Upland bird hunting has always been my favorite, maybe it is the romance of the Normal Rockwell like backdrops, the open fields, the crisp autumn air, the well trained and disciplined dog, the silence of nature only broken by the flutter of a bevy of quail or grouse suddenly flushed from cover, or a majestic pheasant in flight? Maybe. However, on the other side of the pond, it is as much a pageant as a sport and the English leave nothing to chance.
Just look at this site for the “proper” gear, Equestrian Co, and read its explanation of the attire. One can almost feel the breezes sweeping across the fields as you read its content. In England birding is as much an event as a way to put food in your freezer and in fact there are many competitive bird hunts. So this second contribution from Cormac Reynolds to The Prepper Journal is especially welcome and contains a lot of useful information.
In order to succeed at these you not only need the proper attire, but you need to learn a few tricks so that they can help you develop a deep love for this shooting sport.
Watch the Bird
You should keep your sights on the bird; this is perhaps the best advice you will ever receive from the seasoned shooters. You should target the head or the beak and maintain that focus throughout your aim as you pull the trigger.
Being able to visualize something is an acquired skill that you will learn with time. Maintaining a locked focus on a moving object is hard. In most case, we will revert to the barrel because of that natural urge to line everything up before taking the shot. You should have your mind and purpose geared towards one object, the bird.
Move the Gun
It is natural to want to stop the gun. Losing sight of the bird as stated in the first point will not yield good results. You need to lift back the gun and move it to line up with your target and lift your head in place so that you have your target within sight.
Therefore, you should keep your head down with your weight on your front foot as you keep your eyes on the price. It will help you keep the rifle moving as you take your shot. Take your time so that you follow through the shot; do not take your head off the gun or finish the shot too early.
Timing is Paramount
With it comes to shooting game, you will either be a slasher or a poker. But both are not such an ideal trait. What you need to do is to adopt a rhythmic approach to taking every shot. Take your time and count to three before pulling the trigger. It will teach you to have smooth control and take the shot calmly.
Keep Your Feet Moving
Your feet are not nailed to the ground or set in concrete when you take your stand. Keeping them stiff will only create tension throughout your body causing you to run of swing. The best approach is to take a step into the bird’s line of movement, move a few inches. You will first move your front foot and use the rear one as a pivot to rotate as you aim. The key is to take small steps.
Practice Your Gun Mount
As you try to master your swing, you also should do the same with your gun mount. If you are having some difficulty finding the placement, consider trying the Churchill technique. You will pick your gun and place the butt under your armpit which pushes your rifle forward, but you will have to use your front hand to guide the process. That hand will serve as the lifting lever and should not be positioned too far forward; this will also help you have a smooth swing as your line your gun to take a shot.
Consider Eye Dominance and Gun Fit
Visiting the shooting range as often as you can so that you can hone your skills. For instance, you should go there to test your eye dominance. While at it, drop by an optician to have your eyes test and ensure you focus in sharp. It is natural for the eye dominance issue to creep in when you hit middle age. Ugh!
Therefore, you may have to change the gun fit once you hit your 40’s or 50’s. Moreover, you will need to use both eyes so that you can have a better view of your target. Use binoculars because they will help you have a better judgment of the range, speed, and angle. However, shooting with both eyes open is somewhat unrealistic for some shooters.
Your Chokes and Cartridges Should Inspire Confidence
Always use a cartridge that you know will not let you down. For instance, you will need a 38 – 32 gram cartridge if you are using a 12-bore. For some, they do not mind having a lot of shot in a small bore if it proves to be an effective way of bagging a price with every shooting event they attend. The 28 gram will work well with a 20-bore, but it can also work with a 28-bore, the same goes for the 25 gram.
When it comes to the chokes, many games guns have their first barrel over choked. Ideally, you will need to consider a piece with a very open first barrel; an improved cylinder denotes this. If you are thinking of taking down high birds, then you may want to change to the three-quarters.
Think About Line and Lead
If you take your shot but miss hitting the bird, then you could be missing with your lead. An error in this caused by misreading the bird or you have a poor gun handling technique that causes you to stop moving it when taking the shot. Well, you may mist a bird in close range, and this should not come as a surprise since many tend to miss birds that are in front of them. The reason for this is having errors of line because they do not line up their shot with the bird, which is something often attributed to over-extending the front hand.
Always keep in mind that barrels are canted relative to the line of the target as you swing the rifle.
Some situation may see you lose the line, but you can deliberately twist the barrel so that it stays in line; this is a technique that I teach most novice shooter. With the side-by-side barrels, the muzzle is mostly parallel to the line of the bird as they are perpendicular or over-and-under perpendicular to the bird.
For the right-handers, they make the mistake of arching the back too much when facing a driven bird that’s slightly right of the center, and they will push back their weight as they pull their face from the stock. As a result, the shot goes left because the barrel will not be relative to the line of the bird. To avoid this if you are a right-hander, you should gently twist the riffle anti-clockwise into the face as you pull the trigger.
Focus on the Moment
To perfect your shooting, you should not have your mind on your gun, the cartridges or the choke. Never lose your sights on the birds and ensure you observe utmost safety when taking every shot. People watching you may cause you to be hesitant causing the weight to come back or to lift your head; thus you lose focus on the bird. Such a habit is hard to break for people that tend to have a rationalized approach to shooting, and they ignore the relevance of having perfect hand-to-eye coordination.
You should be committed to shooting once you aim, nothing else should invade your mind and grab your attention. Keep your eyes on your target and move the gun accordingly to have it line to the bird.
Again, you should ensure that you are safe. That is the secret of becoming a great marksman. A golden rule to never forget is you never shoot low birds. Also, never have your rifle point at something you do not intend to kill and ensure it is unloaded when you put it down. Also, it should be unobstructed when you pick it up or pass it to a colleague. Obstructions will be the cause of your gun backfiring and blowing up on you.
You should ensure that you see the light through the barrels before you insert a cartridge. For the multi-choke riffle, ensure the chokes are fixed firmly in place and only use the gun if you are confident about this.