Shooting at Running Targets
Shooting at Running Targets
Now in shooting at a running target with a rifle we are going afoul of the same problems in lead that the shotgun has made us familiar with. To be sure a high velocity bullet has a much quicker flight than the small pellets from a shotgun, nevertheless the marksman who thinks he can center a running target by holding dead on the bull has another guess coming.
To begin with let us take up the accepted method of running shooting with a rifle. We are told in the first place not to cover and swing rapidly past the mark as with a shotgun. Such swing cannot be governed finely enough for the single missile, hence it must be at once conceded that no gain can be made on the target by the swing of our piece. On the contrary the rifleman must align his sights in front of the moving object, steadily and rather deliberately, so timing his movements that as the rifle reaches its proper elevation it will be pointed the correct distance ahead to intercept the mark.
Some point the rifle still farther ahead, stopping the weapon and holding it still while waiting for the line of sight and path of the quarry to converge. Whichever system of sighting is used, and the first is the best, it is quite evident that full allowance must be made for the time taken by the bullet in transit plus the time from the pulling of the trigger to the issue of the ball from the barrel.
Given the speed of our mark and the time of the projectile over the course it is a matter of simple calculation as to how much lead should be given in order to connect. I have had experienced hunters tell me that they simply held in front of a fleeing buck, pulling as the sights "filled;" on the other hand Van Dyke speaks of holding an entire jump ahead of a deer and centering him. We will see who is right. These calculations are made for an animal running at right angles to the line of fire, which of course he might not do, and if moving off at a gentle angle the " sight filling" would be all right.
Take our highest velocity rifle, the '06 Government, and the time of the bullet's flight over a 200 yard course is .244 of a second. Add to this one-fiftieth of a second, the average time for pulling trigger, action of lock, and bullet through the barrel, and we have .264 of a second as the elapsed time from our mental calculation to the landing of the bullet. Remembering that a man can run thirty feet in a second we will have to grant a deer a speed of at least forty feet. Now admitting that the beast is moving at that rate, he would cover ten feet while the bullet was reaching him, or with the slower .30-30 bullet fourteen feet. Van Dyke shot a much lower velocity projectile than either of these, and no doubt he was perfectly correct in estimating a lead of sixteen to twenty feet for a running deer at two hundred yards.
Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.
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