Talking about the ready position
Getting your ready position right is one of the most important techniques to master if you want to hit clays on a consistent basis.
Get this simple thing wrong and you’re on a hiding to nothing. You’ll always be playing catch-up.
On the other hand, if you get to grips with the ‘appropriate’ ready stance you can look forward to pushing your scores up above your average.
Ensuring you’re in the correct ready position is as important as, say, mounting the gun correctly.
Addressing the pick-up point and kill zone
- For any target there’s going to be the ideal kill zone. This is the perfect place to break the clay during its flight.
- Depending on the way the bird is presented this can be simply a matter of a few feet of travel – in heavy woodland, for instance, or several yards on an open, crossing target.
- Then there’s the pick-up point. This is the point on the flight path where your brain actually acknowledges the fact that the target is visible. Note that this is not the point where the bird comes into view; it’s slightly after this, as it takes a split second for your brain to comprehend the fact it can now see the clay.
- Obviously with a fast-moving target the bird will have travelled a certain distance even before you’re ready to pull the trigger. This is why it’s crucial to know exactly from where the bird is going to appear. Otherwise you’re going to be searching the sky, wasting valuable time looking in vain for the clay. When you know where the pick-up point is you can then set your muzzles accordingly.
- We’ve ascertained why you need to have the gun in, or just out of, the shoulder pocket as you call for the bird – but what’s the point of getting this all correct only to have the muzzles pointing at the ground ten feet in front of you – especially when the target in question is a high driven bird?
- In an ideal world the muzzles must be positioned just under the flight line. Having the muzzles too high above the path of the bird will obscure the bird with the barrels.
- This in turn means that you’ll have to falter, lower the gun a fraction and then carry on with your swing. Hold the muzzles too low, however, and you’ll end up with an up, up and away swing – almost a guaranteed miss on your score card as you’ll be playing catch up from the moment you start.
- Make sure the gun is not canted over at an angle at your ready position. If it is you’re really making things more difficult. The gun will have to be straightened before, or during, its short travel up to your shoulder. It’s an incredibly common fault. But once this style mistake has been pointed out to a shooter they rarely make the same mistake again.
Not only does the position of the muzzles need to be correct with respect to the bird, but they also need to be correct in relation to your foot position. To be honest if your feet are okay the muzzles should naturally find the ideal position.
You’d be surprised how many shooters get one of these factors wrong – and then wonder why they’re missing the targets.
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In this first photo below the shooter has got it all wrong. He’s called for the birds – high, right to left crossers on report – and he hasn’t even closed the gun. Maybe he’s assuming that the clay will be in the air for so long that he’ll have plenty of time to get himself sorted out before he pulls the trigger! He’s also looking at where the bird is going to end up rather than where it’s going to appear. To make matters worse he’s adopted a stance that certainly won’t allow him to swing onto, and through, the clay.
The second photo is much better. After missing the first pair our shooter has decided to concentrate. Now he ‘knows where they’re coming from’ he’s decided to get his weight more onto the front foot, close the gun and get the muzzles up near the flight line. In an ideal world he’d be looking back a little so that he could pick the bird up in the air a bit earlier, but I’ll assume he’s using his peripheral vision beneath those dark shooting glasses.