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PartridgeCartridge

Game Shooting Better

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PartridgeCartridge

I’ve had a really interesting opportunity to observe and help many, many shooters of all different levels.  I believe I have walked away with some insight that merits sharing with some of you. I’m hoping this will help some of you to understand that shooting well can be learned and obtained by anyone willing to get some help. These observations will, in all probability enhance your game shooting abilities as well as your target crushing abilities.

Mounting and gun management:

With few exceptions, almost everyone that has come to me lacked a technical mount. They all had a “movement” whereby they were bringing the gun to the shoulder, but it was not a mount in the true technical sense of the concept. Proper gun holding and consistency in grip efficiency and parallel gun management was also non existent. Every single person that made a decision to try a better hold and mount unanimously discovered the beginning feelings of true gun control.

PC’s tip: You MUST learn to mount properly and manage the man/machine interface correctly if you want your shooting to advance. Only when your mount advances to a smooth, consistent and subtle control will you be able to start using your eyes. You shoot with your eyes. As soon as you accept this simple fact, you will be ready to advance.

Reasons for missing:

I’ve noticed that there are three distinct reasons people miss 95% of the time. I’ve purposely left out the “lead” and the “behind” concepts as they really are not meaningful in this context. I’ve also noticed that almost everyone is capable of shooting relatively well but they needlessly handicap their abilities in three separate but distinct areas.

1. Effective eye utilization

2. Improper balance/centering

3. Grossly unmanaged gun movements

Using your eyes:

You shoot with your eyes. Learn to use them for the incredibly effective tool that they are. If you use them correctly, targets and game actually look slower and larger for a brief period of time. It becomes easier to hit “bigger and slower” objects. Learn how to see detail crisply. I don’t care if it is a crest on a bird, his eye, a tail band, curled feet, shiny edges on a target, an underside of a target or even a wobble in the target flight. SEE SOMETHING other that a mass of blurred feathers or an orange dome in flight. Seeing the leading or forward edge of any object is a very good initial goal. Seeing the leading area of any object for as long as possible is a solid start.

PC’s tip:

Understand human eyesight. It can be your biggest shooting asset BUT it can cripple your shooting too. Our eyes will always move directly to the object moving fastest in our field of view. We are biologically wired this way. If you move your gun significantly faster than a target or a bird, your eyes will move to the barrel. This is bad. You must maintain crisp object focus to consistently hit flying objects. You cannot maintain crisp object focus if your eyes move to your gun because you mismanage gun movement or lack target flight/gun speed harmony.

.

Good eye skills must be taught and learned. Get instruction on eye use. The best game and target shots all have superior eye skills. Not necessarily better visual acuity, but certainly better eye skills.

Balance/centering and footwork:

All physical endeavors rely on balance and form. Boxing is a classic example. “Punch” in boxing comes from your rear leg/foot, not your arm. Shooting is no different.

The human frame has limitations in effective, useful movement. Most people have a 90 degree arc on their offhand side that I call their “Sweet spot”. If you try to shoot outside of this range of motion you will be substantially handicapped by restricted physical motion. Good shooting requires a harmonious flow of body, gun and eyes. If your mount is solid and your eye work correct, this range of motion will become larger and more useful.

The discreet target forms like Skeet and Sporting usually dictate presentation and the shooter position. Game birds do NOT give us that luxury. They can flush from any angle and compromise our effective shooting arc and balance points. Good game shooting requires active, passive and dynamic balance changes. As your mount and eye work increase in effectiveness, so too will your arc of effectiveness. This smoothness in skill is why some of us can shoot clays with one hand or behind our backs. We simply are more effective in a wider range of motion.

PC’s tip:

Learn solid, but dynamic, form. Your feet, hands and eyes are what kill birds and break targets. Balance skills and pivot shooting are essential upland footwork.

Melding smooth, balanced body movements with smooth, balanced mounts/ gun management and effective use of your eyes will simplify your shooting.  These are skills that can be taught, learned and honed.

Managing gun movement:

I see many folks come to me with sweeping gun movements and uncontrolled gun motions. Unnecessary gun movement equals shooter error. Smooth, controlled and perhaps more importantly, balanced gun movement, will make precision pointing far more easier and almost a subconscious activity

Typical field carries are ripe for sweeping gun movements. Having a “home mount” to move through will significantly reduce wasted and error prone movement. Ever wonder why “straight aways” can be such an easy shot to miss? Gross gun movement with lots of error prone, wasted movement. Want to become absolutely deadly with a low gun on a quartering, rising, going away target? I can show you how to crush these birds low gun like you’ve done it a thousand times.

It’s all about economy of effective movement. Watch a really good shooter sometime and you will start to see minimal gun movements with maximum effectiveness, even on fast crossers.

PC’s tip:

Gun management has its origins in mount. Good mounting always requires “Eyes First” as a prerequisite to any movement. Seeing target/birds and making your initial movements without getting beat by the object requires an efficient use of your eyes, hands and balance. Starting to see a pattern here? You shoot with your eyes, hands and feet. Not a gun. The gun is simply a tool, no different than say a hammer or a golf club. When you hammer a nail, do you look at the hammer? Do you ever see a club face when you swing? Learning how/when to move your hands/gun and how/when not to move them are very teachable and easy to learn. Your precision as a shotgun pointer will dramatically improve when you can control small, smooth movements. Your margin for error will also dramatically be reduced. Instruction is the best way to learn effective gun management.

If you were inclined to just focus on just these four concepts, your shooting MUST improve. It would be an inescapable reality. Good luck to those of you that take that next step. Any questions, reach out to me.

In the end, we all love to hunt, watch the dogs work and shoot a few birds. If these concepts help any of you to understand your gunning self better, then my work has some meaning. I have met many UJ’ers and in every single case, they have become better gunners. In all cases it has been very informative for all of us. And a whole lot of fun too.

I look forward to meeting more of you too.

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Hunshatt
Nice post G-man...... any pictures :glare:

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ghostdog

Thanks, PC. Your shooting tips are always informative. I have never had formal shooting lessons, but have improved my technique after reading a summary on the Churchill method. Subsequently I have practiced my mount (doing reps like working out) and have worked on focusing my vision. I still have a ways to go.

My hesitation on taking formal lessons is based on my concern that most instructors are target shooters first. My impression is that they focus on things like proper lead and presentations at different stations. I'd be more apt to take formal lessons from someone who focuses on the foundations you describe and game shooting, rather than target shooting.

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Hunshatt
GoshDarnit, GD.... the little guys gonna get a big head(ok he already has a big head, but it's a result of dwarfism) He's already had so much hot air blown up his ass from this "shooting lesson" thing, he's floating around like a Macy's T-day float.....

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gonehuntin

If you move your gun significantly faster than a target or a bird, your eyes will move to the barrel.

That part of your post, the whole post really, is very interesting to me. I never really realized that. Thank you for the post.

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trev

Thanks, PC!  Every bit of that really hits home as I struggle in my own little shooting slump.

Thanks again for the tips.

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Trappercase
Thanks Dave.

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DennisMcFeely

Working with Dave all summer brought me a long way in my poor to now marginally "less poor" shooting  :D .  Unfortunately I forgot everything last time out, but each session a little bit more seems to sink in.

Anyone who can avail him or herself of his lessons would do well to take him up on them.  A very generous offer on his part.

Dennis

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Guest

My hesitation on taking formal lessons is based on my concern that most instructors are target shooters first. My impression is that they focus on things like proper lead and presentations at different stations. I'd be more apt to take formal lessons from someone who focuses on the foundations you describe and game shooting, rather than target shooting.

A lot of shooters have that very same concern buried deep in their brain. Truth be known, it's for the most part, a fallacy.

PC has put together a very good post, with some extremely important concepts for those who want to learn to shoot better.

However, none of this information is new, and is information that many quality instructors have been offering  their students for a long, long time.  

Many shooters think they are born good shots. They once made a very difficult shot, so they see themselves as someone who doesn't need instruction. Trouble is, they have no consistency in their shooting, and being consistent is what good shooting is all about.

For most, clay targets are going to be the main source of learning to shoot. There's no getting around that.

Keep up the good work PC. You've gotten the message out to a lot of shooters who probably would never jump in and and do what it takes to shoot better. Great job.

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Kenai
Great post right there.  Lots of things to think about.

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Brad Eden

Thanks PC.

Expect this to be Pinned to top of Forum.

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bosco mctavitch

Thanks, PC. Your shooting tips are always informative. I have never had formal shooting lessons, but have improved my technique after reading a summary on the Churchill method. Subsequently I have practiced my mount (doing reps like working out) and have worked on focusing my vision. I still have a ways to go.

My hesitation on taking formal lessons is based on my concern that most instructors are target shooters first. My impression is that they focus on things like proper lead and presentations at different stations. I'd be more apt to take formal lessons from someone who focuses on the foundations you describe and game shooting, rather than target shooting.

I have to agree there as that has been a frustration of mine as well...many of the people who have showed me something at the range are pretty good at showing you how to hit high 2 or low 8 at a skeet range (sometimes because that's all they do) but they are not showing you how to simply shoot better--I do not think many of these "lessons" carry over to other clay games like sporting, and certainly not to the field.  I would not call the above shooting instruction though...what PC is talking about is learning the fundamentals of shooting better in ANY situation, first in a controlled situation on a range, and then taking those lessons to less controlled range situations and then transferring those elements of good shooting into the field--that stuff is universal in my admittedly limited experience.

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Chukarman

Good post PC. I find it useful to practice with a plan rather than simply going to the range and shooting lots of targets. This carries the danger of ingraining bad habits still further, and getting frustrated.

I agree about coaching -- I have been lucky enough to have a good coach.

Shooting is 95% mental. Confidence and not over thinking a shot is important.

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Hunshatt
Would you guys PLEASE stop...... his freakin head barely fits in my truck as it is....... Theres very little room left for his ego, as well as his bulbous head in the back of the truck.... "oh Tim, please drive me over there"

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