Why You Should Practice Your Offhand Shot

Bill Heavey and I regularly exchange nasty e-mails; he is a querulous and testy fellow who does not always write in English, but what the hell, he’s a colleague and I am obliged to answer. Anyway, on a particularly bad morning when two of his five remaining hairs came out in the brush he told me about a big deer he had killed with a bow after a long stalk, and compared this with my shooting animals thousands of yards distant. The implication was that he was a real hunter and I was a mere technician who is carried by his equipment. Now Bill is an amusing writer, but he is the small dust of the balance, and I don’t care an assful of ashes if he thinks poorly of me. However, his testy e-mail caused me to reflect on the past season and see just how I took what I did.

It goes like this:
Alaska moose, one shot, offhand at 60 yards
Black bear, one shot, offhand at 40 yards
Whitetail buck, one shot out of a tower stand at 160 yards
Whitetail buck, one shot offhand, 70 yards

I draw two conclusions from this: In the real world, we usually shoot at game at 100 yards or less. It may be fashionable to buy equipment that will let you hit targets on Saturn, but in real life, things rarely work out that way. Practice that offhand position. It ain’t easy, but by crackey, it sure comes in handy. Sometimes—if fact, quite often, you gotta stand on your hind legs like a fully evolved primate and pull the trigger.