. Cheap & effective.

Joe S wrote:
July 28, 2011

What did you use for your shooting sticks?