Not all days at deer camp involve hunting. Everyone might tag out early, everyone might get frustrated, or everyone might just be looking for some midday fun. Here is a shooting competition I developed years ago that can fill an hour or two. It’s also a great pre-season training regime for those whose favorite was to pursue deer is still-hunting.

This is an easy drill to set up. Just cut out some deer silhouettes and place them at 35, 65 and 95 yards.

Cut out three life-size deer targets and position them down range at 35, 65 and 95 yards. The 95-yard target should be directly in front of the shooter, and the 35- and 65-yard targets should be positioned 20 yards to the left and right. To complete the drill you’ll need a shot timer and three rounds of ammunition for each run.

The hunter starts with the rifle at port arms (Google it if this term is new to you), and on the signal fires one shot at the kill zone (heart/lung area) of each target. This drill tests offhand shooting; using shooting sticks and dropping into a kneeling position isn’t allowed. Shots outside the kill zone add 5 seconds to the total time. So, if it takes you 13 seconds to fire one shot at each target (three shots), and you have one shot impacting outside a kill zone, your total score is 18.

Place a 6- or 8-inch kill zone on the backside of the target in the correct spot. This way, the shooter cannot see it.

Essentially, you are practicing your ability to not only snap-shoot deer, but to cycle your rifle’s action fast. The drill also simulates engaging a deer while it might be retreating from you. You can set the drill up in a field, or if you are looking for more of a challenge, set it up in the woods. Also, don’t make the kill zone on the visible side of the deer target. Part of the test is knowing where you should shoot a deer. Mark the kill zone on the backside of the target. A good rifleman should be able to get three kill zone hits within about 10 seconds.

A little friendly competition at deer camp can be fun and educational at the same time.

This is a fun drill that can help you pass some time at deer camp, and it can be used as pre-season training. You’ll learn how to better run your rifle, and the best magnification to keep your scope set on when stalking and still-hunting. Savvy hunters will keep this drill under their hat and work on it before opening day. Then, when you get that down day at deer camp, you can win some cash off your buddies or at least maybe a six-pack.

Deer camp is not just about hunting; its also about having fun.

Images by Richard Mann

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