TECH­NIQUE: Get all the right moves for shoot­ing pheasant

Don’t for­get the five ‘P’s: proper prepa­ra­tion pre­vents poor per­for­mance – par­tic­u­larly on pheasants! Here, Steve Raw­sthorne helps you lay the foun­da­tions for a suc­cess­ful sea­son

Sporting Shooter - - Contents - WITH STEVE RAW­STHORNE

If you have not al­ready had your gun fit­ted, had the al­ter­ations done to it or had that ser­vice com­pleted that you said you would at the end of last sea­son, it is prob­a­bly too late! At this time of year, most gun re­pair ser­vices are chock-a-block with guns that own­ers meant to get re­paired and then for­got, and wait­ing times shoot up to two or three months. There are, how­ever, sev­eral things you can do to en­sure you have a bet­ter, more ef­fec­tive sea­son, and the good news is they will cost you ab­so­lutely noth­ing.

Home work

Im­prov­ing your gun mount is the sin­gle most ef­fec­tive thing you can do to in­crease your per­for­mance in the field. If ev­ery shooter spent 10 min­utes, three times a week prac­tis­ing their gun mount in the weeks be­fore the sea­son, we would see a dra­matic rise in the stan­dard of game shoot­ing. Done prop­erly, it costs noth­ing and builds both mus­cle mem­ory and mus­cle, but it does need to be done cor­rectly or it just beds in bad prac­tice. If your gun does not fit per­fectly, it will also help you to adapt to it.

Take your un­loaded gun into a spare room; it may be worth clos­ing the cur­tains so as not to alarm the neigh­bours. On the long wall, half­way along the line where the wall meets the ceil­ing, stick a piece of Blu Tack or sim­i­lar – this will be your ‘tar­get’.

As a right-han­der, adopt a po­si­tion fac­ing the mark, as far back from it as pos­si­ble. Your right foot should be about par­al­lel to the wall and your left at 45°ish; if the mark is 12 o’clock, your left foot would be at one o’clock and your right at three. Stand up straight and tuck the gun butt un­der your armpit so that the stock is caged be­tween your up­per chest and the in­side of your up­per arm.

With your front hand, bring the muz­zles up so that you have a line from your eyes across the muz­zles to the line on which you have the Blu Tack, not above, not be­low. Now turn your body all the way back to the left-hand end of the line, into the cor­ner.

We are go­ing to com­mence the mount at a quar­ter of nor­mal speed. It is vi­tal to do it right, so fol­low the se­quence be­low ab­so­lutely. Lock your eyes onto the line at the top of the wall. Start the mount by push­ing for­ward with the front hand, al­low­ing the back hand to fol­low it. As you do so, you will also be­gin to turn along the line of your tar­get, keep­ing the muz­zles right on it. It is not mount in one move­ment and turn in an­other, the two are one com­plete se­quence.

Keep your head up, push­ing for­ward and along the line. As you do so, the comb of the stock will come into con­tact with the cheek, ap­prox­i­mately where the teeth meet in­side it. Now you push the shoul­der for­ward into the butt. As you pass the mark, ‘fire’ and fol­low through to the far end cor­ner of the line.

‘Im­prov­ing your gun mount is the sin­gle most ef­fec­tive thing you can do to in­crease your per­for­mance in the field’

When I say ‘fire’, you can have the safety catch on and pull the trig­ger on an empty gun or use snap caps – never pull the trig­ger on an empty cham­ber as you can dam­age the strik­ers. Never pull the gun back into the shoul­der – push the shoul­der to the gun butt.

Hav­ing fol­lowed through to the end of the line, dis­mount the gun and do the same thing, this time from right to left. Do­ing it at a quar­ter speed al­lows you to en­sure you get it right. Do six to 10 rep­e­ti­tions, then have a break for a cou­ple of min­utes and do it again. It is not about do­ing as many ‘mounts’ as you can, it is about do­ing it right and build­ing sound tech­nique. A left-handed shooter would do ex­actly the same but set their feet up at nine o’clock and 11 o’clock.

Mir­ror, mir­ror

An­other method, best used in con­junc­tion with the one above rather than on its own, is to stand in front of a mir­ror, foot po­si­tion as above with the mir­ror at 12 o’clock. Start with the gun butt up un­der the arm again, look­ing across the muz­zle to your eyes. Keep look­ing at your right eye in the mir­ror dur­ing the mount, push for­ward with the front hand into the gun, con­tact the cheek, shoul­der for­ward to meet wood.

Hold the po­si­tion of the fin­ished mount. If you have done it cor­rectly, your right eye should be sit­ting nicely on top of the rib look­ing back at it­self in the mir­ror. If not, some­thing is wrong with your gun mount, your eye dom­i­nance or both.

When you can achieve the mount per­fectly at a quar­ter speed, ev­ery time, not just now and again, you can in­crease the speed to half, then even­tu­ally nearer to full speed. The fo­cus is on get­ting it right, not just throw­ing the gun up, I can­not stress that too much.

If you want to be a bet­ter shot, in­vest time in your shoot­ing. Whether you shoot clays, game or ver­min, you will ben­e­fit from a bet­ter gun mount.

The next two things that can im­prove your shoot­ing are foot­work and turn­ing, as well as how to keep your gun up on the line of a bird and not ‘roll off’ the line. In next month’s is­sue, we will look at how you can prac­tise this at home, again cost-free, to bet­ter your kills to car­tridges ra­tio. Do four 10-minute ses­sions a week, two on gun mount and two on foot­work and turn­ing and I guar­an­tee you will shoot bet­ter.

Have a great sea­son!

The com­pleted mount, with my head up, shoul­der locked into the butt, and fo­cused on the mark (an exit sign in the mid­dle of the room)

The start po­si­tion. I am us­ing the line along the top of the win­dows as the line of my bird

The fol­low through. Al­ways fin­ish the mount by fol­low­ing through to the end of the wall

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