Temporarily blinded from looking at a case full of gold Rolexes at the Safari Club International Convention, I stumbled into a darkened room where Eric Olds, Rangemaster at Gunsite Academy, was giving a seminar titled “Are You Shooting Me?” I’ve been to Gunsite, and had instruction from Eric, and it was good to be reminded of just how unique the Gunsite approach to shooting is.

Despite its odd title, the seminar was about practice—all phases of it, including safety, which is paramount in the Gunsite scheme of things. Eric has evolved his curriculum from his time as a Marine, as a high-power rifle competitor, as a hunter, and as an instructor who has spent 15 years watching screwed-up hunters shoot and figuring out how to unscrew them.

When I went to Gunsite several years ago, I went with a young woman on our staff who had never fired a rifle before. In a day and a half, Eric turned her into a competent shot. I’m still not sure how he did it, but he did it without doubt.

Not only is the instruction unique, but Gunsite is able to duplicate actual hunting situations—you’re not shooting off a benchrest at 100 yards at a bull’s-eye. It’s at real hunting distances over real chunks of Arizona at animal targets. As Eric says, “We can’t replicate the Arctic, or a rain forest, but we can match just about anything in between.”

Included in his talk was a maxim so profound that I’m passing it along to you. I suggest you all have it tattooed on whichever body part you find most convenient:

“When it comes time to shoot for real, you will default to your level of practice. If you haven’t practiced, you better hope you’re having a good day.”

Say amen.

Go to for a life-changing experience.