“So it doesn’t make any difference how many rounds you have in your magazine, it’s the first shot that counts? Is that what you said”, questioned the person sitting next to me in the FTW/SAAM classroom.
“Yes, although somewhat simplified.” Responded Doug Prichard, who besides being our instructor, was also a former Navy Seal and Navy Seal Instructor and had been extremely instrumental in putting together the FTW Ranch’s “Sportsman All Weather, All Terrain Sportsman” hunter training courses, S.A.A.M. “in almost all hunting situations it’s your first shot, properly executed and placed that is responsible for bringing down the animal you’re shooting.”
“Making that first shot count actually starts long before you pull the trigger. It starts with selecting the proper caliber, round and load for the animal you are hunting. Then being certain your firearm is properly sighted in and that you know where the bullet will strike at varying distances both near and far, knowing your firearms capabilities and limitations and knowing yours with that particular firearm. It means shooting from a solid rest to accurately place the bullet in the animal’s vital regardless of the target’s angle and position. It also means knowing your target’s anatomy.”
“Immediately after you pull the trigger it means chambering a fresh round without lowering the rifle from your shoulder and without moving your eye from the target, and be ready for a quick second shot, should it be warranted.” Said Doug. “After lunch we’ll head to the Lodge Range and make certain your rifles are sighted in dead on at 100 yards, then do some shooting at longer ranges using either hold-over or adjusting your external turrets based on the range care Tim provided to you last night.” He continued, “Did each of you take your scoped rifle and ammo you intend to use during this course to Tim when you got in yesterday afternoon so he could see the bullet and load you plan on using to develop a range card for you to use during the shooting we’ll be doing? If not, please do so when we break for lunch.”
When we broke for lunch, after a full morning in the classroom going over basics of shooting, I headed to Tim Fallon’s office, the owner the FTW Ranch. Tim and I have been friends for several years, and have hunted together in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. “Brought my Ruger .300 Win Mag, the FTW/SAAM Hunter, topped with a Trijicon scope, and I’m shooting Honrady’s 200 grain ELD-X Precision Hunter ammo.” I had arrived after dark the night before. “I plan on using the combination primarily on whitetails this fall. I know my shots will likely be less than 200 yards, probably less than a hundred. As you know with me the challenge comes in trying to get as close as possible, not in shooting animals at long range. But as you’ve often said, if I can shoot accurately and precisely at 500 to a thousand yards or more, I know I will be able to precisely place my bullet in my target’s vitals and make that first shot count at close range.” Tim smiled and nodded in agreement!
“We teach those who attend our various S.A.A.M. options to shoot long range, but we always encourage hunters to get as close as possible before pulling the trigger.” Continued Tim, “We teach long range shooting, not long range hunting!”