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Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumn is time for shotgun practice

Columbus Day weekend has come and gone and along with the glorious weather for the holiday weekend comes the realization that autumn is upon us. Many of us look forward to autumn and the various sporting opportunities that we have. But we have to realize that our days afield can be as fleeting as the colorful autumn leaves that are already starting to fall.
You had probably planned to get in lots of shotgun practice but now you take the field with the realization that you need a lot of work on your shotgun skills.
There is still time to improve, even by practicing at home in the evening. A lot of shooting skill comes from mounting the gun properly and consistently. Make sure the gun is unloaded and assume the ready position with your feet almost shoulder length apart and the gun butt tucked lightly under your arm.
Keep your head still and focus on a point on the wall. Push the muzzle towards it while raising the gun to your face.
Learn to bring the gun to the place on your cheek that leaves you looking right down the rib or barrel at the target. If you are not, you will be shooting high over your target. Do 50 mounts a night.
Proper shooting form is a key to accuracy. Keep both eyes open with feet in a slightly open stance and about 60% of your weight on the front foot. Your head and neck should be comfortably erect as you bring the gun up smoothly to the cheek and align the master eye.
Your support hand should be forward near the front of the stock. Your index finger should be pointed towards the target and two-thirds of the weight of the gun supported by your front hand.
Of course you also need to practice shooting to get your motion and timing down.
Just because a shotgun delivers a lot of pellets, hitting anything, especially a moving target is far from a sure thing. The brain has to record the speed, distance, and angle of a flying target and instantaneously deliver a command that enables our body and gun to send a swarm of pellets to some point out there in space where they intercept the target.
A common denominator in all of these methods is the need to practice. Shooting trap is a good way to get the reflexes and the brain working on the mechanics and the leads. Skeet shooting is another variation where the clay pigeons tend to come from overhead. And of course sporting clays are used to simulate the different conditions and species such as pheasant, grouse, ducks, or rabbits.
Once you have gotten the mechanics down and practiced enough to sharpen your reflexes, the best thing is actual conditions. For example duck hunters know that because of speed and angle, the amount of lead necessary to hit an incoming or crossing duck increases as it comes in closer. It becomes greatest when the duck is overhead or crosses at a right angle.
You should also determine if your gun actually shoots straight by aiming at spot on paper at 20 yards away from a solid rest. Some chokes might shoot high, to the right, etc. Repeat the test with a different choke.
Shotgun shooting is an art. It starts with gun that fits properly, and using the proper technique consistently. It helps to have your lead foot slightly ahead of where you anticipate the flush of the bird will be. By keeping your stance narrow you will have more room to swing the shotgun without awkwardly twisting the body.
Of course you should keep the cheek on the stock and look down the barrel at your target. Too many people try to get a shot off too quickly and look at the front bead on the barrel, and not down the length of it. Even with the quick take-off and twisting flight of a partridge, take the time to aim.
Make a conscious effort to follow through with your swing. Stopping is the reason that most people mist. The most common mistakes are stopping your swing or lifting your head to double check your lead or see if you hit your target. This causes the gun to stop and you shoot behind your target. By practicing your swing and maintaining lead you can improve your success this fall.
We all know that game birds are no certain thing to hit and there are lots of variables (and excuses) when it comes to actually shooting at one. But by practicing and using the proper form you can tip the odds a little bit in your favor.
SALMON REPORT: Earlier this week the Salmon River was full of salmon, mostly kings. Reports were that the kings had not started to spawn yet. Other waters at the eastern end of Lake Ontario reported similar results. For the latest updates on conditions and suggested techniques, check out the web site or stop in at Jim Dence’s All Season Sports shop on Rte. 13 on the outskirts of Pulaski.
MOOSE-CAR COLLISIONS: It is a sign of the times that the DEC issued a warning for motorists travelling the Adirondacks and surrounding areas to be on the alert for moose-car collisions. The odds of hitting a moose are significantly lower than colliding with a deer, but with the growing population the threat is there. And considering the size of the animal involved, the consequences are much more serious.
With the advent of the breeding season moose are wandering around much more, including in areas where they are not normally seen, and thus the increased danger. They are most active at dawn and dusk and with the dark brown or black body they are difficult to see at the time of poor visibility. Also because of its height, much of the body is above the normal scope of your headlights.
If you are travelling the Adirondacks be sure to stay alert, reduce your speed, and use extreme caution. If you should see one, use your flasher-hazard lights to alert other motorists.
LOCAL ANGLER WINS STATE HONORS: Team ”Lake Ontario Outdoors” angler wins state honors. Jamie Hartman of Newport a member of the Lake Ontario Outdoors Team recently added to his season-long list of honors by winning the New York Side Divisional Tournament on Lake Champlain. By winning the four day tournament Hartman secured his place as the number one Federation angler of B.A.S.S. in New York State and gets to go to Louisiana and fish the Nationals. If Hartman continues his winning ways in Louisiana he will then earn the right to fish the B.A.S.S. Classic.
Recently Hartman secured an eighth place finish in the FLW Tournament held in Clayton with a 10 fish limit of 41 lbs. and 13 oz. Previously he represented Team Lake Ontario Outdoors in the opening weekend FLW Tournament on Lake Champlain and finished first. For these and other impressive finishes throughout the season Hartman was named FLW Angler of the Year for Northeast Division. This award is to be presented at the FLW Regionals in Virginia later this year.
Team Lake Ontario Outdoors anglers Jamie Hartman and Ted Dobs both competed in the B.A.S.S. Open on Oneida Lake during the weekend of September 22 – 24. Hartman finished tied for 13th place, a very respectable finish, considering that there were many pros from the country that compete in the Elite B.A.S.S. circuit.
ONE SQUARE MILE OF HOPE: Congratulations to the Town of Inlet and all the local organizers involved for recently breaking the Guinness World Record for a “floating raft” of kayaks and canoes with over 1900 boats! More importantly they raised a large amount of money to benefit the Susan G. Komen For the Cure fund to assist in breast cancer research. Nice going for everyone involved!


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