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bitmasher's picture
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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

So you have a daughter, son, friend, etc that is going on their first big game hunt. You have two rifles, one of which is marginal for the species they intend to hunt and one that is acceptable (by all accounts). For the sake of arguement, the accuracy and precision of both rifles are the same.

You start them with the marginal rifle, target shooting with the intention of working them up to the other rifle as they start to get the hang of shooting.

They practice hard and do great with the marginal caliber, so you bump them to the satisfactory caliber. However their shooting starts to go down hill a bit because they can't handle the recoil as much and occasionally flinch and no amount of practice will fix the flinch. They are not shooting horrible, but it is clear they are better with the marginal rifle. Furthermore this is range shooting so it is expected that they will, at the least, be a bit worse in the field. So now they are shooting marginally but the caliber/load/rifle is acceptable.

Here is the question. Would you let them hunt with the marginal caliber/load, or with the marginal shooting, or not at all?

[ This Message was edited by: bitmasher on 2003-11-18 23:33 ]

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

Ok if a train left Detroit headed South doing 60 mph.....
Bitmasher tough question when you put it on a cloud (no cal, no game).......
My soultion as the question stands is the marginal cal with the best bullet weight and build for the game being persued. Since the new hunter is just that new (never hunted at all before?) They will not understand that you do not feel the recoil when shooting at game. Thus, the unmanageable recoil will be on there mind when drawing down on the animal. They will have confidence in the marginal cal. from there range time. One less obstical while persuing this Beast of Widget.

[ This Message was edited by: ADKBEAR on 2003-11-19 08:57 ]

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

I would probably go with the marginal caliber that they shoot well, depending on just how "marginal" it is.

For instance, if you're talking about using a .270 (OH GOD! NO! Not again!) to hunt elk then I'd say that's not so small as to outweigh the difference in shooting ability.

On the other hand, if they were practicing with a .223 and you had hoped to move them up to a .270 for hunting elk, then I'd say the .223 is just too small no matter how well they shoot it. If they can't shoot the .270 well enough then they just can't go hunting yet.

So, it's a matter of balance. How "marginal" is the caliber? How poorly do they shoot the larger caliber? In the end it's a judgement call.

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

I vote for the marginal rifle and better shooting - provided we're not talking about dangerous game. If it's dangerous game than I'd vote "not at all" unless I was right beside them with more than adequate back-up.

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

It really depends on how marginal the calibre really is. If it is that iffy then I would go for the bigger calibre. How often did(do) any of us think of recoil when your intended games walks out? The last thing you want is to have the hunter do everything right and fail to bag his/her quarry because the calibre just didn't do it. Light for species calibres are fine in experienced hands but shouldn't be in inexperienced hands IMO. Trust that the hunter will do their job right but give them a rifle that can do its job right as well.

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

I would go with the marginal cal. that is shot well, providing its acceptable for the game being hunted. If were me with (for purpose of topic) my 9 yr old id want him to be comfortable with the gun rather then being afrraid of 'the kick' thats going to follow. If cal isnt suitable for game being seeked out then i'd have to say wait.:smile:

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

Good one don....270 Grin
Hummm thats a toughy.
My first thoughts are go with the marginal calibre but then I am taken back to my childhood and I remember how excited I was at actually seeing a Deer. I was only 9 years old and I shot it with a 30.06, large for a boy my size.
I would hesitate to depend on a accurate shot from a greener who is excited, nervous, heart pounding like a car stereo from the hood, and very rapid short breathing.
I think I would want a larger calibre just in case the shot was not exactly as aimed and go for the bigger hole and tissue damage.
I dont think the thought of recoil will even enter the excited mind of someone who is fixin to shoot their first. It is us cool, calm, and collected shooters who take a nice slow careful aim that has the time to think about the upcoming recoil.

[ This Message was edited by: JTapia on 2003-11-20 19:52 ]

[ This Message was edited by: JTapia on 2003-11-20 19:53 ]

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

Call me a wimp...but some of you may remember the stories I told a while ago about my old .303. I wouldn't call it a heavy kicker but it was 100 times worse than my .22 which was the only previous experience I had. So back then, as far as I was concerned it kicked like a mule. Trust me - as excited and pumped as I was when I fired at a deer for the first time - even then I was preparing for the inevitable "blast".

The results were predictable - I hit the deer square through the hindquarters at a range of less than 100yds (probably more like 50).

Yes - the fact that the .303 with 180gr bullets had more than enough power to blow completely through and shatter the pelvis meant that I was able to get my deer...but I didn't feel very proud of myself that day and still don't. That's hardly a hunting "success" story. Today I wish I'd have had a .243 that I wasn't scared to death of and a lung shot.

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

I've used my 7mm Remington Magnum all season long, its mild, user-friendly recoil makes it all the more of an attractive choice. A bit of advice though, don't use 160 grain Federal Nosler Partition on whitetail deer, there was no expansion, even on the exit wound. 150 grain bullets are far more suitable, I figured the bones would allow the bullet to expand, but hey, it shows how good the 160s would be for elk, moose, and Kodiaks.

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

Thanks for the responses, it looks like folks are split on this one. I intentionally tried to be vague with the question (ADKBEAR's Beast of Widget Wink) because I didn't want a derailing of the topic on whether such-and-such caliber was marginal for such-and-such game.

By marginal rifle/caliber I took a simple defintion. I meant that if you put one shot in the vitals (the 1-1.5 foot square around the heart) you are assured it will die shortly and have limited follow-up (100-200 yards) if any. Nothing more, nothing less.

It used to be that this definition was not considered marginal, but rather perfectly acceptable. These days it seems that the definition of an acceptable caliber/load has expanded to mean much more. Such as if I hit the game reasonably well (shoulder, leg, rump, even gut) that the caliber/rifle/bullet should stop it enough that I get a second/third/etc shot and any caliber/load less than that is unacceptable.

While I can understand the merits of this new definition of acceptable caliber, I also find it troubling, because it seems to suggest that your higher caliber/load can make up for shot selection errors or less than optimal shooting skill. A bigger bullet hitting faster will save you sometimes, but I have doubts that it will save you more than if you were shooting something that there was less question that you could put it in the vitals and when it hits the vitals will do its job 100% of the time.

How do you define marginal caliber/load/rifle?

[ This Message was edited by: bitmasher on 2003-11-30 22:49 ]

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Marginal rifle versus marginal shooting skill

I would have defined a marginal caliber to be one that will PROBABLY provide a clean kill if you get a shot into the vital zone, but might, in certain cases, not manage that.

For instance, most big-game animals have the rib cage interfering with the vital zone. Any caliber that would definitely be stopped by hitting a rib is UNACCEPTABLE. A caliber that would usually break a rib and go on through, but might sometimes fail, would be marginal. Any caliber that would definitely break the rib and get into the vitals would be one I would rate as acceptable.

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