What is the Preferred Rifle Shot for Large Game, Such as Elk and Bear?

Rifle shot for large game such as elk or bear

A good hunter understands the best rifle shot for a large game has to leave the target incapacitated, but what is the preferred rifle shot for large game such as elk and bear? The broadside is the best shot.

Large games such as elk and bear are challenging; hence, anything less than a fatal shot can mean a lost animal. The best shots for the big game animals are achieved by first understanding the shot placement and from which distance a hunter takes his shot.

Many hunters have had to contend with the downside of hunting. Occasionally, wounded and lost animals are part of the sad tales inexperienced hunters have had to tell. This is all thanks to poor marksmanship and the inability to take a good shot.

For big game animals like elk and bear, taking them down with a good shot isn’t something of an overnight learning. This is especially true when considering more advanced hunts, like big game hunting in Argentina or Africa. 

Angles of Shot Placement on A Large Game

Achieving the best rifle shot for a big game requires a hunter to take the animal’s right viewing positions. Here are a few of them;


Broadside shot is one of the best rifle shot placements. The vital organs of big game animals like elk are more comfortable to hit. The shot projectile pierces through both the lungs and possibly the heart. A hunter should be keen on waiting for the shot to present itself.

Quartering Away

It is a reasonably challenging shot and effective when the aim is to take down the animal. The objective of the quartering away shot is usually to hit the tail end of the lung. From the position, the lung’s tail end is towards the hunter, and the middle or front of the lung is away from him. Aiming from the ribs will surely guarantee a perfect shot.

Taking the Preferred Rifle Shot for Large Game: Which are the Best Shots for Large Game?

Making a kill is the ultimate goal of hunting. However, every hunter who wants a good harvest must be well informed of the best rifle shots to take. Not every shot directed at an animal guarantees a kill. Some shots that are taken without aiming at the animals’ vital organs end up as wasted effort. Large game animals like elk and bear require a hunter to aim at the right place carefully.

A hunter also needs to be 100% confident of the shot they are taking. Confidence in hunting is achieved by a hunter regularly practicing with their equipment. Before a good rifle shot can be taken, a hunter needs to ascertain any obstructions between him and the animal.

Head and Neck Shots

For the big game animal, a one-shot clean kill should be the primary goal. If the shot doesn’t incapacitate the animal enough, you’ll likely watch them scatter off, albeit wounded. Head and neck shots ensure you hit organs such as the brain and spinal column. Shots aimed at these organs are undoubtedly fatal shots and will instantly put the animal down with less ruined meat.

These rifle shots should be taken at close range. The brain is relatively small hence difficult to take an assured aim at. Neck shots are similarly uncertain, as the spinal cord must be detached to ensure instant death. Failure to hit these organs means damaging other parts such as a jaw, which would condemn the animal to slow horrible death.

Heart Shots

Every hunter wants to make a heart shot, as they are shots that almost guarantee an instant kill. However, most large game animals have their hearts located very much lower in their chests. The heart offers a small target, especially to inexperienced hunters who may not know the required elevations to take a shot.

Since the upper leg usually covers the heart, the chances of hitting the animal’s leg and leaving it wounded are equally high. Therefore, shots aimed at the heart should leave no room for error.

Shots at the Lungs 

Lung shots are arguably the most preferred rifle shots for large game. A bullet shot taken through the lung will result in a sure one-shot kill. Most experienced hunters argue that a heart-shot animal usually travels farther before collapsing than one that has been shot in the lungs. Lung shots are preferable as they offer a relatively large target, allowing for a fair margin of error.

Essential Considerations for the Best Rifle Shot for Large Game Hunting

It is no secret that taking down big game animals like elk and bear requires more than perfect shot placement. Therefore, achieving the best rifle shot for large game animals begins with the following;

Choosing the Right Bullet

Large game animals like bear and elk require nothing short of a good hunting bullet. Many bullets offer unlimited choices. However, the best large game rifle caliber should provide the minimum impact velocity required to guarantee expansion. Most hunters who go for long-range shots use bullets designed for long-range target shooting. Such bullets don’t generate the impact to take down an elk or a bear, since they are only designed to hit the target. 


Choosing the Right Rifle

Only the right rifle can offer the best rifle shot for large game. Most hunters underestimate a good rifle’s power, hence ending up blowing their chances of taking a good shot. One of the most looked out for quality in a hunting rifle is its power of accuracy.

Rifle shot

The challenge with hunting big game animals is their inability to stay stationed at one spot to give you a perfect aim. They are always moving, which means your rifle needs to be well-tuned and capable of breaking the shot with perfect precision.

Being a Responsible Shooter

Any hunter who dreams of taking on the large game must understand the importance of skill and experience. You can’t achieve a good rifle shot for large game if you’re not capable of hitting the animal’s kill zone every time. Hunting can get difficult, depending on the environment and other varied conditions. Large game hunting accessories have significantly made the hunting experience easier. Still, skills to take a preferred shot remain the hunter’s responsibility.

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


The preferred rifle shots for large game animals will vary from every hunter. However, hitting the target and making an instant kill is everyone’s objective. It is always good to ascertain what range gives you the perfect shot before deciding on any shots. Precision and accuracy in executing your shots precede any decision for the best rifle shot for large game.