Bird hunters/wing shooters: have you noticed this progression?

Six-GunSix-Gun Senior MemberPosts: 7,264 Senior Member
A few years back, I would've referred to myself as a poor wing shot. Over the past year and half, that situation has changed pretty drastically. Between picking up various forms of bird hunting (ducks and upland birds) more seriously and sprinkling in some hand thrown clays on weekends, I've seen a remarkable improvement in my wing shooting. It used to be a cold day in hell when I could reliably hit the first bird of the day. Now, I'm angry when I don't. Heck, that last quail hunt I went on, I killed the first two birds I sighted. It's a major change from where I was with a shotgun years back.

I want to compare notes with other bird hunter and wing shooters on one particular aspect of improved wing shooting that I've noticed: the better I shoot, the less I can recall how much lead I put on a bird. I used to be able to tell you that I put "about 2 feet of lead on that bird." Most of the times, that was the detail of a miss. In hindsight, I have to believe that I was over-thinking the shot back then. Nowadays, I literally cannot recall how far out in front of a bird I'm putting the payload. I just shoot and more often than not, the bird folds up. It's the strangest thing. It's like I let instinct take over and my mind goes blank. Does anyone else who has been bird hunting a lot have a similar experience?
Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.

Replies

  • orchidmanorchidman Senior Member Posts: 7,714 Senior Member
    Congratulations on making the 'Jump' from a thinking shooter to an 'instinctive reflex' shooter.

    The human brain is still the smartest computer on the planet my friend. In my experience, most beginners to shotgun shooting start with trying to work out how much lead to give as each shot is taken, and over think the whole thing.
    As they build a up a store of 'memories ' of what works, they ease up on the thinking and let the brain do its thing automatically.

    Having had the luxury of shooting scatterguns since I was a young kid ( chasing birds out of the family vineyard and using a case of shells per day -500) I have been fortunate in being able to develop the skills to the point where I was competing at National and International level on clay birds. I have no doubt that the early grounding in allowing my brain to process all those shots as a kid, got me to that level.

    I cant remember the last time I tried to calculate any lead for a particular shot.........My style of shooting in the field now consists of holding the gun down ( off the shoulder) until something tells me to shoot. The gun rises to my shoulder and the moment it touches, the trigger goes off. Throughout the whole process I am not really concious of any of the actions like raising the gun, judging the speed of the swing, slapping the trigger or following through.........It all happens automatically. The few times I miss, I am not aware of any corrections to my aim, just that the gun swings further and there is a noise ( bang) and things fall out of the sky.

    Guys I hunt/cull with, often ask me 'How much lead are you giving them'? I cant answer them....................cos I dont actually know!!!!!!!

    Next time you are clay shooting, shoot the first few birds the way you normally shoot them, then before you call 'pull' on the next bird, say to yourself " I am going to calculate the amount of lead to use before I pull the trigger on the next one" and conciously try to do it and override your now natural instincts........

    I bet you a beer that you miss that next bird!!!!!!!!!!
    Still enjoying the trip of a lifetime and making the best of what I have.....
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 14,940 Senior Member
    Yep...As I have gotten older, I've become a much better wingshot...some has to do with it becoming more instinctual and some to do with not worrying so much about putting the bird in the bag...the pressure, even if it's self-imposed is gone...

    I point my shotgun at a spot on the birds head, maintain my swing and more often than not, they fall down...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • shotgunshooter3shotgunshooter3 Senior Member Posts: 5,386 Senior Member
    Reminds me of my progressions in IDPA and IPSC, especially once I started shooting and practicing a LOT with my 1911.

    In my early days of IDPA, I distinctly remember aiming each shot, squeezing the trigger, follow through, yada yada. These days, after I finish a stage, I'll be hard pressed to remember consciously aiming at all, yet most of my hits are in the A-zone (even though my times still are slow). Same thing could easily go for wing shooting.
    - I am a rifleman with a poorly chosen screen name. -
    "It's far easier to start out learning to be precise and then speeding up, than it is having never "mastered" the weapon, and trying to be precise." - Dan C
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 10,815 Senior Member
    Yep, this was the year I did less thinking on the clays range and more shooting, I ended up 4th in our little league of about 40-50 shooters. 4th -7th were all seperated by one bird so I have caught up with my peers. I still miss my first rooster flush (or 2) every year though, can't say "pull" for the real birds:jester:
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,607 Senior Member
    I used to be a terrible dove hunter, because I tried to shoot them like I shot ducks, and with the same gun - a Mod/Full choked OU with 28" barrel. Buying a proper gun with a shorter barrel and IC choke helped, and learning what my optimum range for that gun was, and shooting only at the birds that passed through that zone increased my percentages dramatically.

    And yes, the best shots I make are the snap shots. If I have too much time, I go into 'rifle mode' and over-think the shot, often resulting in a miss. But, since I have three shots, I will often get the bird on the second or third shot, which doesn't get 'thought out' so carefully.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,264 Senior Member
    So it looks like this is a normal progression. It's just so odd to me that we have this inate ability to pull down birds/clays (and even man tagets in the case of IPSC) with zero concious effort once we get enough exposure to varying angles and speeds.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • shotgunshooter3shotgunshooter3 Senior Member Posts: 5,386 Senior Member
    This thread has me pining to take out my O/U 20 gauge and go bust some clays... Too bad it's about 400 miles away at the parents' house...
    - I am a rifleman with a poorly chosen screen name. -
    "It's far easier to start out learning to be precise and then speeding up, than it is having never "mastered" the weapon, and trying to be precise." - Dan C
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,337 Senior Member
    One of the things that helped me improve my hit ratio on doves and other birds passing from side to side is a little phrase an older hunter taught me:

    As you swing, think "Butt- - - -Belly- - - -Beak- - - -Bang!" By catching up and swinging the gun ahead of the bird a little, the lead takes care of itself. On straight incoming birds, lift the muzzle until the bird disappears behind it, and shoot. On going-away shots, you're sort of on your own- - - - -those "easy" shots are usually the ones I miss!
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,936 Senior Member
    You have the lead issue correct.
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,264 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    One of the things that helped me improve my hit ratio on doves and other birds passing from side to side is a little phrase an older hunter taught me:

    As you swing, think "Butt- - - -Belly- - - -Beak- - - -Bang!" By catching up and swinging the gun ahead of the bird a little, the lead takes care of itself. On straight incoming birds, lift the muzzle until the bird disappears behind it, and shoot. On going-away shots, you're sort of on your own- - - - -those "easy" shots are usually the ones I miss!
    Jerry

    Teach, great point about covering an inbound bird with the bore. That will almost always take care of any lead issues, even for a beginner. So many folks aim center mass on a bird streaking directly at them, only to catch tail feathers or completely miss.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
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