1st duck hunt; patterning my shotgun

1st duck hunt; patterning my shotgun

This is a discussion on 1st duck hunt; patterning my shotgun within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; So, I'm anticipating my first duck hunt. I've been working with a guy, this summer, who's willing to show me the ropes. I gotta admit ...

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  1. #1
    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    1st duck hunt; patterning my shotgun

    So, I'm anticipating my first duck hunt. I've been working with a guy, this summer, who's willing to show me the ropes. I gotta admit that I'm excited.

    I've got two problems.

    I'm scared to death of the water

    I can't seem to shoot my shotgun worth crap.

    I picked up some #2 steel shot from Wally World, and some poster boards. We set out to pattern my shotgun.

    Turns out that I can't hit a 3'X2' poster board at 35 yards. I'm too high.

    Now, my newfound buddy tells me that he likes to use the 'horizon' or top arc of his shotgun barrel as his reference point, rather than the bead. I'm no pro, but everything that I've read points to shooter error being, most likely, that their head isn't down enough. But, if I use his technique, it naturally brings my head up and my shots are going seriously high.

    So, I dunno. When I'm handgun shooting, I can easily diagnose the problem. Is their an easy diagnostic for shotgunning? My patterns seems to be centered, but quite high; like the center of my pattern is a good foot high. The bottom is where the center should be.

    I guess that I could just start aiming low, but I dunno
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

    "A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source


  2. #2
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    Are you using a vented rib?

    Your sight picture should look like a bead sitting on top of the rail. If you see any rib, you arent sighting properly.

    Use the TOP of the bead. That will lower your pattern.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've got a vented rib. A Remington 870 Express.

    On my first shot, I slugged myself in the nose . So, I've also got re-evaluate my grip.
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

    "A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source

  4. #4
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    Dont try to hard.

    Bring the shotgun up to your cheek in one fluid motion. Use both eyes to look at the target. When you are on target, shoot.
    Practice. Practice. Practice.

    A good way to assess your point of impact is to shoot at 10 yards. At that range, the shot column is still pretty much intact with the wad and it will make one big hole.
    Practice mounting the gun and shooting when you mount. It sounds harder than it is, but master it and you will hit every target you aim at.

    The trick to duck hunting is to not shoot at the duck...shoot where the duck is going to be. You swing the shotgun at the duck, track it, and swing through it in one smooth motion. When the lead is right you pull the trigger. Do it enough and it will become second nature...you wont even remember what you are doing, it becomes natural. Do it right and the ducks will splash.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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  5. #5
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    If you have the opportunity to get to a skeet range, do it. There's nothing like lots and lots of repetitive shots to improve your shooting and to build confidence. Skeet is a better training exercise than trap for hunting, since trap only gives you going-away targets. Skeet offers more challenge with its 8 stations (vs 5) and crossing shots. Sporting clays is more realistic yet, but it's also likely to be more frustrating than skeet for the beginning shooter, due to the randomness of the shots. In skeet, a station 1 low bird will always fly like a station 1 low bird.

    I think HotGuns is on to something in that it sounds like you aren't mounting the gun correctly. The most common problem is lifting your head off the stock during the swing. Another problem is a death-grip on the forend. Use the pistol grip to pull the stock back into your shoulder, and the support hand is just there to support the gun through the swing, and to cycle the action after you shoot. Think of supporting the forend with just thumb and forefinger - that's all the muscle you need until you pump the action. When I started out, my muff-style earpro interfered with mounting the gun, of all things... changing over to earplugs was a help. Having a good coach can help you spot little things like that. In the absence of a coach, maybe have your friend take some pictures of you as you mount the gun and swing on an imaginary target, so you can see where your head and hands are, as well as your line of sight.

    I have 3 reading references which might help. These have been out of print for a while, but try Amazon's and Barnes & Noble's used book lists and they might turn up. They are full of pictures and some good practice techniques.

    Mastering the Shotgun - Richard Alden Knight. Dutton, 1975

    Successful Shotgun Shooting - Andrew A. Montague. Winchester Press, 1971

    The Orvis Wing-Shooting Handbook: Proven Techniques for Better Shotgunning - Bruce Bowlen. Nick Lyons Books, 1985.

    Good luck!
    Smitty
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  6. #6
    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Skeet will definitely help with getting down your lead etc,I don't know how much wing shooting you have done,but It's nothing like shooting a still target,my first year of Teal season I probably averaged a box of shells for every 2 birds,after I started shooting skeet and sporting clays I would let my friends shoot first and after the ducks split I would shoot,I didn't miss very many,dove season is good for practice also
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacii View Post
    On my first shot, I slugged myself in the nose . So, I've also got re-evaluate my grip.
    If interested in an excellent text on basic shotgun "wingshooting" technique, check this book (for pennies, used): The Orvis Wing-shooting Handbook.

    It covers everything from proper fitment to sighting, from stance to leading the target, from patterning to training tips for improving. It can help you get back to basics and focus your training on smoothing those elements that are a bit erratic.
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  8. #8
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    Ya'll have ducks in Arizona, or are you going on an out-of-state hunt?

    Duck hunting is great fun, it can be a FAST-paced shooting experience.

    You're getting plenty of good advice. Master your shooting at still objects first, my guess you may be moving some in anticipating the recoil. Clay birds are good for practice at moving targets, most people will initially be shooting behind them.

    Have fun, you'll get hooked.
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    Distinguished Member Array MinistrMalic's Avatar
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    Remember, too, that you point a shotgun more than aim it. It's a fast experience. If you're in Phoenix, Ben Avery has a skeet range that you can use to work on your technique before heading out to hunt ducks. And quail season starts Friday!
    "...whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one." (Luke 22:36)
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  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array phreddy's Avatar
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    I read an article that suggested putting a small maglite in the barrell of your (unloaded) shotgun and practice mounting the gun while keeping the light aimed at the corner of a room where two walls meet the ceiling. After that is mastered, it suggested practicing moving the light along the joint of one wall and the ceiling.

  11. #11
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    There's also Rio Salado range in Mesa - skeet and sporting clays available.
    Smitty
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  12. #12
    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the info. I'm in Flagstaff, there's a few lakes nearby. It's uncommonly warm, though. Hopefully the weather will cool off and bring some ducks in.

    I'm pretty certain that it's a combination of my poor mounting technique, and anticipating the recoil. I'm used to light target loads. I haven't shot at any professional trap or skeet ranges. Mostly just out in the hills throwing clays with a plastic hand thrower.

    I've read a lot of similar material that you guys have pointed out. I'm a real poor shot, when shotgunning, but it's my favorite type of shooting I'll have to have someone take photos or a video, while I shoot, and try to diagnose what's wrong.
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

    "A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source

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    My 2 cents is that it's all about shotgun fit and movement of the gun.

    Wear a floatation device so we can see you back here telling us about all the birds you got!

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cammo girl View Post
    My 2 cents is that it's all about shotgun fit and movement of the gun.

    Wear a floatation device so we can see you back here telling us about all the birds you got!
    Yeah... I'm not to keen on this whole 'water' thing. I'm hoping to get away with some minor wading. We'll see
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

    "A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source

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