There is a misconception that the caliber of the rifle determines how easy it is to handle. Many women think they should go for small caliber rifles as these will offer less kick and not hurt them to shoot. Or they think they need to add a muzzle break, which only makes for unhappy hunting partners when you do shoot! I will explain further how this is a myth with four simple things to do to your rifles and shotguns! Often, women are given a firearm to use that belongs to a spouse or friend. Sometimes your mate's rifle will not fit you. So what do I mean by fit? Well, it is a necessity that one chooses a rifle and caliber suitable not only for the game they are hunting, but also suitable and comfortable to shoot accurately.
One of the most common problems women encounter are gun stocks that are too long for them. More than likely, that means you must have your own rifle and not something borrowed from a friend or spouse. Stocks can be easily cut down and fitted to you by a good gunsmith. At the same time have them put the best recoil pad they have on it too. I recommend the Decelerator brand. You will never regret doing this. It is important to make sure your rifle fits, as it will affect your shooting accuracy. Next is your trigger. Most rifles have too much "pull" for us ladies in my opinion. Pull is the amount of force you need to apply to fire your weapon. Have this adjusted down by your gunsmith. Sometimes the factory trigger can be adjusted down and sometimes an after market replacement trigger is the ticket. The harder you have to pull that trigger the more your shot will be pulled off target. Accuracy is everything so we don't want that to happen especially when there is an easy solution.
The caliber you choose to hunt with is most often determined by the game you are hunting. Most North American game species and most African plains game species can easily be handled by a 30.06 which is also a comfortable caliber for women to shoot. Being that is also a common caliber it is easy to acquire good quality factory cartridges if you do not do your own hand loads. A 180-grain bullet will be the best choice such as a Nosler partition for nearly any big game hunt. For dangerous big game go with a big bore rifle of .375H&H caliber and above.
Now about those big caliber guns I was talking about. I have a .375 H&H that a child can comfortably shoot because it has been modified by proper fit as well as trigger pull and proper padding. It is that nice of a gun. I have even used it on the tiny antelopes found in Africa with excellent results. This is a rifle I can use comfortably on any big game and anywhere in the world. This is because I set up with everything I am explaining here.
You must also make a commitment to a lot of practice shooting so that you are comfortable and relaxed when making your shot during your hunt. Nobody likes recoil so we do what we can to reduce that effect upon our bodies. Bench shooting, when you are practicing, is always "felt" rather than when hunting, but you need to spend plenty of time at the range with your firearms. You should also practice your shoulder mount at home and dry fire your rifle to practice swinging, holding and aiming as well as your trigger pull. That butt pad I recommended earlier will make a big difference on your shoulder. Hold your firearm tight to your shoulder every time you shoot. Always go to the range with proper eye and ear protection; take lots of blank targets to play with. Do yourself a favor and buy a top quality shoulder pad made for shooting sports.
Rifles and shotguns often "like" some cartridge brands over others. Find a bullet that your gun likes, whether hand loads or factory ammo. To do this, go to the range with several brands and shoot them at separate targets. Your gun will tell you what it likes; the bullets that shoot the best groups out of your gun are the ones you want to stick with.
Earlier I mentioned there were four things we can do to make our shooting better and more comfortable. Here is the fourth adjustment, the weight of your rifle. A rule to know: The heavier the rifle - the less recoil you will feel. Conversely you have to carry that bad boy around all day too so you must consider what is the most important to you. I personally go with the heavy weight gun; a much better trade off as I would rather carry it than end up sore for days after shooting it. Since most of our hunting is done on a stand or blind, carrying a heavy firearm should not be an issue. If you are planning a long day stalking in rough terrain then make sure you have a nice sling that keeps the rifle on your shoulder while you are walking. My firearms all wear heavy wood laminate or walnut stocks. With some of them I removed the standard stock and replaced it with the heavier wood. Those laminate stocks are not only functional, they are darn right fashionable with their good looks!
Always select good quality optics to top off your rifle. This is as important as everything else mentioned, if you pinch pennies here you will regret it. Good glass will mean seeing the intended target better in low light situations. This can mean the difference between harvesting an excellent trophy animal or having to pass it up because you cannot see it. I top my own rifles with Leupold scopes; they fit my budget and have a life time guarantee as well as excellent eye relief. The longer the eye relief the less chance you will have of getting dinged in the face when you shoot your rifle. A 3x10 power variable scope will serve most big game hunters perfectly well. My .375 H&H sports a 1.75x6 for dangerous big game and my 30-06 sports a fixed 6 power.
The last thing I want to address is type of action. Firearms come in many types of actions, some examples are lever, bolt, double/over and under and semiautomatic. The choice of action can be important if you are on a budget. For instance if you plan to travel to another country to hunt you should use caution purchasing a semi auto style, as many countries do not allow sport hunters to bring them in.
If you follow all of these tips you will have a fine firearm that will take you everywhere and you'll find it a pleasure to hunt with.
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