Admitting my own ignorance is especially difficult when it comes to hunting and shooting academies. But, the fact remains that a few years ago I decided to book the #270 class (hunting rifle) at Gunsite Academy. Now, mind you, I have been hunting since I was 11 years old and, quite frankly, I didn't think they could teach me anything about hunting rifles that I did not already know. I just thought it would be fun to get to shoot my old .30/06 for a week. All I can say is that I am glad I didn't say that sort of thing out loud, or make a bet that involved eating my hat if I lost.
I am not going to give you a blow by blow of the #270 class. You can get that by attending and participating. But what I would like to mention are a few things that helped make me a better hunter and marksman.
In the entire week, the only time that we shot off of a bench was when we were checking our zeroes on the first day. The rest of the time we worked on shooting from field positions and I found that my versions of the various positions were a little rusty and needed practice and improvement. What was also helpful was working out ways to get into the intermediate positions without looking at the ground. With practice you drop smoothly into an intermediate position while keeping your eyes on your target the whole time.
Too often in the hunting field I have been guilty of firing my shot and then lowering the rifle so that I could admire my work. The Gunsite staff suggested that it might be a whole lot smarter to keep the rifle in the shoulder pocket, run the bolt, and follow through by getting back on target. Imagine that! I later used that very technique to deal with an Australian buffalo that wouldn't go down and stay down.
Shooting schools for the serious hunter are a valuable thing. The new guys get started on the right foot, while us old guys have the opportunity to correct all of the bad habits that we've picked up over the years. And, yes, it is fun to spend a week running rounds through your favorite rifle.