Shooting at flying targets has been a popular sport in America for over 200 years.
Every year, over 15 million people enjoy using a shotgun for hunting, competing, and in clay target events and recreational shooting. The shotgun is a very versatile firearm, designed to shoot moving targets at close range.
It’s used to hunt a wide variety of game, from small birds, such as quail or grouse, to larger game, such as turkey, deer, or bear. In fact, the shotgun is used by more hunters than any other kind of firearm.
Competitive clay target shooting games, such as skeet, trap, and sporting clays, are popular all over the world. For example, the largest clay target competition in America is the Grand American Trap Shooting Tournament.
It has more participants than any other outdoor sporting event except marathon races.
Families and friends can have an enjoyable afternoon of shooting simply by taking their shotguns, some shells, a case of clay targets, and a thrower to the field.
Many people get their first taste of shotgun shooting in this setting. No matter what the setting, the main reason people enjoy shotgun shooting is because it’s fun.
It’s a sport you can enjoy for the rest of your life.
This article is designed to show a simple and effective technique for learning how to shoot a shotgun especially for beginner hunter.
It is in no way a substitute for taking lessons from an experienced and qualified coach. When you learn to drive a car, you first take driver’s ed.
It’s just as important to get top-quality training when you’re learning shooting skills. By building on the simple to follow principles taught in this article, you’ll have fun while developing the skills needed to enjoy this lifelong sport.
The secret of shotgun shooting is really no secret at all. You simply use a skill you’ve developed quite naturally.
The ability to point
You can use this skill to learn how to shoot a shotgun. Try this. Look at an object. Now quickly point your finger at it. Notice how your eye guides your hand right to the object. Shooting a shotgun is just that simple.
You look at the target and point the shotgun at it. The shotgun becomes an extension of your arm. It’s important that you point, not aim, the shotgun. To ensure that you’re pointing where you’re looking, you must determine your dominant or master eye.
Find Your Dominant Eye
To find your dominant eye, have your coach stand 10 feet in front of you. He’ll place a finger under his right eye. Now close both of your eyes. Raise your right arm until it’s parallel to the ground, with your index finger pointing toward the coach.
Then open both your eyes and point your finger at the coach’s open eye. Next close both of your eyes again. Raise your left arm until it’s parallel to the ground, with your index finger pointing toward the coach.
Then open both your eyes and point your finger at the coach’s open eye. In both cases, your coach will be able to see your finger lined up with your dominant eye.
If you have determined that your left eye is dominant, have your coach help you make the proper adjustments.
Because you shoot the gun from the shoulder on the same side as your dominant eye, you’ll need to learn to point with a finger on the opposite hand.
As with most other sports, the way you stand guides the way you move. Your stance should be comfortable and relaxed. If the right eye is your dominant eye, then the toe of your left foot should point toward the direction you want to shoot.
Nestle the ball of your right foot into the instep of the left foot. Then step out and slightly back about one half step with the right foot. The toe of your right foot should be pointing approximately at 2 o’clock.
Make sure your heels are close enough together to allow your hips to rotate freely. Your feet should be no more than shoulder width apart. You will now learn the proper stance and are ready to practice pointing at moving targets.
Practicing Pointing at Moving Target
Have someone throw clay pigeons for you from a portable clay pigeon thrower. There are important safety rules for all target throwers. Be sure to read and follow all of the manufacturer’s rules.
It’s essential that the trap operator is knowledgeable about the trap’s function and knows the safety rules.
Be sure the clay pigeons are thrown in the target area. Get in the shotgun stance to the left and slightly in front of the trap. As the target appears, you should concentrate on locating the target and focusing on the top of the target’s dome.
Your goal is to maintain concentration on the target. Look at several targets. The next step is to point at the target.
If you’re a right eye dominant shooter, point with your left hand and if you are a left eye dominant shooter, point with your right hand.
When the target is launched, point your index finger at the target and follow it until it strikes the ground. Remember to focus on the target, not your finger.
Your finger will be out of focus. The purpose of this exercise is to make you aware of your natural pointing reflex.
Do this several times. Repeat this exercise, but now when your finger touches the target, immediately say, bang.
This exercise will help you locate and concentrate on the target as fast as possible.
Make sure you follow the target with your finger to the ground after you say bang. Do this several times. Once you’re pointing smoothly at the target, you’re ready to learn to mount the shotgun.
Learn How to Mount the Shotgun
Always remember to control where the muzzle is pointing. And never point the firearm at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
The first step is to determine where the butt is placed. Raise the elbow on the side of your dominant eye, forming a chicken wing.
Use your other hand to feel for the pocket between your collar bone and shoulder. This is where the coach will place the shotgun butt. Now fold your arms across your chest.
Your coach will place the shotgun butt into the pocket with the barrel pointed into the air.
The butt plate should be in full contact with your shoulder. Turn your head toward the stock and slightly forward. The stock will touch your cheek where your teeth come together. This will center your eye to look straight down the barrel.
Take the grip of a shotgun with your right hand, keeping your finger off the trigger. Place your other hand on the forearm, with the index finger pointing toward the muzzle. It’s important to keep your head erect and eyes level.
Now bend slightly forward from the waist, and shift your weight to your left leg. This is the time to check the length of the stock.
Check the Length of the Stock
When the stock is too long, the butt will not be in the shoulder pocket but will tend to be on the point of the shoulder or your bicep.
You’ll tend to lean backwards and shoot low and to the left if you’re a right-handed shooter.
The shotgun stock is the correct length when you’re able to place two to three fingers between your nose and your shooting hand.
Your coach will help you find a shotgun you can comfortably shoot. Once you’ve determined your stock length, you can concentrate on proper eye-barrel alignment.
With both eyes open, your dominant eye should be directly above and in the center of the rib.
Dry Point Exercise
The next step is to dry point the shotgun. In this exercise, you’ll use the shotgun as an extension of your pointing finger. After mounting the shotgun, the coach says, the gun is loaded and ready to fire.
Please take the safety off. When the target is released, focus on it, point your shotgun at it, and follow it to the ground.
Repeat this exercise several times until you and your coach feel comfortable with your smooth performance.
Remember, always focus on the target, not the barrel.
Now you’re ready to dry fire. The coach will check the gun, insert a fired hull or a dummy round, and pass the gun to you saying, now the gun is loaded.
When the clay target is released, immediately move the gun to the target. And the instant the barrel is aligned with the target, press the trigger.
Be sure to follow the target to the ground. This is called follow-through.
Remember that good shotgun shooting is pointing, not aiming. All of your powers of concentration should be on the target, not the gun.
Repeat the dry firing exercise many times. This is the most important step in learning to shoot a shotgun.
It gives you the chance to practice the shotgun shooting skills without recoil or noise, and the coach the opportunity to positively reinforce good performance and to correct improper techniques.
Dry Fire With Live Ammunition
Once the coach is satisfied that you can perform these skills, he’ll introduce live ammunition.
This will be done without your knowledge so you can focus all your concentration on the target. This technique has been proven to be a successful way to teach new shooters how to break clay targets.
You’ll want to practice this step again and again until you consistently break the targets.
Now that you know the basics of good range shotgun shooting, your coach will allow you to mount the shot gun yourself. Remember, follow all the safety rules each time you hold a gun.
Once you have fully mastered this basic technique, you’ll want to learn some shotgun shoulder mounting techniques.
Shotgun Shoulder Mounting Techniques
This is especially important in hunting and international shotgun competition.
The game shooting or hunting technique starts with a stance you have already learned. Place the butt of the shotgun in your armpit and raise the muzzle to just below eye level.
As soon as you see the target, extend your pointing hand and the barrel toward the target while bringing the stock to your face.
Roll your shoulder forward to the butt. And press the trigger as soon as the shoulder touches the butt.
Practice is the most important key to successful shooting. The more you practice using the right techniques, the more accurate you will be. You can even practice at home.
Practice and Practice
There is no substitute for practice, and practice, and more practice. Remember, the key to good shot gun shooting is pointing.
By developing your natural instinct of pointing, you can be even a better shot gun shooter. Shotgun shooting isn’t difficult if you follow the instructions in this article and listen to your coach.
To be sure that you understand all of the instructions, read this article more than once. And remember, there’s no substitute for practice. Whether it’s competitive target games, recreational shooting, or hunting, success makes shooting fun.