I never touched a feather of the little devils. What’s the secret to shooting them?
With the possible exception of ZZ (helice) targets that fly erratically after leaving the trap no clay bird yet devised behave in the same way as a snipe flushed off boggy ground by a dog.
The only useful ‘practice’ you can do is to shoot these little birds as often as you can – there’s a definite knack to knocking them down on a reasonably consistent basis.
As you discovered, this little bird zig-zags away as soon as it takes to the wing and it’s impossible to track it with the muzzles in the usual way.
Most shooters can be forgiven for trying to let off a shot as soon as possible – usually trying to judge whether the bird’s going to zig, or zag, when they pull the trigger.
Sometimes they ‘guess’ correctly and the bird and shot pattern converge at the same time.
But not often.
Usually (but not always) snipe zig-zag two or three times and then take a straighter, rising, flightpath once they reach full speed so it pays to ‘hold fire’ for a few seconds, watch the bird over the muzzles, and mount the gun when it stops jinking.
It will still be in range when it does so.
Other than that the only other advice I can give is to use cartridges loaded with small shot – 8s are perfect.
Snipe are small birds and can escape through the gaps in a pattern of big shot. Number 8s, on the other hand, fill the pattern nicely and carry enough energy to kill cleanly at range.