Of the many types of shooting, wing shooting is one of the most popular. Wing shooting is shooting game birds in flight or at flying targets. You can also call it upland hunting, as the birds you hunt are called upland birds. People hunt for various reasons, including food, fur, leisure, and pest control.
Wing shooting is brutal as the target moves, often at high speeds, midair. Game birds hunted in wing shooting are usually small birds, such as chukar, doves, grouse, pheasants, and prairie chickens. Hunters use shotguns or archery equipment to hunt these birds, often accompanied by dogs.
Before you try your hand at wing shooting, you must know your hunting targets and the practice of hunting itself. You must be ready to hunt ethically, legally, and safely. Let’s explore the world of wing shooting a little.
What is Wing Hunting?
Birds always pique people’s interests. However, it is difficult to hunt them as they take flight. So, this led to the development of various equipment like bows and arrows, nets, and trained birds of prey. Eventually, in the seventeenth century, a firearm that fired many tiny pellets – the shotgun, was invented. Since then, wing shooting has become the most popular form of hunting. One of the most challenging feats in hunting is to shoot a fast-flying bird out of the sky with a shotgun.
Learning to fire a shotgun, on the other hand, is substantially more difficult than learning to shoot a rifle. Wing shooting is a more instinctual sport. The only way to improve your shotgun skills is to spend a lot of time at the shooting range shooting clay targets. Getting “good enough” takes hours of practice and hundreds of rounds of ammo.
What is a Wing Shot? A wing shot is a shot fired at flying targets. Confidence is the key to having an excellent wing shot. The more you trust your equipment and skill, the more birds you’ll catch. You gain confidence by mastering a few shooting fundamentals and then practicing them until they become your second nature.
Where Do You Aim at Flying Ducks?
Looking for where to aim when shooting ducks? The vital lesson to remember is that smart timing and careful observation will help you aim right. Here are a few more tried and tested suggestions to help you achieve the perfect aim.
Focus on the Bird’s Eye
Concentrate on the bird’s-eye and use it as your shooting point as it is beneficial in two ways. Firstly, if you can’t see the bird’s-eye, it’s too far away to shoot; so don’t! Secondly, keep your attention fixed on the eye if you can see it, as this will assist you in swinging your shotgun ahead of the bird rather than behind it.
Shoot One Bird at a Time
When the ducks take to the air, your instincts may tell you to jump up and shoot them all. Trust me; you’re considerably better off concentrating only on one duck and perfecting your aim for the best odds of catching one. So be intent on aiming and shooting at one bird only.
When a Duck is Coming Straight In – Aim, Blot it Out, and Fire
Many beginner shooters are intimidated by a head-on shot, but actually, this is one of the easiest in the book. You will find that it is relatively straightforward once you get the hang of it. Aim, blot, and fire are the key to success. The gun will go where it needs to go as long as your gaze is fixed on the target. You do not notice the bead. Instead, it’s meant to act as a point of reference in your peripheral vision.
You must aim slightly below the bird by raising the gun into the flight path and shooting when the barrel obliterates your target bird. Then, aim at the duck’s feet and pull the trigger if it’s landing.
Follow Your Instincts
There’s a lot of discussion regarding lead time or when to fire the shot to make sure it hits the bird before it flies away. In the dove field, every one of us has a few stumbling blocks. So when shooting ducks at close range, the lead should be more intuitive than calculated.
There are many variables, such as the angle, direction, distance of the flight, speed to consider. Unfortunately, there is no way to assess each case and determine the amount of lead. If you’re a good shooter, you’ll know exactly how much lead you need.
Here’s the bottom line on improving your duck shooting skills. Improvement will not happen by itself. Instead, it will directly respond to the shooter’s efforts to raise his skill level. Preparation and training are more important than luck in this endeavor.
How to Improve Your Wing Shooting?
There’s always an opportunity for growth, no matter how well any of us manage to shoot a shotgun while attempting to bring down a feathered or clay target. Misses encourage us to hone our skills. However, it can be frustrating if you keep on missing your mark multiple times. Here is a quick checklist to keep in mind if you want to improve your shooting averages and are about to drop the ruffed grouse that’s about to fly into a thick patch of grass.
Move Your Feet and Maintain Balance
When a new shooter sets up in a dove field to take a shot at an approaching dove, they usually place their feet according to where the bird first appears. Instead, you should align your natural point of aim with where you want to push the trigger by swiftly adjusting your feet. Depending on the scenario, you may have to guess where to pull the trigger.
What happens if you do not plant your feet? First and foremost, you will lose your ability to swing. In other words, when this happens, the swing stops or slows down, nearly often leading to a missed shot. Moreover, when you do not position the feet properly, it is usual for the shoulders to roll rather than remain square.
Proper Gun Mount
One of the most important aspects of being a successful marksman is mastering the art of gun mounting. To be successful in wing shooting, you must move athletically and effortlessly. Fleece vests provide you with more freedom of movement in the shoulders.
Good hand-to-hand coordination is essential. Most of the time, the hand on the grip (the strong hand) wants to be in charge. When this occurs, the muzzle(s) is taken down. When you start the stock at the shoulder, the bird’s muzzle is often behind the stock at first. After that, you’ll have to get up to speed. So, get the hands to work together, and then start the swing (move the muzzle) simultaneously or later. Then you bring the stock to your shoulder.
Don’t Rush the Shot
Shooting rapidly is one of the most common blunders made by inexperienced waterfowl hunters. However, there’s no need to hurry. Instead, attempt to slow down when mounting your weapon, tracking your target, and pulling the trigger at precisely the right time.
Stay on Target
Hard focus on the aim is difficult to achieve, at least regularly. Some shooters have a natural talent for it, but others will need to put in a lot of effort to improve their intense focus until it becomes second nature. If you don’t concentrate on your bird, you’ll be lucky if you kill it. You won’t be able to pick up the bird’s flight plan if you have poor, unfocused concentration. Don’t get uptight with each empty trigger pull. Wing hunting is essentially a mental game so learn to concentrate.
Most hunters rush their first shots on birds and find themselves being more productive on that second shot; it’s more of a spray and pray technique. So, there is no need to be upset if you miss some.
Use an Appropriate Shotgun
A customized shotgun has many advantages. First, an improperly fitted shotgun will be more difficult to swing and stay on target than one that is custom-made to your precise measurements and needs. In other words, if you’re looking to purchase a new shotgun, consult with a local gunsmith to ensure you get a properly fitted weapon. For example, a gunsmith may modify the stock of your favorite waterfowl gun as well so that it fits snugly in your shoulder.
Don’t Swing, Instead, Turn
The movement of the shotgun toward a bird is referred to as a “swing” by most hunters. So let’s try something else and refer to this activity as a “turn” instead. So what exactly is the distinction between the two? In the swing-through method, the arms swing back and forth. An ankle-to-knee turn is performed with the arms just acting as a shotgun. Even those of us who should know better don’t turn our backs on them. The fact that we are naturally inclined to utilize only our arms makes it virtually hard to turn on every opportunity presented.
However, our shoulders cannot remain square or parallel as we swing through. At the trigger-pulling time, the shoulder drops, separating the muzzle from the bird’s “line.” As a result, staying on the bird’s line is just as crucial, if not more so. Turning permits the shoulders to remain square and level, which makes it simpler to maintain our target’s “line.”
Maintain Balance While Shooting
While shooting, certain shooters tend to shift their weight from their front to their back foot. They begin with a good balance and more significant weight on their front foot. However, they transfer their weight backward when standing up in the duck blind to shoot, which causes their swing to halt and the barrel to rise, both of which can cause a miss. Maintaining a proper stance is the key to wing-shooting.
Keep More Lead on Hand Than You Think is Necessary
When ducks are around, it will be extremely tough to read load. The “don’t calculate lead” rule works effectively when ducks are close together. While a bird is crossing at 40 yards or more, keep more lead than you think you need. At this range, it’s tough to maintain a significant lead. The majority of misses occur behind the bird. So move ahead of the herd, swing the shotgun barrel, and squeeze the trigger. Trial and error will give you the best sight picture for long-range accuracy.
Final Words – How to Improve Your Wing Shooting?
Becoming a better hunter will not happen overnight or just because you want it to happen. Consistently hitting clay or feathered targets is no easy task. Watch the good shooters at the trap, skeet, or sporting clays courses and learn. It would help if you had a serious commitment to work at it. So, before you go out on your next bird-shooting adventure, consider the suggestions mentioned above and keep in mind that you should not use them in isolation. Practice is the key. That’s how you get better at any sport, and wing shooting is certainly no exception.