How to Become an Expert Shotgunner

Be a Skilled Wingshooter

Consistently bringing down a moving target--whether it is a clay bird or a real one--takes these fundamentals.

Skilled wingshooters consistently crush aerial targets by applying fundamentals in a smooth and fluid manner developed through repetition. To do this, practice is important, but until the proper foundational techniques are learned, practice is of little use. Indeed, practicing the wrong techniques is worse than no practice at all.

These fundamentals not only include using the proper mount position for the gun, but also hand and foot position, natural point of aim, right and left swing arc, and the swing style appropriate for the target (sustained lead, fast swing-through, or pull-away). In addition, you need to ask yourself these questions: Does your gun fit your body, and is it looking at the same spot you are when shouldered? Or, are your eyes looking where you think they are?

It’s not all that common, but 6 to 10 percent of the population is cross-dominant, which means they are right-handed and have a dominant left eye, or vice versa. Until this situation is discovered and addressed, hitting an aerial target can be more luck than skill.

A competent instructor can address all of these questions and get a shooter started on the path to becoming an expert. And there are a lot of places to get that training.

Go Back to School A large number of shotgun schools can be found across the United States. The curriculum at some may lean more towards field shooting or specific clay target games, but the shotgun handling skills will transfer. There are even a few schools that offer tactical training courses in personal protection. All have websites that will explain what they teach. Attending may require travel and can be expensive. Another, more affordable option, is to look closer to home. Virtually every clay target range will have someone who provides instruction. It may be a staff member or just one of the upper-level club shooters who earns a little “shell money” on the side. Just because they’re local doesn’t mean they’re bottom drawer. Some are state champions. In fact, at one central Florida range some years back, one of the instructors was a former member of the U.S. International Shooting Team, a three-time National Ladies Sporting Clays Champion, and the captain of the National Sporting Clays Association Ladies All-America Team. Her hourly rates were about the same as a couple rounds of skeet. You could call that a bargain.