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March 05, 2008

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Paper Versus Meat

Back when I was young and knew everything, I was convinced that a good shot was a good shot, period, and that anyone who could shoot well at paper targets had to shoot well on game, and vice-versa. Now I am not so sure.

Shooting well at targets and shooting well at game require different skill sets. The target shooter must be able to control his breathing and heartbeat, be able to read mirage and wind, have a perfect trigger squeeze, have his shooting positions down to perfection, and be thoughtful and deliberate at all times. Being a good game shot requires that you shoot quickly, from awkward positions, at ill-defined and/or moving targets, and above all, that you be able to kill without hesitation.

This last is a big thing. Taking a life does not come easily to many people, and I have seen many, many otherwise fine shots become completely unhinged when the time came to drop the hammer on something that was breathing. About the only thing you can do about this is shoot until you do everything automatically, but even that is no sure solution.

Probably the best example of the "bad target/great game" shot is an African PH. The ones I've seen shoot at paper can sight in a rifle OK, but that's about it. However, if you want someone to stick a big bullet up the nose of a Cape buffalo that is 10 feet away, coming at full speed, and has payback on his mind, he is the guy to see.


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Poking holes in paper, or in an animal 700 yards away is a test of shooting skill, but not hunting skill, and certainly not a test of nerve. I'd like to think that I'd have the nerve to make the shot at a charging Cape Buffalo. Alas, we have none of those roaming the hillsides of the Midwestern USA, where I live. The only dangerous game we have here are some wild hogs and black bear. I suppose the only way to know if you can make that shot is to actually face the situation and do it. My experience in law enforcement tells me that lots of guys can talk about it, because talk is cheap. Actually coming through is a different thing. Those that talk the most are usually the ones that perform the worst - beware the quiet guy.


Amen KJ!
Had an old rodeo friend that made the NFR several times. His statement was, "Them that can, do. Them that can't, talk about it!"


Del in KS


Back in '86 while stationed in AK yours truly stalked and shot a blond grizzly bear near Cantwell. The bear dropped and rolled dead 50 yds down the mountain at the shot. However my pucker facter was definitely raised to a higher level. In '73 killed a Florida hog that was bent on biting me at about
10 feet. The hog was probably more dangerous but there was no time to get scared.


Why would you buy a nice rifle in 7.62x39? If you are shooting that steel cased cheap stuff, you are in for trouble in the long run. Causes excessive wear on the chamber and throat. There is a real good reason the U.S. military uses only brass. Aside from the cheap ammo, the 7.62x39 is anemic for anything other than an assault rifle.

  There is good ammo out there for the 7.62x39..

CJ, There is good ammo out there for the 7.62x39.. I know people who have some very nice Ruger 77's in that calibre. The rifles for this is quite expensive. SS with lam. stock.


Hey any of guys know any one that was in Vietman with the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion, co.C in 1967 around Jan. or Feb.? I would like to speak to them....

Clay Cooper

All due respect sir, you got it all bassackwards! Hunting skills gets you there to take that shot, take what necessary action to complete the hunt after the shot, then to get you home safely. It’s the shooting skill that takes the trophy! You can hunt and find game all day, but without the shooting skill, you might as well be shooting spit wads. The shooting skill consists of but not limited to, having the correct equipment, correct cartridge configuration for that particular game, having it sighted in at a known range 175 to 225 yards pending on ballistics and knowing the cartridge, equipment and your limitations and the equipment you use.



Aside from the difficulties with my own CZ carbine in 7.62x39, this is a really handy rig with sufficient power for yotes and whitetails. What we call in my country a "truck rifle". A handloader can get an honest 2500 fps out of a 130 grain bullet. Agreed brass cases and good components go a long way.

WA Mtnhunter

I agree with CJ. The 7.62x39 is not much of a hunting round. Too slow, too light a bullet. Nice plinker and truck gun caliber for a light rifle with iron sights.

Clay Cooper

Check this out!
We don’t have critters that don’t have us for lunch?

Then Check this out!



Great video, Clay. One day I'll have the kids out of the house and college and will be able to afford an Alaskan trip. I notice they said they were within bow range when they shot the boar.


WAmtnhunter, do you not like the 30-30Win. for hunting? The 7.62x39 can be loaded right up there with the "ole "30-30 shooting the .311 bullet at 130 gr. should be a good hunting round for anything you would use a 30-30 win. for...I loaded it with 150 gr. but forgot what powder, I believe it was H335 or H322 surplus .

Dr. Ralph

I have a friend who started hunting with an SKS because he moved out in the country, lived in a trailer and deer were eating his garden. Can't remember if they were $69 or $89 back then but it was the cheapest gun he could find. Killed one of the biggest six pointers I ever saw with it off his back porch from less than 20 yards, and he killed something like seven or eight deer that first year. Somebody obviously forgot to tell the deer the 7.62 X 39 wasn't much of a hunting round...


Good post Dr.Ralph.... The 7.62x39 is a good round With commercial ammo. I like it myself..

WA Mtnhunter


I keep forgetting that hunting back East and in the South is much different than in the Mountain West. I suppose the .30-30 or any comparable load is adequate for deer. I guess I think it is a tad on the slow side for a long range deer rifle. I doubt any of our fallen comrades would question it's effectiveness, if they could.

Clay Cooper

Has anyone tried Sierra 125 grain 30-30 bullets? Works great!

Ian Manning

My friend, Bryan Smith, one of the finest PH's Africa has seen, who used nothing but a 7mm x 57 on everything - and in all conditions, also shoots for South Africa at long-distance target shooting. I on the other hand was of the 30 yard box variety, the distance one has to shoot something.


Ian, in my notion, the 7x57 is my favorite cartridge, I don't have one just now, but will if I find another to suit me.. I love the .308 win., on deer size game. Shooting at paper, one need to develope the smallest group as possible, but on game this group can be somewhat larger and get the job done.. If the deer or elk had a bright dot about 3" in dia. just over the vital area, wouldn't that be great?, but not so. The same is true with too much mag. in their scope, you can see the animal, but hard to pin-point the exact spot in a hurried up situation. I like any thing from 2.5x-4x power for deer here at home.. out west may be different.

Rocky Mtn Hunter

When I hunt, I hunt, ready all the time. When I see a animal,I judge immediately if I want this animal or not. If i decide to take him, I put the rifle on the animal, wait till the animal is in a position I can kill it and fire. I don;t fiddle around all day waiting till he is 50 yds away or in a better location. I pratice a lot and usually know when the game appears and I see what it is if I plan to shot or not. Gun is chambered and trigger set at 3 l/2 to 4 lbs. i got a Custom Mauser set at 12 oz, way to light for hunting, but love to shot it at the range.I loaned one gun in my life, taught me a valueable lesson, l let the next guy buy his own as i did. He knocked about $300.00 worth of finsh off the gun. My firearms are setup for my style of shooting, no one else. And , i never shoot another guys gun unless he ask me to check the zero and see if its the gun or him . No 2 people position a firearm on their shoulder the same as I. A handgun is different, but long guns must be zeroed for the hunter, game he's hunting and distance. Buy a Rangefinder an take the guess out of distance. I missed a nice Lope in C0 some years back as the distance fooled me. Then and there I knew a Rangefinder was my next hunting item. Since that purchase, 2nd shots never required, within my long range abilty for a kill shot,.While hunting, concentrate on hunting, not on what you gonna do tomorrow.As for safety clicks, I made teh stupid mistake this fall on just that, I was using a 700 and Deerws l35 yds away, I just clicked the safety to fie and that deer heard teh click and did a l80 and was gone. He ran l00 or so yards, stopped to see what scared him, fatal mistake as I had tracked him in my scope and killed him at 270 yds. Hence forth,I will ease the safety off the 700. One reason I loved the cross bolt safety on my 742, could ease the safety off and no click.Now got to pratice the safety issue on the 700. The safety is a issue I love on Savage rifles, can slide the safety and no sound. I never knew a Deer could hear as well as this one could. Shoot often and straight.

Jim in Mo.

Rockey Mtn. Hunter,
Just read your post and you mentioned loaning a gun and not doing it again. I agree but for a different reason.
I loaned a gun (for the first time ever) to a friend who thought he had a problem with unfriendly visitors to his property. A couple weeks later after he had bought his own gun he gave mine back and I drove home and put it in the gun cabinet. A few weeks later I took it out to shoot and when I checked the chamber it was fully loaded and ready to rock and roll.
My stupidity for not checking it from the start but thats how people get killed and make the news. I never loaned a gun before nor since. Buy your own gun if you need one and if you can't pass the background check then don't come to me.

Jim in Mo.

I did the same with my son. Drug him with me shooting and hunting. Now he's 17 and outshoots me in the dove fields but only comes close with handguns and rifles. Now he wants to join the Marines after H.S.
Teach 'em young.

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