The Decoying Shot
For many, this is the ultimate moment in duck hunting. The mallards are committed and coming straight into the decoys with wings cupped and feet down. If you're patient, they will fly well within shooting range. But if you don't have a lot of experience in shooting rapidly descending targets, bagging decoying ducks can be a challenge.
"A common mistake many shooters make on incoming targets is they get the gun up to their face too early and ride the bird too long," says All-America sporting clays shooter and instructor Anthony Matarese Jr. "You can start your mount as soon as you see the bird coming, but you should do it really, really slow. The gunstock shouldn't touch your cheek until the bird is near the point where you plan to shoot it. If your gun is already mounted when the bird is only halfway there, you're mounting way too fast."
Matarese recommends practicing this shot on a sporting clays station that offers low incoming targets, either straight on or from quartering angles. As you mount the gun, move the barrel to intercept the target, and don't worry about lead.
"If the target is close enough, you can shoot right at its leading edge," Matarese explains. "You don't need to perceive any space between the muzzle and the target. Keep the barrel moving to match the target's speed for a half second, then pull the trigger."
Regarding where you should intercept the target, Matarese says there is only one rule of thumb for choosing a "break point" that works every time. "Your break point is always where you see the target best, wherever it looks biggest and slowest," he says. "Distance, terrain, obstructions, and trajectory can all influence where this point is, but only your eyes can see it."