10 Must-Have Shooting Skills

#1 - Break a True Pair
Take the rear target first and continue your swing to get out in front of the lead clay. For going-away birds, take the clay that's more of a straightaway and then swing on the target that's angling away.

#2 - Get Steady Off-Hand
During dry-fire practice, pick a small target to focus on, and with the rifle held low, bring it up in a smooth motion. As soon as the target comes into view with the reticle centered on it, break the trigger.
**

3 - Handle Surprise Flushes**

Walk the perimeter of a skeet field with your shotgun in a low ready position. Have a partner pull birds at unexpected intervals. Good footwork is key. Step toward the target as you mount your gun.

#4 - Work a Bolt Gun Faster
Take a strong grip on the forend with the lead hand, pulling the stock back into the pocket of the shoulder. This lets you keep the gun in position and your eyes on the target as you run the bolt with your trigger hand.

#5 - Tune Up Your Deer Gun
During the off-season, gremlins will loosen the screws in your guns. I just had this happen on a Savage .22/250, which rattled like a jar full of marbles when I went to take it varmint shooting. So check all the fasteners and torque them down to the proper amount (65 inch-pounds for the guard screws and 22 inch-pounds for rings and bases).

#6 - Limit on Doves faster
Patience is the key to hitting more doves. Before you start to mount and swing your gun, make sure the dove is in range. Move too early and the bird will flare.

#7 - Make a 1,000-Yard Shot
Rock-solid fundamentals and accurate equipment are critical, but for first-round hits at a "grand," you need a ballistic calculator that incorporates environmental data like wind speed, temperature, altitude, and relative humidity. The Kestrel 4500NV ($325) does all this.

#8 - Forget Your Misses
A Zen-like mindset will help improve your shotgunning. When you miss a target, don't rant and rave. Tell yourself what went wrong and verbalize a simple, positive correction (e.g., "Mount the gun smoothly").

#9 - Shoot 1-Inch Groups
When shooting off a bench with a hunting rifle, it doesn't usually pay to let the gun recoil freely. Instead, take a firm hold on the forend and grip, and seat the rifle solidly against your shoulder. Do this and watch your groups shrink.

#10 - Drop a Charging Animal
When something big, nasty, and toothy is bearing down on you, get in a kneeling position, put the crosshairs on the beast's nose, and let fly.