how to lead birds with shotgun

Generally speaking, if a scoped rifle is correctly sighted in, you can pick it up and shoot it fairly well, but shotguns are a different story. A shotgun that is poorly fitted will not aim where you want it to. A lot of foreign hunters will tell you that they rent a rifle from the outfitter when they go to hunt big game abroad. However, they claim that the advantages of bringing their own shotgun outweigh the inconveniences of bringing guns when they travel to Wingshoot. The reason? Fit.

The distance from the line of sight, or rib, down to the stock’s comb is known as the drop at comb (DAC), and it comes next. When you mount the gun, if there is too much DAC, your eye will be too low, which will cause your shot charge to fly below the target; if there is not enough DAC, your charge will be above the target.

In contrast, “spot-shooting” consists of just aiming your shotgun at a fixed point ahead of the bird and pressing the trigger. This is the fastest of these three main methods, but it requires a great deal of experience to judge the bird’s speed and distance accurately. The truth is that none of the three approaches is fundamentally superior to the others, and many skilled shotgunners employ all three depending on the circumstances. Nevertheless, the majority of elite wingshooters favor the sustained lead, which is the approach that shooting schools typically teach.

When shooting, maintain eye contact with the bird and avoid focusing on your barrel or bead. Remember, this an exercise in pointing, not aiming. Pull the trigger when you believe you have the right lead, then focus on following through by keeping swinging. Even when their lead was perfect, one of the main reasons hunters shoot behind targets is a lack of follow-through. Inadequate followthrough can also lead to a variety of other issues when you begin modifying your form following a series of misses.

“Cast,” a lateral bend in the stock intended to center your dominant eye over the rib or barrel, is another element that affects fit. Shooters who are right-handed must “cast off,” or bend to the right, while left-handed shooters must “cast on,” or bend to the left. European shotguns frequently feature significant cast, whereas the majority of American-designed shotguns are made with little to no cast. A right-handed shooter’s pattern is typically centered to the left of where they are looking when there is no cast.

#3 Not Picking Out a Single Bird/Flock Shooting

This is an easy mistake to make. Birds are locked up coming in hard. It can be quite overwhelming to see and hear hundreds or even thousands of birds in a flock. As you begin ferociously scanning the birds to identify the right one to shoot, your heart begins to race and you experience an adrenaline rush. When you hear the phrase “cut em,” you arrive prepared to rock and roll without stopping to choose a bird. As you raise the gun, you find yourself aiming for the center of the flock and firing three shots. The dust settles just as quickly as it began, and you discover that your shots are just cutting through thin air.

My suggestion is to spend some time selecting just one bird. I promise you have more time than you think. My father’s gun jammed on the first shot, and I saw him eject the bullet, load another, pull up on the bird, and drop it stone-cold at a distance of 35 to 40 yards.

Flock shooting occurs more often than we would like to acknowledge, for both novice and experienced shooters. (Photo By: Foster Bartholow).

#7 Not Enough Practice

Make sure to get out and practice during the summer to ensure proper mechanics during the hunting season. Too frequently, I witness friends store their shotguns for the summer only to take them out again in the fall, needing to relearn their swing technique and muscle memory. Their shooting improves as the hunting season goes on, and by the time they master it once more, it’s time to hang up the shotgun at the end of the season—a vicious cycle, to put it mildly. Go outside, practice with friends, and set each other a challenge. To clear the cobwebs, try going dove hunting or going early season goose or teal shooting. Advertisement.

Putting in the time to practice your shooting in the off-season will boost your confidence and enable you to take more kills when hunting season rolls around. (Photo By: Foster Bartholow).

The last bit of advice I have for you is to always try and improve on your weaknesses. Figure out your problem shots and learn how to better shoot a shotgun on the trap range. Just remember every top waterfowl hunter you know was once an amateur trying to learn the ropes. Advertisement