Dear Technoid,

I just got back from a very successful dove hunt, but I continue to have trouble with one particular shot. When a bird is comming straight in at about 20 to 30 yards high, and I take the shot at a 45 degrees or higher, I have a low % of hits. If it helps I shoot trap so I set my field guns up with a 70/30 pattern. What do you think is wrong?



Here’s the simple technique I use when I can’t figure out why I am missing. Since you are dealing with straight in birds, you don’t have to worry about left and right stuff. Just ahead and behind.

If the lead looks good to you, but you miss, try giving a bit more lead. Maybe even double it. Leave the follow-through the same speed. If that doesn’t work, try giving it half the original lead. One of the two ought to work. If not, double the addition or subtraction.

Most shooters miss a large percentage of their shots behind. The is especially true with birds like dove. They can be going pretty fast even when not flapping their wings. That’s why the first change is to increase the lead. But if increasing the lead doesn’t work, then decreasing has to. Has to. Got to. Because that’s all that’s left. Unless you are shooting left or right, which you say you are not.

One of the problems with incoming birds is that often when you have the correct lead, the barrel completely obscures the target. This makes many people stop the gun because they instinctively don’t want to “shoot blind”. The key to getting a hit when you have covered the bird with your barrel is often a good follow-through. You shoot on timing of the swing rather than on the visual picture of lead, because there is no visual picture of the lead with the barrel in the way.

You might also find that shooting the bird further out is easier. Because the angle isn’t changing as rapidly when they are incoming at 40 yards as opposed to 30 yards, getting the right lead can be easier.

Unfortunately, an incoming dove shot that continues over the shooter’s head is hard to duplicate in sporting clays unless the shooter is in a cage with a top bar to stop him from unsafely shooting behind. But some courses do offer this, so if you have one near you, it’s worth some practice.

As to whether the gun being set up 70/30 matters, I don’t think so. Many driven grouse and pheasant shooters in the UK set their guns up to shoot “high” like that because then they don’t have to cover up the incoming bird quite as much with the built in lead. It’s really all what you get used to.

So that’s my advice. And believe me, I’m an expert. And expert as missing dove that is.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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