Offseason Shotgun Tips

Expert advice that will keep your wing-shooting sharp until the season opens

Outdoor Life Online Editor

As bird-hunting seasons wing nearer, are you confident you'll be able to knock down that first heart-attack-inducing blue grouse or quicker-than-you-remembered chukar?

We asked well-known shooting instructor Chuck Dryke what bird hunters can do now to prepare for the season. Dryke opened Sunnydell Shooting Grounds (360-683-5631) in Sequim, Wash., 50 years ago.

Mount Up
"You can practice mounting your gun anywhere. Gun fit doesn't mean a thing unless you can cleanly bring the gun to your shoulder, cheek and eye," says Dryke. "When you get into the field, mounting the gun should be a reflex."

Take a Course
When it comes to the shooting sports and which are most beneficial to bird hunters, Dryke ranks skeet above trap. Sporting clays, with its wide array of situations, ranks above both of them. "If a skeet course is open, sometimes we'll do what we call a 'walk-up,'" says Dryke. "One person will walk back and forth across the course and the other guy will pull birds without announcing where they'll flush. This helps you get your feet set and yourself square to an unanticipated target."

Remember Rover
Dryke says not to forget about your dog, either. It's important to get him into shape, too. "All this will save your dog, save you money on shells and make you slicker and quicker in the field."