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WV Wildlife: Sighting In Your Rifle

Avid hunter and firearms expert, Mark Smith, recommends sighting in your gun at 25 yards. (WCHS/WVAH)

Mark Smith is a sharp shooter.

The Putnam County native and former sheriff started hunting and shooting guns at a young age.

"After you got out of school, you'd walk down the street with your shotgun on your shoulder and you'd take your rabbit dog and go rabbit hunting--that's just the way it was then, but it's a lot different now", said Smith.

Today, his passion for the sport still remains high. And with the most popular hunt coming up soon here in West Virginia--Buck Firearms Season--Smith has some advice for eager hunters out there, especially when it comes to scoping your rifle.

"It's just incumbent on anybody who is hunting that they sight their gun in, they use the proper ammunition and they take all the variables out of it, so that you make a good, clean, ethical kill on game and you're not crippling game and you're not taking bad shots", said Smith.

Taking a good shot can also help the hunter, as it should make it easier to locate your game after impact. Smith says that his favorite shooter and author--the late Jack O’Connor--has the best advice when it comes to scoping in your gun.

"He recommended a 25-yard sight in, which is very simple. You sight your gun in at 25 yards. Zero it in at 25 yards, point of aim, point of impact at 25 yards--and that will put most guns about 2 inches high at 100 yards. The main thing I want to emphasize is that when you sight a gun in, you need to make sure that you have the gun firm at the front and firm at the back", said Smith.

Smith--who now mostly hunts with handguns--says the earlier you can scope, the better.

"You should start now. A lot of guys will wait until they get to camp the afternoon before the season opens, and that's the wrong time to do it".

As for the shot itself, make sure it's a secure one.

“You always take a rest; you never shoot offhand unless you just absolutely have to. You take a rest off of a tree, you lay down prone. We owe it to the game that we're hunting; there's a lot of ethics in it", said Smith.

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