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      TO THOSE REGISTERING FOR MEMBERSHIP ON UJ   01/06/2018

      To the Guests who have decided to register for Membership. PLEASE read Terms of Service, not just checking it off. This is covered there: Add more info than just "hunting" or "Upland hunting" or "birds" or "outdoors" or similar nebulous terms in the required INTERESTS field. Despite this Boards strong spam filtering function, some Spam registrations do sneak through. I need an inkling that you are a human being not a Spam Bot tagging onto key words. Also please do not use a business name as your User Name. Thank you.
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PartridgeCartridge

Game Shooting Better

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Guest
Very clearly written. Nice job. Being centered, balanced and minimalist in motion. Sounds very Zen to me. PC, the closet Buddist. :sleepy:

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gonehuntin

Dave broke me of this bad habit by having me shoot a second shot to break the small pieces of the same clay pigeon that I had broken with the first shot.

Boy, there another golden gem!!

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gonehuntin

I don't try to show them proven techniques as technique falls apart in an aspen cover. Pull away and sustained stuff just doesn't belong there.

Not gonna let ya get away with just that little blip PC. Would you please elaborate a little more about that?

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PartridgeCartridge

I don't try to show them proven techniques as technique falls apart in an aspen cover. Pull away and sustained stuff just doesn't belong there.

Not gonna let ya get away with just that little blip PC. Would you please elaborate a little more about that?

In trying to emphasize better game shooting skills, I pretty much have to have a baseline to work with all people of all levels.

"Form" is that baseline. Form is very different than technique. Form provides the basis for acquiring technique. There is no technique without solid form. An example would be speed.

True "Speed" comes from slow and smooth form. Without solid form, the only speed you would have would be jerky, hurried, excessive, unprecise movement.

Techniques, such as those used to establish forward allowance must also be seamlessly transferable to the field. Static target techniques like Pull Away and Sustained generally require that you know the path of a bird prior to executing the shot. Flushes in tight cover don't provide that luxury so it has minimal carryover effectivness to gameshooting in tight cover. It does carry over well for driven or tower shooting or pass shooting waterfowl or even long shots at wild phez.

Other target style techniques, such as hold points and breakzones and reading target lines also don't carry well into the field as each and every shot is unknown and different. This is were good form will help you to adjust on the fly, so to speak.

I'm not implying that these target techniques aren't usefull, I'm only suggesting that they don't transparently overlay into a field gunning situation.

All good shooters have solid form.

In the aspen cover example, a hunter with good form and a crisp view of the bird coupled with inserting on the forward edge of a partridge with a relaxed subconscious shot has a definite edge in killing a bird over a highly technique specific shooter most times. It is simply the nature of those types of shots.

Hope that explains it.

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Pat Berry

I took Lesson 1 from PC, and found that it was extremely helpful to be there with Dave in person. Not only was the instruction critical, but watching Dave perform his magic helped give me the visual picture that I personally need when learning anything.

Yes, I've missed some easy shots this year, but, like Scratch, have probably downed more grouse this season than the last two combined. I even had two 3-bird days, which is no easy feat on grouse in VT. I still consider myself to be a marginal shooter in need of consistent practice, but I also have to believe that my time spent with PC has something to do with my improved game shooting. How can it not?

Perhaps the most important thing I'm working on right now is letting the shot develop by focusing on the target, and having patience to let the form and motion come together in a fluid manner. I'm far from mastering this. As I recently commented, instead of "eyes" and "smooth," I still tend to "jerk" and "shoot." But I suppose that recognition of one's flaws is the first step towards improvement. As another friend said to me, "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast."

Hopefully, I was able to start the process of returning the favor by offering PC a few nuggets of fly casting wisdom after the shooting lesson...

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Hunshatt
Dave broke me of this bad habit by having me shoot a second shot to break the small pieces of the same clay pigeon that I had broken with the first shot.

Boy, there another golden gem!!

Dave calls it "bird and a bit" it's by far the most fun breaking clays I've ever had, on the skeet field. kill the full bird, and try and shatter a bit of whats left.

Only real problem was toward the end, when I was foucusing more, I tended to powder the primary bird and picking a bit was more difficult..... but when I did, I almost couldn't stop giggling

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mschaefer

I think those of us attending the UJ midwest get together this summer should try to get PC to attend.  I'd be willing to chip in for his travel expenses....any others?

Interestingly enough, I have visited with Dave about the possibility of flying in for the event to give shooting instruction.  If those interested would please PM me so I can get an idea of the number, I will try to arrange it with Dave after the Holidays if he will be available in June.  I believe one of his east coast drinking buddies may also be flying out.

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Hunshatt

Oh I'm sure the air marshalls will love that.. papa smurf and his drinking buddy getting all banged up on the flight......

then the little guy would have to try and teach youz cretans how to shoot???

why freakin bother......

"oh look spot the pointing britt bumped that gaudy bird just in front of us....... lets count to 100 and let it get out far enough that we don't turn it inside out with our 12ga, 3 1/2" bb filled SBEIIII's, damm it's tuff to hit them with nothing in the way..... why do we suck so much???"

Jethro,your hunting buddy replys

" well sweaterboy, it might be that suitcase of PBR we drank for breakfast, or it might just be that we suck, living out her in the arm pit of the world..... I'd rather live in somolia than here"

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mschaefer
I don't drink PBR, only bud light or Ringneck Ale.  I know your grouse snob friends won't let you shoot your benelli out there Timmy, but you can feel free to bring it out for the clays shooting.  We won't make fun of you.  For shooting a benelli anyway.   :D

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Guest

Techniques, such as those used to establish forward allowance must also be seamlessly transferable to the field. Static target techniques like Pull Away and Sustained generally require that you know the path of a bird prior to executing the shot. Flushes in tight cover don't provide that luxury so it has minimal carryover effectivness to gameshooting in tight cover. It does carry over well for driven or tower shooting or pass shooting waterfowl or even long shots at wild phez.

All good shooters have solid form.

PC,

While I see and understand that you are mostly working with grouse and woodcock hunters here, your contention is spot on for those applications. See bird, focus on leading edge, pull trigger works well in getting a dead bird.

Ditto for other upland birds with close shooting over a pointing dog.

Pull Away is a great field method for such things as  ducks, open field pheasants, sharptails, chuckar, pigeons, dove, etc when a lead needs to be generated before pulling the trigger. Knowing the exact path of the bird is not known ahead of time, nor required.

And yes, all good shooters have good form. Many -- if not all -- of the methods you've brought forth here have been taught by qualified sporting clays instructors for a good many years.   That's why I have to scratch may head when someone says something like "Old Joe maybe a heckuva a sporting clays shooter, but he can't hit a pheasant worth a damn" or "Ya, I missed those six  30 yard crossers on the sporting clays course, but if they were chuckars I'd hit everyone of them".

Congratulations on generated a good deal of interest and  enthusiasm for hunters to understand the value of learning to shoot better and getting involved with taking some serious shooting instruction. Our sport needs more of this kind of thing to happen.

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Old Colonel

Wonderful post, P.C.  Learning that all important "form" so that it comes automatically, and without conscious thought, while the eyes are focused on the bird(s) picking out the one you wish to shoot...while at the same time getting your feet positioned (if not hip deep in alders or bull briars), is what builds that consistency.

I think I mentioned on another post that practicing that form over and over to achieve that consistency is what builds muscle memory, so the mount becomes automatic, with the butt in the shoulder pocket, the cheek properly placed on the stock, and the hands smoothly raising and pulling-pushing the piece into place...all led by the eyes...all simultaneously coming together for the moment of the shot.  (In our combat shooting we practice that rifle mount at east 1,800 times to acheve that consistency with muscle memory in every conceiveable position.)

When I really got serious about learning the double gun properly (I had bought my first SLE) I practiced and practiced and practiced  that gun mount and foot work almost every day for about 15 minutes.  Then I went to local dairy farms and practiced on pigeons.  What a difference!

Whether one uses sustained lead, swing through, pull away, or modified "Bubba" technique for a particular situation, it seems to me it is the consistency of the mount that makes the rest happen in that beautiful slow motion that strokes a bursting Ruff, a jinking woodcock, or a cackling rooster out of the air with that economy of motion you so well describe.  

Thanks again for that simple and clear explanation of those critical fundamentals

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lee sykes
but when I did, I almost couldn't stop giggling

Now that's a disturbing image!

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Don Steese
Excellent post PC. Thanks!

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lee sykes

PC, thanks for taking the time to compile this info.

I hope that it is archived for future referral for all.

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Greg Hartman

An excellent treatise – also created a lot of constructive thought and discussion.  Thanks for posting, PC!

Without contradicting anything that was said, I’ll add a few minor thoughts.

Shooting Instructions:

A good, credentialed general shooting instructor will absolutely teach you what you want to know – pure wingshooting, if that’s what you want.  They will not push you to learn techniques that apply only to target shooting if you make your goals clear.

If you want to be better at a particular target game you might be better off taking lessons from someone who specializes in that particular game – like Todd Bender for skeet, for example.  Concomitantly, if wingshooting is your goal, then you probably don’t want to retain someone like Mr. Bender.  Horses for the courses.

I’ve learned over the years that just being able to shoot well does NOT qualify someone to give instructions.  The ability to impart knowledge is an entirely separate skill from shooting well.  In fact, the best teachers are not always the best shooters.  This is especially true of the local hero at the gun club, who may be a good disciple of a particular target game, or he may even be a superb shooter generally, but he may or may not be capable of intelligently analyzing what another shooter is doing and then giving advice that suits and can be understood and adopted by the other shooter.  More typically, his approach is “do exactly as I do”, which is often not at all helpful, despite good intentions.

My only complaint about some shooting instructors is that they assume (in fact insist) that you do things their way, based on abilities they think you must have.  For me “seeing the target” is a perfect example of that.  My eyesight is poor.  I cannot (even if you hold a gun to my head) “see” the rings on a flying target – I see an orange blur.  Period.  Lessons based on “seeing” the rings, front edge or whatever of targets are wasted on me and frankly quite annoying.  In fairness, most instructors seem to accommodate their students’ inherent physical limitations – but not all.

Reasons for Missing Afield:

I’ve helped a lot of people to shoot targets on an informal basis at the gun club.  As someone who shot serious competition for about 25 years, I’ve probably observed hundreds of thousands of targets shot by people of various skill levels, mostly fairly high skill levels.  But, I don’t think most folks here are serious target shooters, so I’m not sure my observations of such things are at all relevant.

On the other hand, I’ve watched a great many people with mostly rather mediocre skill levels shoot at many, many birds over my dogs when guiding.  I’ve also taught a number of people who had never picked up a shotgun to shoot well enough to kill a few pointed birds.  Of necessity, those “lessons” usually consisted of less than an hour at a skeet range before taking to the field.  What I’ve observed in this wingshooting context is vastly different than what I have observed in a target shooting milieu.

I would say that 95% of the misses I see afield are the result of just shooting too quickly (which isn’t really different than PC’s mount, controlled gun movement and form issues).  The bird flushes, the gun is whipped up (usually not on the shoulder and usually the head isn’t on the stock); the gun is emptied like a machinegun in the general direction of the bird before it gets 10 yards out (the misses are by many feet, not inches); and the bird keeps flying.  Check out this photo – this guy charged in on the point/back at full-tilt and fired while still on the run.  

2006-JeffsHunt-JoesCovey-3.jpg

Look at this one - gun being emptied - gun mounted on his chest - head way off the stock

1-14-09-Icotaking2ndChukar.jpg

Needless to say, no birds were harmed in the making of these photos  :)

The reason for this rush, IMO, is lack of experience/fieldcraft – they think that the bird is going to “get away” if they don’t shoot the very instant it flushes.  My suggestion for wingshooters who are having trouble – take the instant of time needed to get the gun mounted properly, to get your head down on the stock and to “see” the bird (even if, like me, you can’t see the feathers or whatever) well enough to shoot toward the front of it.   Just do that and you’ll hit more often than you’ll miss; and you don’t need to worry about lead and all of that.  

Sure, those basics (mount, wood on the wood, eye on the target) are subject to much refinement as a person develops skill and experience, but it is amazing how many people who never picked up a gun before (and therefor don’t come with existing problems) and who spent a half-hour shooting at Low 7’s on the skeet field can kill birds over a pointy dog – like this happy young fellow with his rent-a-gun on his 12th birthday.

2006-10-21-WingPointe-5-partoftheha.jpg

Get those basics right (as in this photo of our own Mr. Fuess) and chances are good you will crush that bird.

2-13-09-MarktakingbirdoverChase-3.jpg

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