As you're out in the field, adrenaline pumping, and at long last a rabbit hops into view, the last thing you want to do is miss. Even if the shot you have seems solid, you may find the bullet does not always hit your intended target. As tempting as it might be to explain away what happens in moments such as this by blaming this or that, the truth is that sometimes human error is truly all there is behind a shot that doesn't quite hit its mark.
Though many hunters have a lifetime of experience and regularly go to ranges to shoot, missing a shot is still an unfortunate part of life. Sometimes you will hear reminiscing about great shots taken in years past while those in recent years were less than stellar. Though many people wonder why that is, the fact of the matter is that in hunting just as in many other areas of life, we develop bad habits. In our introduction to hunting, perhaps we tried our best to do everything exactly right and only over time did we maybe start omitting steps in the process.
It may sting a little less to say blame it on the sun in our eyes, the wind in our face, or a rabbit dog that wasn't quite on par, but sometimes it is necessary to take a good, long look at what we might be doing wrong when we take a shot. Even the most expensive gun and best trained rabbit dog can't help you make a shot if you've developed bad habits and do not take steps to correct them or become too excited when the time comes to pull the trigger. Luckily for rabbit hunters who might need a reminder, there is a process you can use to overcome your faults and get back on track. That process is referred to by the acronym BRASS and this is what it means:
Breathe: Think about a panting rabbit dog and how erratically their heads and bodies move. Now imagine if you were to breathe the same way. It would be hard to make a shot in that case, so instead practice controlled breathing. This will help keep the muzzle of your gun on target when you take a shot. Remember that even a small amount of movement behind the gun equates to a lot of movement in front of it. Breathing calmly, slowly, and deliberately will keep your gun in a more confined location, giving you better success when you fire.
Photo: Our Southern Roots
Relax: It may be hard not to get nervous or excited when it is time to shoot, but if you are relaxed you will shoot better. Practice good posture and find a comfortable way to stand with your gun drawn so you do not tire too quickly. Once you've determined a position that works for you, go ahead and practice it. The longer you hold your rabbit hunting stance, the more second nature it becomes, making it easier for you to relax in that position when you're actually hunting.
Aim: Although rabbits move quickly and erratically, you still want to be able to move your gun fluidly when aiming at one. Concentrate on the front sight, moving it to a point of alignment with rear sights while following your quarry. Keep it steady and avoid jerking motions as these can cause you to come too far off target to recover before your rabbit darts under cover.
Slack: Next time you watch someone shoot, pay attention the movement the gun makes when the trigger is pulled. Some people have a habit of slapping the trigger which is a sure way to miss your target. Instead of jerking the trigger all the way back to fire a shot, you can eliminate some of this jerking motion by taking up slack in your trigger and holding it until the time comes to fire.
Squeeze: Last but not least, when you finally do take a shot, you want to maintain a gradual, steady pull on the trigger. Even if you've picked up the slack in the trigger, it is still possible to slap it the rest of the way and pull the gun off target. Instead, finish your shot with a smooth squeeze of the trigger to hit your mark.
Though the five steps in the BRASS process may sound like a lot to remember in a moment when your dogs are in hot pursuit of a rabbit, you can make these behaviors second nature by practicing them at the range. Habits are created by repeating behaviors, so why not repeat good ones? By imploring tactics such as the BRASS process, you will give yourself the best chance possible of successful rabbit hunts to come.
Are you a fan of the BRASS method? Is it a part of your standard rabbit hunting practice? Let us know in the comments.