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Pigeon shooting: Missing the easy ones

Q: For some reason, I always have a problem shooting a pigeon that sets itself to land over the decoys and it’s the same with birds that are sitting in trees. Though it should be a simple shot at a stationary target, quite often the bird flies away! What is the reason for this? G. BARNES By email

A: I can guarantee you’re not the only one who suffers from this annoying phenomenon. I’ve seen top Shots miss what seems to be a straightforward bird coming in to decoys, and I can’t tell you how many pigeon I’ve missed out of trees. It is so infuriating when it happens. As far as the bird over the decoys is concerned, the reason for a miss is fairly simple. What happens is that we tend to check our swing or look back at the gun. By doing this your timing goes out of the window and you end up aiming the gun as if it were a rifle. Aiming, or looking back at the gun, will cause you to slow down and the gun becomes almost stationary. It feels as though one is hesitating on the shot. To combat this, address the bird correctly with the correct timing, make a good connection and take the shot as the gun comes to cheek and shoulder.

With regard to a pigeon sitting in a tree, the bird is often missed because we aim at it. It is a stationary bird and again it should be shot instinctively. One of the most common problems is pulling on the trigger, which will either cause you to move the gun off line or, more often than not, to fire too low.