Train, train, train. That advice is all the rage these days, and that’s not a bad thing. Whether you’re stepping into the octagon, tuning up your mile pace for a marathon, or finally entering that spelling bee, the more you train, the better your odds of success. As hunters, however, that advice can get a little muddled, as our preferred activity actually encompasses quite a few different disciplines. So what exactly is “hunting training”, and how does hunting training improve your hunts?
Longer in the Gym, Farther in the Field
Unless you’re simply sitting on a ladder stand all season (and even then, it wouldn’t hurt), staying physically fit is key. Some of the biggest, baddest animals reside in the heart of the thick stuff, and why wouldn’t they? If they’ve lived long enough to become true trophies, they know a thing or two about keeping away from where people are and staying where people are not. Why are there no people there? Most can’t (or won’t) get there.
This isn’t a physical fitness blog and doesn’t claim to be, so let’s keep this relatively simple. To push further in the mountains, you’ll need to be able to tote a heavy pack for miles on end, potentially up some steep pitches, without overheating into a puddle of sweat. To connect with an animal, you need to do all that and still be steady enough to place an accurate shot at the end. The best training is doing. Load up a pack heavier than you plan on hunting with, and tote it a few miles, several times a week. If you have any elevation accessible to you, use it. The more you do, the easier it will get, the farther you’ll (eventually) be able to go, and even better, the slower your max heart rate will be. This last benefit will make it easier to calm your wobble when your pack turns into a shooting rest and hair is in the scope. If you’d like to track your progress on this front, have your gun set up for dryfire and practice as soon as you get home from your hike. Even better, if you have the room to do so, grab your gun when you get in the door and dry fire off your pack or tripod, exactly like you’d do in the field.
Another good exercise, particularly for those at lower elevations, is hill-sprints. These can increase your VO2 max, which helps your body utilize more oxygen. This will obviously help when under exertion, but has the added bonus of making you more resilient up high, where the air is thinner and oxygen harder to come by. There are plenty more exercises to get you ready for the field, of course, but these basics will go a long way toward getting you started.
Training for the Shot
If you’ve already got fitness locked down, then what can you do to more directly prepare for the hunt? This is where true, hunt-focused hunting training comes into play. We’ve already covered the various things you can do on your own for this part of prep in a number of other articles, so today let’s discuss the benefits of a true hunter-training course like the one offered by Outdoor Solutions.
For starters, hunting training improves your hunts by presenting scenarios you may never have thought of before. More people than you’d think take to the field every year with a vague understanding that distance affects aimpoint, but no real idea how to implement this in reality, as they’ve never been off a hundred-yard flat range. Hunting training will quickly disabuse you of this notion. The effects of wind, elevation, humidity, shot angle and poor position are all also covered, as well as how to deal with them.
Once you know how to handle the factors above, you need to learn how to read them. Range and angle are easy thanks to the modern advent of the rangefinder, but what about wind, elevation, and humidity? A good hunting training course will take you through the implements you should have before you take to the field, as well as what to do if your tools fail, and you have to–for instance–read mirage to determine wind.
Training for What Comes Next
Next, hunting training will show you what to do in the seconds and hours after a shot. On a standard range, you can tell where you hit by checking the holes in the paper. In the field (particularly on longer shots) you’ll need to learn how to spot your bullet trace, and stay locked on the animal to ensure you’ve hit well. After the animal is down, a From Field to Table-style course will show you how to butcher and process the meat. This is a huge leg up before you encounter your first carcass in the wild.
Hunting Training Improves Your Future Hunts
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a hunting training course will make you prove your proficiency at all of this. It’s one thing to dial the proper elevation and hold the right windage when someone else is calling your wind and reading your instruments, but doing it on your own is a whole different story. Being forced to apply the skills you have learned without expert assistance (though while you still have qualified instructors around to dissect your errors after the fact) makes you prove what you know to yourself–there is no better confidence boost before you hit the field. For more information on training like this, head over to outdoorsolutionscorp.com/long-range-shooting/, and fromfieldtotable.com.