Whilst driven pheasant shooting day it is very tempting to ‘poke’ shots at birds by mounting the gun to the shoulder and pointing and firing quickly. This awful technique will always lead to birds being missed behind.
The reasons for this are simply because:
- No thought has gone into what you are doing.
- The adrenaline is flowing and the desperation within you to hit something overcomes what you have learnt previously.
- Your barrels of the gun will stop ‘on’ the target as you fire ‘at it’, the lead shot will head directly for the bird and he will fly away oblivious to your efforts with the lead pattern safely passing behind him.
So then; the mount and swing must remain smooth as the trigger is pulled to prevent ‘snatching’ at it, and only a smooth mount will ever achieve this.
Why not spend 3 minutes in the garage or basement everyday for a week, just thinking that through, and with a proven unloaded gun
Getting it right starts in the days before. Try to get out and shoot a few clays before especially high clays which mimic a driven pheasant in flight. At the beginning of the day before the first drive starts and you begin shooting you must think about exactly what it is you are going to do.
practice getting the motor skills or muscle memory right. Try doing this at half speed first.
As soon as you reach your peg on the day think about where the birds will come from, driven pheasant shooting requires that you to know whereabouts in the sky you will ‘pick up’ the bird visually. Realize that the driven pheasant will initially seem blurred or at least partially hidden at first and where it will first clear the trees or appear from over the hillside.
Mentally think about where you will see the pheasant as ‘clearly defined’. Think about where you will put your feet for a bird from the left; from the right and those that may go right overhead. Think about your stance and how you will swing. Make a note of where you think the ‘kill zone’ is. Replay the visual pick up; footwork, stance, mount and swing all the way through to the bird being shot in your mind over and over.
If you think all this is a bit much effort, remember that it takes a lot longer to explain a simple action rather than to demonstrate it. Why not spend 3 minutes in the garage or basement everyday for a week, just thinking that through, and with a proven unloaded gun, practice getting the motor skills or muscle memory right. Try doing this at half speed first.
Imagine the bird coming over the trees, move your feet, mount the gun slowly, try and get all those important points in. Where are my feet going? Slowly mount the gun keeping your trigger fingers’ elbow pointing down not out. What is my stance like? Visualize and pick up the target swinging as you go and fire smoothly in that three second tempo.
Practice makes perfect, and as there really is no substitution for this, go and bash the clay ground for a while, but make sure what you are practicing is correct. Particularly use the stands under the tower. These will get you into the right motion for pheasant shooting.
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