Crushing Clays: 3 Off-Season Shotgun Drills for Teal

Teal fly like jet fighters with feathers. Practicing now on clays will pay dividends when duck season opens. Photo by Alamy

Angle, speed, and distance make these shots extremely frustrating, but with proper form you can consistently hit these birds.

1. Springing Teal: The Dancing Devil

Illustrations by Pete Sucheski

Why It's Hard: The target slows down, peaks, and then speeds up as it descends, so the velocity is always changing. In addition, to break this target correctly, your barrels will blot out the clay, so you won't see it when you fire.
Mistake to Avoid: Shooting at the top. It's often too far away, it's harder than it looks, and you lessen your chances of hitting a double.
How to Crush It: Catch the target as it's rising, pass it, and press the trigger. Keep the muzzle moving at all times. Maintain a good cheek weld, bend your back to lift the muzzle, and grip the gun lightly so your swing is smooth and fluid.

2. High Driven Bird: Stretching the Range Limits

Why It's Hard: There's only one way to shoot this target consistently, and, like the teal, it requires you to shoot when the target is out of sight.
Mistake to Avoid: Thinking too much. If you shoot using sustained lead, the cheats you use on the skeet range won't work here. Avoid the temptation to check your lead. If you stop swinging the muzzle at any point, you'll miss.
How to Crush It: Keep your eyes up and the muzzle low. When the target appears, lift the muzzle and start swinging, arching your back in much the same way you did for the teal shot. Pass the target, keep swinging, and press the trigger.

3. Over-the-Shoulder Quartering: A Geometry Lesson in the Sky

Why It's Hard: It's more a hunting shot than a target shot. You're dealing with a variety of factors: line of travel, angle parallel to the hunter, and speed.
Mistake to Avoid: Throwing your gun in frustration. The most common problems are not getting the barrels in line with the bird's path and shooting behind the target.
How to Crush It: Get on line parallel with the bird and rotate your hips to track your target, pressing the trigger as you pass. On doves and grouse, you'll be swinging hard to catch up, and the speed of the muzzle will give you the lead you need. As always, follow through.