Shotgun Shooting Tips: Footwork is the Key to More Hits
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Any time you take a shot at game or clay, you need a good foundation, one that will permit your gun to move to and through the bird. As in most sports, this begins with your feet.
When the dogs get birdy or you get into a blind, try to find some level ground where your feet can anticipate the shot. Like aircraft, birds try to take off into the wind for extra lift, then frequently turn with the wind for more speed, so consider the wind as you set yourself up for the shot.
There are a couple of foot positions that work well in the field–the British Churchill and our American Step, or Foxtrot. For the latter, you begin in a ready position with the heels 6 to 8 inches apart and the toes pointing at 12 and 2 o’clock for a right-handed shooter; reverse for a lefty. This allows the shooter to easily move in any direction the bird goes in. At the flush, with your eyes sharply focused on the bird, take a short step–as if dancing the Foxtrot–toward the target as you bring your gun to the shoulder and prepare to shoot.
The 12 and 2 o’clock ready position also works for the Churchill, which allows shooters to swing in a very wide arc. If the bird goes to the left, all you need to do is shift your weight to your left foot and push around with your right. Reverse it for a shot to your right. It helps to raise the pushing foot’s heel. This both shifts your weight to the pivot foot and frees up the legs to move.
The Churchill lends itself more to dove and waterfowl hunting, where hunters tend to be stationary; the Foxtrot is better for walking up upland game.
1) Starting Position
This is a good beginning or general foot position for any shot. When you’re up on the dogs, this is the position for when you find flat or at least good ground. From here, you can take a shot in any direction.
2) Bird moving to the left, American Step
For a shot on a bird breaking to the left, take a small step toward the bird . This will set you up for a fluid shotgun swing.
3)** Bird moving to the right, American Step
For a shot on a bird going to the right, step around to the right with the left foot to position yourself while pivoting slightly with the right foot.
****4)** Bird moving to the left, Churchill method**
You can take a good shot to the left by pivoting on the left foot and pushing yourself around with the right. Lifting the heel of the right foot will enable you to pivot easily.
5) Bird moving to the right, Churchill method**
A shot to the right is a mirror image of the shot to the left. Again, the left heel comes up to push the body around to the right. Pivot on the right foot.
6) High bird, incoming**
Take a high overhead shot by allowing the weight to come onto the back foot while raising the heel of front foot, allowing the body to come quite far back as the muzzle swings through the bird.