While the current weather conditions make it feel like we’re about as far away from hunting season as we can get, fall is just around the corner. So, now is actually a great time to be preparing for the upcoming hunting season.

This is especially true if you’ll be trying out a new rifle or scope this fall. Even if you haven’t made a big change to your equipment, though, it’s still important to spend some time at the range over the next few weeks to make sure you’re prepared to hit the woods when hunting season opens up.

Work Up New Loads

The big ammo companies are constantly tweaking existing lines of ammunition and introducing new ammo options each year. If you want to hunt with something new this fall, it’s very important that you spend some time at the range and make sure it shoots the way you want it to out of your rifle.

This can sometimes be a very time consuming process, especially if you’re trying to find the perfect handload or you’re experimenting with different loads for a muzzleloader. So, don’t underestimate the amount of time you’ll potentially need to dedicate to this process to do everything correctly.

If that ammo doesn’t shoot as accurately as you want or if your firearm doesn’t function reliably with it, switch to something new. Fortunately, that’s much easier to do if you start early instead of going shooting a couple days before hunting season when you’ll potentially be at the range and/or shopping for ammo along with everybody else who waited until the last minute.

Check Your Zero

Even if you’re not planning on using a new load this fall, summer is also the perfect time to ensure that your rifle is properly zeroed. A good rifle scope will hold a zero for a long time if you take good care of it, but it’s still important to verify.

For those who are switching to some new ammo this year, make sure you take the time to properly sight in your rifle with the new ammunition. Don’t be that guy who misses a shot at the buck of your dreams this fall because your rifle wasn’t sighted in correctly!

Practice

It’s perfectly fine to work up new loads and zero a scope from a bench rest. However, once that’s complete, spend some time practicing shooting from realistic positions that you’re likely to actually use while hunting. I don’t know about you, but while I’ve shot game from all sorts of different shooting positions, I’ve never shot from a bench while I was actually hunting.

So, if the rules at your shooting range allow you to do so, try to make the most out of your trips to the range and practice under conditions closer to what you’ll encounter while you’re afield. If you have a hunt in Africa coming up, then spend some time shooting off sticks. Other hunters should practice shooting from positions like the prone or sitting while using a backpack as a rest.