Different Types of Shooting Targets

Practice, they say, makes perfect and when it comes to shooting and accuracy, practice is the only way to improve accuracy.

Regardless of your shooting goal, accuracy is important. That is why shooters use targets to hone both their skill in handling a gun and their accuracy. To that end, there are three popular types of targets that shooters use. Those are steel targets, Tannerite targets, and plinking targets. Here is a look at each of these targets and why you’d use them.

Steel Shooting targetsSteel Targets

Steel targets are made out of 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch steel. Many people opt to use armor grade steel. The fast-and-hard rule is any steel will do if it has a Brinell hardness in excess of 500. Of course, this is subjective but applying it adds longevity to your targets.

The benefit of using steel targets is that they last longer and require fewer houses for setup since they can be used over and over. They are also easy to clean up and usually just require repainting when it matters. The advantage of using steel targets is that you can hear that “plink” if you hit one. This allows the shooter to have instant confirmation during target practice.

The downfall with steel targets is that they pose a ricochet risk and people do get injured from bullets that ricochet. Steel targets are usually easy to move around so you can gain more detailed target practice in a small space. With the right tools, steel targets are easy to make as a DIY project.

Tannerite Targets

TanneriteTannerite targets are exploding. They are a mixture of aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate. The ratio for mixing at home is 5:95 Aluminum powder:Ammonium nitrate.

While this already sounds like a bad idea, the mixture only explodes when struck with a bullet. The bigger risk is that the target may cause a fire. That is usually from mixing the ingredients wrong, or exposing them to flames.

Tannerite targets are helpful for long-distance shooting where you might not hear the plink. You will definitely see the explosion. The downside is that they are a once-use product and they create a mess. While the current laws allow Tannerite targets for use and sale in all 50 states, it is best to check with your local authorities for changes to those laws.

Plinking Targets

Plinking targetsPlinking Targets are comprised from almost anything from tin cans to watermelons. These targets offer an affordable means to hone your shooting skills and accuracy. You can easily create larger targets using cardboard cutouts or difficult targets using Q-tips.

If you want to add technical challenges, many plinking targets can be swung from a rope to provide a moving target. The benefit of plinking targets is that they are scalable for different skill sets.

Depending on the material from which the target is made, these may be single use or last for years. The list of material that you can use is virtually limitless. Another advantage to plinking targets is that they add a sense of fun to the game of target practice.

It is easier to convince a new shooter to practice target shooting if the idea is to demolish a watermelon or perhaps to challenge them by taking a grape off a toothpick at 50-yards.

Every target has its strengths and weaknesses. The idea is to learn when to use each type of homemade target to gain the best benefit.

Your goal as a shooter should always be gun safety followed by bettering your shooting skill and accuracy. Each set of target types also provides a wide range of costs. These three choices allow you to pick a cost that fits your budget.

Different Types of Competition Shooting

iStock_000069175725_SmallThe National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) states that 19 million plus Americans safely invest their time in target practice. They use handguns, shotguns and rifles. Some of this is for fun and much of it is for competitive shooting. Practice makes perfect.

Competitive shooting — shotgun

There are three general categories for most competitive shotgun shooting events. All three involve throwing clay targets, but it is how they are thrown that differentiates these shooting events. Those are:

Skeet shooting — Clay targets fired from opposite directions and cross, which helps the shooter to develop or show off profile shooting skills.

Trap shooting — Clay targets are thrown in the same direction as the shooter is facing, but their trajectory varies, giving the shooter a more difficult set of targets. This type of shooting develops skills that involve instant decision making when choosing multiple targets.

Sporting clay shooting — One could easily describe this as mayhem. The clay targets are pitched from different heights, speeds and angles. Most targets move fast, and the goal is to simulate what a hunter would face in the wild with birds and small game.

Pistol and rifle competition shooting

Cowboy action shooting — The primary requirement for these types of shooting events is that the guns used are from the era of the American cowboy. That typically means from the 1800s. These are perfect events to get a look at antique guns and weaponry.

Pistol shooting events

Bullseye shooting — While this can occur with the use of rifles, it is mostly a long-distance event for pistol shooters. By long distance, we mean upwards of 50 yards. Competitions are usually a mix of slow-firing and rapid-firing contests. To increase the difficulty level, a timer might be used and participants might also be required to fire using a single-hand rather than a double-hand grip.

International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) shooting events — This is an action shooting event that focuses on international rules and guns. This shooting competition focuses on self-defense type shooting situations, and the events mimic real life as much as possible. Its sister competition is the United States Practical Shooting Organization (USPSA), which is the U.S. version.

Rifle-focused shooting

Silhouette shooting — This is a rifle event and primarily uses small gauge rifles such as .22s. These events stage small steel targets at varying distances between 50-100 yards. Targets may be at different heights, angles, and may move. There are competitions that employ high power rifles with targets in the 1000-yard range. To increase the difficulty of these events, shots might be timed.

Bench rest shooting — This is the most precise shooting competition for rifles available. The rifle sits on a front and rear rest and the rest sits on a table, thus the name. Shooters take aim at paper targets. The rifles used are highly modified or customized to provide the most stable shot possible. A lot goes into the trajectory of a bullet as even the wind can shift its path slightly. These competitions can be decided by a fraction of a millimeter. This is the type of event that is deeply rooted in tradition and can be seen at both the winter and summer Olympics.

Shooting events are widely available and they might be hosted by a local gun club or as a world competition at a venue such as the Olympics. What is the next step for people who are interested in shooting competitions? The biggest decision that you face is determining which style of gun — shotgun, pistol or rifle — that you favor. When the breadth of a hair can spell winner or loser, precision counts.

Summer Outdoor Family Activities in Colorado

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Whether you’re moving to the state, planning a staycation or simply heading out, there are plenty of amazing experiences awaiting you during the summer in Colorado. The state’s many parks and preserves are ideal for family activities or family hiking, but plenty of amazing options are overlooked in the summertime. Whether you want to view the mountains from your own personal hot air balloon, spot wildlife or just relax and catch a movie in the park, these are some go-to ideas for Colorado families this summer.

Go back in time

The Pueblos, Colorado’s first and oldest inhabitants, left behind compelling ruins and cliff homes to explore. Visit Mesa Verde National Park in the southwest part of the state and enjoy hiking to the ruins or take a guided tour. This is no ordinary stroll, it includes tunnels, ladders and a chance to go inside some cliff dwellings that are more than 500 years old. Not into climbing? Nearby Hovenweep National Monument also offers a chance to tour archeological ruins with a little less climbing; the site offers a 1.5 hour walking tour perfect for exploring.

Make a splash

If you are heading to Denver, you have not one, but two water parks to choose from. Both Water World and Elitch Gardens offer plenty of watery fun for kids and adults of all ages and are the perfect spots to cool down on a hot summer day. From the slides to the wave pool, you can find something for the whole family at Denver’s water parks.

High flying adventure

A zipline gives you a unique look at the world. A  zipline that combines a workout with a sightseeing tour  gives you the best of both worlds. You’ll have to ascend above the trees to start your tour, so ziplining is best for those who can climb well and enjoy adventure. Once you’ve made your way to the treetops, it is time to take the plunge. Depending on where you go for your zipline tour, you could see mountains, the forest or even some important landmarks. Ziplining is a fun but somewhat pricey venture; expect to pay about $100 per person. As a rule of thumb, kids need to be age 7 or older to participate. Just search for “ziplining” in the county you’ll be traveling in to find nearby tours.

Movies in the park

Each week, the public parks and recreation departments in Colorado host a movie night – and you’re invited! Movie nights are free of charge for the whole family and allow you to get outside and enjoy a beautiful summer evening, complete with entertainment. Each park has a different setup and movie schedule, so you are sure to find something the whole family will enjoy – don’t forget the s’mores!

Make animal friends

Visit the Denver Zoo to meet up to 750 species and explore a variety of specialty activities and educational adventures. The zoo may be the place to spot large wildlife, but the butterfly pavilion and aquarium offer plenty of educational and fun opportunities as well. Tour one or more of these animal activities when you visit Denver this summer.

You don’t have to go to Denver to enjoy animal activities and get educated; the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs has a special emphasis on African animals like elephants and giraffes and educational opportunities throughout the summer. This location also offers an educational camp for children each summer, with behind the scenes and hands on learning opportunities. Tour one or both of these animal attractions when you visit Colorado this summer.

Drift away to adventure

Kids as young as three can join the family for an adventurous trip along one of Colorado’s rivers. Beginner whitewater rafting trips allow you to include the entire family — and are just rough enough to be thrilling, but not scary. For older kids and teens, a more challenging expedition might be just the thing for summer adventure; most locations offer a variety of options to perfectly suit your family’s needs. Prices vary based on the skill level and length of the expedition; most locations provide everything you need to raft safely.

Soar high above the clouds

Afraid of heights? If not, then a one of a kind hot air balloon tour might be just the thing to try this summer. Balloons lift off and gently soar on the breeze, allowing you to take a leisurely look at your favorite parts of Colorado. Allow a few hours for a balloon tour – and bring some extra cash; while it packs plenty of fun, these tours can run as high as $250 per person.

Take a hike

Not only does hiking provide plenty of physical benefits, it boosts everything from creativity to emotional wellbeing, too! Spend a day hiking through the scenic mountain and valley paths at any one of a number of Colorado parks and trails. Rocky Mountain National Park offers plenty of kid- and family-friendly options and makes it easy to get ready to explore nature in a whole new way.

School’s out and it is time for fun; incorporate a few of these activities into your vacation plans and you’ll have the best summer yet this year in Colorado.

 

Different Places to Fish in Colorado

 

There are a ton of places to find outstanding fishing around Lakewood, Colorado. The local area offers easy access to dams, reservoirs, creeks, and lakes. In addition to the many fishing holes, there are plenty of helpful outfitters in the area too. In this where-the-fish-are blog, we explore some of the best places to fish and where to go to get your supplies. Colorado is active in managing its wildlife so be sure to check the fishing laws about where to fish and what you can catch.

Clear Creek County

There are some amazing places in Clear Creek County to fish, and especially fly fish. Up near the Loveland Ski area is where you will find where Clear Creek starts. Much of Clear Creek is in the Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest. Almost anywhere you can gain access to the river you will find rainbow trout. Along through the mining area, you will find rainbow and cutthroat trout too, especially along the stretch of the river through Idaho Spring. From Lakewood, you are looking at about a half hour drive from Lakewood. It is a good area to explore and there are plenty of places where you can fish.

Georgetown Lake

Past Idaho Springs and about a 45-minutes drive straight down the I-70 from Lakewood you come to Georgetown Lake. You can bring your boat or raft though no motors are allowed. This is a nicely civilized area for fishing in Colorado and the lake is beautiful. Expect to find rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and lake trout. If you map out your Lakewood fishing trip you can practically fish all the way there and all the back.

Green Mountain Reservoir

The Green mountain Reservoir is about 1.5 hours from Lakewood and offers outstanding Colorado fishing, including ice fishing. There is a boat launch at the Marina. This is a big lake for lake trout and the Department of Wildlife wants to control the population so you get to catch and keep more lake trout here too. Expect lake trout in the 20-25 pound range. This is also a place to fish for kokanee salmon. If you are looking for salmon action, this is a good bet. Here is more information about salmon fishing in Colorado

Hot Fishing Spots for Lakewood Fishing

Harriman Lake is a reservoir just four miles away. This is a perfect place for bass fishermen as the lake supports both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. In addition, you have access to striped bass, white bass, spotted bass, crappie, Walleye, and Channel cats.

 

Sloan’s Lake is just 3.5 miles away and it is full of fish. Most people come for the Rainbow trout, brown trout, bluegill, cutthroat trout, and Northern Pike. There are also plenty of catfish here including blue cats, white cats, and flathead cats.

 

Cherry Creek is near Sloan’s Lake and offers tremendous fishing for largemouth bass.

Bear Creek Lake Reservoir is 4.7 miles from Lakewood and offers easy access and great fishing. For bass fishermen, there are largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. For bigger game fish the walleye and rainbow trout are fun. The bluegill, bream, and crappie are easy. The brown trout are a bit of a challenge, but then they are often huge.

 

Here is a full list of local lakes near Lakewood

 

If you are looking for stocked trout then the Colorado Parks & Wildlife crew publishes a list where they release 10-inch trout.

Supplies and Outfitters for Colorado Fishing

Rick’s Rods Fishing Tackle is just off Huron Street in Denver.

Maurice Sporting Goods in Englewood is right on Kenyon Avenue.

MW Reynolds in Denver. Just off of Stout Street supplies fly fishing gear.

Discount Fishing Tackle Inc. in Denver. Just off Santa Fe Drive. Good place for gear, supplies and bait.

There are plenty of outstanding places to fish near Lakewood. The local area was practically created for fishermen. If you are new to Colorado rivers, they are mean. Be sure to practice safe fishing as a quiet stream can change into a raging white water torrent in a short space.

Big Game Getaways

Plan Your Big Game Getaway

No matter what draws you to big game hunting – the challenge of the wilderness, dangerous prey or an impressive trophy, these big game spots are right here in the USA and offer something for every trophy hunting enthusiast.

Alaska:  Bear Hunting

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The Challenge: Inhospitable terrain and weather make this the most challenging hunt in the USA.

If you crave adventure and a true challenge, then a hunting expedition through the wilderness of Alaska might be just what you need. From coping with unpredictable and inhospitable weather to tracking game movements over a long period of time, Alaska has plenty to offer the experienced hunter. Game is abundant in Alaska, but the state is so large that some animal populations are tough to track and locate, adding to the challenge and the level of skill required. The right training and equipment can make the difference between success and failure on this intense hunt.

Moose, elk and other large animals abound in Alaska, while those willing to face a full grown grizzly bear can do so – if they dare. According to state hunting experts, preparation is key to a successful hunt; expect to spend about a week on your expedition if you visit the state; it takes time to cross the terrain and locate the game you seek.

Washington:  Moose Hunting

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The Challenge: Getting lucky in the annual permit lottery or auction

Searching for the perfect trophy for your game room wall? Try a 50 inch moose—these huge herbivores are heavy on the ground in Washington. While you have a good chance of bagging one when you go, the opportunity to hunt is harder to come by.Washington has a raffle and auction permit option, so you’ll have to enter your name into the lottery to grab a chance to hunt moose in the state. Make sure you are fully educated and prepared for your hunt if your name is called as it can take years to win a coveted moose pass.

According to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, fees collected from the moose and bighorn sheep lotteries help pay for the care and management of the species. In addition to abundant moose, the state also offers permits for elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Hunters can apply for one or more permit lotteries from inside or out of the state.

Idaho:  Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion (Felis concolor) Cougar or Puma. Mountain Lions are usually solitary animals that feed in the early morning or evening. Often sibling groups may stay together for a year or two after leaving the parent. Their diets consist mainly of Deer but may include rodents and hares. Range: SW Canada, Western US, Mexico, Central and South America.

The Challenge: Huge snow drifts, elusive and a stunningly complex apex predator that is tough to track through deep, deep snow

You’ll have to put in some extra work if you want one of these oversized and wily creatures to adorn your home; mountain lions in the wilds of Idaho enjoy optimal living conditions and are notably oversized. These cats are tough to track – and they do fight back, making pursuing a mountain lion through the snow a daunting proposition.

According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife, you can hunt mountain lions in the state 10 months out of every year and purchase more than one tag if needed. Proper training and the right equipment is a must for this dangerous hunt; head in prepared and you’ll be more likely to be successful. If you miss a mountain lion, you may still spot some of the other big game the state is known for – black bear, elk and bighorn sheep are all popular trophy picks in Idaho as well.

Montana:  Bison Hunting

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The Challenge: You won’t be able to get very close – bison are huge and quick to charge

One of the biggest land animals in the United States, Bison roam the range in Montana and a skilled hunter can walk away with a freezer full of lean and healthy meat along with a handsome trophy piece. Because of their sheer size and the difficulty involved in hunting from afar, bison offer a true challenge for the experienced hunter. If you’ve ever wondered what life was like on the plains hundreds of years ago, a bison hunt can put you in touch with the past and allow you to experience what others only dream about.

According to Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks department, bison permits are available from November through February and you can hunt on private or designated public land, including some areas around Yellowstone National Park. While you’re tracking down a bison, you’ll also be able to keep an eye out for wolves, elk, mountain lions and more.

Whether your idea of an ideal outing is a day spent elk hunting in the lush wilderness or fighting your way through the wilds of Alaska and facing down a grizzly, one of these big game hunts is sure to please.

Your Gun Dog — Different Ways To Train Your Hunting Companion

Pointer pedigree dog with quail in mouth and hunter hand

Your Gun Dog — Different Ways To Train Your Hunting Companion

A good gun dog is worth his weight in gold. Hunters always remember the best dogs they’ve owned. Those dogs that seamlessly became an extension of the hunter — one that practically read its owner’s mind. Those are the gun dogs of legend. In this gun dog blog, we look at some of the best ways to train your hunting companion so that you, too, have a gun dog of legend.

Bird dog training — where to start

The hunting process is complex and the role that a good gun dog plays is important. Before you can get them to retrieve dead waterfowl, you have to get them to obey. There are two factors that hunters need to instill in their dogs — obedience and steadiness.

Obedience begins with the “stay” command. Make the pup stay while you do the retrievals. Letting the dog watch you work instills the idea that they do not need to retrieve every dead bird or fowl dummy. This takes the exuberance out of the dog and enhances the dog’s calm nature. Still, the entire process begins with obedience. A gun dog that does not obey will never be steady.

Steadiness is a skill that is essential. It means that a dog will stand-down while another dog does the work. When training puppies, it is important that they obey, especially when it comes to retrieving. What this teaches the dog is restraint. Every dead bird does not need retrieval as soon as it hits the water. Restraint takes the over-excitement out of a dog and allows it to function without the pressure of performing at peak efficiency. Calm and steady are a win for the hunter and the dog.

Training hunting dogs — basic obedience

We discussed the “stay” command –  and that is an essential skill –  but it is not the only skill. Once the dog is in action you need to have it “come” when called or signaled. Gun dogs of legend obey. They stay, come, heel, and fetch, but they do it on command. The only way to effectively train a gun dog to obey is with trial, reward and yes, punishment. That does not mean cruelty because a good bird dog should not fear you; they need to respect you. And that is achieved through favor and disappointment.

Gun dogs — start with good stock

Personality and demeanor are two traits that bird hunters need to carefully evaluate before choosing a dog. Poor breeding practices have really opened up Pandora’s box. What we have now are dogs that are hyper. You cannot train that out of them as it just becomes nervousness and eventually a psychosis. A hyper dog constantly has to battle between its hyper nature and obeying its master. These are not gun dogs of legends. Start with good stock and many of your training issues disappear.

Bird dog training devices

Good trainers do not need training devices. Those products, such as electric collars are training aids. If they are to work, you will first need to know how to train a gun dog. The role of a trainer is to teach. Training devices do not do that. They do not provide the dog with skills. Gun dogs of legend existed long before there were training devices. The best advice is not to rely upon a device to train your gun dogs. Instead, rely upon skill.

Know your dog and its personality

Just like with people, puppies need to develop in order to learn. By knowing your dog and watching its personality, you can feel when the dog is ready to learn. Start with the basics — sit, stay, fetch and come. When they have mastered those, move onto the more complex situations like stand down. It is hopelessly frustrating for both the hunter and the dog when you try to teach a dog skills before it is cognitively ready.

Making a good gun dog is a reflection of the trainer. It is important that you start small and work into teaching harder skill sets. Another good tip is to socialize your pups when they are young. If you are new to training hunting dogs or have had problems in the past with bird dog training, step back and focus on making yourself a better trainer. We hope that these tips help you create your own gun dog of legend.

How To Choose Hearing Protection For Your Shooting Sessions

Protecting your hearing is a must – but you also need to be able to communicate with your fellow hunters and hear the light footstep of a deer on the forest floor. Hearing matters for more than deer; the fastest and easiest way to locate a turkey is to listen for the chatter and gobbles coming from a Tom – cover your ears too early and you’ll have to go without a turkey dinner this spring.

Hunting differs from a trip to the gun range; you can expect rapid, regular firing at the range and pick the ear protection that offers the fullest degree of coverage. While a rifle or long gun is generally not as loud as a pistol or revolver, it is still loud enough to cause damage. Since you’ll still need to use your senses as you hunt, picking ear protection is a little more tricky. What protection do you need, and when should you use it?

Some assume that since you are only firing occasionally, you can do without protection, but even a single hunt has the potential to cause permanent hearing damage, according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association. Learning more about how hearing damage works and the science behind ear protection can help you protect your hearing while you hunt; whether you are furthering your own firearms skills or helping a young person get started, hearing protection is an important part of gun safety.

The science behind ear protection

We measure the sounds we hear every day in terms of decibels (dB); normal human speech registers at about 60 dB, while your car engine could range from 70-90 dB. Sounds that are over 100 dB have the potential to damage your hearing over time, while single instances of loud noise over 140 dB can cause permanent damage. A .22 rifle shot is over 140 dB as are virtually all shotgun, pistol and revolver shots.

Since all gunshots surpass the safe level for human hearing, it is essential that you use protection any time you fire a weapon. Protecting your hearing should be considered part of basic gun safety. Some hearing protection options are better than others when it comes to hunting; the right choice for you depends on your personal preferences and budget.

Gun safety tips: Ear protection options

Earplugs

Made out of a soft, compressive foam, inexpensive earplugs may be all you need to muffle sound and protect your hearing. Earplugs have several advantages – they are cheap, readily available and disposable. While earplugs certainly help protect your hearing, they do have some significant downsides. If you do not like things in your ears, you won’t like earplugs. They also dampen all sound, making it more difficult to tell how much noise you are making and if an animal is near. They can also be difficult to insert when your hands are cold – you need to roll the foam into a tight coil to insert them into your ears.

Passive ear muffs

They look just like a pair of headphones, but passive ear muffs add an extra layer of protection as you hunt. Designed to mold to your head and cover your ears completely, this style of ear protection is more expensive than earplugs but provides more protection as well. Passive earmuffs block all sounds, so you won’t be able to hold a conversation or realize how much noise your group is making while wearing them.

Electronic ear muffs

Probably the best option for hunting is also the most expensive. Electronic ear muffs selectively filter sound, so you can have a conversation, hear that distant gobble or realize how much noise you are making as you stomp around getting set up. Electronic muffs dampen the sound of a shot considerably, protecting your hearing while allowing for effective communication, making them the ideal choice for hunting. If you are serious about hunting, then a set of electronic ear muffs is an essential part of your kit.

Using hearing protection

Setting up

Unless you are wearing electronic ear muffs, don’t put your hearing protection in until after you’re set up in your spot; the deer in the area can hear you even when you are trying to be careful. If you cover your own ears you may end up making a lot more noise than you intend to as you scope out the area, set up or climb into a blind. Set up the day before if possible, or add your ear protection after you’ve settled into your spot. The deer and other animals in the forest already have superior hearing to yours; dampen your own senses and you could scare anything worth bagging away from your site.

Hunting alone or with a group

If you are out on your own, then simply remembering to insert earplugs or don the dampening headphones may be enough, if you are not using the electronic versions. Hunt with a group or even a single partner and your needs become more complex. A gun fired near you has the same impact on your hearing as one you fire on your own, so communication is a must. Choosing ear protection that works full time to protect your ears is best if you are hunting in a group; you won’t have to worry about loud and potentially damaging surprises.

Protect your hearing every time you hunt

The best hearing protection in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t use it. Make a commitment to tracking down and acquiring the best protection you can find – and to using that protection every time. Ear protection should be as important as caring for your firearm and choosing the right site. Protecting your ears now ensures that you’ll still be able to hear the subtle rustling of a turkey in dense brush – or the loud gobbling of a Tom looking for hens – for years to come.