Accuracy doesn’t happen by accident. Whether you’re on the firing line at a trap range or taking aim as a rooster pheasant flushes in the field, there are tricks to hitting the target.
To boost your odds of making every shot count, we offer the following five timely shotgun shooting tips. Keep in mind there’s no time like the present to put these shotgun shooting tips into practice, since August is National Shooting Sports Month, organized by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance allies at the National Shooting Sports Foundation. For more information and to locate a shooting facility in your area, CLICK HERE.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re gunning for upland game or clay pigeons, proper shotgun fit is crucial to consistent success. The reason is simple: If your gun doesn’t fit, it might not shoot where you’re looking.
A number of factors come into play, including length of pull, pitch and drop at both comb and heel. Good news is, simple tests can help you check fit, such as lining up the beads to form a figure-eight and making sure you’re not crawling up a short stock or over-extending your form due to a protracted length of pull. If you have any doubts about a shotgun’s fit, work with a reputable gunsmith for a solution.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Shooters who find their comfort zone hit more targets. One of the best ways to achieve stress-free shotgunning is to become intimately familiar with your firearm, so there’s no fumbling or hesitation at the moment of truth. Practice is key to making this happen, so don’t skimp on range time.
A comfortable shooting position also boosts success. Shooting coaches like the legendary Rick Marshall Jr. recommend finding your most comfortable position and then assuming it whenever possible, so you can swing the barrel with no restriction of movement.
Total concentration helps avoid misses fueled by distraction. When you begin to mount the gun, focus on seeing what you want to hit. Toward that end, Marshall suggests using a catch phrase to keep your mind on point.
The words are up to you. Since the goal is to help you focus, short and sweet phrases are best. For example, when trapshooting, Marshall tells himself to “see the target” right before he calls pull. “That way, when the target comes out, I see it and break it,” he says. “It’s as simple as that.”
A poor attitude can kill your accuracy faster than almost anything. “Shooting is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical,” Marshall tells students. ““Keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself, even after you miss a shot. I’ve seen too many shooters get discouraged after missing a target, then miss two or three more shots because the negative energy drags them down.”
In a similar vein, staying positive in the face of adversity such as inclement weather, strong winds or other challenges serves you better than complaining or worrying about them.
Practice makes perfect, but the goals of practice are more important than just shooting. The secret to productive practice is not shooting as much as you can, but practicing with the goal of improving what you do. Otherwise you just repeat the same mistakes over and over.
Next time you head for the range, identify an area of your shooting you’d like to improve, then figure out how to fix it.