Waterfowl guides see a lot of shots, some of them very good, many of them quite bad. It is their job to discover what that is and to bring it about. If you can not hit the birds, it can last a long morning.
The guides are preparing for the season right now, building armor and training the dogs, and they want you to prepare too. I surveyed a number of guides to find out what shooting mistakes their clients make and what strokes they should work on. Their answers consisted of three main points:
Hunters need to mount the weapon properly, slow down, and work on key targets, especially at intersections. Here’s what they told me about their clients, along with my suggestions on how to get better.
1) Practice assembling your weapon at home
What the guides said
“Clients are too slow to raise their weapons and react. “They also grab their guns on clothes along the mountain.”
Many hunters do not practice a mount that puts the gun into action smoothly and efficiently. They are slow in assembling the weapon and miss opportunities, or hang the butt of the weapon on the fabric around their armpits.
Practice assembling the weapon. We’ve gone through this before, but some of the most valuable shooting practices do not require targets, ammunition, or even exit. Take your gun, make sure it is fired and choose a place on the opposite wall. I use a print of two wooden ducks hanging over my desk as my “target”.
Starting with the gun in a ready position, butt down around the waist, muzzle slightly above parallel to the floor and nose above the front fingers, fix the eyes on the target. The first movement is to push the muzzle out toward the target, keeping the bird’s eyes closed. As the weapon moves towards the target, raise it to the face. Use the trigger hand to insert the butt into your shoulder pocket and under your cheekbone. When the fitting is complete, your eye should be above the ribs and the muzzle should point towards the target.
Once you have this movement down, swing the gun along the seam where the wall meets the ceiling. Practice walking in both directions and always remember that the first movement is with the muzzle. Do it right and instead of assembling, then rocking, you are doing both right away.
Finally, raise the AC, get into the hunting coat in cold weather, and practice your mounts. You should find that if you have taught yourself to push the target weapon before lifting it up, you will be able to clean your clothes easily.
2) Work on slowing down your shot
What the guides said
“We see hunters not pointing their guns because they are in a hurry. “They often rush to shoot and do not flatten the gun before hitting the key.”
Most hunters move very fast. Speed does not kill. Makes you miss. Learning an efficient weapon assembly, according to the downloaded weapon training above, is a big part of solving this problem. To get the most out of this fitting, you need to slow down. Believe me when I tell you that fast moving does not help. The pellets come out of the gun at a speed of 900 mph. A duck is flying at 40 mph. You will win the race every time. Moving smoothly and slowly is much more effective than putting the gun into action and swinging fast.
If you have access to a portable trap, get someone to throw targets at the exit or, better yet, a quarter away for you. Start with a fired gun and practice assembling the gun and pretend to shoot at the target. Knowing that your weapon is unloaded removes you from all the urgency of shooting and lets you see how slow you can move and still ride on the bird.
Then, shoot a few, calling the target. After hitting them constantly, get ready, then let your catcher surprise you with a target. If you can practice in a skeletal field, get ready, then let the catcher throw the selected bird from the high or low house without telling you who it will be or when it will come. You will learn to react without rushing.
3) Shoot more intersections in the radius of the clay
What the guides said
“Not enough shaking. There is not enough bullet. Many of our customers stop swinging and shooting at birds. “They also raise their heads.”
Many hunters struggle with passing targets because they direct their weapons. While hunters worry about how far they should go to cross targets, the truth is that most targets are missing behind with feet, not inches, because the shooter pointed the gun or looked back at the beads at the last minute to double check and measure the bullet. Seeing the gun stops it dead and makes you get lost behind a bird. As long as you can keep your focus on the target, your eyes will send your hands to the right place.
If you have a trap with a remote control or a long cord that allows you to set a switching target, practice thinking about three things:
- Eye on target, head on gun
- Match the target speed
- Keep your muzzle under the bird
All of these apply no matter what method (swing, pull, retained bullet) you use to hunt passing birds. Keep your eyes off the target and let the gun move in front of it. You will see it as a blur in your peripheral vision. Trust your eyes and hands. They can do this if you leave them alone and let them understand.
Target speed matching allows you to sync with it and make it appear to slow down. Fast movement also risks pulling your eyes away from the fastest moving object in its field of view (the gun), which then stops.
Read more: A hunter’s guide to summer hunting
The movement of the muzzle down the bird allows you to keep your eyes on the target. “Painting the bird from the sky” as we learned from my father (myself included) works, but risks blocking the view of the target with a gun. As soon as the gun blocks your gaze, your eye goes to the gun and you miss up and back. Instead of thinking of your gun as a paintbrush, think of it as a pencil that you use to underline the bird.
Once you can hit some clays up close – soft junctions thrown by a moving trap – you can graduate in the field of skeleton. Although skis targets fly at a fairly close distance, they require some long distances. Start with the entry targets of Low House 2 and High House 6, which require only a chunk of daylight between the muzzle and the bird, then practice at stations 3, 4 and 5. These birds need more bullets than you think. You may even have to tell yourself to miss the targets in order to move the weapon to the right place until you have shot enough from these intersections to implant them in your subconscious. Shoot enough of these targets this summer and passing ducks is easy.
Finally, finish the stroke. Keep an eye on the bird, the butt on your shoulder and the head on the stock until the target is broken. If it helps you, shoot the mud, pick the bulk and follow it to the ground with the muzzle to help you learn to “stay in the gun” as the target shooters say. Start working on these exercises now and you, and your guide, will be glad you did as soon as the season came.