Wingshooting 101...


Dave McCracken
May 30, 2003, 09:36 AM
A review of the chapter on Proper Mounting Techniques is a good idea here. Knowing which is your dominant eye is essential also.

Quick test. Look up into the corner of the room farthest from you and point to it. Now close your support side eye. If your finger stays put, great. Your dominant hand and eye are on the same side. If not, switch sides or close the off eye.

You should have shot some at still targets to learn the "Chops" of the shotgun and the feel of it firing. Again, use light loads.

Of course, observe all safety rules.Eye and ear prtection is mandatory.

This is NOT the One True Way.After long thought, this is laid out as one way to get more folks into shotgunning.There are other ways, and I recommend trying them out after reaching some proficency with this.

You need a shotgun that fits fairly well, the lightest loads that can be found or made, some clay targets,a thrower,and maybe an assistant. Snap caps or dummy rounds are nice to have for the first part of this.

You also need a place to shoot safely.

If one can set up on a trap range not being used otherwise,lock the trap to throw straightaways only from Post 3 and stand there.Turn the speed down for now. If using a helper and a hand thrower, have him/her throw the first ones Frisbee style. The assistant launches the clay and ensures range safety is followed.

Leave your shotgun empty for this.

Stand squarely so your feet bisect the area where you want to break the bird. Now, take a step as if you're going to walk towards the target and stop.

Your weight should be forward with more on the front leg than the back.The front knee should be bent and you should still be facing the break zone.

Mount the shotgun.Hold it roughly horizontal.Note that your face HAS to stay in place throughout the firing sequence. You look at the area where you'll see the target, not at the bead(s) or rib. You're aware of them in your peripheral vision, but your focus HAS to be out there. Now call for a bird.You want a target moving more or less straightaway.

Track the bird with your eye and the shotgun should follow. Move it in front of the clay and press,NOT YANK, the trigger as it passes the target. Focus on putting that shot through the very foremost part of the clay.Do not stop your swing,keep the barrel moving till well after pressing the trigger.Your whole body from the ankles up should move with the swing, the arms do relatively little. After enough repetitions to make this comfortable, it's hammer time.

Load ONE round, call for the bird, and break it. Note after that you didn't feel the kick like you did after shooting at a stationary target.

If the target didn't break,work on keeping the swing going, your face on the stock, and your focus on the target.Check your stance, and repeat until you're hitting more than missing.If the shooting's not improving, get a bit more in front when you press the trigger.

Read the breaks. If the biggest piece flies off to the right, your shot's hitting on the left. If it goes high, the shot was low. Store the picture in your mind and let it unconsciously start adjusting.

Now up the speed a bit. Shoot more rounds at the faster targets. Let your mind adjust to the new element, then crank it up again. When you hit 5 in a row, increase the difficulty.

Next, move to post 2 or 4 if on a trap range and shoot some, getting used to the angles. If not on a trap range, have the thrower move a bit.

Stop shooting when you get tired and before you get sore. Rookies take the worst beating because they tend not to really pull the shotgun into the shoulder, and looseness here punishes. Make sure of the mount before proceeding.My guess, the first session should be less than 50 rounds or so.

Next session,repeat the above until you're warmed up and hitting 50% or better. Then....

Do not premount. Take your step and call for the bird. Your shotgun's butt should have the last inch or so trapped in the armpit. Track the bird AS you mount and press the trigger as the weapon gets in position.The timing on this will take some work, so go slow and carefully.Again, make sure your face is on the stock as it should be and the swing's continuous.Work on this until you feel comfortable and hitting most of them. It may take a while and a couple sessions.

Finally,call for the bird, then take the step while mounting.Increase speed and angles gradually. When you start missing, review those fundamentals above and work on swing, face weld, etc.

Make sure you're having fun. Keep the sessions short and comfortable,enjoy yourself and do not obsess because you're not hitting them all.

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May 30, 2003, 03:19 PM
This may fall more under Wingshooting 401.....

On a outing last Dove season the flight path I was sitting under put most shots coming straight at me and going over my head.

I faired poorly. That is the toughest shot for me to make.

Any drills for practicing this particlular shot? I don't know if I can scrape up any volunteers to stand down range and throw clays over my head.

May 30, 2003, 06:22 PM
Smoke, that is an easy shot to master, but you are going to have to shoot it to know it. If you have a thrower set it out at about 30-40 yards throwing right at where you will stand, have your thrower sitting next to the machine behind a piece of plywood, 1/4" is more than enough for even #6 shot. Have your partner fling targets at you and shoot them. There is only one way to shoot this target, and that is the swing through method. Mount the gun as the muzzle is moving up to the target and slap that trigger as soon as the target is covered up by the barrel/s. You will learn what the overtaking speed needs to be quickly, if you miss swing a little faster on the next one and the next one until you hit it, hitting the trigger as soon as the target is covered. Adjust the throwing speed up and down as much as you can, and throw some battue targets at warp 9. The incoming target will be toast next time out.

May 30, 2003, 09:20 PM
Good article on dove shooting. I hung on the the link. It's worth a look:,13199,191876,00.html

May 31, 2003, 03:59 AM
HSMITH gives good advice as always.

When you get some practice, station 8 is good. When you get crazy like some of us you'll walk in and shoot it 1/2 in...some shoot it sitting down, for practice.

Lazy or no dogs, get them(doves) to fall at your feet. Everybody knows more birds come in when your playing retriever.

Get a broom handle , arms length and rotate (@@) . Later add a pc of rope and weight ( potato in sock) . great for building up forearms...good for pistol work too.

Mount gun 50x a day...gradually work up. Later add weight to arms. Later work up to shooting "targets" I shoot targets taped up.

Little stuff that adds up when you can't get to the range. It will show when you live fire next.


Dave McCracken
May 31, 2003, 03:23 PM
Thanks, folks.

Smoke, what I did(And I'm no whiz on these) was to stand under power transmission lines with an empty shotgun practice tracing the wires with the swing. For this, my weight is much more on the rear foot, and I fire as the barrels sweep past the bird. A little faster swing helps, me, but YMMV.

73, mounting reps are a secret weapon and the best way,IMO,to improve one's shooting OFF range.

May 31, 2003, 03:58 PM
Oh My...transmission lines. I was doing this and showing a new guy this. Some thought I was nuts. (jury still out ).

Does this mean I wasn't misguided, didn't teach a bad deal...or maybe...nah...we both can't be nuts-could we?


Dave McCracken
June 1, 2003, 10:32 AM
We could be nuts, but I doubt it. I got the idea from Gene Hill's writings.

Being mostly self taught, I had to reinvent the wheel many times. Hill's "Shotgunner's Notebook" was a good source for stuff, like Brister.

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