Top tips for close-up shots while hunting
PUBLISHED: 13:30 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:30 20 June 2019
Phill Price asks if we really know how to cope with a close-up shot
Hunters all too often brag about their longest shots and focus their practice on far away targets, but then forget about the other end of the spectrum. Rats and feral pigeons are often encountered in farmyards and even inside buildings, where the distances can be very short indeed. My closest shot was in fact three yards! Okay, it might not be hard to hit the kill zone at that distance, but you'll only succeed if you understand your rifle's trajectory.The important thing to remember is that the centre line of your scope is typically some 1¾" above the rifle bore, and this is going to be a much greater distance if you own a bullpup. The way rifles are engineered means that the pellet rises relative to your sight line and typically intersects it at around 12 yards, assuming the primary zero is around 30 yards. Before that distance the pellet will strike below your cross hair. This means to hit your target you must aim above it.
Many people find this counterintuitive on close targets and instead aim low and, sure enough, they miss by a huge margin. It can be wildly frustrating when you literally have a sitter five yards away and then miss. Trust me, I know! The best way to learn how to be successful with shots of this kind is to repeat the simple exercise shown here. Make up a target card as I did and then shoot at 3, 6, 9 and then 12 yards, or every yard if you want to completely 'map' your aimpoints. Fire from a comfortable, supported position to eliminate as much human error as possible, commit those aimpoints to memory - then shoot at random close targets until you have the system perfectly implanted.
Note just how low the pellets strike at the closest ranges and then think of the size of a pigeon's head. That degree of aiming error would cause a miss without doubt and you'd be left wondering just what happened.
To mitigate this difficulty, I use a BSA R10 MKII because it allows me to mount the scope much lower than I can on my other guns which have magazines that sit high in the scope rail. As you can see from the photo, the parallax adjuster only just clears the barrel, allowing the scope to be as low as possible. If the design of your rifle forces the scope to be mounted higher, the amount you need to hold high for close shots will be much greater than it is for my combination.
Whatever your set-up, please run this trial for yourself so that you have the hard data you need when a close-range target appears, and remember to aim high not low.