View Full Version : Target shooting.... suggestions and help needed

August 5, 2002, 10:48 AM
Well, I used my new 870(12 gauge with a 28 inch barrel) this weekend for the first time. I tried it out with some target shooting. I'm not sure exactly what it is called when you just go out and shoot some flying clay targets informally(skeet, trap, target, clay target?). I really liked the feel of the gun, and for shooting a shotgun for the first time, I was really nervous about the recoil, but it turned out to be not bad at all. Now on to the targets. To put it quite bluntly, I sucked. I went through a box of Remington STS light target loads, and I hit one clay target. I was shooting all of these targets at between 10 and 30 yards I would guess, so long range wasn't my enemy here. I have a modified choke in my barrel... would this maybe be hindering my shooting pattern? I am pretty sure that my problem is with my shooting technique. I have taken a firearms course, so the basic hold of a shotgun, I think that I have. I found that it seemed to be hard for me to hold it with the bead lined up perfectly. I know that I am a pretty good shot with a rifle, so as far as handling firearms, I know that I can do it. Unfortunately, I am doing this informal target shooting at my farm, and getting to a person for lessons right now isn't really possible. Is getting 1 target out of almost 25 rounds normal for a total beginner. I am quite discouraged right now, but am definately more motivated now to get better. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully with your help, next weekend, I will be up to 2 or 3 or more for 25.
Thanks so much,
Discouraged Matt:(

August 5, 2002, 12:08 PM
I got four out of 25 the first time I tried regular trap shooting and I had shot shotguns for quite a few years before. I did better on Sporting Clays, but it takes practice to do well in any of these games.

Pattering your shotgun may help too. I was out with a .410 a while ago and started breaking clays hand thrown by my son at about 15 or 20 yards when I swung the barrel down so it looked a foot or more below the clays. I guess that gun shoots high!

Dave McC
August 5, 2002, 12:16 PM
Matt, I think we can do better than that next time.A step at a time....

First, establish that your master eye and hand are on the same side,ie, you're right handed and right eyed. Easy test, look up to the corner of the room where two walls and the ceiling meet. Point at it with your strong hand. Now close your right eye. If your finger seems to move off from the corner, you're OK.If not,you have mized dominance.Then, your choices are to learn to shoot from the other side, or to close your left eye.

Second, many folks used to shooting rifles and handguns keep wanting to aim a shotgun. Focus on the target, the bead is no more than a reference point in your peripheral vision.

Third, the easiest way to learn to shoot where a clay or bird is going is to swing through the target and trigger as it passes. Short shots, trigger a little sooner,longer ones,hold off a few microseconds.Practice will help your timing on this.

Modified choke is a little tight for ten yards, nigh perfect for 30.

Stay with the light loads, 1 oz, 2 3/4 dr eq will do fine.

And do not get discouraged, it'll come.

If it'll help, feel free to PM me for advice.

HTH, Dave...

August 5, 2002, 12:37 PM
Most beginners suck. Practice, practice, practice.

Remember to pretend the shotgun is a brush and that you are brushing over the target as you are firing. Your target is moving so if you stop to aim, the target will keep on going and you will miss.

Good luck!


August 5, 2002, 12:39 PM
I tried your trick with the two walls and the ceiling. Unfortunately, when I point at that corner, I see two fingers with both my eyes open. The one that looked most defined, I pointed at the corner, then I closed my right eye, and it didn't move. I shoot right handed, so I think that by what you had said, that at least this is promising.
Any other comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as the more I get, the better I will be..... I hope

August 5, 2002, 12:52 PM
Looked at your reply again, and it looks like I probably have "mized" dominance. One more hurdle in my quest to become average!:confused: Let me know if I am right about this. Should I see two fingers when I point at the corner? I was told in my hunting course that you should never use a shotgun with one eye closed. If I can't shoot from my left side, is this probably what I am going to have to do? I don't want to get people off of my original topic, but this may be part of my problem. Thanks again,

August 5, 2002, 02:28 PM
From your description it appears you are left eye dominant.

If you pointed a finger at the corner and closed your RIGHT eye and the finger did not move, your LEFT eye is dominant.

This is not that difficult to overcome but it will take some effort.

Some shooters in your situation shoot with one eye, not ideal but many are successful at it.

Others use a piece of tape on their shooting glasses (You do have safety glasses don't you?). The tape is placed on the left lens over the spot where your left eye would normally focus. This gives the weak eye dominance. Works for some people, others have difficulty.

Casey Atkinson, a world class Sporting Clays shooter is left eye dominant. She shoots from the left shoulder! Even though right handed. Works for her.

Scott Robertson, one of the best shotgunners in existence, is left eye dominant. He simply decided that his right eye would be the sighting eye and taught himself to look with his weak eye.

Take Dave's advice and get some paper to pattern the gun. Find out where it is shooting and make adjustments before you get too frustrated shooting clays.

The archives here have loads of info about how to pattern your gun :D

August 5, 2002, 08:01 PM
It's way too early in the game to diagnose and treat any problem. Get back to us after you've put a couple of cases through the shotty. I bet you will have improved TREMENDOUSLY.

99% suck in there first few times out. I did. I don't shoot the shotgun as much as I would like, but I am pretty decent at shooting the charcoal frisbees now. Don't get discouraged. If you miss, you miss. That is why they pack the clays in boxes of 100+. Just have fun.

Practice, practice, practice.


August 5, 2002, 08:32 PM
Yep, she's indeed cross dominant. My wife and I shoot her course quite often and they were talking one day when Casey gave her the dominance test. Sure enough, my wife is cross dominant. Guess she had to hear it from an expert! :)