Why wait? Get your hunting rifle sighted in now

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comJuly 2, 2014 

Dead center. Wow! Finally, two shots hit the center square on the target.

The Blacks Creek Rifle Range east of Boise is a good place to sight in your hunting rifle, and now's the time to think about it.

Oh sure, the range and Idaho Fish and Game sponsor a sight-in day in late summer, and that's when a lot of hunters dig out the deer rifle and start plinking. But why not do it now and avoid the last-minute rush?

I was at the range last week. It wasn't crowded, and it was a perfect chance to sight in my .308.

The range is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Monday. Cost is $10, and you get a target. It could be closed for certain special events, so before you go, check the website at blackscreekrange.com, or call the recorded message at 342-9614.

Get to the range by taking the Blacks Creek Exit of Interstate 84 and turning right.

CONVENIENT OPTIONS

There are other ranges throughout the Treasure Valley that may be closer to you.

For example, there's the George W. Nourse Public Shooting Range, on the southwest side of Pickles Butte, southwest of Nampa.

It is part of 1,350-acre Jubilee Park, operated by Canyon County Parks and Waterways.

It has nine shooting lanes, is open daily in daylight hours and is free.

There are other rifle ranges in Nampa, Emmett and Parma. Do an online search for shooting ranges in Southwest Idaho.

I usually like target shooting in the desert because you have a lot more freedom. You don't have to worry about range hours, or whether there is a match that closes the range to other shooters.

But the advantages of Blacks Creek and other established ranges are knowing the exact distances and having bench rests and other equipment available.

That's really important when you're trying to do precision shooting. Having a steady rest for your rifle helps steady it and ensures you know exactly where the rifle is shooting so you can adjust the scope if needed.

Also, if you don't have targets, you can buy them at Blacks Creek, and even rent a spotting scope.

GREAT FOR KIDS

Several dads and their kids were at the range when I was there, and it's the perfect place to teach young shooters.

The range rules are strict for obvious reasons, and youngsters immediately learn how to behave around guns and other shooters.

They see how conscientious shooters are, and it really turns into a good lesson in gun safety.

MORE TRIGGER TIME

If you're a hunter, but not a hard-core target shooter, you should visit a range a few times before heading out to hunt next fall. It only makes sense to be prepared when you get a shot at an animal.

If you want valuable practice, use the bench rest to ensure your rifle is properly sighted in, then practice shooting from sitting and kneeling positions that you are more likely to use while hunting.

That's harder to do in late summer and fall because the firing line is often full.

Because of busy family and work schedules, some hunters wait to sight in right down to the wire until it's only a few days before opening day. I've been there and done that.

I've even heard of some hunters trying to sight in their rifles at deer camp the day before opening day.

Believe me, it's a lot better and reassuring to get some trigger time now. It's good to be familiar with your rifle, and the only way to do that is with a lot of shooting.

I have a shooting bag with my ear and eye protection, targets, binoculars, spotting scope and the ammunition I will need.

That way, if I get an impulse to go shooting, everything's ready to go.

IT'S A PUZZLE

Anyway, it's fun to hit the range, and sighting in your rifle and target shooting is a fun sport.

I remember my dad used to tell me when he was in the Army he would only get three cartridges to sight in his rifle. Never forgot that story.

If Dad was looking down on me while I was at the range, he probably grinned and shook his head.

I probably could have done it with nine rounds, but I got carried away and shot a whole box.

My rifle was shooting about 4 inches to the left and slightly high. I started dialing in the scope, shot by shot, and soon the rifle nailed the center of the target at 100 yards.

It's a satisfying feeling to know the rifle is on target.

Now there are no excuses for missing that shot in the fall.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors

Statesman outdoor writers Pete Zimowsky and Roger Phillips alternate columns on Thursday. Look for Roger next week.

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