by Ligia Brubaker The beginning of one’s first hunting season can be a really fun time, a time that is awaited with much anticipation and that you put a lot of preparation in. Especially if you bring out a new hunter with you – a young kid or someone who had never hunted before – you need to take the time to prepare and make sure that everyone who joins you is familiar with the firearm safety rules and the firearm that they’re shooting. After all, the easiest way to convince someone not to hunt is to give them some bad experiences hunting as kids – we’ve seen it happen so many times before! Hunting is an intensely bonding activity that needs to be seriously fun and seriously safe. Issues with the firearms, lack of experience shooting, inhumane killing of the animals, can all lead to the young hunters growing disheartened and not wanting to go back in the field. Even in adult hunters, lack of preparation will make hunting be written off as a waste of time, create frustration and potentially result in the harvesting of an adrenaline-filled, metallic tasting meat. (Yuck!)
Here are a few ideas about how to make sure your loved ones have a positive first time hunting experience:
1. MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS THE FIREARM SAFETY RULES
Remember that most kids get excited and can get impulsive and silly when they go on an adventure of such caliber (see what I did there?). Even if your little angers were raised in a gun packed household, don’t assume that they know or understand the firearm safety rules. Don’t assume they know a lot about guns. Assume they know nothing. Don’t rely on common sense – talk about the safety rules and explain why they are important; explaining why a safety rule is important will help the kids remember the rules. Kids don’t operate at the same level we do, so whatever seems obvious to you might not be obvious to them. If you are going hunting with a new hunter who is an adult – especially it it’s a romantic “I’m going to impress her with my skills at bringing home the bacon” kind of hunt – for the love of God, don’t only explain the rules to your partner. Re-read them for yourself as well. Our desire to impress our partner can override our thinking brain (there is actual science to back this up). So, even when you’re in love and you’re hunting both a partner and a deer on the same trip, stay safe.
If you need to find a family-friendly gun safety video, let us know and we will send you a download link where you can purchase at ridiculously small costs one of our gun safety courses for kids. 2. MAKE SURE ALL FIREARMS ARE CLEAN
If you can’t remember when your firearms were last cleaned (or you can but you’d rather not admit to it), that is a good sign that you need to clean them up – pronto!
You can do this yourself if you are familiar with the process; we encourage people to get to know their guns and know how to make sure they are well maintained. However, if you are not positive that you can do the cleaning safely or you can’t clean it up right, bring in the firearm to your gunsmithing shop prior to needing to bring it in a bag.
Seriously, “bag-o-guns” are one of the worst nightmares for a gunsmith. Why? Because 99% of the times when the customer says: “I have all the parts here!”, the parts are not there. We know this by experience. And it’s not that anyone wants to be a hassle, but gun parts tend to be small; and fiddly; and love playing pranks on people. Some of them – especially the springs – are what we call, in technical terms, “air soluble”. So most gunsmiths (us included), will be charging an extra fee for a firearm brought in parts. If you’re preparing for the September hunting season in April, go ahead and have fun learning how to pull your firearm apart. If you’re planning on hunting on the 15th of September, please don’t pull apart your gun on the 14th September in the evening, unless you are planning on applying on a job as a gunsmith soon – in which case, do come by and say hello, because we might want to hire you.
If you are not proficient in cleaning firearms, our gunsmithing shop offers complete cleaning services at friendly prices when you purchase a family package deal (minimum 4 firearms will reduce your cost by a whooping 15%!!).
3. MAKE SURE ALL FIREARMS ARE ZEROED IN
After cleaning, zeroing in the scope on your firearm is a critical step in making sure your young ones hit what they’re aiming at (which is why you need to make sure they’re not going to aim at something else than the game you have tags for). Sighting in at 100 yards has become standard practice, especially for deer hunting. This distance tends to minimize human error and can help keeping a straight shoot against the wind. In addition, the closer you are to the hunt, the lower the chances for the wounded animal to put on a long chase and bleed out somewhere far where you can’t get to it.
When sighting-in your firearm, you need to take the type of gun, the animal you are hunting, and the distance you will be hunting from into consideration. You should also use the ammo that you will use while hunting.
Our gunsmithing shop offers scope mounting and sighting services at very convenient prices. All our services come with 5% discount for veterans, active military, emergency responders and law enforcement officers.
4. MAKE SURE THE RIFLE FITS THE SHOOTER
Ladies with petite frames and children have an issue: standard stocks are too long. Men with longer limbs find the stocks to be way too short. Custom stocks come a long way when it comes to fitting and improving hunting performance – but even unfitted stocks that are cut to the right length of pool significantly improve the performance. If you are planning on changing the stock when your children grow out of them, but are looking for a temporary solution for the growing up period, a good compromise can be to cut the stock to the current length of pool (LOP), and then add spacers as needed. The price is very acceptable (for decent spacers, you are looking at a rough cost of $15 for the 0.5'' spacers down to $10 for the 0.25'' and 0.175'' inch spacers). Based on how often you want to address the LOP change, you can purchase an assortment that will fit your child’s growth needs. (Prices above do not include tax and shipping or fitting to the rifle.) Our gunsmithing shop offers stock cutting services for all types of stock (wood, synthetic), and offers fitting services for spacers, buttplates and recoil pads.
5. MAKE SURE THE RIFLE HAS THE APPROPRIATE GRIP When it comes to preparing for hunting, many people forget to address the adherence of the hand to the stock; wooden stocks usually have checkered grips and when the cut is new, the abrasion of the wood is enough to pass the test of dirt, water, mud, small debris or occasional blade of grass and blood. However, after a while, the crenels of the cut can be filled in with dirt and the points of the checkering can get warn out. A great way to keep the panels alive is to re-checker them every time the grip is losing its texture. Our gunsmithing shop offers checkering and re-checkering services at really affordable prices. We have over twelve years of experience at offering quality checkering, starting with plain patterns and ending with intricate decorations.
6. MUZZLE THAT PUPPY Muzzle brakes are intended to redirect a portion of propellant gases to counter recoil and unwanted muzzle rise. Especially with kids and women of small frame, they are quite needed. Muzzle brakes not only lower the recoil, but decrease the damage of a gun and once the shooter is used to shooting with the brake on, they actually improve accuracy. There are plenty of efficient brands out there, and we do offer services of installing muzzles with washers, however, most of these brands offer muzzle brakes that are heavy and hang like giant bugs off the tip of the rifle. (Yuck!) Our in-house made muzzle brakes are flush to the contour of the barrel (provided the barrel has a wide enough diameter to have the muzzles added on), and are finished to match the finish on the barrel. Our gunsmithing shop offers two types of muzzle brakes; one of the options is a sporterized option, and an option for hunting. Below, a great example of what our muzzle brakes are capable of:
338-378 WEATHERBY MAGNUM with and without MUZZLE BRAKE FIREARM: 1917 (Eddystone) CONDITION WHEN IT ARRIVED IN THE SHOP: - sporterized – re-barreled and chambered – as a single shot 338-378 Weatherby Magnum WORK PERFORMED BY US: - Muzzle thread - Installed our Brubaker Arms Manufacturing Tricircle Muzzle Brake - Cerakote job: stainless steel color - Relieved action to function with Internal Box Magazine 7. PRACTICE, PRACTICE & PRACTICE SOME MORE
All previous steps go hand in hand with practicing. On average, a rifle needs to be taken out to the range at least a half dozen times before the hunter is comfortable to take it out on the field and work properly with it. This is particularly applicable to young hunters and small framed beginners. Hunting experts recommend that you have at least 6 shooting range sessions before you go hunting and that at the very least, the gun you’ll be using should be fired a minimum of 50 times before taking it on a hunt. Especially if you are planning on taking a new rifle out, you definitely need to have enough range time with it prior.
In order to re-create conditions as similar as possible with the real hunting experience, it is best to use an outside range that provides the right environment for your beginner hunters to familiarize themselves with wind, rain, possible sounds, sun, etc. Indoors ranges have the disadvantage of not providing the real in-nature experience; the psychological contrast between shooting in a highly technologically controlled environment vs. shooting in plein-air might make your young ones freeze with the firearms in their hands when you’re out shooting (we’ve actually had a number of customers mentioning this).
Make sure your children or new hunters with small frames get a sense of how strong the recoil is and know what to expect when shooting.
Let us help you prepare for hunting and you’ll be satisfied with your investment. Prepare to create memories with your young ones and let us worry about the work that goes into the preparation!