Sustained/Maintained Lead

Dear Bruce,

In one of the older ones dealing with methods of obtaining forward allowance you described your personal four favorites.

At the end of that response, you made the statement that nearly all of the “pros” use the maintained lead method. First, do you make a distinction between sustained lead and maintained lead? Could you please describe or define ………and elaborate on why you believe most of the pros use this particular method?

Thanks so much.

Dear N…

Description of lead methods is usually a semantic problem. It is like describing a particular bird or fish. Each locality has a different name for the same thing. To me, “sustained” and “maintained” leads are identical. With this lead method, the barrel is inserted at approximately the correct distance in front of the target, barrel speed is synchronized to that of the bird, then the gun is mounted and fired immediately as it touches the face.

Very often a sustained lead shooter is looking at the place in front of the target where he is going to insert his barrel, rather than at the target itself. It sounds strange to look at a point in space in relation to an object, rather than at the object itself, but this is what many people do.

Not all the good shooters use this method (Digweed says he swings through everything so that he can better “take the line” of the target), but many do. Sustained lead is basically a more precise way of shooting and allows you the opportunity to make a small adjustment in lead because you have a touch more “dwell time” on the bird. With swing through and pull away, you only have the correct lead once and when it is gone, it is gone. Skeet shooters, both American-style and Olympic, use the sustained lead almost exclusively, except perhaps swinging through on the second bird on doubles on those fast Olympic birds.

Sustained lead shooting permits a very small amount of gun movement, with the ability to instantly move to a second bird. It is also very good on loopers and battues where swing through is out of the question, if you don’t want to bend your barrels.

On the down side, it does not accentuate the vital follow through (so you have to be careful to include some) and it does not take the line of the bird by coming through it, so vertical error is more possible. It seems to work best if you know the lead of the target, which is why the better shots use it. They have seen all the presentations.

Does that clear it all up? Yeah, I thought so.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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1 Response to Sustained/Maintained Lead

  1. Thomas H Milstead says:

    Excellent post. I shoot low gun at skeet & SC. I look ahead of the target. Mount & execute the shot.
    Now I know what the method is.


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