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
There's no substitute for game birds
Besides instruction and practice on the sporting clays range, Robertson urges hunters to gain as much experience shooting game birds as possible. Doves offer a true shooting challenge, and dove hunting serves as a great tune-up for waterfowl seasons to follow. Whether shooting doves, waterfowl or other birds, hunters have an obligation to develop proficiency before shooting at live birds.
"Clay targets won't flare and dart," he says. "They won’t change their flight paths quickly if you miss with the first shot. Live birds will do these things, and they will help shooters learn to adapt to changing speeds and flight paths. Actual hunting is the best practice a shooter can get."
Do all you can
The program outlined above is the best-case scenario for waterfowlers who want to shoot better next season. Obviously, not everyone will have the time, finances or access to a pro to undertake such a program. But Robertson says hunters should try to follow it as closely as possible. Rather than hiring a shooting coach, they can purchase instructional videos and can have a friend who is a good shooter watch to see if they're keeping their cheek on the stock, maintaining balance and holding proper lead. If a sporting clays range isn't available, they can shoot skeet or even hand-thrown clays.
"Being a better shooter isn't going to happen just because you want it to," Robertson concludes. "You have to make the commitment to work at it. The full course I've described is the best option, but if you can't do it all, do what you can. There's no substitute for good coaching and practice. That's how you get better at any sport, and shooting is certainly no exception."