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One Box One Bird My Journey to Better Shotgunning

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Johnm1, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. George P

    George P Member

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    I can tell you that for sporting, stand with feet shoulder width apart in a comfortable stance. You want your off hand toe pointed at your breakpoint. With a true pair, you will set up there for your second shot and then move your body back for your first target's breakpoint. Remember to use your legs and hips and not just your upper body and arms.

    Head on the stock, eye on the rock; or simpler yet - wood on wood - meaning keep your head down and do not peek!
     
  2. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Thanks George

    So far my moves are very rehearsed. This just isn't natural for me. Yet.

    When I was young and learning to play horn I had to practice arpeggios. Fast runs up and down. You almost had to memorize them. The idea was when a similar run appeared in a piece of music you had already done it. I hated them but they had their purpose. At least this practice is fun.
     
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  3. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

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    Stance? I shoot half my doves from seated ;)

    Now i aint chillin and all leaned back
    Did buy a big comfy folder. But im on one cheek and twisted.....to get my foot pointed to where ill kill em and not scrunch my swing
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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  4. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

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    Bet a lot of dove hunters screw themselves on what and how they sit
     
  5. George P

    George P Member

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    I knew a few older gents who shot from chairs and wheelchairs - takes some practice, but it can be done. With doves in a field, that might mean you have to pass on a few shots though....;):thumbup:
     
  6. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Today’s outing was also successful. I still make mistakes but I always know what I did wrong. I actually was function testing a 16 gauge Lefever along with my Sterlingworth and shot more than I usually do. I’m getting a bit more comfortable with mounting the gun. I like the Sterly better than the Lefever.

    I’m going to move on to different stations to see different presentations. What will be interesting is I won’t have an instructor giving me hold and shoot points. Although I’ll stay on a station until I get comfortable at the new presentations.

    Soon I’ll schedule another lesson to compare and discuss the appropriate shotgun I should be using. I did well with the instructors 1100 but seem to be doing as well with the Sterlingworth. A direct comparison should resolve the question. The Sterlingworth is heavier but I really like it. But I won’t stay with it if I can shoot substantially better with another shotgun.
     
  7. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Yesterday's outing wasn't very good. 28 out of 50 and I never got comfortable. Something about my stance that was uncomfortable but I don't know what. Today went better. 17 out of 22. A stock bolt loosened and I stopped immediately.

    Overall I'm getting more comfortable, on and off. Mounting the gun is becoming more natural and sight picture has settled in. I still make stupid mistakes but at least I know what they are when I do.

    I plan to take another lesson to have the instructor look for bad habits I may have developed. Also to evaluate if my Sterlingworth is right for me.
     
  8. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Practice has been going okay sort of. My numbers have dropped a bit from a little over 75% to around 65% I still know what I did wrong when I miss. To this point I have been shooting at the practice station that has 2 stations each with 2 houses and am comfortable with those presentations. Today I moved to the first actual station on the Clay's course to see different presentations. That was disappointing to say the least. Without a coach I only had a general location of the path and I had to figure out the aim point (lead). I had to figure a hold point where I could see the bird come out of the house. It took 6 tries to figure out that first new house at that first new (to me) station. Still a lot of work to do.
     
  9. entropy

    entropy Member

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    It has to be asked; Then why are you still doing it? Remember work on one problem at a time, clear it up, and move on to the next one.
     
  10. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    It would help if the mistakes were consistent but they are not. At any given time the most common mistakes are:

    Losing sight coming out of the house
    Covering the target with the muzzle of the gun
    Sometimes I stop moving @The gun
    Forgetting the aim point

    If I lose sight of the bird its almost always a lost bird. I find that I need to repeat the aim point in my mind or a miss is likely. Remember nothing is routine yet and I have 30 plus years of bad habits to break.
     
  11. George P

    George P Member

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    Then a lesson from a good coach might be in order.
     
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  12. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I think it has been mentioned here you don't aim a shotgun, you point it.

    ??? Losing sight of the bird coming out of the house? You shouldn't be trying to pick it up just coming out of the house; All you'll see is an orange streak for about 10 yards. Try a slightly higher hold point. By the time the bird comes into your view, it will have slowed down enough that you can see detail. And despite what you are thinking right now, yes, you DO have enough time to hit the bird when doing that, unless you are shooting from the 27 yard line, in which case, you should be coaching me.

    If you have a field gun with a flat rib, you will have to cover straightaway and slight angle birds with your barrel. On harder angles you won't, because you are leading, but the next one is where you get misses on harder angles. If you are using a gun with a raised or adjustable comb, and/or a high rib, you 'float' the bird just over the barrel on straightaways and slight angles.

    This causes misses at the harder angles all the time; Follow-through is necessary, unless you have a Cray supercomputer hooked up to your brain.

    Do you mean where your gun is pointing when you call 'pull'? See the answer to the first problem. Also your eyes should NOT BE LOOKING AT THE BEAD! Once you mount the gun and are sure it is mounted correctly, you should be looking past the bead out about 10-15 yards past the traphouse, in what's called 'soft focus'. This is where you'll pick up the bird.

    If you are right handed try these 'hold points': Station 1: 2 ft. above the back of the traphouse and 2 ft. to the left. Station 2: 2 ft. above the back corner of the house. Station 3: 1 1/2 ft above the middle of the house. Station 4: 2 ft. above the back of the house, and 1 foot to the right. Station 5: 2 ft. above and 4 feet to the right of the back of the house.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  13. George P

    George P Member

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  14. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I pass that first one out to all the new shooters each year for High School Trap.

    While we're at it, go on You Tube and watch the first 18 minutes of this:


    It's old, but the fundamentals never change.

    Here's a good video on holds, though as you can tell, I differ with him about holds on the outside stations:

     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
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  15. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    All good points above. This is what this thread is supposed to be all about. Basics to being a better shotgunner.

    A follow up visit with the instructor has been the plan from the initial lesson. I wanted some time to practice what I was shown and then go back to tidy things up. I suspect I have developed/re-developed some bad habits in the last few weeks. I almost scheduled it for this past weekend but thought better with the holiday.

    Thanks Again!
     
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  16. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Keep at it, you're on your way!
     
  17. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I still feel better about the progress so far. I'm a little disappointed that I am having trouble when I go to a new station. It's not like dove will present themselves in ways I have seen. I'm anxious to start playing the games and seeing different presentation across the entire Clays Course. I figure as long as I have the basics right it is a matter of repetition from different positions/presentation of the different stations that will help me learn what to do
     
  18. George P

    George P Member

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    Skeet is always a good beginning game as you can focus on the targets repeatedly because they never change; trap would be second in that regard. Both of those offer many of the same basic types of shots you will see in sporting clays
     
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  19. Picher

    Picher Member

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    My method works for me and for all that I've trained, to date. I can't guarantee that it will for you if your gun doesn't fit properly or you don't practice enough so that it's automatic!

    I'm known as a pretty good game bird shooter. We also shoot a few boxes of clays before the season, just to reinforce the system. The first thing to consider is how your shotgun fits with your field jacket on. Close your eyes and mount the (empty) gun when looking at a fixed object about 30 yards away.

    The shotgun should fit you and you need to practice bringing up to the shoulder and pointing at a small object. The gun needs to fit you so you don't have to crane you neck to line up the barrel/bead at an object. If the buttstock is too long it will catch on your clothes and you'll be craning your neck to mount it correctly. It needs to fit so well that it points like an extension of your left index finger, pointing at an object.

    Don't practice with a shotgun that doesn't fit you perfectly, so it points at an object every time you mount it, even with your eyes closed. With the gun double-checked to be empty, practice mounting it with your eyes closed, until it points where you're looking at a target. It may require you to adjust your stance, but for right-handed people, generally the left hand/arm is responsible for directing the gun. The right hand/arm positions the buttstock to line up the buttstock at the proper cheek weld and shoulder position at nearly the same time the left is starting to point the forend.

    The trick to fast and accurate shotgun shooting I believe is to not look at the moving target, but look ahead of where it will be when the shot finally arrives. A rising bird moving to the left needs the barrel pointing above and to the left. How much? The answer is "a bit more than you think". Don't look at the bird/clay, but ahead of it's direction of movement. It's definitely difficult to not look directly at the bird, but a prolongation of it's direction of movement. When the barrel has passed the bird and is pointing at that prolongation point, the gun must continue swinging when it's fired!

    It's a whole lot simpler to do than to explain. Practicing in a safe/open area, practice the routine with snap caps in the gun, pointing ahead of tweety-birds and dry-firing when the gun swings just past the magic spot along the continuation of the bird's path.

    Practice doesn't make perfect...perfect practice makes perfect!

    It's easier to coach someone with their gun and with clay targets being shot. Almost impossible to see what you're doing right or wrong by yourself unless you can mount a shotgun at a stationary point perfectly every time...with your eyes closed.

    Good luck and I hope you enjoy shotgun shooting!
     
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  20. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Thanks Picher

    All very good points. It takes me a while to digest information like this. I’m trying not to overload while still progressing. I’m trying to arrange follow-up lesson for this weekend. Again, everything is appreciated and it is what this thread was all about.

    I need to clear up some terms that I use and some confusion that it brings. In the end, I am doing very well not aiming the shotgun. I do not use the front bed at all. I rely entirely on the gun being in the right place and the site picture I have on the target. The instructor provided me with some hold points. This is where he wants me to start where I can see the bird as early as possible. It differs from the location where the trigger is pulled. He also gave me what I called aim points. This is where I pull the trigger. He uses a Clock for position of the aim points. So he will tell me this bird you need to aim at the 3 o’clock position as opposed to another where we might aim at the 8 o’clock position. I’m certain my instructor has not told me everything in the one lesson I’ve had so far. He gave me enough information to successfully hit birds. I’m sure there is a lot more to come on lead in follow-up lessons.
     
  21. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Keep in mind, the thing with Sporting Clays courses is they are like golf courses; each one is different, and the same one might be different every once in a while. Resetting courses in Sporting Clays is even easier than in Golf. As George P said, in Skeet the targets are always the same, and in Trap they are anywhere within a given parameter, you just don't know exactly where.
     
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  22. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I like the idea of using the skeet range to build my confidence.
     
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  23. kudu
    • Contributing Member

    kudu Moderator Staff Member

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    I had a acquaintance that really liked shooting sporting clays, but was a very poor shooter at it, about 40% on an average course. He was complaining about it one day with a couple of buddies and they told him to get with me and have me help him. We started on a skeet range and we shot one round together as I watched him, I believe he only broke about 10-12 birds out of 25 the first time. So second round I coached him, footwork, stance, barrel position, leads, follow through. It was overwhelming for him at first, second round wasn't much better, but he added a couple targets. By the fourth round, he was up to 17 out of 25, still rough but was encouraged by the improvement.

    Fast forward about 6 months, we are good friends and he is averaging 21-23 about every round after shooting about 100 birds every couple weeks. After about a year he broke his first 25 straight in skeet and when we went out for a round of sporting and he broke a 74 out of 100. He said he can relate most presentations on the sporting course to a skeet bird and was able to adjust and hit most of what he shot at.

    It has been about three years we have been shooting together now and he still averages about 22 on skeet and in the 70's at sporting but we are shooting more trap this past year and he is averaging about 18-19 on the trap range after about only about 12 rounds of that game.

    You still need a gun you are comfortable shooting and fits fairly decent. Use a pattern board to see where your gun is as far as average height of your shot. I prefer a target gun to be at least a 60/40 with 60% of the pattern above point of aim or POA. My Beretta sets up about 65/35 and I like it there and most of my Remingtons 870's and 1100's are right about 60/40 for my build and face structure. My beads line up mostly as a figure 8, with a little rib in between some guns. My trap gun is a Win M12 that sets up at 80/20 and crushes targets on the trap range that are rising. With the pattern slightly higher you are able to have the bird just on top of your barrel and still break it and not have to cover it up and potentially lose the picture if the bird drops. I do have beads on most of my shotguns, they are mostly as a sub-conscience alignment of the barrel. I mostly don't notice them. I have had the front bead come off in shoots more than once and never noticed until someone pointed it out to me.

    There has been quite lot of good information given to you in this thread, I hope mine will also prove useful. I don't shoot near as much as I used to, but my skeet and trap averages are still about 95% and I generally break about 90 out of 100 on most sporting clay courses. I am not a professional coach but have helped a lot of new shooters break more targets.
     
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  24. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    That is interesting Kudu. And encouraging. I like what has happened these past few weeks after my first lesson and I'm old enough to have suspected/anticipated a drop off after a period of time. I know how I am and how easy it is for me to slip back into old habits.

    I'm not trying to become an expert at the games. My intent is to hit birds in the field. Though I like the idea of playing the games to hone the skills. I may have the wife interested enough to try her hand at the games. She won't hunt though.
     
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  25. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I continue to average around 70% and am beginning to feel a bit more comfortable. I have scheduled my next lesson for this upcoming Friday. Topics will be: any new or old bad habits creeping in, fit and suitably of my current 12 gauge Sterlingworth, practice on clays or skeet, and suitability of a 20 gauge for dove.

    I'd like to hear others opinion on the use of a 20 gauge for dove, clays, and skeet. It seems to me that the only challange would be a smaller shot stream. But I have no idea if it is significant or not. Both the 12 and 20 are choked cylinder/modified.

    Weight and fit are driving me towards the 20 gauge. The 20 is over a pound lighter and feels so much nicer.
     
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