The Best Rifle Shot for Taking Down Large Game Animals

A hunter’s success in bringing down large game animals like elk and bear relies on delivering a rifle shot that leaves the target incapacitated. But what exactly is the preferred rifle shot for these magnificent creatures? The answer is the broadside shot.

Large game animals present a formidable challenge, and anything less than a fatal shot could result in a lost animal. To achieve the best possible shot on these majestic creatures, hunters must first understand the importance of shot placement and the optimal distance to take their shot.


Unfortunate tales of wounded and lost animals are common among inexperienced hunters. These sad encounters can be attributed to poor marksmanship and the inability to take a well-placed shot.

Mastering the art of taking down big game animals like elk and bear requires time and experience. This is particularly true for more advanced hunts, such as big game hunting in Argentina or Africa.

Angles of Shot Placement on Large Game

To achieve the best rifle shot on a big game animal, hunters must consider the animal’s viewing positions. Here are a few key angles to keep in mind:

Broadside Shot

The broadside shot is one of the most effective rifle shot placements. It provides an easier target for hitting the vital organs of large game animals like elk. The shot penetrates both the lungs and possibly the heart. A patient hunter must wait for the perfect moment to take this shot.

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Quartering Away Shot

The quartering away shot is a more challenging but equally effective option when the goal is to bring down the animal. The objective of this shot is to hit the tail end of the lung. From this angle, the tail end of the lung faces the hunter, while the middle or front is away from them. Aiming from the ribs ensures a precise shot.

Taking the Best Rifle Shot for Large Game: Which Shots Are Ideal?

Every hunter’s ultimate aim is to make a clean kill. However, not every shot directed at an animal’s body guarantees success. Shots that fail to hit the vital organs often result in wasted effort. To ensure a humane kill, hunters must aim precisely.

Confidence is crucial when taking a rifle shot. Regular practice with the equipment builds that confidence. Before taking a shot, hunters must also consider any obstacles between them and the animal.

Head and Neck Shots

Aiming for the head and neck of a big game animal should be the primary goal. These shots target organs such as the brain and spinal column. Hitting these organs ensures a swift and efficient kill with minimal damage to the meat.

These shots should be taken at close range, as the brain is a relatively small target. Neck shots are also challenging, as hitting the spinal cord is necessary for instant death. A missed shot could result in a slow and agonizing death for the animal.

Heart Shots

Hitting the heart is every hunter’s desire, as it almost guarantees an instant kill. However, locating the heart in most large game animals can be tricky, as it is often situated low in their chests. The heart presents a small target, especially for inexperienced hunters who may not know the required elevation for a successful shot.

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Since the upper leg typically covers the heart, there is a high chance of hitting the leg and leaving the animal wounded. Shots aimed at the heart should leave no margin for error.

Lung Shots

Lung shots are arguably the most effective rifle shots for large game animals. A bullet that passes through the lungs ensures a clean and precise kill with only one shot. Experienced hunters argue that animals shot in the heart tend to travel farther before collapsing compared to those shot in the lungs. Lung shots are preferable because they offer a relatively larger target, providing a fair margin of error.

Essential Considerations for the Best Rifle Shot in Large Game Hunting

Taking down big game animals like elk and bear requires more than just perfect shot placement. Here are some essential factors to consider when aiming for the best rifle shot:

Choosing the Right Bullet

When hunting large game animals like bear and elk, only the best hunting bullets will suffice. It’s important to select bullets that ensure the minimum impact velocity needed for expansion. Long-range shots often require bullets designed for target shooting, but these bullets lack the necessary impact to bring down an elk or bear.


Choosing the Right Rifle

Achieving the best rifle shot for large game animals necessitates selecting the right rifle. Many hunters underestimate the power of a good rifle, leading to missed opportunities. Accuracy is a crucial quality to look for in a hunting rifle.

Hunting big game animals can be challenging, as they are constantly on the move, making it crucial for your rifle to be finely tuned and capable of delivering precise shots.

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Being a Responsible Shooter

Skill and experience are vital for any hunter looking to take on large game animals. It is crucial to consistently hit the animal’s kill zone with every shot. Hunting can present difficult conditions and environments, but the availability of large game hunting accessories has made the experience more manageable. Nevertheless, the responsibility of taking a well-placed shot lies with the hunter.

You may also want to check out What is Snipe Hunting?


The preferred rifle shots for large game animals may vary among hunters, but the ultimate objective remains the same—hitting the target and making an instant, humane kill. Before taking any shots, it’s essential to determine the range that allows for the perfect shot. Precision and accuracy should always precede any decision regarding the best rifle shot for large game.

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