Sighting in your rifle is a must. If you’re going to hunt with it, you absolutely have to make sure it’s shooting where it should. It doesn’t matter if you sighted it in last year, or even six months ago. There are a lot of things that can knock a scope out of alignment. Everybody knows bumping the scope can screw it up, but it doesn’t have to be that direct. Just riding around in a pickup, even if it’s in a good gun case, can goof it up. Vibration can be even more damaging than a single rap on the scope.
Depending on the scope, there’s a bunch of stuff inside it that can go bad. There are screws, springs and other pieces in most scopes that hold the reticle where you want it. Even if the gun spends 11 months in a gun safe, those parts can loosen up and allow your scope to come out of alignment.
So it’s important to go to the range before every hunting season to make sure it’s still shooting right. Shoot three-shot groups, and check them to make sure the middle of the group is where you want it. If it’s not, adjust the scope and do it again.
Of course, the best thing to do is to practice with your rifle all year long. You’re going to be a much better shot if you take your rifle out once or twice a week and shoot from different ranges and different stances. If you haven’t been practicing, it’s a little late to start now. But you should still get your rifle to the range and sight it in.
While you’re there, don’t just get it dialed in and then go home. Make sure it’s putting the bullets where you want ‘em, and then take some shots from farther away. If you can, try putting your targets up or moving so you don’t know the exact range. While you’re practicing shooting, practice a bit on distance estimation, too. And don’t just shoot from the bench. Shoot from every position you might use while you’re hunting. If you find you can’t shoot accurately in a certain stance, don’t try it while you’re hunting.
So get out and get that rifle sighted in, then get as much practice as you can.