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Tips on high-driven birds

Tony Bracci deals with high driven birds that can catch so many out

A high driven target is quite straightforward, the shooter moving the gun on the same line as the target and giving the required lead and follow-through. But there are a few mistakes to watch out for.

Easiest place to shoot high-driven birds

The easiest place to shoot a high driven target is when it is at its closest, just in front of or right above your head. The first mistake to avoid is taking the shot at your fullest extreme of swing, as it won’t allow you 
to follow through effectively or give you 
a chance of a second shot. Try to take the shot slightly in front to give you room to finish the shot off smoothly on the right line.

high birds

Take the shot when the bird is just in front of you so you can swing through

If you can see the high driven target coming from a long way away, hold your nerve and don’t mount too soon. If you mount too soon it gives you too much time on the target and encourages you to look at the gun and measure and miss. Let the target come to you and allow yourself enough time to shoot on three beats. One as you mount the gun, two as you swing 
and three as you follow through.

high-driven birds

Do not take the shot too late

If you use the swing-through method, as many people do on this target, don’t mount too far behind and slash through the target. This may get you the odd target, but to be consistent we need a smooth controlled swing. There is no magic gap to mount behind, you just don’t want to be spending most of your swing behind the target and not enough time in front. This, of course, doesn’t affect pull-away and maintained-lead methods.

high-driven birds

Pushing the stock into your cheek can cause you to miss if your gun doesn’t fit

Check your gun fit

This more than any target, as you drive the gun up with the bird, will highlight problems with a low comb height. Pushing your gun hard to your cheek could cause your lead eye to be positioned much lower in relation to the rib. This can cause misses to the side as the opposite eye takes over, or behind as perception of lead will be decreased. We also see people who don’t mount the gun correctly to their cheek but rather float their head above, then we see a miss in front and a lot of inconsistency.

high-driven birds

If the target curls use your shoulders to move the gun on line

When the target curls do this

High driven targets that are just off the centre line can easily catch you out. Try using your shoulders to move the gun on the same line as the bird is travelling on by keeping the barrels in line.

This can also be useful if targets are curling in the wind – just drop a shoulder and curl with the target. If it is too far to lean then adjust your feet and take it as a crosser.

high-driven birds

You can always take the target as a crosser

Top tips

  • Let the target come to you
  • Don’t take the target at your full extension
  • Be prepared for targets that curl
  • Try some practice swings with an empty gun
high-driven birds

Take the shot when the bird is just in front of you so you can swing through

Try some practice swings with an empty gun

Can you move your gun on a straight driven line or do you feel any tension in your body or arms that pulls you off line? If you do feel any tension, try adjusting your feet or body to allow your gun to swing on a straight line.

high-driven birds

Keep swinging through even if you lose visual contact with the target

Any time we lose visual contact with a target it tends to impede or stop your swing. Even with two eyes open at certain heights we love visual contact as our leading hand’s forearm blocks our view.

If you are shooting with one eye closed, you are almost guaranteed to lose sight of the target. It is important to keep the gun moving throughout the shot process.