WING SHOOT­ING AND A SHOTGUNNING JOUR­NEY

IT’S ALL MIND OVER MAT­TER.

Gun World - - Artemis Armed -

Ien­joy hunt­ing deer and coy­ote; but hon­estly, sit­ting silently still—in cold weather and of­ten alone—takes some of the fun out of the hunt.

A few years ago, when the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence wing shoot­ing on a chukar hunt in a pre­serve came up, I jumped at the chance. This was a hunt that in­cluded walk­ing with other hunters and al­low­ing me to talk along the way … per­fect! Plus, a pre­serve hunt guar­an­teed see­ing game. Heck, I might even be quick enough on the gun to have the op­por­tu­nity to get some shots.

Now, let me ex­plain some­thing about my­self. When­ever I try a new ad­ven­ture, I study it to death. I want to make sure I know what I’m get­ting my­self into, and—es­pe­cially be­cause firearms are in­volved—I want to be safe.

RULES AND REGS

Be­fore even con­sid­er­ing head­ing into the field, I made sure I felt com­fort­able run­ning my gun. Sure, when I com­pete in 3-gun, I’m very con­fi­dent with my shot­gun. How­ever, this would be dif­fer­ent. I didn’t want to fum­ble while walk­ing through a field with other hunters and make any­one ner­vous. Also, so as not to ap­pear stupid, I went on­line and re­viewed the safety/eti­quette part of the hunt, which is some­thing not every­one dis­cusses: 1. Hunter or­ange and eye pro­tec­tion are manda­tory.

2. Main­tain a straight line, shoul­der to shoul­der, while walk­ing through the field with the other hunters. This might mean ad­just­ing your pace along the way.

3. Know where your muz­zle is pointed at all times. In the ex­cite­ment of a bird flush­ing, be care­ful not to shoot over or across an­other hunter.

4. Visu­al­ize the zone where you can safely shoot, and stay within it when a bird presents it­self.

5. Don’t give com­mands to the dogs. Leave that to their train­ers. 6. Be mind­ful of the dogs’ lo­ca­tion(s) be­fore tak­ing a shot. No shots should be be­low the hori­zon line. Make sure you can see blue sky un­der the bar­rel of your shot­gun.

7. While walk­ing, guns are on “safe;” hinge-ac­tion shot­guns are kept ac­tion-open.

I had the great­est ex­pe­ri­ence on my first bird hunt. Only one of the chukars we flushed man­aged to get away, and I man­aged to knock down my fair share of the birds.

As we walked through the fields, we even talked and gig­gled. Most im­por­tantly though, I en­joyed hunt­ing with dogs and wanted to bird hunt again. How­ever, I knew I had a lot to work on. This would be the per­fect op­por­tu­nity (or ex­cuse) for me to take the time to im­prove my shotgunning skills.

IM­PROV­ING THOSE SKILLS

In pursuit of my goal of learn­ing to shoot bet­ter, the first thing on my list was join­ing the lo­cal out­doors­man club. I needed some­where to shoot, right? Luck­ily, ev­ery Tues­day evening from May through Au­gust, the ladies of the club have the op­por­tu­nity to shoot sport­ing clays un­der the watch­ful eye of an in­struc­tor. This sounded ideal. Not only would I en­joy the ca­ma­raderie, I would also re­ceive in­struc­tion along the way.

Wow, did I need in­struc­tion when it came to sport­ing clays! Be­ing more of a pis­tol and ri­fle shooter, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what I was sup­posed to see when I took the shot. Sure, some days I would get lucky, but other days, I felt my­self aim­ing and just couldn’t hit any­thing. I needed an­other re­source for learn­ing the sport.

The next part of my shotgunning jour­ney in­volved delv­ing into a book. I hoped that by hav­ing pic­tures and words in front of me, per­haps I could have that, “Ah-ha!” mo­ment. I just needed some­thing to click in my brain.

THIS WAS A HUNT THAT IN­CLUDED WALK­ING WITH OTHER HUNTERS AND AL­LOW­ING ME TO TALK ALONG THE WAY … PER­FECT!

By pure chance, I found the book, Maine-Ly Wing Shoot­ing, by Brad Var­ney, and I highly rec­om­mend it. He writes in a way I find easy to un­der­stand and re­late to. It’s al­most as if Mr. Var­ney is sit­ting in my liv­ing room and we’re chat­ting over a cup of cof­fee.

Yes, I learned quite a bit from his book. The fol­low­ing two ex­cerpts helped me un­der­stand the im­por­tance of keep­ing my eyes on the tar­get and not the sight:

• “The hands and trig­ger obey the eyes of the good wing shot.” • “Lock­ing your eyes on the tar­get gives the brain the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion to di­rect the mus­cles to move the gun in a pre­cise, sub­con­scious man­ner.” Well, as they say, “Eas­ier said than done.” No mat­ter how much I prac­ticed, I still had is­sues hit­ting those darned or­ange disks.

How­ever, my fi­nal hunt of the sea­son (at the Kansas Gover­nor’s Ring­neck Clas­sic) proved those lit­tle or­ange disks don’t al­ways “trans­late” to the field: Al­though a few of the wild pheas­ants might have got­ten away to live an­other day, let’s just say my freezer is now full.

Now … back to sport­ing clays and Ladies’ Night at the hunt club. So far this year, I’ve no­ticed quite a bit of im­prove­ment. I found a shot­gun that fits bet­ter, and I’ve learned how to re­ally fo­cus on the clay. When I miss, I find out that I’m just shoot­ing at the clay. It doesn’t quite work that way.

Re­cently, af­ter I missed a cross­ing clay sev­eral times, the in­struc­tor said, “Miss in front of the bird (clay).” Guess what? I hit that clay ev­ery time af­ter that. It’s all mind over mat­ter.

Yes, I’ll ad­mit, I’ve fallen in love with wing shoot­ing and am even begin­ning to en­joy sport­ing clays. GW

… SO AS NOT TO AP­PEAR STUPID, I WENT ON­LINE AND RE­VIEWED THE SAFETY/ETI­QUETTE PART OF THE HUNT, WHICH IS SOME­THING NOT EVERY­ONE DIS­CUSSES.

Walk­ing the fields on a bird hunt in the sun makes for a per­fect day.

Shoot­ing sport­ingclays is a great way to get in some prac­tice time when bird hunt­ing is notin sea­son.I

Learn­ing how to shoot sport­ing clays should help build con­fi­dence for wing shoot­ing.

I

A few pheas­ants from a lo­cal pre­serve hunt

Shoot­ing sport­ing clays and wing shoot­ing can be­come a lifestyle.

The au­thor’s fa­vorite part of wing shoot­ing is hunt­ing over dogs. They’re al­ways soex­cited to work.

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