Over the next three months, deer hunters in the Carolinas will carry an arsenal of weapons into the woods to bring venison back to the dinner table. From traditional wooden contraptions to modern weaponry, hunters need to take a few shots to make sure that critical whack at a trophy buck will hit its mark.

While shotguns have fixed sights and traditional archers shoot by instinct, most weapons used during deer season have adjustable sights. Even if a weapon was dead-on last season whose sights could not possibly have been bumped during the offseason, during a season of storage, anything can happen.

Hunters using equipment that slings arrows and bolts from archery equipment need to break out the 3D targets and take a few shots to make sure accuracy is maintained from last season. Hunters should also consider a wide range of shots at practice distances that they could potentially encounter in the wild. Even a few shots just out of their normal range will be beneficial to understand what capabilities the weapon has, and hunters should take shots at ranges at or less than 10 yards. Because some trophies provide close encounters, it is always good to understand how a bow or crossbow reacts at close range.

For rifles and muzzleloaders, hunters should use a stable rifle rest and hearing protection. The rifle must be tested to demonstrate its accuracy without any bias or error from the marksman.

Distances should never be estimated when using bows, rifles or shotguns. Hunters should utilize range finders or physically measure to determine actual distances.

Before moving sight pins or scope reticules, always take two to three shots to develop a pattern. When a common theme is found or a precise location of the shots is identified, sights can then be moved accordingly; the weapons need to be shot two or three more times to judge the results of the adjustments. One last thing to remember is to shoot the weapon two to three times at the end of the adjustment period to understand exactly where the weapon is firing before ever going on a hunt. Don’t let an inaccurate weapon spoil the hunt of a lifetime.