For background, I generally average about 40 on the “typical” weekend sporting course, demonstrating sound low gun technique with consistent mounting and the various dropped birds are due to i) lack of concentration on “shoulda had ’em” close in birds or ii) “aiming” at longer birds where (again, lack of concentration) I took my eye off the bird and looked at the gun barrel to measure lead. I know what I am doing there and, with greater concentration and more frequent practice, I “coulda” cured the problem.
To my utter dismay (since I am primarily a wingshooter who utilizes targets to tune up for game) I am inconsistent as can be on gamebirds (ducks, geese, & dove in order), which generally approach more slowly than clay targets leave the trap. The quick gun mount which is so well rewarded at clays for the majority of close fast targets offered on local sporting clays courses, often proves me standing with empty gun while bird is still in the air and well in range.
Part of this may have to do with “springing” into action from a concealed position without assuming the proper Churchill ready position, but it seems to be a greater issue than this….Perhaps concentration!
In any event, other than going to Argentina and shooting precipitous amounts of game, is there a good target based method (practice method vs. shooting method) to prepare for and take more birds in the field? Specifically I need to develop a consistent method for the more deliberate approach of game birds. I am anxious to improve on my, at best, inconsistent performance during the just ended waterfowling season.
Inconsistent on gamebirds? Well, welcome to the club. You are not the Lone Ranger here.
If I understand you correctly, you’d like a reliable shooting method that will enable you to slow down just a touch on certain game birds, such as waterfowl. Perhaps the following method will help.
When I’m not busy writing about shooting shotgun, I am busy coaching shotgunning. I coach a lot of shotgun students each year. If they are interested in shooting sporting or field shooting (as opposed to the premounted gun games of American Style skeet and trap) I teach a low gun “move, mount and shoot” technique. I certainly don’t claim that it is unique, but it is one of the many methods that works quite well. The exigencies of the duck blind may require some modification, but the theory remains the same.
Envision an incoming target such as the bird coming from the low house when your are on skeet station one. Start with the low gun position. I prefer the gun butt to be just under my armpit and pulled BACK about one inch. I want you to push the gun forward at the bird slightly as you raise it. Muzzle is up on the flight line. When the bird is released, move the front bead onto the bird and keep it there WHILE THE GUN IS STILL UNDER THE ARM. Follow the bird with the gunstock still under the armpit and the bead on the bird until you decide to take it. Then raise the gun to the face and immediately fire as you follow through. The longer the gun is on your face, the greater the chance that you will miss by stopping the swing. Fire as soon after the gun touches your face as you can. Try practicing this method on the incomers at skeet and then the outgoers. Once you master the slow developing incomers, you’ll find that you can do it on the much faster developing outgoers too.
If the bird is quite far away, you will be tracking the bird with the bead on the bird and the muzzle down for a long time. If he bird is close, you will only be tracking the bird for an instant before mounting and firing. It’s up to you.
The key is that you get the muzzle on the bird long enough to match the gunspeed to the bird speed BEFORE you raise and fire. The muzzle moves with the bird FIRST. Then the stock is raised. Do NOT mount the gun to the face and then track the bird. If you do that, you will have to buy your duck dinner at a restaurant.
Obviously, when you are scrambling around a duck blind trying to stand up quickly amid spent shells, Thermoses and wet Labs, you can’t stand up there like the Statue of Liberty with the gun under your arm while you wait for a bird to decoy in from 100 yards. But, once you do call the shot, you can stand and move the muzzle with the bird for just a moment before raising the gun and firing. You don’t need long to match the bird speed and the gun speed.
I don’t use this technique (or any other single method) for all clays and gamebirds in all possible situations, but you could. It’s a classy looking method of shooting and extremely effective on longer incoming shots. It can also be slightly modified to fit perfectly throughout the entire range of shots, whether you choose to swing through from slightly behind the bird or use a sustained lead.
Remember, the key to the whole thing is to get the muzzle moving with the bird BEFORE raising the stock to the face.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)