View Full Version : Wingshooting 101.....

Dave McC
September 2, 2002, 05:54 AM
Most of this has been posted before, but not on one thread. Due to many requests, here's my ideas on getting started shooting flying stuff. And we're starting right from Square One....

The thread," Proper Mounting Techniques" will help also, I recommend reading that one first.

You've decided that you want to shoot clays, or you've noted that lots of food comes wrapped in feathers. Whatever your motives, you've decided to learn wingshooting.

You've asked questions at the range, even shot a round or two of skeet, trap, 5 stand or whatever's around, and picked a shotgun.

You've taken one of the simple eye dominance tests and found you're right eyed and handed. If you've found that your dominant eye and hand are on different sides, switch to match your eye now, before you have to unlearn much.

By happy chance,your shotgun fits you fairly well. Your nose isn't bumped by your thumb in recoil,so the stock's long enough. You have no problem in mounting the weapon consistently, so it's short enough.

You've determined the best place for you to grip the weapon by placing your finger on the tip of the trigger and then gripping the weapon. This optimizes the grip and comfort.

A few practice mounts have given you a good cheek weld and it points where you're looking.You check this by patterning a few rounds.

The center of the pattern hits around and maybe even a little above Point Of Aim.Huzzah! We're going to start shooting.

And naturally, we follow all the safety rules obsessively, faithfully and as if someone's life depended on them. It does.

So,we're approaching the moment of truth. You've practiced your mount and swing at home(WITH A SHOTGUN KNOWN TO BE EMPTY) and feel confident.

Part of your practice at home has been stance.
For the record, here's what I suggest for the first few sessions, and maybe from now on...

Stand square to the target,with the butt tucked back into your armpit, weapon roughly horizontal. Do not hold at port arms, but keep it pointed towards the area where you expect to break the bird. Take a small step forward as if you're going to walk towards the target. The heel of your forward shoe is about even with the tip of the other, and the front knee is not locked. Note how your weight is still shifted forward. Practice just this a few times and then add mounting the shotgun. The stock should come up to your face, not your face descending any great distance to the stock. ALL the pad should be in contact with your shoulder, with the heel of the pad even with the top of your shoulder.Your grip should be firm, but not whiteknuckled and both elbows should be up.

The strong side elbow's up to help make the "Cup" The butt fits into. The other one's up to help keep the swing level.

Of course,you're doing this with an empty weapon, and the next step is also done empty.

NOTE:I should emphasize here that once the weapon is mounted and you're looking down the rib or bbl,forget about the bead(s) and focus where the target will appear.This is absolutely essential.If you're looking at the bead, you'll stop the swing and miss.

Now, shoulder the EMPTY weapon and call for the bird. As it appears,use the bbl like a paint brush and brush through the target, fast squeezing the trigger as you brush through the target.Remember you have to be in front of the target when you actuate the trigger and the weapon HAS to be kept moving throughout the shot.Focus on hitting the very front edge of the clay.

Ideally, this is done with a friend with a hand trap or a standard trap turned down a lot. The faster birds can be hit, but if possible, go for slower ones first. Speed will come later. If this isn't possible, don't panic, a standard skeet or trap target will work. You'll still make it, it's just a bit harder at first.

Continuee dry firing until you feel comfortable with the swing and know that you're out in front of the bird when the trigger clicks.

OK, it's hammer time. Drop in the lightest load you have,in 7 1/2, 8, or 9 shot.Make sure the safety's off, and call for the bird. Hit it.

If you didn't hit it, try increasing the lead until you do. Keep on with this as long as you're comfortable shooting. If there's a problem, go back to dry firing a few times and then resume live ammo shooting...

Dave McC
September 2, 2002, 06:18 AM
Part II.....

OK, your first range session went well, you hit most of the birds. Repeat this a few times, and then we'll raise the difficulty a bit. You've been premounting the gun like in trap or skeet. Now, let's make the mount part of the firing stroke.

Start by standing square to the target area. Take that little step forward, while bringing the butt up into your shoulder and swinging before your cheek meets the stock. The shot gets triggered about the time you're fully in the firing position.IOW, the shot goes when your cheek is on the wood and your eyes tell you that you're in front of the bird.The leading foot should be pointing toward where you want to hit the bird. It's easier to do than describe.

Take your time, get the timing and swing right. If you were able to use a hand trap or slow down a range trap, you should be busting the clays nicely. Analyze your hits by reading the breaks. If you bust the rear of the clay and the biggest piece goes forward, you need to increase the lead a bit. If the front breaks, squeeze off just a hair sooner. If the big piece flies up, you hit low and so on. Knowing this can help your inborn computer adjust.

Here's a tip. DO not try to just hit the bird, try to hit the leading molecule of the target with the very center of your pattern. Fine tuning your focus will get you birds you would miss otherwise.

And if you're missing lots of targets, the two big reasons for missing are stopping the swing and lifting your head off the stock. If you start missing, go back to dry firing a few times and make sure you're not stopping or lifting. Most times, this'll get you hitting again.

Once you're hitting most of the targets, move, and take some targets at a different angle. Keep doing this until it seems easy, then add more distance a few yards at a time, speed up the target,do some targets going the opposite way, etc.

Change one thing at a time and do NOT add other variables until you've got the present shot well down.If at any time you start missing a lot, go back to the basics.

At this point, you've learned if not mastered the swing through method of wingshooting. Part III will include sustained leads and other stuff not mentioned yet.

Hope this helps.....

Dave McC
September 3, 2002, 06:12 AM
Part III.....

OK, let's talk about using a sustained lead here.
Trap is shot using the swing through method from the earlier segments, Skeet is shot with a sustained lead.

Start with a shotgun known to be empty and observe all safety rules.

Using your best form,set up for some crossing shots. As the bird flies, get in front of it and maintain a lead of a couple feet as long as you can see the bird. After a few tries, load your shotgun and shoot the target. If you don't hit, increase the lead until you center the bird.

Again, work slowly, adding angles, speed and distance as you go. A good place to practice this would be a skeet field, using the center posts.If you plateau, work on the basics and make sure you're keeping your face on the stock and not stopping the swing.

So when does one use swing through and when does one use a sustained lead? I use swing through when close and sudden, and sustained lead for pass shooting and some dove shots.I'm better at swingthrough.

There's other variants of lead, with names like maintained lead, pull ahead, and so on, but the two methods shown here will work on most shots. Get the basics down and then explore the esoterics.

A coupla things...

By now, a rookie should be able to fire 25-50 rounds in a session w/o major fatigue or pain afterwards. If you tire excessively, there's a couple possible reasons, and they're not mutually exclusive.

You could be tense about shooting. Apprehension and tension are quite tiring. As you get used to shooting, this should diminish and stop.This is supposed to be fun, keep it that way and enjoy every breaking bird,don't agonize over the misses.

Your shotgun could be a little heavy for you. More training, taken slowly is the answer.

The kick could be getting to you. If fit and form are good,a better pad, lighter loads and some reduction in the amount of shots in one session are options.For repeaters, the homemade recoil reducers written about elsewhere on this BB can be good, but be wary of adding too much weight for you to handle easily.

Also, getting some one on one instruction from a good coach is a great way to improve, but there's more good shotgunners than good coaches.

The services of a good fitter can work wonders, but like coaches, these aren't under every bush.

And, learning to reload your empties can not only save money but make better shells for training. A 7/8 oz load of 9s makes a good skeet load,runs cheap, and kicks about 25% less than a standard 12 gauge target load of 1 1/8 oz, 3 dram Eq.

That's about it, I hope other experienced shotgunners chip in with suggestions, corrections and more advice...