Advances in technology have increased our range as hunters, but our responsibility lies squarely on the first shot we take.

Technology has come a long way over the last decade with the improvements in weaponry and other hunting accessories. The guns, bows and gear we use today are just much better than they used to be. With these advances, hunters are increasing the range of their weapons partly because they feel comfortable in making shots that just a few years ago would have been beyond the limits of their hunting gear.

However, with these advances in technology, we need to ask ourselves some very important questions about what is sport, and what is ethical when making shot selections at a distance.

Guns and bows are manufactured today with vibration suppression technology allowing increased accuracy and longer ranges. Optics and sights are better all around and can withstand the shock of the shot much better. Range finders provide accuracy in determining distance, where before it was an educated guess. Putting these tools in the hands of hunters has increased our accuracy and efficacy when hunting, decreased the chance of equipment malfunction and reduced errors we commonly make as shooters.

With guns, advances include adjustable triggers, floating barrels, vibration reduction technology, high quality scopes and better, more reliable ammunition just to name a few.

For the archery hunter, these primitive weapons are far from primitive anymore. Precision sights with illumination, improved cams, vibration suppressors, better releases and even precision arrows with high-tech broadheads fly straighter and faster than ever before.

In short, better technology, materials and manufacturing have made guns and bows more accurate.

All these improvements allow us to stretch our range to distances that were just not possible before.

Today, we are faced with determining the newly revised ethical boundaries of our pursuits.

I watched a hunting show a few weeks ago on an outdoor television network that got my blood boiling. This show features the hunting and harvesting of animals at great distances. Hunters and spotters would take unbelievable and unethical shots at game animals at great distances and then make adjustments, often shooting at these animals several times before hitting them.

No hunter should ever be OK with target practicing at live animals that way. That approach to hunting is completely unacceptable and damages the essence of the sport of hunting and the passion that so many hunters take pride in -- the importance of practice.

Even though we have newly defined ranges with our weapons, the fact remains that as hunters we need to make good ethical decisions when harvesting wild game.

It is never OK to shoot first, then make adjustments for long-range kills on follow-up shots.

It is important to the animals we are pursuing to only shoot when we are confident that the first shot we take will result in a clean, ethical kill.

Good hunters never take to the field without practicing.

It is our responsibility to make an ethical attempt on our very first shot. Anything less is unacceptable.

Sure, mistakes can happen, but we owe it to the wild animals we pursue to always make the first shot attempt our best effort and know the limits and range of our equipment, and the limits of our own skills as hunters.

Steven Hausler is photo editor at The Hays Daily News.