The Overconfident Hunter/Liar “I don’t need any training, I’ve been hunting for 35 years and I ain’t never missed”
The Expensive Equipment Guy “I paid $39,000 for this rifle and scope, it shoots .00017” groups and 400 yards, I can’t miss”
The Reality You may be a crack shot at the family farm, where you shoot deer from a stand at 80 yards, and you may shoot tiny groups from the bench when you’re on the range, but can you deliver when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone? How about when you’re out of breath from a tough climb and lightheaded from the altitude? When you’re cold, hungry and tired? When you’re at a tough angle on a mountainside and the wind is blowing harder than it ever did back on the range? The animal that you waited years to draw a tag for is about to walk over the ridge and out of your life forever. Trust me, I’ve been there. You have about 5 seconds to make a very challenging shot. Can you make it?
The Confession I miss animals. I’ve missed before and, unless I quit hunting, I’ll miss again. I’ve missed some heartbreaker shots that I literally waited years and paid thousands of dollars to make. Did I miss because I don’t practice or because my equipment wasn’t up to par? No, I shoot a lot—I take preparing for hunts seriously and usually shoot hundreds of rounds before a trip. Add in the thousands of rounds I shoot during the year through various guns, and practice hasn’t been my problem. I carry the best guns and optics that I can afford, and I test them rigorously. I miss because the conditions, as described above, are often extremely challenging and aren’t anything like what I encounter at home.
The Solution So how do we best prepare ourselves for the tough shots, under tough conditions? How do we minimize the bad days? By training in the exact conditions that we have to make those shots under. Notice that I said “training” not “practice.” Training is how we learn a skill; practice is something we do in order to reinforce that skill we learned. I know that you think you are a great hunter/shooter and you can’t benefit from training. I'll let you in on a little secret: the best shooters on the planet use civilian training classes to hone their skills. Those guys that took down Bin Laden? They train at a civilian shooting facility before every deployment to sharpen their already world-class skills. If you think you don’t need help, you simply don’t know how much you don’t know. You’re not alone—I thought I knew it all too, before I took my first good training class.
The School There are a couple of really good “hunter” shooting schools out there, FTW/SAAM being the one that I’ve seen shooters benefit the most from. But there’s one school that you probably haven’t heard of, that I want to put on your radar. Non-Typical Outfitters is one of the premier hunting outfitters in the U.S., specializing in monster mulies on public land. I’ve hunted with them twice, on my own dime, and have been blown-away by their professionalism and their results. If you want a monster public land mule deer and don’t have 20 years to wait for a tag in the Kaibab, NTO is your outfitter. These guys are hard-core, scout all summer, get up at 2 a.m. and hunt until dark, killing machines.
After years in the business, Robb Wiley (Non-Typical’s owner) realized that many of his client’s shooting skills were preventing them from taking full advantage of the tags that they’d drawn. After years of working with Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactics teaching high-angle shooting techniques to active duty special operators, Robb decided to offer his knowledge to his hunting clients.
Students travel into the steep mountain terrain where Non-Typical conducts its hunts and spend three days learning to place shots with precision from steep angles, in high winds, and from improvised positions—exactly the conditions that mean the difference between success and disappointment on a Western big game hunt. Details such as pricing, schedule, and other specifics can be found here.
The Call If you plan to spend precious days off and hard-earned dollars on hunts away from home, you owe it to yourself (and the animal) to fully-prepare yourself to place your shots with confidence. Schools such as the one offered by Non-Typical are time and money well spent; you’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn. Yes, hunters can and should benefit from quality professional training.