Are you tired of not hitting anything drive after drive? Are you stressed and frustrated when you ought to be enjoying each drive pheasant shooting?. We have put together these few tips to assist you in planning and executing your day. feel free to add to them but we think they will be a good start to a great season ahead.
Nothing will ruin your day out, or moreover a season than an accident whilst pheasant shooting it is most important for everyone concerned. Not only will stop the shoot for the day for everyone, but it may involve a hospital visit or worse and an investigation.
Discipline, keeping control of yourself and engaging your brain will make you a better shot and will also make you a much safer shot because you will be thinking clearly at all times.
Only take a break barreled shotgun with you. Never point a gun at something you do not wish to kill.
Always check that a gun is unloaded and unobstructed when you pick it up, or pass it to someone else Make sure you can see daylight through the barrels before inserting the cartridges. Mud or snow will easily burst a barrel. Make sure multi-chokes are tightly screwed in.
Guns must only be loaded when the whistle or horn blows. As soon as you hear the whistle when the drive is over, unload the gun and keep the barrels broken..
Don’t hold your gun towards the horizon; the beaters are standing in that direction. Also be aware that you must not shoot at any birds that fly low to the ground make sure there is plenty of sky all around the bird, also do not be tempted to shoot at any bird that decides to fly parallel to the line of guns either.
Your job on the day is to prevent accidents. Unsafe or dangerous behavior and those acting inappropriately will no doubt be told to leave. Safety is paramount.
2) Focus on the target only
Good visual contact with the bird is essential, focus on the bird’s features rather than on its general form. This will enable you to make sure of your target.
It is difficult to keep focused or to lock-on to on a moving object, practice it as often as you can, try and see detail in the individual bird.
Do not bring your focus back to the barrels or rib, the target is all that matters. If your mount was right everything is in the right place at the gun end all you have nothing to worry about in getting the shot off.
Do not ‘poke’ at at the bird, this ‘point and shoot’ method is a guaranteed no no. It will fail you regularly; likewise slashing wildly at birds is doomed to disapointment. This is one of our best pheasant shooting tips which many would do well to note.
Some shooters come on to the bird and then flick the gun forward of the bird to achieve the acceleration of the barrels required to get in front. This is I guess their version of the pull away method and just like slashing and poking it won’t give consistent results.
The tempo of the shot ought to be; one, two, three, SHOOT.
Notice that if you shoot with a good, three beat timing, you will be in smooth control of every shot. Poor timing will ruin your accuracy; and a bad technique will make you feel bad in front of your fellow shooters. Poor timing also makes your shooting look awful even if the technique is correct.
4) Move your gun and keep it moving
Many shooters stop the gun mid-swing; some do it habitually as they pull the trigger. You will never hit anything if you do this. If you fail to keep your eyes on the bird the most likely results are; stopping the gun, bringing your weight back off your front foot and lifting your head all have negative consequences and are amongst the most likely causes of you missing your bird.
Keep most of your weight on the front foot and your eyes on the bird this will make it easier to keep the gun moving. Make sure you follow through on every shot. This follow through of the swing makes sure you won’t finish the shot ‘too early’ follow through every time. Don’t take your head off the gun prematurely either, it can be tempting to see the results of your shot, overcome this urge.
5) Move your feet
As soon as you pick up the bird anticipate where you will shoot it and step into the line of the bird. If your feet are in the wrong place the swing will be uncomfortable and not smooth. Just like in some other sports such as tennis the footwork is half the job done, you will never be really good unless you are balanced and flowing, this the reason for good footwork in your mount and swing.
Small steps are the key to success. You don’t need to exaggerate what you are doing but it would be good to be balanced. You need a firm and stable platform to track and shoot your pheasant.
6) Mount the gun smoothly and quickly
It is always a good idea to practice mounting an empty gun prior to your shooting day. Imagine the birds flying towards you step into the shot and mount your gun to the shoulder keeping your eyes on your quarry. Get into the tempo of the shot. Few people bother to practice this and consequently do not have the muscle memory to perform the manouver quickly and correctly in the field.
7) Don’t just think about how much lead, consider the flight path or line of the birds’ flight
Tracking the birds’ flight is not difficult if you use the right technique. Canting the gun over by not holding it upright is one major error, however most problem are caused by holding the stock too far forward which stretches your hold of the gun and loses you control of the muzzles direction and where it is pointing.
If your forward hand is too far up the stock this prevents your ability to swing the gun onto the flight path of the bird. Initially place the muzzles just under your view of the bird in flight and keep them pointing at the quarry throughout the mount process. This means that you can see your target constantly and gets into the flow and movement of the swing, the shot and the follow through come naturally afterwards.
Keep the barrels of side by side guns parallel with the earth and over and under shotguns one barrel directly over the other. If you can track the flight path correctly in the swing you are nearly there in terms of hitting your target.
8) Gun fit and eye dominance
You must know which eye is your master eye. Eye dominance can shift and so if as you get older your skill diminishes you may want to check this. Your eyesight should also be checked regularly for your visual acuity by a professional.
It is really important to check and see if your gun fits well, never shoot with a gun that is which is uncomfortable. If the gun does not fit you will rarely be able to shoot well. What is the point of going off to enjoy your day only to discover that you had no chance in the first place of shooting well. Your gun HAS to fit you properly. Never borrow a gun from anyone unless it is temporarily made to fit properly.
9) What choke and cartridges should you use?
One of those things that can be argued over and over is what choke size to use. Years ago there was little choice in this and the old timers just used what choke their gun came with, usually a version of open or improved cylinder or equivalent. These gentlemen shot huge numbers of birds in a day without all the fuss of changing chokes.
Today we are not on the clay ground competing for a trophy, so there is no need to go for a choke tighter than this. After all why make life more difficult?
As far as cartridges or shells are concerned we do not need 3” shells or high powered loads. After a day in the field these loads make mincemeat of your shoulder. Go for something a bit more sedate and take home a larger bag.
10) Relax, enjoy and make the most of it
One of the main reasons that shooters under-perform is stress. The whole point of the sport is to relax in the country with friends and acquaintances. Get yourself and your mind away from work. If things start to go wrong for you or you are having a difficult day, take a few moments out and get back into it.
The shooting season is only so long and you ought to make the very most of your sport whether it is the shooting itself or the atmosphere that surrounds it. We hope these tips help you to plan ahead and have a great season this year.