Editor’s Note: Allen Treadwell of Seligman, Missouri, is the co-host of Bass Pro Shops’ “100% Real Hunting” TV show and Winchester’s “Whitetail Revolution” TV show, both airing on the Versus Network. Besides being on CVA’s Professional Hunt Team, he’s also a member of Hunter’s Specialties Professional Hunt Team.
Question: Allen, what are you doing in the summer with your CVA rifle?
Treadwell: As a professional hunter, I’m preparing for hunting season right now. I’m sighting-in my rifle, shooting my bow and preparing myself to hunt. One of the most-critical keys in shooting accurately with a Muzzleloading rifle is to know how your rifle will perform at different ranges with various bullets and powder charges. When I see a buck and range him, I want to know how I should aim to be able to drop him. You don’t learn that by shooting at deer. You learn that by shooting paper targets at various ranges. I try different grains of my powerbelt bullets various powder charges and caps. I want to know that I’m shooting the best bullet with the right powder charge and primer to shoot accurately. I want to know that the bullet, the charge and the cap I choose will perform consistently, regardless of where I’m hunting or the weather conditions under which I’m hunting. If there’s a better bullet, powder or primer, I want to prove to myself that they’re better than what I’m currently using. So far, I haven’t found any powder, primer or bullet that outperforms 150 grains of Pyrodex pellets, a 245-grain PowerBelt bullet and Winchester primers. When I shoot, I can put every bullet at every range inside a clay target. I shoot the CVA Accura with this load. I also use a Leupold UltimateSlam riflescope that allows me to shoot from 50 to 250 yards.
I’ve been in the professional outdoor-hunting business for many years, and I’ve shot other Muzzleloading rifles, including rifles from Knight, Thompson/Center and Traditions. I’ve found that the CVA Accura, with these loads I’ve mentioned, outperforms them all. I participated in shooting competitions when I was younger, and I’ve never seen a blackpowder rifle shoot better than the CVA Accura. It’s the only muzzleloader I’ve ever held in my hands that if I have to take a shot at 250 yards, there’s no doubt in my mind that my bullet will hit its mark when I squeeze the trigger. I have as much confidence in the CVA Accura as I do in any bolt-action rifle I own.
Question: So, you feel confident taking a 250-yard shot at a deer with this rifle?
Treadwell: Yes, but that’s because of the work I’m doing right now to make sure I know what my bullet will do when I squeeze the trigger, and the animal is at 250 yards. Most people believe that the bow and the arrow have a range of about 40 yards, a muzzleloader is a 200-yard weapon, and a rifle is a 400-yard weapon. For 99% of people, those standards are probably correct. However, if you spend time shooting your bow like some tournament archers and serious bowhunters do, you’ll have no problem making 50-, 60- or even 70-yard shots. If you spend time on the range with your muzzleloader, working with the combination of your bullet, your powder and your primers, you can be effective at 250 yards, providing you have a very-accurate scope with a sighting device that allows you to sight at those ranges. With a rifle, there are plenty of predator hunters and quite a few deer hunters who can shoot accurately past 400 yards, but these men and women spend time during the offseason tuning their equipment and building their skills and confidence for shooting at longer distances.
I’ve had muzzleloaders in the past that I wouldn’t shoot more than 150 yards, because I knew that was the range at which I could be accurate and produce a quick, clean kill with that gun. But with the CVA Accura, I know I’ll have no problem taking game at 250 yards, if necessary. I’m 100% confident that this gun will deliver the bullet where I aim at that range. If you want to be a better blackpowder hunter, you not only need to test your powder charge, your bullet, your percussion cap, your scope and your range finder before the season, but just as importantly, you need to shoot enough to build your confidence. Then if you see a deer at 150 yards, there’s no doubt that you can hold that rifle still or brace it and make that shot.
Question: What type of range finder do you use, and why?
Treadwell: My range finder is as essential to my hunting as my rifle, because without knowing the range, you can’t shoot as accurately as you can, if you know the range. Regardless of whether I’m hunting with a bow, a rifle or a muzzleloader, knowing the range before I pull the trigger is a very-important element in taking game and putting that game down as quickly and efficiently as possible. The muzzleloader bullet changes a lot in 50-yard increments. To shoot accurately, you need a range finder on which you can rely. Over the years, I’ve tested many range finders and have found that some vary as much as 2 to 3 yards. So, sight-in your rifle with the rangefinder you’ll be using on your hunt. I like the Leupold RX-1000 compact range finder, because whether I’m shooting up or down a hill, it corrects for the angle. I recommend you buy the best-quality range finder you can afford.
You may ask, “Why do some muzzleloader shooters take more game and consistently shoot more accurately?” The answer is simple; in the hot months, they’re on the range shooting as accurately as they can and building confidence in their rifles, loads and range finders. Then when they have the opportunity to take game, they know they can make the shots. And, when the time comes, they do make their shots.