A gentleman I know is a professional shooter for a gun company and may fire in excess of 10,000 rounds of ammunition a month out of heavily customized rifles built to his requirements. His envelope of competency on a large game animal with the rifles he shoots most often legitimately exceeds a half-mile. The same shooter with an unfamiliar firearm may feel his envelope of competency reduced dramatically to less than a hundred yards. Most of us, of course, are not professional shooters, or even gifted amateurs. If you only fire a few zeroing shots from a bench just before the season, you should know whether or not you have the skill to hit a running animal at 75 yards, or a stationary one at 200.
Want a good rule of thumb? If you think luck is going to be a significant factor in making a clean kill, don’t take the shot. Hunting is a very rewarding sport, one that can bring you close to nature and to your roots as a part of the land like no other. Pursue it ethically.
Next up: plinking. What you can learn from informal shooting practice with a pistol and rifle.