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31 Aug 2015
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Backcountry Hunting – Gear Talk

Backcountry Layering 101

Jeff Sposito – Sitka

Chances are you have experienced the internal debate about what apparel to bring on a backcountry hunt. We all do it…..Check the weather forecast hundreds of times, layout all of your gear adding and subtracting certain pieces depending on the thought of the day. You can never be too prepared but sometimes it helps to ground yourself on the basics. At the end of the day it can make or break your hunt of a lifetime whether you have a bunch of stuff versus the “right” stuff. Sometimes less is more when it comes to layering properly for your hunt. Just like your rifle, having the correct setup that you intimately understand and know how to use, can turn your hunt from good to great.

When it comes to layering and building your system for any given hunt there are many different ways to skin the cat. Personal preference does play into the equation at a certain level but at the basics you should always consider four different layers; Base, Insulation, Outerwear and Rainwear. Also, be sure not to forget about a good pack and proper protection for your hands and head. Below is just one example of a backcountry system that happens to be the gear I will be using for our Bob Marshall hunt this October.

Base LayersThe single most important thing base layers need to do for you is wick perspiration away from your body and dry out quickly. This is often overlooked and misunderstood but is paramount to making all your other layers perform to the level they are designed. This is also why cotton can be the kiss of death in extreme situations….it absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry which equals cold sensations that can lead to lowering body temperatures. The most common performance base layers are either made from poly blends or merino wool. For this trip I will be bringing two Merino Zip-T’s, two pairs of Merino Boxers and one pair of Merino Bottoms. I prefer merino for multi day backcountry trips for its natural odor fighting capabilities.

Merino topMerino BottomMerino boxers

Insulation LayersYour insulation pieces are what you will rely on for keeping you warm when it gets cold or during periods of low activity when your body needs help keeping your temperature up. Perfect examples of this are riding horses for a long distances, extended periods sitting on the mountain behind the spotting scope, or even to sleep in on extra cold nights. These pieces are typically the ones you may rarely use but when you do you’ll be thanking the man upstairs you brought them so you don’t freeze your buns off. There are a few different things to consider, I.e. synthetic vs. down, heavy vs. light, but most importantly just don’t forget them. For this hunt I will be bringing a Kelvin Down Hoody, Kelvin Lite Pants and a Traverse Zip-T.

Kelvin down hoodykelvin lite pantstraverse zip t

Outerwear- Outerwear pieces serve a dual purpose for regulating your body temperature as well as providing a durable layer that can resist weather and hold up to brush busting or crawling around backcountry terrain. Selecting these pieces is where many people get confused with all the different options. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you find pieces that fit you well, are functional for your needs and are comfortable to wear. For this hunt I will be bringing one pair of Timberline Pants and a 90% Jacket.

timberline pant

RainwearLast but not definitely not least is proper protection from the rain. All of our rainwear products utilize GORE-TEX laminates that are superior from others in breathability and durability. As well, GORE-TEX products are guaranteed to keep you dry so you can have confidence in your purchase. Take my word….good raingear is an investment into your hunt! For this hunt I will be carrying along Dewpoint Pants and a Dewpoint Jacket. The Dewpoint series is our lightest weight most packable raingear. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles like our Stormfront but that is a sacrifice I am willing to take for its extreme pack-ability. A full set of Dewpoint only weighs 25.6oz! Don’t ever leave home without your raingear…

dewpoint jktdewpoint pant

Packs and AccessoriesFact is your hands and your head are also very important for regulating your bodies core temperature. Likewise, protecting your hands and carrying a pack that fits the needs of your hunt can be thought of as minor details easily overlooked. I typically carry two pairs of gloves and two beanies in addition to a regular ball cap. On this hunt I will have a pair of Shooter Gloves, a pair of Stormfront Gloves, a Merino Beanie, a Jetstream Beanie, a Sitka Cap, a pair of Stromfront Gaiters and will be carrying a Bivy 45 Pack.

As I mentioned, this is just one example of a system of gear that will work great for an October back country elk hunt. If you have any specific questions or just need more information you can call our customer service gear experts anytime at 877-748-5247 or email us at As well, check out our online System Builder and Big Game System Examples at Good luck out there this fall!

31 Aug 2015
Comments: 0

Backcountry Hunting – Shooting Skills

August 27, 2015

Preseason Shooting Drills: How to Really Zero Your Rifle

By John Snow


This target on the left shows a nice group, but the rifle isn’t zeroed. After adjusting the point of impact (right), the author got the gun shooting exactly where he wanted it. This is the second post in a series on preparing for big game season. To see last week’s post on dry firing drills for trigger control and proper form.  Stay tuned for another installment next week.
What, exactly does it mean to zero a rifle? When most shooters zero their gun they put some shots downrange, getting a group, then adjust their scope and shoot again to confirm the point of impact. If the shot is one inch high at 100 yards (or whatever they’re trying for), they call it good. But this, however, does not mean the rifle is zeroed.
To properly zero the rifle you need to know where your bullets are going to impact, within the capabilities of the rifle you and ammo you’re using, every single time you pull the trigger. This, of course, assumes minimal error based on input from the shooter, which is why we try to zero from a bench and off sandbags and rests.
First, let’s back up. Say you’ve shot five-shot group that you’re happy with, meaning that you didn’t yank, flinch, or otherwise cause one of the shots to go astray. Figure out where the center of that cluster is and use it as your reference point. That point—whether a bullet hit there or not—represents your rifle’s zero.
Make the appropriate adjustments to get that virtual point of impact where you want it to be.
Now, whether you zero dead on at 100 yards or zero higher is up to you. Both have their merits. A dead-on zero at 100 allows for precise use with scopes with hold-over reticles—I’m talking mil/mil and moa/moa reticles, not the more generic type of ballistic holdover reticles that many companies make. Those reticles often have their own instructions for a given caliber and are an approximate representation of how the bullet will fly. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of these types of reticles because for longer shots, which is what they’re purported designed for, because their reference points are an approximation of a ballistic curve and for long shots you want to know exactly where that bullet is going to hit.
Zeroing high at 100 yards—usually between one and three inches—can be very useful, as it gives you the ability to hold dead on an animal out to very respectable distances without worrying about holdover. Depending on the cartridge, this technique will give you a point-blank zero out as far as 200 to 300 yards. You’ll need to use a ballistic calculator to figure out the exact distance, but once your point blank zero is established it takes a lot of thinking out of the equation during your hunt.
In fact, I’m using this technique myself for a hunt I’m headed on next week. I’m going for a grizzly in Alaska and I’ve zeroed my .375 Ruger 2 inches high at 100. The 250-grain bullet exiting the muzzle at 2,900 fps will drop about 6 inches at 300 yards. So any bear out to 275 yards, I can just hold on the middle of the chest and know my zero is good—though to be honest I plan on getting a lot closer to the bear than that before pulling the trigger.
But all of this calculation is for naught if you don’t know where that bullet is going to hit when your rifle puts its first cold shot down range and if you don’t respect the size of its groups on paper.
Not every rifle is a 1-inch MOA rifle out there. Far from it. I test guns for a living and can tell you that a true MOA rifle—one that will print 5-shot groups every time with a given type of ammunition—is a rare beast. Most good rifles are 1.5 MOA rifles and plenty are 2 MOA or slightly worse. And this level of accuracy is just fine for most hunting. But you need to take into honest account the amount of dispersion your rifle exhibits at the range before taking it hunting. Just because a rifle might have once clustered three shots in a tidy 1-inch group doesn’t make it a 1-inch rifle.
Gather your data at the range and respect what it says.
If there’s a type of ammo you’re interested in hunting with, invest in two boxes of the stuff. With those 40 rounds you should be able to collect five good 5-shot groups and have some ammo to spare. This data will tell you what you need to know—where your bullets are hitting and what your rifle’s honest performance is. It will also give you a chance to dial in your rifle so that the center of your groups is exactly where you want.
Congratulations. Now, your rifle is zeroed. And from here on out, we’re going to move away from the bench and start drilling from the field positions you’re going to actually hunt with. See you next week.

28 Aug 2015
Comments: 0

Backcountry Hunting- Gear Talk



iReview Gear Lead Field Editor


Alti2ude Outdoors Pro Staff

Worldwide Trophy Adventures Hunting Consultant

 Overall Rating: *4



The Russell Moccasin’s High Country Extreme is a custom fitted and made to measure hunting boot built for comfort and toughness. The “moccasin” style boot has a long, rich history. The rugged, extremely sturdy triple vamp uppers are designed as a true moccasin, wrapping around your foot in a U-shaped piece, connected with a leather midsole and one of the finest mountain soles ever designed, the Montana Claw Air Bob outsole. These boots are specifically built to fit your individual feet. You have the choice to customize your High Country Extremes, choosing from over 100 different leathers of the highest quality in the world, to the selection of more than two dozen different sole options as well as taller or shorter boots, even two tone if you like. In other words, you have a say in the final product.


 The highly skilled cobblers or “boot craftsman” at Russell Moccasin have dedicated themselves to crafting the finest hand made; custom fit moccasin style boots anywhere in the world for well over 115 years. They take tremendous pride in their company and have created an outstanding hunting boot in the High County Extreme. Designed with a new single piece Montana Claw Air Bob Sole that is built to bridge the gap between the arch and the ball of the foot for additional support and improved wear, the outside cleat pattern of this outsole will also help you gain better traction while side hilling across steep terrain. Russell believes that their Montana Claw sole is the finest sole ever designed as it grips like no other sole they have ever worn. The hollow air filled cleats give and grab in slick terrain so that you don’t have to worry about falling down.

The Extreme is highlighted by a True-Fit® fiberglass shank that is 68% lighter than steel but equally as strong. This unique shank provides additional strength to the arch area, making the Extreme more rigid for sure-footed traction. (68% lighter than steel but equally strong), solidifying the arch area, thus making the boot more rigid for sure-footed traction.

Although you can choose the height of your High Country Extreme, (I went with 8”) Russell custom height for this boot is 12” and it is still very light in weight.  In fact, the 12” High Country Hunter Extreme at 80 oz. weighs only 2.4 ounces more than a 9” or 10” model at 77.6 oz. Providing you with additional protection and the ability to seal out water when crossing streams to prevent wet socks, boots and possible blisters, 2.4 oz. Is a very minimal amount of weight for the additional support you are given to avoid injury in high altitude, rugged terrain. The rugged sure-grip Montana Claw sole on the High Country Hunter Extreme weighs more than the boot itself…so the height of this boot is an added bonus.

A thick layer of Poron Technical Foam, (that doesn’t compress under walking pressure), is built into the bottom of the Extreme which translates into great walking comfort during very long, difficult days while hiking out in the mountains, The uppers of each High Country Hunter are lined in Turtleskin and leather. This feature provides outstanding lower leg and ankle support as well as protection from sharp, jagged rocks. Double vamp, made in a fine grained wear resistant Ebbtide leather; the 12-inch Extremes are available in women’s sizes too.


 Russell Moccasin, specifically designed this high, non-insulated hunting boot, for your comfort, support, traction, durability, and to help you stand up to the challenges of rough, rugged terrain. Providing outstanding stability, the Extreme’s moccasin design is amazingly flexible and quiet. There’s no doubt that the boot artisan’s at Russell Moccasin know what they are doing.


 Technical Specifications – High Country Extremes

 Choice of Sole:

  • Full Montana Claw Air Bob (Standard)
  • “Montana” Claw Air Bob

russell Soles

Choice of Toe Cap:

  • No toe cap
  • Add toe cap

russell Toes

Choice of Thinsulate:

  • No Thinsulate
  • 200 gram Thinsulate Foot Only
  • 400 gram Thinsulate Foot Only
  • 200 gram Thinsulate
  • 400 gram Thinsulate

Rusell Thinsilate

Choice of Leather Option:

  • Brown Ebbtide (Standard)
  • Chocolate Ebbtide

Uppers: Turtleskin and Leather

Weight: 80 ounces/12” boot

Footbed/Padding: Poron Technical Foam

Construction: Moccasin Boot, Double Vamp Design

Shank:True-Fit® fiberglass shank

Made: America


 To gain an understanding of the pride that goes into each Russell Moccasin boot it’s important to note that this company has been around since 1898 but can trace its origin back as far as 1850. Amazing! Now, this company has been making high quality “custom” boots for a very long time, dedicating itself to providing hunters and outdoors men and women with the finest handmade, custom fitted moccasin style boots and shoes available anywhere, one step at a time, one stitch at a time. The cobblers of Russell Moccasin take tremendous pride in making what they believe are the finest hunting boots and outdoor footwear in the world. Their motto is not “more of” and not “cheaper”…. just THE BEST! Russell Moccasin is a small company who isn’t interested in mass-producing thousands of boots for wholesale each year. It should be noted that they employ a small number of highly skilled and dedicated craftsmen who take their work extremely seriously. Working at Russell and building the finest outdoor footwear in the world, is part art, part culture, and part pride! Russell Moccasin utilizes a traditional method of manufacture that has operated virtually unchanged for more than 115 years and they have no intention of changing what they do. Mass production methods are just not possible at Russell. That’s why it takes 20 weeks for your new Russell custom-made boot to arrive at your doorstep. It is Russell Moccasin’s business philosophy to fulfill their customer’s expectations each and every day!


 I love to hunt, backpack, explore mountainous terrain and have been an outfitter/guide for 25 years so I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time out on the mountain and have worn out countless boots. Because of my thorough field reviews I have also had the opportunity to test a lot of different boots. Many of the boots I’ve worn have been outstanding but there have been a few that have caused my feet to suffer with the wearing of painful blisters, hot spots and bruises. A quality pair of outstanding hunting or hiking boots is definitely worth their weight in gold and can make your experience enjoying Mother Nature much more pleasant and successful. The boots I choose to wear must be durable, comfortable, provide support to my ankles and feel light on my feet. It’s mandatory that they are capable of standing up to the abuse mean, rugged, dangerous terrain can present. Cactus, sharp rocks, abrasive volcanic rock, gritty sandstone, mud, water, etc., should not phase the boots that I wear to protect my feet. In other words, the boots I choose to lace up will provide me with the same kind of confidence as the weapon I have sighted in for hunting.

I’ve been aware of the famous Russell Moccasin name for many years but had never worn a pair of their boots. After a great discussion with Joe Gonyo, Vice President of Operations for Russell Moccasin, he convinced me that their custom made High Country Extreme was capable of standing up to any terrain or the miles that I could put on them. Joe took careful measurements of both my feet and I chose to have him make the boots 8” high instead of the standard 12” in this boot. The leather Joe chose to use was “Horween Backbay.”

Let me say up front that this is the first “moccasin style”-hunting hunting boot that I have had the opportunity to wear. As I took the boot out of the box I wondered how the double moccasin vamps would hold up against the razor sharp rocks, cactus, covered terrain, etc., where I spend much of my time as well as the rugged high Altitude Alpine basins. After all, most of my hunting boots feature heavy-duty rubber rands that wrap around the entire boot.

Immediately out of the box Russell’s custom fit High Country Extreme boots felt very comfortable on my feet. My first hiking trip was a two hour butt kicker in hot temperatures wearing an 85 lb. backpack. The brand new boots performed remarkably well with virtually no extended break in period. They felt comfortable, soft and perfectly fit my feet. Great job Joe! I only developed one small hot spot on my right heel packing all that weight. What impressed me the very most is the fact that the Poron Technical Foam pad use in this boot’s foot bed protected a very painful neuroma I have between the metatarsals on my right foot much better than some of the extremely firm soles of the high end boots I wear. I’m been told by my Podiatrist that scar tissue has built up on the soles of my feet from so many years out on the mountain backpacking along with the literally thousands of miles I’ve hiked which puts “burning hot” pressure on the nerves between two of my metatarsals. Believe me, Neuroma’s can be extremely miserable. Nevertheless, to start my field test off with this result was impressive!

At 80 ounces, the Mountain Extremes also felt very light on my feet, which is always important. The flexibility, yet sturdy True Fit fiberglass shank of the High Country Extremes impressed me with its overall strength and comfort.

 The soles on any boot I use must provide me with not only great traction but they must have to have the ability to grip as well as and brake when I’m crossing slick, steep side hill or descending steep inclines. I was surprised at how well Russell’s

“Montana Claw Air Bob” Soles functioned. Designed to bridge the gap between the arch and the ball of my foot to provide additional support and improved wear, the outside cleat pattern of this outsole will has provided me with outstanding traction while side hilling across steep terrain. Russell believes that their Montana Claw sole is the finest sole ever designed as it grips like no other sole they have ever designed or worn. The hollow air filled cleats give and grip in slick terrain to provide individuals like me the confidence that we’re not going to fall down. I have not had an issue with breaking any of the “Montana Air Bob’s” and I’ve absolutely pounded the heck out of them. The only issue I have had is that one in a while I will get a small rock lodged between the wedge and Air Bob. This is not a big deal however.

Because these boots were custom designed and fit for me by Russell the toe box has been very comfortable, even when I’m descending very steep declines in rugged mountain terrain with a lot of weight in my pack. The design of the Russell’s Moc Boots has no “heel to toe” drop in them that helps tremendously with comfort when doing a lot of “down hilling.” Believe me, I’ve worn some outstanding boots over the years and NONE OF THEM will totally prevent the ends of your toes getting sore when you are carrying extreme weight and doing a lot of side hilling and descending mountainous terrain. I’ve lost my share of toe tails over the years but I haven’t had one of my toes go black and blue yet while wearing my Extremes. I appreciate the stabilization that these boots have given to my feet.


Russell Bobclaw 

Because of the rugged country I spend my time backpacking and hunting in there is a lot of sharp cactus as well as sharp rocks that can raise “hell” with your boots. The double vamp design of my Russell Moccasin Extreme boot has been tougher than what I anticipated and there hasn’t been an issue of protecting my feet from sharp objects and the elements. A vamp is the leather that surrounds and cradles your foot. Thus, a double vamp means two layers of leather, completely around and under your foot. The Horween Backbay leather that Joe chose for my boots has been tougher than steel, has provided my feet with the protection I need, and hasn’t shown any alarming wear or tear yet.

The boots I wear are also going to see some very wet weather and must be capable of keeping my feet dry. If you are hiking in extremely wet weather day after day I don’t believe that most boots will stay dry, even after water proofing them. In regards to my Russell High Mountain Extremes I have not used any water proofing on them yet and put them to the test by purposely submerging them water to see if they were waterproof. Up to now they have not leaked. I had read some articles by other hunters who loved their Russell Boots but indicated their boots had leaked. Personally, I have not had this issue with my boots. Perhaps the Horween Backbay leather is the answer. Simply put, the seams in my boot have functioned well.


russell in water

When ordering a pair of Russell Custom Made boots you have a lot of different options of leathers and other features to choose from. Many of their boots are already designed with these options but you do have a choice. I guarantee that if you call one of the Russell specialists they will work with you on designing the perfect boot for your needs and feet. Here are various options that you can consider:

Special Lining                                                                                           

Snake proof, thorn proof Turtleskin Snake Armor or ThornArmor. Turtleskin, an aramid fiber material about the thickness of two sheets of paper will stop thorns and snake bites cold. The Russell Ultra-Lite Turkey Hunter boot is fully lined with SnakeArmor and is certified snakeproof. For thorn protection you can order a slip sole of ThornArmor to be added to any of our popular Safari “PH” boots or you can order a fully lined Thormproof Safari “PH”.

Poron Inserts                                                                                                

If you have “tender feet” and like more cushioning underfoot specify our new high-density Poron technical insert slip sole. This can be inserted between the vamps of any double vamp, triple vamp or double moccasin boot or shoe to absorb shock and soften up hard terrain.

Optional Soles                                                                                      

While you may have any sole you wish on most any model of Russell boots and shoes, we invite you to visit our custom sole department to explore your many options.

Heel Counters

Heel counters provide added support and stability for hilly terrain. They also prevent walkover at the heel area. If counters are not specified in the Russell boot or shoe you intend to order, you can add them to almost any of our models as an option. If you have a tendency to walk over your shoes and boots, or plan on hunting in steep, hilly terrain, heel counters are highly recommended.

Heavy Duty Toe Caps

If you hunt in thick cactus and thorns or extremely abrasive rocky terrain, you may want to consider adding a Heavy Duty Toe Cap to your new boots at the time of order. The toecap is molded right onto the last at the time your boots are lasted up, then cemented and stitched directly onto the midsole. Many of our South Texas customers who hunt in thorns and cactus swear by our toecap, saying it greatly increases the life of their boots.

Double Vamp


Russell Vamp

We are often asked, “What does double vamp mean?” Simply put, the vamp of a Russell Moccasin boot or shoe is the leather that surrounds and cradles your foot. A single vamp means one layer of leather, completely around and under your foot. A double vamp means two layers of leather surround your foot. Double vamp construction is employed for two reasons, (1) for improved waterproofness, (Russell’s double vamp true moccasin construction blocks water passage through all needle holes and seams), and (2) for added foot support and stoutness in boots or shoes designed for heavier duty applications.

Many Russell boots and shoes, those intended for heavy duty applications where waterproofness is imperative, including the South 40 Birdshooter, High Country Hunter, Sheep Hunter, TLC, Art Carter Traveling Sportsman, Judy’s Boot, Snake Boot, Imperial and Turkey Hunter, are all built with this double vamp construction.

You may specify “double vamp construction” on most Russell models that do not already come that way if you desire a stouter, more waterproof boot or shoe. This option must be requested at the time of order.

Reinforced Upper Ankle Support


russell ankle

If you have weak or injured ankles, Russell’s Reinforced Upper Ankle Support may be a good option. Another layer of heavy leather is molded to the interior of the boot during construction, providing an extra measure of stiffness.

Thinsulate Insulation: 200 gram – 400 gram

For cold weather applications, Russell offers lightweight Thinsulate insulation as an option on all boots and most shoe models. 400 gram Thinsulate is the warmest and then 200. The 200 and 400 gram Thinsulate adds very little weight or bulk to boots or shoes. For an even warmer boot, (In triple vamp boots only), you can optionally include a 400 gram slip sole between the second and third vamps for $6.00 extra.

Pull Strap


Russell strap

For easy on and off you can add a pull strap to the backstay of Russell boots and shoes on those models not offering it as a standard feature.

Army Studs

For quick and easy lacing of Russell boots you can add Army Studs to any model not already equipped with them. These are heavy-duty solid brass studs that will not bend or collapse. Standard on high Country Hunter, Sheep Hunter, TLC and Turkey Hunter boots. A real time saver and worthwhile option. Studs are normally placed in the top 1/3rd of the eyelets only. Can be added after boots are made.

Speed Laces

Speed Lace loops can be added to any boot or shoe as well, The loops allow you to open the gusset for easy on and easy off, without pulling the laces out of the loops. To lace up, simply pull the laces tight. Another great time saver when you’re in a hurry. Speed laces must be specified at the time of order

Leather Lined Uppers


Russell Lined upper

When ordering your boots, if you desire a bit more internal ankle support for tough going, you can specify Aqua Tan leather lined uppers as an option. Aqua Tan leather is a soft silicone tanned leather that adds additional waterproofness as well. Many mountain hunters order their Sheep Hunter and High Country Hunter boots made with insulated lowers, (foot), and leather lined uppers, providing the best of all worlds…warmth and added support.

Steel Shank


Russell Steel shank

If you want a stiffer, less flexible sole, you can add a sturdy steel shank to most boots and shoes. A steel shank with prevent foot bridging, (excessive bending between the heel and ball), which lessens foot fatigue. A steel shank is standard on our best selling Sheep Hunter.

Oversize Charges

At Russell they like to say, “You name it…we’ll make it.” From what I’ve seen this is a true statement as the craftsman at Russell can make just about anything you might want in a moccasin style shoe or boot fashioned from the very best leathers money can buy.

I have a positive recommendation in purchasing Russell’s High Country Extreme Boot for mountain hunting, upland game or backpacking. This family owned and operated business is dedicated to detail and quality in the custom boots and shoes that they build. With Russell you receive hand lasted and hand sewn boots that are comfortable, tough and extremely well designed. I’m confident that these boots will leave you very satisfied with your purchase and expectations. With their custom made boots Russell stands behind their product and will address your needs regarding repair and replacement. Their craftsman “live their skill” each and every day. If I was ordering another pair of High Country Extreme’s I would have speed laces included as well as a padded collar.

What Russell Moccasin Could Do Better

 Russell is a great boot company. They believe in outstanding quality and excellence. When ordering a boot make sure you have their craftsman include the options that work best for you.

28 Aug 2015
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Backcountry Hunting – Shooting Skills

We wanted to make sure we had this on the Actual Blog for all of you as well.  Make sure that even while you are getting physically fit for your hunt, that you are also getting “skills fit” too. We often think of ourselves as experts and then don’t practice.  In order to be an Expert you must practice, practice, PRACTICE!!

August 20, 2015

Preseason Shooting Drills: Trigger Control and Form for Hunters

by John B. Snow 

Okay, maggots, listen up. Big game firearms seasons are right around the corner and you are in pathetic shape. Pathetic!But I’m going to take mercy on your slimy souls and turn you from bullet-spraying morons into deer slaying Carlos Hathcocks no matter what it takes.

So here is the first post in a series of weekly drills you can do to live up to the promise of “one shot, one kill” this season.

Any strong structure requires a solid foundation and that’s just as true with rifle marksmanship as it is with architecture, so that’s where we’ll begin.This first week we’ll focus on dry firing skills to get your form in shape. Take turns dry firing from the prone, sitting, and kneeling positions. There are multiple variations for each position, but they all have key elements in common.

1. Be relaxed

Any good shooting position is a relaxed position, free of muscle tension. If you’ve set up correctly, your crosshairs should be drifting right around your target. Doing this means you’ve established correct Natural Point of Aim (NPA).To check your NPA, get into position and get your sights on target. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and then open them. If your crosshairs haven’t moved, your NPA is solid. If not, make minor adjustments to your position and recheck your NPA.

2. Avoid bone-on-bone

While building your shooting position you want to avoid bone-on-bone contact. This is especially relevant while shooting from the seated or kneeling stance. Don’t place your bony elbow on top of your bony kneecap. Instead, scoot your elbows forward so that your kneecaps are pressing into your arms in the fleshy bit between your elbow and triceps.

3. Line everything up

Rifles are heavy. So it is critical that your bones and not your muscles are supporting that weight. Whether shooting prone, kneeling or off-hand, your support elbow (and in the case of kneeling your knee as well) should be positioned right underneath that weight so that an imaginary line going from the rifle directly into the ground passes through the elbow.While shooting prone, you also want your shoulders square behind the rifle so that a line drawn between your shoulders is at 90 degrees to the rifle. This allows the rifle to recoil straight back into your body and will improve accuracy and keep your sights on target.

4. Key on the trigger

A perfect shooting position is for naught if your trigger control is sloppy. You want to have the pad of your finger lined up perfectly straight across the face of the trigger and control the muscles in your hand so that you’re moving the trigger in a straight line toward the rear of the rifle. Really focus on putting even pressure on the trigger—you don’t want your finger to push or pull the trigger to the side when shooting.

Practice these principals with an empty gun and dry fire to your heart’s content. Next week, we talk about how to properly zero your rifle.

27 Aug 2015
Comments: 0

Backcountry Hunting – Gear Talk

As we get closer to our annual backcountry hunt we also want to spotlight certain products that we believe in and use regularly.

Leupold® Introduces Redesigned Gold Ring Spotting Scopes

Leupold GR

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Leupold & Stevens, Inc. has redesigned the legendary Gold Ring Spotting Scope line, offering enhanced ruggedness, a new industrial design and a reticle matched to the company’s riflescope offerings.

With a reputation of ruggedness, reliability, and lightweight construction, Gold Ring Spotting Scopes deliver unsurpassed optical quality. The new line of Gold Ring Spotting Scopes continues that lineage throughout the entire line.

New for the Gold Ring Spotting Scope is the addition of the Impact Reticle™ in the 12-40x60mm HD and the 20-60x80mm models. This MOA-based, front focal plane reticle allows guides or spotters to call impacts and offer immediate corrections. A minute-of-angle based grid set in the lower half of the viewing field allows for fast and accurate measurements at any magnification. Additional milradian dots allow the Impact reticle to be used with mil-based reticles as well.

The combination of an MOA reticle in the spotting scope and matching adjustments on the riflescope make sighting in a simple, two-shot process. Fire a shot, measure the adjustment using the reticle’s gradiations, dial in the adjustment and fire the second to confirm.

“Spotting scopes are one of the most important tools in the hunter’s pack,” said Pat Mundy, director of brand communications for Leupold & Stevens, Inc. “A good spotter helps the hunter scout longer and the wider field-of-view can help locate and identify animals otherwise missed.”

A new armor coating offers protection in the field, while the prism-less Folded Light Path system significantly reduces the overall length, making the Gold Ring a great option for back country hunts or anywhere else space is at a premium.

Designed, machined and assembled in Leupold’s Oregon manufacturing facility, the Gold Ring Spotting Scope is completely backed by the Leupold Gold Ring Full Lifetime Guarantee

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Founded in Oregon more than a century ago, Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is a fifth generation, family owned company that designs, machines and assembles its riflescopes, mounting systems and tactical/Gold Ring spotting scopes in the USA. The product lines include rifle, handgun and spotting scopes; binoculars; rangefinders; mounting systems; and optical tools and accessories.

 Leupold & Stevens, Inc., P.O. Box 688, Beaverton, OR 97075-0688, U.S.A.

Phone: (800) LEUPOLD or (503) 526-1400 • Fax: (503) 352-7621 •

26 Aug 2015
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With each week ahead, we will be adding higher intensity exercises, gradually waking up the muscles in the first two weeks and then getting into the muscle building that will also kick start the metabolism.


Week 2 Circuit

>Pushups (regular / wide / narrow for max reps)

>Step ups (10 reps / leg) **make sure the step is tall enough that your knee is at 90 degrees at the start**

Training Mask step ups edited

>Overhand Wide Grip Pull-ups (max reps)

>Dips (max reps)

Jimmy MRC dips

>Dumbbell Curl to Overhead Shoulder Press (12-15 reps w/ manageable weight)

>Wall Sits ** Wall sit with back against wall. Sit against the wall with your butt and knees at 90 degrees. Like sitting in a chair.**

20 sec
Rest 10 sec
20 sec
Rest 10 sec
20 sec

Jimmy MRC wall sit

>Bear Crawl ( 5 forward / 5 back @ 30 sec)

Jimmy MRC Bear Crawl

>ABS – 3 rounds for max rep



>2 Mile Walk / Run

** This week, incorporate running into your 2 mile loop while carrying a sledgehammer. Time yourself and strive to complete the 2 miles in less time each day.****


17 Aug 2015
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Growing up in the heartland of America – specifically the dairy state, I was raised hunting whitetail from a tree stand with peak times ranging from Halloween all the way thru the first two weeks of November. As a whitetail hunter, there are many long hours sitting on stand just hoping that with every doe that comes down the trail, a monster buck of a lifetime is following close behind. Spending so many hours in the same area, the woods starts to become like the local bar & grill with the same squirrels, turkeys, and raccoons becoming the regulars to frequent the limbs and trails. At most times tromping thru like a dream 180″ buck.

As a kid, I really never imagined that I would be “swooped off my feet” in my 20′s and 30′s by the love of hunting elk. The more and more hunters I talk to, the more and more seem to have been bitten by the same love bug.

My courtship with elk hunting began the moment I stepped foot in the Bridger Wilderness of Wyoming in 2003. A friend and I loaded up our frame packs, rifles in hand and ventured off into what was my very first experience of what backcountry hunting is. We overpacked of course which we quickly realized a couple of miles in the mountains, but our determination was unwavering. I was in awe of the contrast of what I was used to calling “the wild” and what it really was when I was in the thick of it. We trekked on for another six miles and finally came to rest shortly after dark on our first night in. Deciding to make a campfire lunch and sleep in our sleeping bags under the stars, I fell asleep almost immediately from the exhaustion from carrying everything, including the kitchen sink, in our packs that evening.

The next morning I rolled onto my side and slowly opened my eyes to discover I had slept literally a foot away from a cliff that dropped down several hundred feet. After picking my heart back up from the bottom of my stomach, I peered out across the valley and overlooked the wide open mountain range with large (large to me) lake at the bottom of a draw. It was and is forever etched in my mind. If we never even saw an elk after that, my trip would be complete and I would forever love the mountains and the pursuit of elk. That’s exactly what happened. Temps rose to 80 degrees + and never saw an elk. With only the faint screams of a couple bulls miles away, we hiked back out after several days empty handed, but what an experience!

Fast forward 12 years a much wiser, more experienced elk hunter and now I am finding myself in October, going on a backcountry elk hunt in Montana with, Jeff Sipe of world renowned Montana Rifle Company. Being one of the most precise and accurate semi-custom rifle builders in the world, I was honored to join the MRC team as an ambassador in 2014. When Jeff invited me on a backcountry elk hunt in Montana coming up this October, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.

This particular hunt has caught the attention of some of the most respected organizations, manufacturers, publications, and individuals of the hunting industry today.I am honored and humbled by the support of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (The conservation of elk and population growth), the Mule Deer Foundation (the conservation of Mule Deer and population growth), Leupold (finest hunting optics), Sitka Gear (clothing made for extreme hunting), Outdoor Life Magazine, Predator Camo (legendary extreme camo clothing for the whitetail & mountain hunter), Russell Moccasin Boots (custom hunting boots), and ARC Outdoor Gear (gear for the extreme hunter and everyday outdoorsman) on this hunt. When they caught wind that we were all uniting on this hunt together, everyone jumped on board immediately to show their support.


Not only am I going to be hunting with one of the greatest rifle companies of the hunting world, we will be joined by: Jeff Sipe (VP of Sales & Marketing @ Montana Rifle Company), Dave Wisher (VP of Operations @ Montana Rifle Company), Suny Cheff (longtime MRC supporter and master horseman), Jeff Sposito (Marketing & Communication @ Sitka Gear), and John Snow (Rifles Editor @ Outdoor Life magazine). This will be in some of the toughest wilderness this country has to offer. This hunt will be an example of bringing conservation to the forefront of why we are hunters and make those who may not be educated on why we as hunters choose to hunt the meat that fills our freezers, feeds our family and loved ones, and what roll we as hunters play in the well being and ever rising growth of the elk, mule deer, and black bear numbers across North America.

Everyone involved are hunters and live the lifestyle. This entire team of hunters and sponsors is not only united by industry giants, but it’s a team formed of friends that all share the same passion and values. We all love to hunt and regardless of what you may hear otherwise on tv, in magazines, or on social media; hunting is conservation.


We only have 7 short weeks before setting foot in the mountains of Montana and being from Nashville, I am not acclimated to the elevations that a lot of these big bulls are found; so I spend all year training and preparing for those conditions. There are few fine men going along on this trip that may have procrastinated a bit too long with their mountain training, so I have created a full body workout for them to follow and I encourage you to give it a try for the next several weeks too! This is a workout that starts you off as a beginner to training and will end with you being able to hang with the “fit” guys on any mountain hunt. It’s a crash course bootcamp, “Zero to Hero” style workout. It starts off gradual to wake up those major muscles as well as the small stabilizers that you don’t tend to use every day. If you don’t train before hauling that heavy pack up the mountain and setting foot on ever changing terrain, those muscles (stabilizers especially) are going to get sore and stay sore thru most of your hunt. If you haven’t been training, then you need to follow along with the crew and complete this 7 week program. Let’s get started!


WEEK 1 ” Functional Muscle Wake Ups”

(3 rounds with 30 sec to 1 minute rest in between each excercise)
IE:  1 set pushups, rest 30 sec, 1 set Squats, rest 30 sec, Dips, rest, MT Climbers, rest, repeat x 3
(3 rounds x maximum reps for each exercise)

Standard Pushups
Bodyweight Squats
Dips – chair, bench, or dip machine
Mountain Climbers


Sit ups ( 3 sets x maximum reps)
Planks – (3 sets x hold for 1 minute)

**It is critical that you stretch out for at least 15 minutes after your workout** – Not stretching out can and will cause pain from tight muscles and could cause you to injure yourself..  STRETCHING IS A MUST

>2 MILE WALK carrying sledgehammer. Don’t stroll.  Try and keep a steady pace.

** You will be carrying a rifle all the time with you on the mountain.   The sledgehammer is an over exaggerated “stand in” for your rifle.  Carry it with you on your walks.  Change hands, rest on your shoulders as you would on your hunt.  It is as important to get used to carrying and shifting the sledgehammer on the walks.  Becoming familiar with how that extra weight feels in your hands will help come time to hunt in Oct**

This will be enough to get your blood pumping, lungs puffing, and the sweat dripping this week.   You will most likely be sore a couple days after the first workout.. You have to keep going.  If you are ridiculously sore, do what you can.  The most important thing is that you DO WHAT YOU CAN in that situation.  The consistency of putting in the effort everyday will be a thousand times better than just missing a day.  You’re going to eventually get over the soreness and with each week, it’s going to get easier to be motivated. After 2 weeks of this, YOU GOT THIS and I will bet you’re going to want to keep on working out on a more consistent basis after you finish this program.