Story at a Glance
Scott Robertson of Elm Fork Shooting Sports in Dallas lays out four steps to improve your shooting:
- Correct eye-dominance problems
- Keep your head on the stock
- Maintain balance while shooting
- Learn proper lead
3. Maintain balance while shooting
The third problem Robertson looks for is also correctable through help from a shooting instructor.
"Some shooters have a tendency to shift their weight from the front foot to the back foot while shooting," he says. "They start off fairly well balanced with more weight on their front foot. But when they stand up in the duck blind to shoot, they shift their weight backwards. This causes their swing to stop and the barrel to rise briefly, both of which can cause a miss.
"So shooters should be conscious of not shifting their weight when swinging and shooting," Robertson says. "If you start with your weight forward, keep it forward. Or if you start with your weight on your back foot, keep it there. Again, this is where a shooting coach can help you. You might not realize you're shifting your weight when you shoot, but an instructor can spot this immediately and help you correct the problem."
4. Learn proper lead
If shooters correct any eye-dominance problem, shoot a shotgun that fits reasonably well, keep their cheek on the stock and maintain proper balance, there's only one thing left that can cause a miss — improper lead. Many shooters don't apply enough lead and consistently shoot behind their targets. A few use too much lead and shoot ahead of their targets.
So how do shooters learn to use the right lead so their shot column and target simultaneously arrive at the same spot?
"You can’t shoot enough while hunting to master how much to lead your target," Robertson advises. "You have to learn proper lead on the shooting range. You must learn the right sight picture for various shot angles and speeds through good instruction and lots of practice."
Robertson says an instructor will tell students if they are shooting ahead of or behind the target, and make appropriate corrections. He will also help them learn proper leads on a variety of target angles, such as 90-degree crossing, 45-degree crossing, incoming/descending and others.
"After the lesson, the student must practice on his own before the next lesson," Robertson says. "I try to pace my instruction so a student can shoot 300 to 400 shells between lessons."
Robertson also stresses that shooters shouldn't avoid challenging shots.
"To develop your game, you have to tackle those problem areas instead of avoiding them," he says.