How to shoot shot­guns faster and more ac­cu­rately



If you can’t shoot faster than that, you might as well not shoot at all.” That was the rather blunt di­rec­tive I re­ceived from a grouse-hunt­ing guide a few years back. And while it may not have been the most diplo­matic way to con­vey his mes­sage, the guy was ab­so­lutely right. I had done my due dili­gence be­fore the hunt; I had spent time on the range, and I could smash 20 or more skeet tar­gets every time out. But when it came to knock­ing down birds in real time, I was floun­der­ing. We don’t typ­i­cally as­so­ciate be­ing in a hurry with im­proved shot­gun tech­nique, but it is pos­si­ble to be­come faster and shoot more ac­cu­rately at the same time. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant late in the sea­son, when birds are wary and tend to flush more read­ily and fly hard. If you want to hit those birds, you have a need for speed, and these five tips will help you shoot faster with­out sac­ri­fic­ing ac­cu­racy.

Prac­tice Your Gun Mount in the Field 1

Be­fore the dogs fall on point for the first time, take a mo­ment to mount your (empty) shot­gun and track the bead along the tops of nearby trees. This ac­com­plishes two things: First, you’re re­in­forc­ing the tech­niques you have been prac­tic­ing all sum­mer and fall at the shoot­ing range. And sec­ond, you’re mak­ing sure that there’s noth­ing that will im­pede your gun mount. Shoot­ing in a heavy coat and gloves with an e-col­lar re­mote strapped to your chest can lead to hang-ups, so be sure the re­coil pad has a clear path to your shoul­der.

Start the Swing as the Gun Comes Up 2

A proper swing orig­i­nates at the hips. But you should ac­tu­ally start your swing be­fore the gun is mounted, sav­ing time and pro­mot­ing a smooth, clean fol­low-through. To prac­tice this, work on mak­ing your torso track the tar­get. Your lower body should re­main in po­si­tion with your feet planted, while your shoul­ders re­main square with the bird. As the gun

A Brit­tany with a nose full of sharp­tail scent goes on point in the up­lands of Wy­oming, while the hunter gets ready for an ex­plo­sive rise. mount is com­pleted, you’re al­ready in po­si­tion and you’ll nat­u­rally fol­low through af­ter the shot.

Carry Your Gun Prop­erly 3 Many hunters miss shots be­cause they lose track of their shot­gun. If you are car­ry­ing your gun propped on your shoul­der with your free hand dan­gling by your side, then there’s lit­tle chance that you’ll be able to mount it quickly and ef­fi­ciently. In­stead, keep the re­coil pad di­rectly below your shoul­der and po­si­tion your free hand on the forend so that it can in­stantly guide the muz­zle to­ward a ris­ing bird. Car­ry­ing in this man­ner is safer, too—the bar­rel is pointed up­ward, and you’ll have bet­ter con­trol of the gun if you fall. Loosen Up 4

Tight mus­cles make for a herky-jerky swing. And if you clamp down on your shot­gun with vise-like author­ity, your track to the tar­get will look like a ra­dio wave. The se­cret is to hold the gun firmly but not too hard. If your grip would break an egg or you can see white in the knuck­les or joints of your hands, you’re ap­ply­ing too much force. Eas­ing up will make you faster and more pre­cise.

Don’t Ride the Tar­get 5

This is more of a psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lem than a tech­nique is­sue, but fol­low­ing the tar­get af­ter the mount makes it im­pos­si­ble to take a quick shot. I don’t judge; I’m as guilty of this as any­one, and it takes men­tal prepa­ra­tion to break the trig­ger the mo­ment the gun finds the pocket of your shoul­der. Our nat­u­ral in­stinct is to check our bear­ings—even while shoot­ing at live birds— but that’s a mis­take. Don’t mis­in­ter­pret this to mean that you should slap-shoot and rush the trig­ger, though. In­stead, you need to time muz­zle po­si­tion and trig­ger break so that there is no hes­i­ta­tion when you are on tar­get.

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