While adhering to the “practice what you preach” mentality, a few other PF colleagues, friends, and I recently went and shot sporting clays. Although clays were dusted, cracked and demolished more often than not, it was clear we all had some brushing up to do. Luckily for us we happened to be under the direct guidance of Jeff Hughes, a professional sporting clays instructor and owner of Wild Wings of Oneka, a Minnesota hunt club and sporting clays venue.
Jeff was able to dissect all of our quirks and issues quite easily but he left us all with one universal tip that would lead to more direct hits this fall: buy a flashlight.
When it comes to breaking clays or shooting birds you don’t want to notice or see the gun, you simply want to clearly assess the target, mount the gun and squeeze the trigger in one fluid motion. For many, this sort of muscle memory comes with years of hunting and shooting, but little did we know this could also be built up in the confines of your own home.
- Purchase a pocket flashlight that has a grip small enough to fit in your shotgun barrel (the bulb area should be large enough to remain outside the gun)
- Make sure your shotgun is unloaded and place the flashlight into the barrel with the light turned on
- Stand roughly 5-10 feet away from a corner of a low ceiling in your house
- Hold the shotgun in the semi-ready position, as if you were waiting for a clay to be released
- While holding the gun in the ready position, point the barrel so that the light of the flashlight covers the corner of the ceiling (imagine this as your gun’s shot pattern)
- Keeping your eyes on the light in the corner, mount the shotgun while keeping the light shining in the same position (only focus on the light!)
- Repeat this movement until the light beam remains steady and your mount is fluid and controlled
- Once you have this down, mount the gun while keeping the light fixed on the corner, then immediately run the light left-to-right along the crease where the wall meets the ceiling (to mimic a moving target)
- Repeat this several times, then do the same motion in the opposite direction
It’s as simple as that. Take a few moments every week this fall to practice this and your instinctual shooting abilities will be light-years ahead of where they were.
- Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever’s Marketing Specialist