By Chris Larsen
There are volumes written on proper decoy techniques & calling tactics for waterfowl hunters. But the reality is if you don’t shoot well the other factors won’t matter when it comes to filling your duck strap. The shotgun should be an extension of the shooter. Here are three simple tips for shooting better from the blind.
Pattern Your Gun
Patterning your gun is common practice among turkey hunters. Yet, most duck hunters have never patterned their gun. There are several good reasons for a duck hunter to pattern their gun. First off, patterning may be able to indicate problems with your barrel. If the gun is consistently firing off the point of aim, there is a problem. If the problem persists after changing chokes, a gun smith will have to take a look at your gun. It is also a good idea to see how different shell and choke combinations perform. What does your pattern look like with No. 2 shot fired through a modified choke? How about No. 4 shot? How much does it change when switching to an improved cylinder? How much does distance affect the pattern? These are all questions that can be answered by patterning. What is interesting is that most duck hunters just guess when it comes to these things. The only way to truly know is through a pattern test.
Find Your Dominant Eye
We recently did a video on determining your dominant eye. The video was aimed at bow hunters but the principle is the same for waterfowlers. If you shoot right handed but your left eye is dominant, you will never shoot optimally. Some people have learned to get away with it. However, if you often find yourself scratching your head and wondering why you miss, the dominant eye test is a good start. What do you do if you shoot right handed but are left eye dominant? In the video, we recommend changing which side you shoot from for bow hunters. That advice is typically not feasible for duck hunters. The problem is you are looking down the barrel with the wrong eye. Most hunters will simply close their dominant eye so that the eye looking down the barrel takes over. Another solution is to wear shooting glasses and cover the dominant side with opaque tape.
Keep Your Head Down
Most shooting slumps are caused by this common error. You will notice this with baseball players who strike out a lot too. They will always end their swing with their head up. These hitters lift their head in anticipation of the baseball leaving the stadium. The same thing occurs with duck hunters. We’re so eager to see a duck tumble from the sky we often lift our head off the stock. Some shooters will lift their head to avoid the kick of the gun. This takes the aiming eye off the comb of the gun and leads to misplaced shots. One of my favorite drills for learning to keep your head down is what I call reverse Russian roulette. When shooting at the trap range, have a friend load your gun. The friend should randomly load the gun with a spent shell. The empty shell will produce no recoil and will cushion the firing pin from damage(don’t ever dry fire a gun without a shell in the chamber). If your head jerks or lifts off the gun when firing the empty shell, you will know you’re lifting.
Wing shooting is an art form. These are technical tips to avoid common errors. Time on the range and in the blind is necessary to become a truly great shooter.