Summer is hurtling towards us like an 18 wheeler at 5 o’clock Friday. The birds of autumn will follow quickly after that. What, you say you didn’t kill all the birds you shot at last year? Even missed some easy shots (like the author)? Despite the temptation to mow the yard and paint the fence, some things don’t get better without a real and concerted effort. The thing with wing shooting is that an occasional morning duck hunt isn’t enough to really get tuned in. The time for practicing is NOW and the best way to practice is to burn up several cartons of ammunition.
I am calling it the thousand round tune up because that’s a great place to start. I know trap and skeet shooters that scoff at shooting a thousand rounds during a summer. For the more average shot, a thousand rounds over the course of three or four months might sound like a lot. It isn’t. Four boxes of shells once a week is simply a commitment to getting into the groove. If that still seems like a lot of shooting, you’re thinking like a rifleman! Think like a bow hunter! Once a week isn’t enough for bow shooting and once a summer is definitely not enough for a wing shooter.
Youth day was my wake up call. After the kids finished, the instructor handed me the Nova 20 gauge. I smiled and stepped up to the shooting station. Granted it wasn’t my gun and I mostly shoot a 12 gauge, but this is easy right? The first 3 birds shattered like there might be an efficient shooter pulling the trigger. The next four sailed into the grass like most of the kids’ birds! What? I’m not even sure why, but I had the same sinking feeling I did when a nice bull-sprig nearly escaped with a good laugh before my brother put the hammer down.
The best thing about shotgun practice is it’s always a fun afternoon whether busting clays from a hand thrower or making a couple rounds at the skeet, trap or sporting clay course. I suggest you do all of the above. Variety is the spice of wing shooting. Sporting clays is perhaps the best hunting sport, although the groove shooters from trap and quick skeet guys are pure heck in the duck blind. Whatever you do, it’s important to keep doing it with the frequency and quality to improve. I know that summer will find me busting some clay and trending towards the 1000 round tune up.