PHEAS­ANTS:

We’re not talk­ing Devon­shire sky­scrapers here, more your av­er­age 30-yard bird. But what­ever its height – or your abil­ity – fol­low Steve’s ad­vice to en­sure you kill it cleanly

Sporting Shooter - - Contents - WITH STEVE RAWSTHORNE

Our step-by-step guide on how to shoot

Ihear so many shoot­ers these days de­mand­ing ul­tra-high pheas­ants and oth­ers say­ing: “I only shoot high birds”. Not sur­pris­ingly, there is now a plethora of shoots cater­ing to this de­mand, at a premium price of course. Some pro­duce star­tling re­sults, oth­ers less so.

An av­er­age de­cent pheas­ant will be around 25 to 30 yards high and for the av­er­age shooter with a nor­mal game load of 30 or 32g in a nor­mal game gun, be it over-and-un­der or side-by-side, this is about right. If you think I am putting it too low, re­mem­ber that an oak or beech tree will be around 60’ (or 20 yards) high and most Guns will hap­pily shoot birds com­ing over them, or even look on them as ‘high birds’ and en­joy the sport.

Given the abil­ity of the av­er­age shooter, this is about where they should be. It is not tar­get prac­tice – if we shoot at some­thing live, we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to kill it cleanly. Wounded or pricked birds do us no credit.

If you want to be good at some­thing, prac­tise. You do it for golf, ten­nis, darts, so why not shoot­ing? Think how much a day in the field costs – whether you pay for it or some­one else does, you need to make the best of it, so pre­pare prop­erly with a les­son or two well be­fore the sea­son and check your gun, ear­muff bat­ter­ies etc.

Only last week I saw a chap open his gun case to find his beloved was cov­ered in rust. It had been sit­ting in it since the last time he shot, months ago, when it had not been cleaned prop­erly. Any­way, if your gun needs ser­vic­ing, it’s prob­a­bly too late now! At this time of year the gun­smiths are al­ways in­cred­i­bly busy with peo­ple who left it too late, so it could eas­ily take three months to have it re­turned.

On the peg

If you have done your pre-sea­son prepa­ra­tion, you will have your tech­nique all sorted out. When

you ar­rive on your peg, work out where the front of your drive will be – i.e. where most of the birds that will come over you will ar­rive from. If that is twelve o’clock, and you are a right-han­der, set your feet up at one and three o’clock.

You are go­ing to stand up straight, not slumped, aren’t you? Feet not too far apart, four to six inches at the heels is plenty. If you look in some shoot­ing pho­tos you will see plenty of shoot­ers with their weight on the back foot, arched back and head off the gun. This will not be you, will it?

In an ideal world...

...you will be an ex­am­ple to all, stand­ing straight with the gun butt tucked up un­der your arm. The weight of the gun will be on the front hand, with the muz­zles po­si­tioned be­tween your eyes and the tops of the trees where you ex­pect the birds to come from. Your weight will be evenly dis­trib­uted, not heavy on ei­ther the front or back foot. As you see your pheas­ant, your front hand should push the muz­zles for­ward to lock onto the tail of the bird, not be­hind it, the gun mov­ing with the bird now, on the same line and at the same speed as the tar­get.

As the comb comes into your cheek, about where the teeth meet in­side your cheek, your shoul­der should push for­ward to meet the butt. Then, ap­ply the cor­rect lead and fol­low through, and watch as the bird crum­ples to the adu­la­tion and amaze­ment of your fel­low Guns. Hav­ing shot the first bird well out in front, stay fo­cused and you can then move on to take the sec­ond bird over your head, dropping it neatly at the feet of a picker-up 80 yards be­hind.

That’s how it should work, any­way.

Rights and wrongs

While it is not my per­sonal favourite, the ‘swing through’ method can work. To shoot it well, as you mount the gun onto the tar­get, you should be mov­ing with it, like our straight-driven pheas­ant, on its tail. When you com­plete the mount, you then just speed up a lit­tle, still un­der con­trol, and when you have passed the beak, fire and fol­low through.

To­day, too many Guns mount miles be­hind the bird with a ‘dead gun’ (i.e. not mov­ing with the tar­get at all) then slash wildly af­ter it. When your brain re­alises you have gone too far past the tar­get, the gun usu­ally stops dead, fol­lowed by a yank on the trig­ger and ev­ery now and then you will knock one or two down. It is not the most ef­fec­tive way to shoot. If you are go­ing to change your method, best to do it be­fore the sea­son, not dur­ing, and prac­tise. A lot!

The quar­ter­ing tar­get, where the bird flies be­tween you and the neigh­bour­ing Gun, re­ally suits ‘method’ as a tech­nique. Mount the gun onto the tar­get, push­ing for­ward with the front hand, lock­ing the muz­zles un­der its chin. A shot­gun is de­signed to put one third of its pat­tern on and above the point of ‘aim’, (we don’t aim with a shot­gun, do we?).

When the comb comes into the cheek and the shoul­der pushes into the stock, ap­ply lead, fire and fol­low through. You will need to turn onto the bird, other­wise you will roll off the line of the bird. If the bird is quar­ter­ing to your right, this means your right shoul­der will rise and your left drop, so that the line through your shoul­ders mir­rors the line of the bird. For the bird to the left, the left shoul­der rises and the right drops. In ei­ther of these moves, if you bend your rear leg, the ef­fect is to cause you to lean back, mean­ing your head will come up off the stock, you will miss above the tar­get and you’ll suf­fer ex­cess re­coil.

These birds look quite high, but they are well pre­sented

In so many shoot­ing pho­tos you will see a Gun stand­ing like this. You will never be great like this, as when the bird ap­pears you will be mov­ing the muz­zles in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to the tar­get, i.e. back­wards to go for­wards.

From the pre­vi­ous start­ing po­si­tion you end up like this: head off the stock, back arched, weight on the back foot... one of the ‘also rans’.

...so that you can take the sec­ond bird of the pair over­head. When you fin­ish the shot, there should be a straight line through the bar­rels, your shoul­der, right hip and leg to your foot.

Killing the first bird out in front...

Start­ing the shot, butt tucked up un­der the arm, fo­cused across the muz­zles on the tar­get.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.