Shooting Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Discussion in 'The Duck Hunters Forum' started by MJ, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. MJ

    MJ Administrator Moderator

    Oct 28, 2002
    Northern NV
    I'm at best an average shooter. When I shoot ducks (or any bird for that matter) I typically have bruises the next day where I shouldn't. Those are the shots that I miss or maybe just break a wing. Or worse, cripple a bird. Some days are better than others. Like those days where I kill 6 birds with let's say 8 shells and then shoot 8 shells to kill my 7th bird.

    Yesterday I was shooting clays with my 8 year old grandson. He has a 20ga youth autoloader. This was his first time shooting it and it's still a bit too much for him to shoulder that gun properly. As I was "teaching him" how to stand, shoulder and shoot, it dawned on me that maybe I'm not the best shooting coach for him. After all, I'm admittedly not the best shooter.

    In spite of that, he broke the first clay bird he pulled the trigger on. The smile on his face was priceless! He shot about 15 more rounds and was pretty much 50% on his hits. He didn't care, he was just happy he was shooting.

    I found it difficult to relay the proper form and the finer points of shooting. Putting it into words that an 8 year old can understand was a challenge for me. Maybe a shooting coach is a good idea for both of us.

    I looked up a few videos on the subject and picked out this one to post here. While it's easy for me to understand what this guy is saying, the execution may not be that easy to pull off. Too many bad habits ingrained it my shooting style. Either way I found it educational. And I'm hoping that after practicing these tips I'll have less bruises where I shouldn't have the bruises that I have today.

  2. mpkowal

    mpkowal Elite Refuge Member

    Oct 20, 2015
    I am deadly on ducks(after 54 years I should b)but horrible on clays.2 most important things ,make sure the gun fits you.Also think of it as an extension of your arms and paint your target making sure you follow through.Think about most sports,golf ,baseball,follow through is key.
  3. creedsduckman

    creedsduckman Elite Refuge Member

    Jan 16, 2005
    There are occasional days when I impress myself, especially on a really good dove hunt. However I would say I'm an average shooter myself. I don't get to hunt or shoot much anymore so I feel like I'm not as good a shot as I was 10-15 years ago when I would have considered myself above average. I know my worst problem is my own head. I think that's why dove shoots are so good because I can just go on autopilot and shoot. The more I have to think the worse I am. I'd love to be able to take some lessons from a good instructor for awhile. That and shoot sporting clays a couple times a month.
  4. Squaller

    Squaller Elite Refuge Member

    Jan 5, 2003
    Fresno, California
    Went to the clay range with my father, sister, and brother-in-law yesterday...

    My father is good instructor on a clay range, and I am experienced enough to see what other people are doing wrong on basic targets (even if I cannot figure out what I am doing wrong)...

    We got to the station with the chandelle (the target that takes a giant curl)... And after seeing the "crazy targets" my sister turned and asked "what are the chances that I will shoot any dove doing that???"

    Clay target shooting is extremely helpful in learning to focus on, and figure out the leading edge of a target. It helps to perpetuate a smooth gun-mount (which I feel is drastically under emphasized), teaches foot position, helps in maintaining focus for the second target, and it allows one to work on the shots that cause grief...

    Most days on a clay range I shoot between 75 (on a bad day at a medium course) and 93 (on a good day at a soft course). Shooting pigeons if I am 50%, I am having a good day. Shooting ducks, I probably average about 50%. Once you learn to shoot clays, I feel they are considerably easier to hit than are feathers. Cause even if you miss, you can figure out what you did wrong for the second pair.
  5. agtex42

    agtex42 Refuge Member

    Sep 14, 2016
    I thought the video was really quite good! Earlier this summer I was playing around with the idea of buying a new duck gun "just because", throughout that process I decided instead to seek out some professional instruction in lieu of a new toy (and at a fraction of the cost). One of the things that experience left me with were three "thoughts" I take with me before I call for a clay/bird:

    1. Focus - the target MUST have 100% of my focus before I stand up to shoot or call for the clay, this allows me to see the line, decide where I want to shoot the bird, and pick out the exact spot on that target I want my focus to be on when I pull the trigger.

    2. Movement - my gun mount was good, not great. I'm making a concentrated effort to practice my mount before the season to lock in my consistency. Also, during the mount I don't move the gun any faster than the bird, gun speed = target speed prior to, during, and after the shot is taken.

    3. Faith - There is no doubt in my mind that the shot is "right" when I pull the trigger, no checking lead, riding the target, etc. Trust the shot and take it when it feels right with 100% confidence that the result will be a dead bird.

    Hopefully this helps, I'd also highly recommend seeking out an instructor that uses the Coordinated Shooting Method for beginner/intermediate shooters. The principles are easy to understand and the application of Focus, Movement, and Faith have dramatically improved my confidence and consistency on the clays course, time will tell with the birds!!

    Another thing I'd add is give the kiddos high percentage shot opportunities until they're crushing them and ready to progress to dealing with more complicated angles/leads. Station 7 high house (incoming) bird is fairly easy to hit and offers plenty of time for a new shooter to see the target, project the line and mount/shoot.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  6. Gander

    Gander Elite Refuge Member

    May 11, 2000
    Columbia, SC
    I compete in the NSCA at a fairly high level, with close to 100k registered targets in my shoot records. My average these past couple years hovers around 91% at the tournaments I compete in according to my shoot records. I took lessons early in my years of shooting sporting clays. These days I provide shooting instruction.

    I can say without a doubt, getting lessons will help you improve. All the basics at sporting clays transfers to field shooting. The biggest misconception I see is people coming to me for a lesson thinking that's the end game. They think they should go out and shoot like a champion in one lesson. An instructor can set you in the right direction with some tools in your tool belt, but you need to get out there and practice what you have been taught. It's no different than any other activity, you only get better by practicing. and practicing what you have been taught to work on.

    I'm always surprised by the number of people that don't even know how to hold a shotgun. That's usually just the tip of the iceberg. I think of lot of the problems I see are people approaching shotguns like they shoot a rifle.

    My advice is to book a lesson with a reputable instructor and practice with a purpose until the things you were taught become habit.
  7. wprebeck

    wprebeck Senior Refuge Member

    Feb 4, 2019
    I'm a firearms instructor for my department and one of our better shots with a pistol. Take me out of there and out me in a real competition environment, and I'm average at best.

    Shotgun keeps messing with me - I teach tactical shotgun operations with the department, which is way different than wing shooting. Often, I find myself looking for center mass on the duck, lol.
  8. Montauker

    Montauker Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 1, 2005
    Virginia/Montauk NY
    I hunt with a SWAT sniper and a military firearms expert. I consistently shoot better than both when it comes to ducks and geese.
    I imagine I would be embarrassed by them on a 3 gun course or any fixed type target shooting.

    My clay shooting is above average, but I don't really have a desire to be really really good at it. I also shoot clays to be better at wing shooter not to be good at clay shooting.

    I recall a fun story from a friend who guided Tom Knapp on a diver hunt. Apparently Tom went through a box before he hit a canvasback.
    duck BILL, Fowler267 and widgeon like this.
  9. widgeon

    widgeon Elite Refuge Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    I do pretty good unless I have time to think about it.
  10. hartfish

    hartfish Elite Refuge Member

    Feb 10, 2005
    Too many layers of clothes is usually what causes me to mount the gun in the wrong location. I end up with bruises on the ball of my shoulder or lower. The stock just gets hung up in the motion, even when I try to be deliberate. I usually try to push the butt a little farther when I'm bundled up, but I don't always do that.
    duck BILL and MJ like this.

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