Sight Your Deer Rifle

August means it’s time for a trajectory check of your deer rifle. Here’s where you can go to zero-in for deer season.

Brad Bailey | August 7, 2002

Nothing is more critical in deer-hunting success than bullet placement. When you pull the trigger on your deer rifle, you should be completely confident that the bullet will hit where you aimed. The only way to have that confidence and to improve your marksmanship is to shoot your gun.

Shooting glasses and ear protection are required at most ranges. Several of the commercial ranges will provide or sell targets. At the WMA ranges, plan on bringing your own — and on taking your empty brass and trash home with you.

Most WMA ranges are open from daylight to dark, but it’s a good idea to check with the region Game Management office to be sure. Several ranges are closed on Sundays or on Mondays.

A large target or at least a good-sized piece of cardboard or paper  behind your target is a good idea, especially if you are sighting-in a new gun. It’s not uncommon for an unsighted gun to be “off the paper” at 100 yards. If so, move the target in to 50 yards to get on the paper, zero the gun there, then move back to 100 yards.

Sandbags, or some other item, such as a rolled blanket to support the fore-end of the gun on a bench rest,  will help steady your aim.

Take your time shooting, and let the barrel cool between shots. The point of impact can change as the barrel heats up. When you are finished sighting in, you want the first shot from a cool barrel to be zeroed.

Opinions vary about whether you should shoot three-shot groups and move the centerpoint of the three shots toward the bullseye or shoot single rounds and walk the impact point toward the bullseye. Either way, a spotting scope will simplify the process and save a lot of walking.

When sighting-in a rifle, it’s critical to be able to steady your aim to shoot consistent patterns. Sand bags, or a rolled blanket will suffice, but if you want to go further, bring a gun rest with you. The Sureshot portable rest has a 3-inch adjustable clamp that allows it to attach horizontally or vertically to a shooting bench, the tailgate of your truck or the edge of your hunting stand.

The following is a list of ranges that in August, 2002, offer a minimum of a 100-yard range to sight-in and practice shooting your deer rifle. Go early to beat the crowds — the closer to deer season, the more crowded the ranges, especially on Saturdays..

• DeKalb Co.: The DeKalb County Police Department’s DeKalb Firing Range is open to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5:20 p.m. Ranges include 25, 50 and 100 yards. A 200-yard range is open on Saturdays. The cost is $7 per hour and up to three people may shoot at one target frame.  Targets are provided. Call (770) 484-3046 for directions and to avoid unscheduled closings of the range for police use.

• Carroll Co.: Covered firing lines of 10, 25, 50 and 100 meters are available at the Advanced Bullet range. Shooting hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The fee is $4 per hour. Facilities include a pro-shop and a just-opened sporting clays course. Call (770) 562-4333 for details and directions.

• Putnam Co.: You can shoot up to 200 yards at the Georgia Shooters range in Eatonton. Facilities include a covered firing line with sandbags, sporting clays and a full-service gun shop. Range fees are $8 for the first 1/2 hour and $2 per each additional half hour. The range is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. Call (706) 485-1791.

• Richmond Co.: The Pinetucky Gun Club just south of Augusta offers a 22-point, covered firing line with ranges up to 100 yards. The fee is $12 with no time limit. Shooting hours are Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. Call (706) 592-4230 for directions.

• WMA Ranges: Beaverdam, Big Hammock, Bullard Creek, Clybel, Cohutta, Dixon Memorial, Hannahatchee, Johns Mountain, Mayhaw, Ocmulgee, Redlands, Richmond Hill, West Point, Wilson Shoals and Yuchi.

Other ranges open to shooters on a membership basis include:

• Floyd County Wildlife Club: (706) 234-7879.

• Griffin Gun Club. The Griffin City Gun Club will offer a free sight-in day for non-members on a Saturday just before deer season. Members will be on hand to help adjust sights. Contact Ronnie Garrison at (770) 227-3881.

• River Bend Gun Club, located in Dawson County: (770) 893-3502.

• South River Gun Club, located south of Covington: (770) 786-3752.

• Twin Oaks Range, operated by the Middle Georgia Gun Owners Association in Laurens County: (478) 275-8309.

If you operate a range that is not included on our list, call GON at 1 (800) 438-4663 to have the range added to the list.

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