Story at a Glance
Some tips to master these five tough shots:
- The Crossing Shot
- The High Overhead
- The Flushing Shot
- The Dropping-in Shot
- Layout Shooting
2. The High Overhead
The high overhead is another classic waterfowling shot that routinely causes problems for many hunters. On days when ducks and geese show interest in a spread or calling but lack the conviction to land in the blocks, taking overhead shots may be a hunter's best bet to fill his bag.
Whether birds are incoming or outgoing, Woolley believes that shooters often miss overhead shots because they are moving the wrong parts of their bodies. "You want to keep your head still in relation to the inside of your shoulder and the top of your chest," he instructs. "The upper half of your body should move as one unit. But the motion to make the shot comes from your chest down." In other words, Woolley encourages shooters to take a high overhead bird by bending at the hips and knees rather than tilting back their head.
For Goodpaster, shooting high incoming birds requires a hunter to suppress a bad habit and rely on shotgunning fundamentals. "One thing that makes this shot hard is a shooter's natural tendency to want to see the target and the gun at the same time," he says. "But you always have to lead a bird in the direction in which it is moving. On a close overhead incomer, a hunter can rely on gun speed to take care of lead. So he needs to just pull the trigger as he quickly moves the gun through the bird and covers the head. But on a true, high incoming overhead, most hunters will have to block out the whole bird to hit it. I think it's one of the toughest shots in waterfowling."
Cherry gives similar advice about reading high overheads. "Most of the time, high incoming birds are not coming directly at you but are quartering to your right or left," he says. "So I start my gun at a bird's feet, swing through its body, pass its head, and pull the trigger. You often won't find the correct line unless your swing comes all the way through a bird's body." Cherry, the 2006 U.S. Open and National FITASC sporting clays champion, also provides a tip on shooting overhead birds on second or third shots. "When a bird peels out after the initial report of the gun, the shooter needs to recognize that the bird has ceased to go forward and is burning all its energy to go upward," he says.