Peter Theobald

There is a difference between a good shot and a good pigeon shot.

I have seen international class clay shooters and brilliant game shots, really struggle to come to terms with the humble woody; there’s so much more to it than having the ability to hit a moving target.

The real top performers like Will Garfit expect to average at least 80% over decoys, rising to 90 plus when the birds are really co-operating.

I am a great believer in only firing at woodies which you have at least a one in two chance of hitting.

If this means only firing at straightforward birds when you are a beginner, then so be it – it shows respect for your quarry, encourages better fieldcraft, and you can tackle more difficult birds as your skill improves.

Taking on any bird within 50 yards, over the course of a year, my average would be in the region of 70 – 75%.

  • neutron619

    Of course, you’ll never know if you have a 1 in 2 chance of hitting anything unless you shoot at everything at least twice…

    Expecting a 70% average (which is a different standard to one bird in two) is all well and good, but makes no allowance for the majority of us who haven’t had the time, experience or opportunity to achieve it yet. It’s also well above the generally accepted standard of one bird per three shots which has been with us for donkey’s years. The article appears to imply that anyone not achieving the higher of those two standards does not sufficiently respect their quarry: this could be construed as insulting by your readers.

    As you imply in your article, the only experience which really matters for pigeon shooting is pigeon shooting. A novice pigeon shooter in an area without many birds to provide opportunities could take 10 years of slow practice to achieve a 70% standard, simply because the number of times they can actually attempt to shoot a bird is so limited, whether under your strictures or a lower, more realistic standard. If you shoot in certain parts of East Anglia, you’ll certainly be aware that that is the case.

    In fact, one wonders how anyone could possibly get started as a pigeon shooter if they were to take to heart the standard you espouse? It is highly unlikely that a first-timer would shoot 70% of the birds presented to them – they would therefore have immediately failed against your standard and furthermore would, I suspect, feel that they have no chance of even approaching it. I’m afraid the article reads more like a short, self-congratulatory monologue designed to keep the keen but less-talented in their place. If we don’t sometimes take shots outside our “known” ability, how will we ever know whether we’ve improved?

    Ultimately, we all respect our quarry, whether we take one bird in two, one bird in five or one bird in twenty. We shoot under the General Licences and when it comes down to it, I doubt the farmers we shoot for care if it takes two cartridges or two hundred, so long as the birds are sufficiently controlled.

    I would urge any pigeon shooters who, like me, try really hard, week in, week out, to do the job assigned to us by our respective landowners and to have our sport as we do it, not to be demoralised or put off by the opinion of an expert who has been lucky enough to have the time, money and opportunity to practice his shooting and achieve the ridiculously high standard he seeks to set for the rest of us.