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"We have found that life is just too short, so lets have a lot of fun in a safe shooting environment."

"Your best days of shotgunning usually are somewhere between just trying to have fun and being aware of the location of the next target."

"There are shotgunning basics that once learned will forever simplify how you shoot a shotgun."

Tip 501: The Frugal Shooter's Practice

     The best way to become a better shotgunner is to practice with a gun in your hand.  However, in today’s world we would probably be broke or out of a job if we shot as much as we would like.  At the same point do you have any friends (surely not yourself) that haven’t picked up their gun since the closing weekend of hunting season last year?  It is very hard to be a consistently good shooter if one isn’t picking up their gun regularly. As much as we love watching sunrises over the water in December it is a lot more fun driving home when there is a strap full of birds in the back.  Our goal is to increase the number of times you are smiling with limits. While we can't hand you a golden reservation ticket, we can help improve your success in the opportunities you do receive.

One great (by far the cheapest) way to practice your shotgunning is at home without ammunition, clays or live birds.  All you need for this training is a moderately dark, uninhabited room in your house, your favorite shotgun (with or without sling), and a mini-Maglite.  The mini-Maglite that takes AA batteries will work well for your 12 gauge, while the AAA battery version works for 12 and 20 gauge shotguns. We have used this drill effectively in the past when we picked it up from Gil Ash (and others)

First we will get you set up on the basics of the drill, and then go into how to maximize your time at home.  Here is what you need to do.

- Prove the gun is unloaded prior to doing anything.

- Insert a mini-Maglite into the end of the barrel so that the flashlight lamp is sitting outside your barrel.

Barrel light

- Mount your gun to the corner of the darkened room walls and ceiling interface. Repeat this so that the light is coming up to the corners without you looking at the beads.


- Once your mount is coming up correct repeatedly, work on moving your gun along the edges of the interface of the ceiling and walls.

- If possible have someone assist you by adding a laser point to track and/or “lead”.


Think of shotgunning as a muscle that needs to be worked out on occasion.   While it would be nice to have a multi-million dollar gym at your disposal… sometimes you just have to do pushups and crunches on the floor.  Proper shotgunning comes from looking at a target/bird and having the gun instinctively go where you want it to.  Kind of like hitting a baseball, golf ball, tennis ball etc… we don’t look at the bat/racket/club as we swing, instead we look at the ball. 

What are we doing with these drills?

1.  Initially we are working on coming up to mount your gun in a smooth and controlled fashion.  If the light is bouncing all over the walls as you mount, it is time to practice until you are smooth and the light holds in place.  For newer shooters this actually helps develop muscles and general muscle control required to shoot.  The bow hunters out there understand the first time they lifted a bow and how heavy it felt along with the draw weight.  However, over time it feels natural or easy to lift the exact same bow and this applies with a shotgun as well.

2. Once you are controlling the mount it is extremely important to remember that you are looking at the lighted corner NOT the bead.  Allow the light to show you were the gun is pointed.  This trains your eyes to look out in front, and realize that a pattern of light (or shot) will cover up where you are looking.

3. Moving the along the edges of the wall and ceiling continues to build muscle and a smooth move.  Again we are looking at the light on the wall and focusing “downrange”.

4. Adding laser pointer assistance from a friend actually enhances the focus on the wall.  With a smooth move (and smooth laser operation) one can get used to controlling the barrel without lots of extra movements that are the downfall of many hunters.

5.  Last but not least (and this might sound a bit crazy).  Imagine being in your favorite “X” spot and a bird coming in to the decoys.  Swing along the wall to mimic the move of that shot, visualizing the flight and dead bird falling.  Visualization may sound nuts but this trick actually can build up your target memory and confidence. 

Take a shot at working these drills and teaching them to newer shooters as well.  You will be surprised how effective these essentially free shooting drills will be over the course of your season.  While getting out and shoot targets or live birds is the best practice, sometimes its good to have a backup training plan. 

Looking forward to seeing (albeit well concealed) many of you in the tules and tanks this year,


Pacific Shotgun Academy