If it weren’t possible to clobber it, the shooting ground’s course designer wouldn’t lay it on in the first place!
As such, when you walk onto a stand you should try and remember even though the bird looks impossible to hit – and might seem way beyond your ability – in reality it probably isn’t.
It could be the types of targets you’re being presented aren’t in your library of sight pictures as yet. Look at these examples, follow the tips and hopefully, you’ll never again need to think: ‘I’m not wasting a cartridge on that!’
The simultaneous pair
Is a pair where both targets are launched simultaneously from either one or two traps.
Straight left to right crossing pair. Flat trajectories, nicely separated birds at about 30 yards out from the stand.
– Gun down or, preferably, just out of the shoulder pocket.
– Weight on front foot that’s pointing towards intended kill zone.
– Ensure stance will enable enough movement for swing on the second bird as well as the first – otherwise be prepared to move your feet after the first shot.
– Don’t be fooled into thinking/hoping you can kill both birds with just one shot? with around one yard between the targets you won’t. You’ll end up dithering between the two birds, trying to achieve a compromise. You’ll almost certainly miss the first, and probably the second as well.
– Take the lower bird first.
– Keep the swing moving after firing, smoothly come up onto the second bird, create the lead and pull the trigger again. As always, keep the gun moving after firing.
Teal & crow
The targets are presented at almost 180° to each other. The teal whizzes up and away, slightly to the left at the end of its travel, while the crow appears above a hedge line (40 yards away), virtually behind you.
– Both these birds must be treated as singles.
– Determine your stance/muzzle positions for both clays before calling for the targets. Do one or two practice dry runs of moving your feet for the second bird.
– Prepare to take the teal first, gun up, muzzles on the flight line and call for the birds.
– Smoothly raise the muzzles and pick up the first target. When the bird is on the bead pull the trigger. If you’re a bit slow picking up the bird, bear in mind you might need to shoot a trifle to the left (11 o’clock) to allow for the bird’s quartering slightly as it gets further away from the stand.
– Try not to stop the swing of the gun immediately the shot has been fired. On pairs such as these you’ll always have time to alter your stance for the second clay.
– Taking the gun slightly out of the shoulder – remember you can always keep the gun up if you’re not that confident – keep the muzzles up and turn to alter your stance for the crow. Keep your weight on the front foot, remembering the crow, albeit high, is going to be 40 yards from the stand so you certainly don’t need to lean back.
– Swing up to the target and always try to clobber it just before it reaches its apex and starts to drop.
Incomer and crosser
The incomer flies in from a long way out, finally dropping to hit the ground around 20 yards in front of the stand. The right to left crosser is basically straight, but it does quarter away slightly towards the end of its travel as it drops.
– Logic dictates you take the bird you are most comfortable with first – after all, you’re trying to build your score – but always remember you’ll have a better chance of not rushing the second shot if you take the bird that’s going to disappear first.
– In this case you must take the crosser first. If you wait until the incomer is hittable, the crosser will be long gone.
– Treat each bird as a single.
– Gun just out of the shoulder for the first bird, keep your weight forward.
– Make things easier for yourself. Your stance should allow for the kill point of the first bird to be on the flight line of the second. This means you won’t have to worry about moving your feet between shots.
– Smooth swing, pull the trigger and follow through on the crosser. The muzzles should end up roughly on the line of the incoming bird.
– Take the gun slightly out of the shoulder while waiting for the second target. If you keep the gun up you’ll find yourself aiming at the clay and, inevitably, missing.
– Keep the muzzles up, but make sure they don’t obscure the incoming bird.
– The nearer the incomer gets, the easier it will be to clobber. However, it will become much trickier as the clay starts to drop. As such, try to kill the target when it’s still under power and before gravity takes over.
– Bring the gun to the shoulder, swing the gun up until the bead is just below the bird and pull the trigger. As always, keep the gun moving after you’ve fired.
Fast birds, ten yards apart, around 20 yards high. Targets will reach the stand at the same time, one passing to the left of the shooter, the other to his right.
– A neutral (between the two birds) foot stance should suffice, but be ready to you use your upper body movement to get on the line of each bird. Decide which bird to take first* and keep your weight on the front foot.
– Right-handed shooters should generally opt to take the left-hand bird first. This might seem to go against the natural right-to-left swing that most right-handers prefer, but shooting the birds in this order will ensure that the left forearm doesn’t obscure the left bird from sight.
– Because of the speed of the birds, gun up (or only just out of the shoulder) is preferable as you call for the birds.
– Try to take the first bird as quickly as you feel confident to do so. The quicker you can kill it the more time you’ll have for the second. Smooth swing up, pull away from the bird and fire.
– Keep the gun up and turn from the waist to get the muzzles on the flight line of the second clay. Be ready to transfer some of your weight onto the back foot if the second bird has got closer to, or indeed past, your intended kill point.
– Because this bird is going to be closer, simply swing the barrels through the target. When the bird is just behind the muzzles – it might even be partially obscured, but the amount of lead required is going to be minimal – pull the trigger and let the stream of shot do the work for you.
Pair of crows (at different velocities.) As the birds set off they will appear to be ‘as one’ but, because of the clever way the course designer has set-up the spring tensions on the trap, as soon as they are visible to the shooter one bird will quickly accelerate above the other.
– Gun slightly out of the shoulder, weight slightly on the leading foot and with the muzzles kept high and on the birds’ flight line.
– Don’t be tempted to take the first bird you see – the bird that will turn out to be the higher – simply because you can get on it straight away. (If you take the higher first you’ll have to stop the swing, drop the muzzles to get on the second and then swing up again.)
– Take the lower target first, just as it’s reaching its apex. Swing up to the clay, when the bird sits on the bead of the barrel pull the trigger.
– Keep the gun moving and repeat the procedure for the second bird. Don’t forget to maintain the swing after firing the second barrel.
Summing Up! – This final combination sums up almost everything you’ll need to remember about tricky sim targets.
Straight crossing pair. Birds come from the left and right, relatively fast, five or six yards above the ground.
– Treat each bird as a single.
– Decide which bird to take first – always take the target that’s going to disappear first. In this case, though, because the vanishing point is identical for both targets you should opt for the clay you feel is guaranteed to build your score. In my experience, right-handers would usually take the clay coming from the left first.
– Make things easier for yourself. Choose kill points for both birds, ideally quite close together, and set your stance to avoid moving your feet between shots.
– Gun up, muzzles positioned on the flight line just after the visual pick-up point.
– Lift head slightly off the stock to look for the bird. Call for the birds.
– Head back onto stock, smooth swing ahead of the target and fire, keep gun moving after pulling the trigger.
– Hit or miss, ignore the shot and concentrate on the other bird.
– Keep face on the stock, bring the muzzles back to the neutral position and simply repeat the process.
Mark’s golden rules:
1. Whatever the presentation of the simultaneous pair, your first shot should always try to take the bird that’s going to ‘disappear from view’ first – this could be the target that’s either dropping to the ground or simply being obscured by natural obstacles; trees, hedges etc.
2. Don’t get flustered – try to think of each bird as a single. If you miss the first target, put it out of your mind and concentrate on the next.
3. Use the birds to your advantage. If the chosen kill point for both targets is in a similar area, focus on that. For instance, don’t try to be a smart arse and kill the first just as it exits the trap if that means you’ve got to completely alter your stance and swing to get on the second.
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