Adam Calvert is a free­lance shoot­ing in­struc­tor with a global rep­u­ta­tion, of­fer­ing be­spoke shoot­ing in­struc­tion in ad­di­tion to be­ing a Fab­bri am­bas­sador.

Shooting Gazette - - This Month -

QI strug­gle with shoot­ing birds that can be seen fly­ing over dis­tant wood­land. Can you give me any tips?

AThis is some­thing most of my clients strug­gle with, par­tic­u­larly if the birds are coming from an el­e­vated area. Be­fore de­scrib­ing how to suc­cess­fully shoot them, I’ll out­line a few things that are of­ten go­ing on with these birds.

The birds are of­ten glid­ing if they are coming from a long way off, ap­pear­ing to be mov­ing slowly, when in fact they are fly­ing are at, or are nearly at, top speed. These birds rarely flap their wings when glid­ing, so it is hard for us to fo­cus on them, as there is lit­tle move­ment for our eyes to lock onto, and the higher the birds are in the sky, the more dif­fi­cult it is for us to judge ex­actly what di­rec­tion they are go­ing to fly in.

A bird (pheas­ant or par­tridge) fly­ing from far away can be mas­sively af­fected by wind, of­ten ap­pear­ing to be head­ing to­wards peg No.5 but end­ing up cross­ing over into peg No.9, an out­come most Guns don’t take into con­sid­er­a­tion. I of­ten wit­ness Guns shoot­ing very late at these birds, try­ing to de­cide whether it is their bird or not, and it is not un­usual for three or four Guns to shoot at the same bird, all be­liev­ing it is theirs.

Now that we are start­ing to un­der­stand what the bird is do­ing, we can try and un­der­stand how to shoot it. Put sim­ply, tim­ing is ev­ery­thing. Once you have made up your mind that the bird is def­i­nitely yours, you need to de­cide when to shoot. As a bird is ap­proach­ing, let it com­mit to a ‘line’, and then very quickly pre­dict the flight path that the bird will travel along, as this will al­low you to pick a point to shoot at it, giv­ing you enough time to ad­just your foot­work.

A suc­cess­ful shot re­quires you to in­stinc­tively shoot when the bird is at the point you have cho­sen. A com­mon mis­take is to start the shoot­ing process once the bird is al­ready at the ‘kill point’, as the shot will be too late. An­other er­ror is to start the process too early, get­ting onto the bird be­fore it has reached your cho­sen point, only to hes­i­tate and check the shot as it ar­rives.

In sum­mary, let the bird com­mit to a 'line', have your foot­work set cor­rectly, get your tim­ing right and then shoot in­stinc­tively, re­sist­ing the urge to check the swing of the gun. Most im­por­tantly, en­joy it when the bird is shot cleanly and tum­bles to the floor, as this kind of bird is usu­ally be­ing watched by a whole line of ap­pre­cia­tive Guns.

Glid­ing birds are of­ten trav­el­ling faster than they ap­pear, so your tim­ing and foot­work need to be spot on.

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