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Walked-up shooting and the going away bird

If you're off walked-up shooting or on the clay ground you'll need to practice to master this speedy target

shoot pigeons with semi-auto

Going-away birds can often be pricked rather than dead

What to remember about the going away bird

  • This type of bird is a target, like any other
  • Aim in front of the bird, rather than at it
  • Lack of practice is often why shooters miss – time to get out on the clay line. (Read our advice on what to wear clay pigeon shooting.)
  • Don’t rush
  • Don’t cover the flight line of the clay with your muzzles.
  • Don’t forget to compensate for any curve of the clay’s flight.
  • Do get your stance correct.
  • Do mount the gun parallel.

Geoff Kelly, member of the Association of Professional Shooting Instructors, says: “Good shooters never look like they are rushing, stance and gun mount are vital but using your vision correctly and finding your visual pick-up point is crucial with a target like this.”

Common mistakes

For some reason a lot of shooters presented with this type of target seem to go to pieces… even before they call for the bird. All technique, style and preparation go out the window. Maybe it’s because the bird looks easy. This entices you into aiming at the bird – (maybe, in your mind, you do this just to make sure you hit it.) Or maybe it’s because the trap is usually close to the stand.

Another mistake is to try and cover the target and then fire. This invariably results in missing over the top.

How to hit this target

  • The best approach is always to choose – and stick – to your chosen kill point.
  • In one smooth action bring the gun up, and when the bead on the muzzle is just about to touch the bird, pull the trigger.
  • If there’s a crosswind, don’t forget to compensate for any slight curve or swing the bird might take – it’s rare that any clay flies dead straight throughout the entire course of its travel.

Top tip

Swing the gun. When the bead on the muzzle is just about to touch the bird, pull the trigger. Don’t forget to keep the gun moving after you’ve fired.

Dealing with a typical going-away target

You’re shooting a straight, going away bird on a sporting layout.

  • Your stance should be comfortable, leaning slightly forward, with the toe of your left foot (assuming you’re right handed) pointing along the line that the clay is going to travel.
  • The muzzle of your gun should also be pointing in the same direction. If your gun is pointing too far to the left or right, you’ll have to swing onto, as well as through the target to hit it.
  • When you raise the gun to your shoulder try and achieve a single, smooth movement – using both your hands – don’t let the trigger hand do all the work.
  • Aim to keep the gun parallel all the time. If the muzzles of the gun are initially too high they can obscure your view of the clay as it leaves the trap. Alternatively, if they are held too low, you’ll probably end up playing catch-up with the clay resulting in a rushed shot.
  • You need to be able to see the bird at all times. When the bead touches the bird pull the trigger.
  • You can often be presented with this target as the second shot of a pair. Apart from maybe having to alter your foot position slightly, everything else remains the same: Don’t panic, get the second pick-up point clear in your mind, choose your kill point, don’t cover the line of the bird or lose sight of it, come up with the gun and shoot.

This article was originally published in Sporting Gun in 2014 and has been updated.