The Crossing Shot
Whether it's wood ducks zipping through flooded timber or scaup buzzing a diver spread, crossing birds are a waterfowler's bread and butter. The key to making this shot is getting the barrel in front of the bird before pulling the trigger. Knowing this, many waterfowlers try to measure lead, but such conscious calculations usually result in a miss.
Fortunately, the crosser is one of the easiest shots to practice on the sporting clays course. Shooting a crossing target is like merging with traffic. Instead of mounting the gun right away and chasing after the target with a fast swing, practice moving the barrel to merge with the target like a car entering traffic on a busy freeway. Increase the barrel speed slightly to pull ahead of the bird, and that should be all the lead you need.
"The key is connecting with the target," Matarese explains. "Time your gun mount with the speed of the bird so you merge with it as the mount is completed. On close, slow-moving targets, focus on the clay's front edge. Be sure, however, to get out in front of longer, faster targets. Once you've connected with the target, stretch your lead so that the gun is moving slightly faster than the speed of the bird, then pull the trigger."