Shooting Adjustments – Learning to Listen

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We just wrapped up a quail hunt in Georgia on a beautiful plantation. I’ve always loved wing-shooting, but I love it even more when I’m shooting well. Getting some pointers along the way is crucial if you want to improve, but I’ve also learned that actually listening to what that person is saying is the key. And I mean really listening.

I tend to lean back prior to pulling the trigger. I have a natural posture that pulls my shoulders back, which is great for everyday life. It’s not so great for shooting sports. Learning to lean forward onto my leading leg has been an ongoing challenge for me for a few years. Am I getting better about it? Yes. Do I have to be reminded from time to time? Absolutely.

In the field when the birds are flushing well and the dogs keep finding coveys, I try to shoot by instinct. I bring the gun up to my shoulder, I aim, and I pull the trigger. The voice in my head is constantly telling me to lead the bird just a little, not to close my left eye, and to follow through. Oh, and also to not stand up completely straight. Lean in to that forward leg and put your weight onto it, allowing your hips to pivot and move with the birds in any direction they might go.

This past week during the closing days of quail season in Georgia I shot well. Some of the birds I took were my best shots ever. But I’m a work in progress, and I enjoy the process of working for it. I don’t take professional shooting lessons, but I do listen to what the people around me are saying. If they say that I lead a bird too far forward, then on my next shot I make that adjustment. If they say that I should have followed up with a second shot, then I focus on that next time around. But I think that the ultimate correction and advice comes from watching yourself on film. Playing back footage from the day in the field can be the game changer that we all need. We see our true response time, our true reaction to the trigger, and what our follow through actually looks like. Even if you aren’t filming for a television show, I always recommend that you film your hunts in some way. Not only does it preserve the memories and create a legacy from your day in the field, but it just might help you become a better shooter.

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