I feel like I lose sight of the bird – what can I do to practice before next season?

Question: I struggled this season with dead straight overhead driven birds. I am a right-handed shooter, shooting out of my right shoulder, with a left master eye – so I shoot with my left eye shut. When trying to shoot this particular type of bird it feels as though I lose sight of the bird as I go to pull the trigger. What can I do to practice before next season?

Howard Kirby replies: This is a common problem for people who shoot with one eye shut, because as you pull through the bird the barrels of the gun obscure your vision of it, causing you to stop the gun. This problem is caused by your need to physically ‘see’ the lead, but we would teach you to ‘feel’ the lead instead.

When shooting a shotgun, the barrels need to keep moving throughout the shot. If at any point you stall to evaluate the gap/lead it will almost certainly cause the gun to stop and you will miss behind. I would recommend you get down to your local shooting school and practise on a mid-height driven clay.

Ensure you are well prepared and that your gun hold/pick-up point is correct. Call for the bird and as soon as you see the clay, mount the barrels onto it. Move with the clay for split second, focusing hard on it, and then accelerate through the bird, ensuring you stay on line. As you accelerate away from the target it will disappear behind your barrels. Keep the gun moving and squeeze the trigger. It’s essential that your gun is still moving as you take the shot as it’s this ‘swing’ that creates the lead.

As soon as this technique is mastered it’s only a matter of pulling through more or less to accommodate the height and speed of any bird, and this can be gained through experience. The learning process will be accelerated by employing a really good shotgun coach to stand behind you.

Remember the Lains motto: “I feel the need; the need for lead”.