In the minds of many, the hunting world and the tactical world are mutually exclusive. Their purposes, methods and gear are relevant to the field of application. Yet, I would venture to say that on some fundamental levels they both share a very serious theme: the efficient and effective deployment of a weapon to put down a target. It’s important to understand that there are two fields inside the tactical realm: the civilian / law enforcement side that trains for defensive scenarios, and the military that trains for direct action as well as defensive situations. But, when push comes to shove, triggers are being pressed for the same reason.
Having spent thirty plus years training in CQB / CQD style combatives, I believe there is something to be gained by the tactical shooting community through an occasional hog hunt. Many people in the tactical realm spend their entire lives shooting paper and steel. They have never experienced a practical test and application of their skills. The stress and immeasurable dynamics that exists while making a real shot can not be simulated on the range. All the years of work and training start to be taxed a bit as you are faced with a real “hit or miss” scenario. This applies beyond simply making the shot. For the military sniper or law enforcement marksman it is an opportunity to practice solid field craft as well as support skills such as spotting.
Ultimately, we’re looking at the firing of a live round into living tissue. This portion of the formula is where the sterile world of target shooting ends. This is especially true with wild hogs. These are very large, thick animals that are at times too stupid to know they have been shot and should fall over. The need for effective shot placement is high on the scale. This is even more important if you choose to take shots at close distances. A full grown angry hog could kill you given the chance. While it is not water buffalo, it certainly is not antelope or deer. The inherent danger of hunting hogs, tactically or otherwise, compared to hunting traditional game animals creates some unique responses. I have seen experienced shooters go shallow in breath and squirm a bit as a target presented itself. There is a certain energy that develops when the time to fire draws closer.
So it is pretty obvious that I encourage tactical shooters to try a hog hunt to sharpen their skills. I have to flip the coin though, and encourage hunters to try tactical training as well. While many hunters are accomplished marksman there is always room for improvement. This is certainly true in regards to running a long gun. The advanced skills a hunter can learn include how to seriously run their optics, how to read wind and how to range targets. Many have these fundamental skills but I can guarantee that with proper training their skill level in this area would skyrocket. I recently had a hunter watching one portion of a precision rifle class I was teaching. He was a very nice guy and during a break began asking questions. I quickly told him to go grab his rifle and in short order I had him on the line. In that short period of one-on-one he admittedly learned a great deal about wind and ranging that he previously did not know or understand.
Tactical training and hog hunting combined make for an exhilarating effective hunt. We can all increase our skill level in these and develop a deeper appreciation for those combined skills. Most importantly, both are a lot fun. This, I believe, is the key to developing life long shooters. If it is fun, they will continue. The camaraderie of a hunt or class can not be matched in many other fields. Take the first chance you get to try it out. You will not be disappointed! Until then, stay safe.