When a trophy buck steps into your sights, the last thing you want to do is miss. No matter how perfect the shot may seem, sometimes the bullet still fails to hit its intended target. Though there are many things we could say to explain away such instances, such as the gun and/or scope not being up to the task, sometimes it is necessary to look deeper into the reason why your shot did not hit the mark at which you directed it.
Many hunters have years of experience, having taken their first deer at a very young age. As they started out hunting in Missouri as children, they were filled with pride the first time they brought a deer home, and on subsequent years since. Over time, however, the hits may have gotten a little harder to make with bullets not quite going where they were placed. Chances are this may have started off as a small error that has grown with time as slip ups behind the gun were explained away, blamed on wind, sun in the eyes, or even the gun itself. As much as many of us hate to admit it, perhaps the problem is actually something else.
A lot of the problems that occur with shooting lies in the formation of habits. When you are young and impressionable, your thirst for knowledge propels you to listen, pay attention, and strive to achieve your best marksmanship. As we grow more experienced, however, the methods we once practiced with excitement can sometimes be forgotten as we instead focus on bringing enough gun as opposed to bringing enough patience, precision, and skill. A nice gun is just that: a nice gun. It will not make you into a marksman without you yourself putting in the work, which is where the term BRASS comes into play.
Photo: Mike Hanback
A natural response to having a deer move into view is excitement, which can be tough to overcome in order to take a timely, well-placed shot. Despite your heart racing and palms sweating, utilizing the BRASS tactics is sure to help you get off a good shot every time. The acronym BRASS stands for:
Breathe: controlled breathing will aid in keeping the muzzle of your gun in position when it comes time to take a shot. Remember that the gun resting on your chest moves with your chest, so slow, deliberate breathing is your friend whereas panting excitedly is not. Just a few inches of movement behind the gun can equate to a lot of movement in front of it, causing a missed shot.
Relax: position yourself comfortably so you will be able to remain still for a shot while still retaining your sight picture. This may take practice depending on the location from where you hunt, such as from a tree stand or shooting house. Good posture and comfortable position should be practiced by way of off-season training as well. The more used to holding these positions you get, the easier it will be to remain fixed as you wait for a whitetail to take that one last step before you shoot.
Photo: Deer and Deer Hunting
Aim: while keeping your gun steady, guide it gently into a position where your target is visible past aligned front and rear sights, concentrating on the front sight. If you are using a scope, be sure to have tried it out beforehand to have established its accuracy and adjusted that if need be.
Photo: 24 Hour Campfire
Slack: when it comes time to shoot, the last thing you want to do is haphazardly slap the trigger which can and will pull the muzzle off target. Instead, take up the trigger slack and hold gently until it's time to fire.
Squeeze: with the target in position in front of your sights and your breathing controlled while you hold a relaxed position, it is time to finish the process of taking up trigger slack by firing your shot. Again, avoid slapping the trigger and squeeze instead for a smooth follow through and a shot that hits its desired mark.
Photo: National Geographic
The five steps in the BRASS process are a simple way to keep shooting fundamentals from falling to the wayside as you hunt and can also be practiced with handguns as well. Though this may sound like a lot to remember, keep in mind that practicing it in the off-season will help to make it second nature, thereby eradicating any bad habits you may have involuntarily picked up over the years. By making these fundamentals a part of every hunt, the odds of a clean kill shot will increase greatly in your favor.
Do you have any other shooting tactics you practice? Do you embrace the BRASS method on your Missouri whitetail hunts? Let us know in the comments.