If you’re going to hunt in the cold, practice in the cold, too

Over the weekend, I decided if I was going to tell you to suck it up and practice shooting in the cold, I should do the same. I tried. It did not go well.

I’ve said many times that if you’re going to be hunting in the cold, you should practice in the cold. The more you can mimic the conditions you might hunt in, the better you’ll be when you actually go hunting, right?

So this weekend, I took the bolt-action .270 out to my backyard range to do some practicing. I wanted to test out my new Caldwell Stable Table shooting bench, too, so it was a dual-purpose excursion.

First I had to tromp through the snow to put up my targets. I did my best to pound my paper target bracket into the frozen ground, but I ended up just propping it up with a couple of pieces of wood that were lying around. Once I got it to stand sturdy enough I figured it wouldn’t fall down, I put a sight-in target on it. Then I put several pieces of pottery I got from a potter friend who gives me all his rejects on a bench I have for that purpose. Those pieces of pottery are fun to shoot, because they vaporize when you hit them.

I traipsed back through the snow to my shooting bench, got the rifle out, and started to load the magazine. That’s when practicing in the cold started to show what it’s good for. Fingers lose their dexterity quickly at 12 degrees below zero. I got one round in the mag, then I fumbled the next. I tried to get more out of the box, and I managed to get one before I dumped the entire box into the snow.

I decided to shoot my one shot before I worried about digging them out. So I situated myself on that Stable Table, took aim, and squeezed the trigger. The table lived up to its name. It was indeed stable. It provided a great rest, and I nailed the target. But the target wasn’t so stable. It fell over, and it knocked the bench the pottery pieces were on over, too. All my targets disappeared into the snow in an instant. Once I dug all my ammo out of the snow, I figured I’d done enough practicing for the day, so I went back to the warm house.