Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
Different Kind of Shootingby Bill Hanus
Sooner or later you're going to be hornswoggled into leaving the comfort and familiarity of your customary bird shooting venue and be invited to do some different kind of shooting.
Where none of your carefully-earned life skills will apply.
As certain as sunrise tomorrow, someone is going to come along and tell you that your pals are going out shooting and why not grab your shotgun and join in the fun. Why not indeed? Shooting with buddies is a zero sum game. There are winners and losers; yet to be designated, that's true; but chances are you already have a suspicion of which class for which you'll be nominated. Loser, right?
It is not necessary to suffer the pangs of humiliation just because you are thrown a change of pace pitch. Making the shift from pointed birds, requires an attitude adjustment. These guys are almost always going away targets, which you customarily match up with your personal; sometimes catch-as-catch-can -- instinctive shooting method perfected over a lifetime. Coupled with good dog work and multiplied by years of experience, you can point to a freezer full of good eating as proof of your accomplishments. But there is an assault being planned on your self-confidence, so you must pack this dazzler along with your shotgun. You are about to become the living legend proving that you can to teach an old dog new tricks!
Watch out for that change-up pitch! Switching successfully from quail to doves, grouse to teal, or pheasant to shooting sports requires a physical and well as a mental adjustment.
Don't let doubts assail you about which gun to take, what chokes to use, which size shot is right or what boots to wear? That's probably less than 10% of the game. So what is the big end of the stick? The 90% sure-thing -- the shooting-and-connecting certainty -- and the anti-humiliation medication of all time?
Peter Hathaway Capstick, the dean of African white hunters -- when white hunters were a socially acceptable occupational choice -- revealed the secret this way:
Never, in more than thirty-five years of shotgunning in all its forms, have I ever so completely decided on a concept so important and rewarding to the gunner than that of using your left side to impart body impetus and subsequent follow-through to the "swing," that smooth tracking motion vital to the idea of putting a pattern of shot on a target.
This is how you make the transition from going-away targets to long or crossing targets. You execute this "secret" by fully extending you left arm until the elbow is locked. If you are shooting a semi-automatic, your fingers should be on the take-down knob. Fingers over the end of the forearm on an over/under. On a side-by-side, cradling the barrels with your fingers curling up around the barrels as far out as you can reach. Wear a glove.
Shooting a longer left arm offers many benefits. Note what happens when you shoot a long left arm: your torso -- not just your arms -- is fully involved in the swing. Your arms are up and away from your sides, making it easy to swing to the left or right.
Look what else happens: when you extend your left arm, your cheek is automatically positioned on the stock. As you know, lifting your head and playing peeky, peeky with the birds is the second most common reason for missing. So the long left arm helps keep your head down on the stock. The most common reason for missing crossing shots is shooting behind the bird. The long left arm is what guides this missile in a long bird, change-of-pace venue.
So now when you are invited out to play... you needn't play a defensive game, or rely upon the customary excuses. You'll find that using this long left arm technique will add a new measure of confidence to your game. If you are shooting clay targets the long left arm will enable you to not only (1) break birds easier; but (2) break the largest piece with a second shot. There's usually little opportunity for gamesmanship in the field and it's not likely your dog is going to be overly impressed anyhow. But with clays, you don't have to break them. Just trying marks you as a contender. No more "Mr. Nice Guy."
Obviously, shooting the longer left arm could lead to an extraordinary personality change. Self-confidence in your ability to meet any shooting challenge will blossom like the flowers of Spring. Your successful transition from being the pigeon on long birds to becoming a hawk-with-a shotgun is now complete.
Thank you Peter Hathaway Capstick
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