The ed­i­tor takes a long, hard look at his weak­est po­si­tion

Air Gunner - - Con­tents -

Pos­ture and prac­tice are the buzz words for those awk­ward shots, says Phill Price

Iwas put un­der pres­sure re­cently on one of my per­mis­sions, to re­move jack­daws as they tried to nest in a cot­tage chim­ney. I ca­su­ally ac­cepted the chal­lenge, fully ex­pect­ing to be able to find a good spot over­look­ing the roof from where I could shoot. I would then ar­range a sta­ble sup­port, such as a fence, a tree or shoot­ing sticks to max­imise my ac­cu­racy. The thing was, I just couldn’t find any­where to hide. Next, I thought I’d watch where the birds were go­ing to get build­ing ma­te­ri­als and try to in­ter­cept them there.


After a cou­ple of long, frus­trat­ing at­tempts to get them in range, I was hav­ing no luck, and the ‘ I thought you were an ex­pert’ kind of com­ments were get­ting un­com­fort­able. Back in the woods, a jack­daw set­tled onto a branch 90° to my right, 25 yards away, and I knew it was now or never to make a telling shot. Twist­ing my torso un­com­fort­ably, I put the sight onto the bird’s head, snatched at the trig­ger … and missed! There fol­lowed many rude, un­print­able words as the bird flew away un­harmed. As I write they’re still up there and be­cause they now have young, my landowner wants them left - for now.


I very rarely ever shoot off hand and I think that’s what let me down when I needed to shoot straight. Be­cause I don’t shoot well like this, I avoid it like the plague, which surely makes me worse. There’s an old shoot­ing say­ing which is ‘prac­tise what you’re worst at’ and I felt that it was what I needed to do.

It was sim­ple enough. I took a nice quiet ri­fle, set up pa­per tar­gets in my back gar­den and went about re­mem­ber­ing what to do. First, was to get my feet nat­u­rally po­si­tioned to re­duce strain in my hold. Next, was to raise the ri­fle smoothly to the aim whilst bring­ing my fin­ger to the trig­ger. Fi­nally, breathe in and then slowly ex­hale, low­er­ing the sights slowly onto the bull’s eye. The trig­ger breaks with­out con­scious thought and I main­tain fol­low-through un­til I see the hole ap­pear in the pa­per.

Qual­ity over quan­tity

I be­lieve that short ses­sions, in which you do every­thing as well as you can, are more valu­able than long ses­sions when you get sloppy with your tech­nique. Has my off-hand shoot­ing im­proved? I be­lieve so, and it does at least feel less un­com­fort­able when I need to shoot this way. I hope that next time I’m un­der pres­sure to make a shot count, I’ll be ready for it!

“Twist­ing my torso un­com­fort­ably, I put the sight onto the bird’s head, snatched at the trig­ger … and missed!”

Above: Cor­rect pos­ture and tech­nique are more im­por­tant than the num­ber of shots you fire

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