Summer Time to Prep Optics for Fall Hunting
The Outdoorwire.com: Even though fall may be a few months away, hunting is never far from the sportsman's mind. Aching to get out in the field, many hunters take the summer months to practice their shooting skills, plan their hunting excursions and prepare their gear for the start of the season. During your summer preparations, make sure to include your optics or you could regret it come fall. Hamilton Boykin, Eastern US product and sales specialist for Leica Sport Optics, says many hunters make the mistake of waiting right before the season to ensure their optics are in working condition, but procrastination comes with a heavy price if all is not working as it should.
"If you don't discover a problem with your optics until August, you won't have time to send them in to get fixed before your season begins," Boykin says. "Then, you're left either hunting with damaged optics, or you have to go out and buy more. Make sure you check your optics months in advance to ensure they're in working order when hunting season arrives."
When examining your binoculars, Boykin says to make sure the focus ring and hinges are not bound up and that there is no wobble or play in your riflescope's rings or bases.
"Check the diopter functioning and adjusting for your rangefinders, scopes and binoculars, and go ahead and replace the batteries in your scopes with illuminated reticles, rangefinders and rangefinding binoculars," he says.
Batteries can be easily overlooked when you're packing your gear for a trip, so if you go ahead and replace them now, you won't risk going into the field with low batteries come fall.
One of the worst things that can happen on a hunt is to lose or break your optics. For this reason, check the fasteners to your harnesses and straps to make sure they are not fraying or in danger of coming loose.
Boykin also recommends you take the time to clean your binoculars this summer. If you own a pair of Leica binoculars, you can clean them by soaking them in a sink full of water.
"All Leica binoculars, except for the Trinovid compact model, are completely waterproof," Boykin says. "Fill up your sink with water and a tiny bit of mild detergent and just let them soak, but don't ever spray them down with water." Once you've cleaned and checked your optics, take them into the field to make sure they're working as they should.
"You'll definitely want to get in some long-range shooting practice to check that your riflescope is operating properly," Boykin says. "One way to check that your scope tracks properly is to run 10-20 clicks up and then another 10-20 left or right. Shoot the rifle and see if the point of impact shifted the way it was supposed to. At 100 yards, a 20-click adjustment on a 1/4 MOA turret will move the POI 5" in that direction. Twenty up and 20 left should make the gun shoot 5" high and 5" left. Then run the scope back 20 clicks down and right and reconfirm zero. If your scope won't pass this test (done correctly with an accurate rifle), you might have a problem."
As soon as you confirm your scope is working correctly, get off the bench and practice real world shooting situations. You may be rock steady at a shooting range using a bench, but how will you perform in a real hunting situation?
"Practice shooting in a kneeling, prone and sitting position," Boykin says. "Use your shooting sticks, backpack, tree trunks and other objects as modified shooting rests. And most of all, practice, practice, practice. You don't want to miss the opportunity of a lifetime because you weren't prepared."
Boykin also recommends testing your rangefinder while you're target shooting.
"Don't just program your ballistic-capable rangefinder, take it to the field for your hunt and expect it to work. Take your rangefinder with you when you're target shooting to validate that it's working. Shoot long-range targets using the corrections the rangefinder or ballistics calculator gives you to validate its giving you the correct answers."
Make sure to take your optics with you while you're scouting as well. Test your rangefinder to ensure it's working properly in the field. Practice getting low and steady. "Remember, the same rules that apply to accurate shooting apply to accurate rangefinding," Boykin says. "You must have a good, steady hold. If you're wobbly, you may end up ranging a rock or tree 100 yards in front of or behind the animal or object you're trying to range."
Remember, your binoculars, scopes and rangefinders are an essential and valuable component to your hunting success. Care for them as you would your bow, gun and other important gear and make sure they remain in top working condition to improve your odds for success this coming fall.
For more information, check out www.leica-sportoptics.com, and visit Leica's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LeicaHunting. For Leica Sport Optics press releases and high-res images of this product and others, visit the Leica Sport Optics media room at http://www.touchpoint-management.com/leica.