It takes lots of practice to be a truly good shot

Like many hunters, I practice shooting, but not as much as I should. I’m a decent shot, but I’m far from great. Over the last few years, though, my youngest son showed me what it takes to reach that next level.

My son Logan has been participating in the American Legion shooting sports for the last few years. Some Legion posts have small-bore, or .22, shooting, and I think some have trap shooting. But Cheyenne Post 6 has air rifle, and a few years ago, Logan decided he wanted to give it a try.

The pellet guns these kids use aren’t little Daisys that have to be pumped up 10 times to leave a welt. These things are serious shooting machines. They’re precision-tuned for accuracy.

That said, you still have to get a perfect sight picture, squeeze the trigger just right, hold steady, and control your breathing and heart rate in order to shoot them consistently well. But if you do all of that, it’s amazing how accurate these things are.

The distance the kids shoot is only 10 meters, but that might as well be a mile considering the tiny size of the target they’re shooting at. The 10-ring is only a hair wider than the pellet itself. It takes serious skill – and a whole bunch of practice – to hit that 10-ring every time.

But Logan achieved the highest award the NRA gives to civilians a few weeks ago. He got the Distinguished Expert award, which is the culmination of 17 progressively more difficult levels. For the final level, he had to shoot 10 groups of 20 prone, 20 kneeling and 20 standing shots, and he had to have a minimum score of 520 out of a possible 600 to get it. If he missed on any of those steps, he’d have to start that three-position aggregate all over again.

It all made it clear to me that shooting decently is one thing. But that kind of shooting – where you nail the bull on just about every shot, no matter what – is only attainable through lots and lots of practice.

So get out there and practice.