Dove season is great for many reasons: the beautiful sunrises, comradery with fellow hunters, and bacon-wrapped dove fresh off the grill, just to name a few. Arguably, the best part about dove season is the fact that it signals hunting season has finally come. The sunflowers are blooming, the milo is cut, and you are at your traditional opening morning spot.
So maybe your shot is a little rusty
So, what’s the problem? Admit it, that the shotgun you are holding has been leaning in the back of your closet and hasn’t been shot since you put it there back around Christmas. Everyone has been there. You don’t have time to go to the range and shoot a couple hundred clays? That’s all right. While nothing can replace real shooting, there is still something you can do to improve your accuracy in the comfort of your own home.
While nothing can replace real shooting, there is still something you can do to improve your accuracy in the comfort of your own home.
There's a trick to fix that
The purpose of this exercise is to work on shouldering your shotgun the exact same way every time you raise it. This will ensure you get on the target faster and more prepared, which we all know is important when trying to down a speeding dove.
- The first thing you need to do is pick up a mini mag flashlight or other small flashlight, which shouldn’t run you more than $10.
- Next, make sure your shotgun is unloaded and clear. If possible, it’s not a bad idea to take the action out just to be extra safe.
- Slide the handle of the flashlight down the barrel and use some masking tape or painter’s tape to hold it in place. WARNING: Don’t use duct tape or anything that might leave a sticky residue on the barrel. Once the flashlight is secure, you are ready to practice.
- First, stand several feet back from a wall and pick a noticeable spot on it about head level.
- Step two is very important. Raise your shotgun, settle it where it should be in the pocket of your shoulder, and get your head over the gun so you're looking down the sights ready to shoot. The flashlight should shine right in the middle of your sight picture.
- Keeping your eyes on the sight, move the shotgun so that the light shines on the spot on the wall you picked out. When you find that spot, let your body settle in and remember that feeling. Where is your cheek contacting the stock? Where is the gun sitting in your shoulder? This exercise is all about muscle memory.
The goal is to raise the shotgun, shoulder it, and be looking down the sights with the light shining right on the spot on the wall. Repetition is key. It may sound simple, and that’s because it is. After you get good at that, pick a new spot on the wall each time you raise the gun; 10–15 minutes of this and you should be shouldering your firearm like a pro.
Now let’s take it back to the field. The sun is rising on the opening morning, and you are in your favorite spot. You’re checking the clock every few seconds waiting on legal shooting light, and the birds are already flying. Finally, it’s time! A bird comes over the trees to your right and is heading out into the field. You raise your gun just like you did so many times the night before. Your eye is looking down the barrel, and your bead is on the bird. You swing to follow the bird and give it a slight lead as you pull the trigger (continuing your swing of course) and down goes your first dove of the season.
The excitement that the little bird brings to you is hard to explain. It’s so small and seems like such a little feat for all that work. However, any dove hunter knows it is no small job to bring down one of these jets of the bird world. That challenge is what brings you back year after year. So, if you haven’t had time to get to the range—don’t fret. With a little practice at home, you can make sure your buddy is the center of all the tailgate jokes and not yourself.
Article by John Hudspeth