Going to the gun range is a spiritual experience. It clears the mind and cleanses the soul. I have never said, “man, I really hated that” after a trip to the range. Even so, months of slinging lead down range gets monotonous. Here are some fun games you can play at the range to sharpen your skills, your mind, and satisfy the kid inside.
FYI- this is best done AFTER you have your rifle sighted in. You’ll just get pissed off if you try any of these without knowing where your rifle is shooting.
1. Timed Shots
If you have a shot timer for your handgun drills you can also use it for this nifty little muzzleloader drill. Even if you don’t have a shot timer you can download a shot timer app on your smartphone (like the IPSC Shot Timer on Android).
Have your rifle loaded and ready and your speed loaders ready for a second shot – preferably exactly as you would in the field.
Ready your shot timer.
1. Start the shot timer
2. Take your shot
3. Immediately reload as fast as possible
4. Take a second shot
Use a target with rings and add 10 seconds for each ring outside of the bulls-eye. The goal of this is to improve your efficiency in how fast you can get off a first and second shot. Not every shot in the field is ideal, requiring a second shot. Or there are those rare occasions where you’ll have another deer to shoot at — don’t miss out because you’re slow.
There are three key numbers that you can measure here: Time to first shot, time between first and second shot (your split time), and total time.
2. Yardage Monkey
Often times when we go to the range we sit at one yardage and plug away. Mix it up a bit!
1. Set up targets at your yardage of choice (25, 50, 75, 100, 150..to name a few).
2. Load your muzzleloader.
3. If you are shooting with a friend have him call out a yardage. If you’re shooting alone, roll a dice.
4. Shoot and repeat.
The goal of this game is to keep your hold-over skills keen. Don’t get caught in the habit of just shooting groups. We don’t shoot groups at deer, we want bulls-eyes at every yardage.
3. Yardage and/or Position Monkey
Do the same as above, only this time add in another variable, position. Or just keep it simple and try different positions at the same yardage.
Possible positions: Kneeling, Standing, Prone, Sitting (ground), Chair – deer in front, Chair – deer to left, Chair – deer to right.
Or you can steal a page from the tactical guys and come up with a bunch of crazy ass, awkward positions. Even if you don’t think the position is likely, you never know where that buck will present himself. The lessons you learn from shooting from different positions will pay off in the moment of truth.
4. Dot Shot
On any piece of paper or cardboard make 4 rows of 3 dots with a Sharpie about the size of a dime.
Depending on your confidence level set the target at a yardage you feel is challenging but do-able enough for you to hit the dot. If you have a 3″ group at 100 yards, don’t set the target at 100 yards.
Starting at the top row, aim for the first dot. Fire. Then move to the second dot…then the third. The first goal is to shoot out every dot in the row (only one shot allowed per dot). The second goal is to shoot out every dot on the page.
Similar to the Dot Shot, print off a simple black and white image (like a smiley face) and ‘trace’ the picture with your shots. Some good images would be:
- Smiley Face
- Peace Sign
- a checker board
- Most of the Wing Dings in Microsoft Word
Competition breeds excellence. Plus shooting with a partner is always more fun.
1. Clay Targets
Clay targets aren’t just for the scatter guns. Use them as a visual indicator of the shot.
Set up 3-5 clays in a row for each shooter. Preferably on separate boards so you don’t get confused.
First to bust all the clays wins. Loser buys beers once the rifles are put away.
If standard clays are too easy switch to the mini clays. Tootsie pops, empty shotgun shells, or charcoal briquettes are also good options.
No this isn’t a Hamilton / Burr style duel to the death.
Take 12 cards from 3 decks of cards (all the same). Take two pieces of cardboard and tape one set of cards to each in random order. Use the third deck to draw from.
Use one deck and give each shooter a suit (shooter A gets Spades, shooter B gets Diamonds) and use another suit to draw from.
With guns unloaded and on the table, draw a card at least 5 feet from the table. Lay the card, head to the table, load the gun, acquire target and fire.
2 points for being the first to hit the card, 1 point for hitting the card second, 0 points for a miss. -1 if you hit a different card.
This tests your memory, loading speed, target acquisition, and accuracy.
Tic Tac Toe
Of course, always check with your range officials to see if they approve of any of the above activities. If you have your own range, the sky is the limit on what you can do.
Got an idea for a muzzleloader range game? Post a comment!