(Adapted from a story originally writen in 2014 and published on vansporting.com)

I can’t hit the broadside of a barn.  Sheeeesh.  With my shotgun I mean.  I had six or seven chances one day last week and missed them all.  I was supposed to be cleaning up.  That is, I was supposed to be shooting all of the birds that the bow hunters in our group missed.  Ron, Cary and Willie all love to fling arrows at flushing pheasants and even though they knock their share down, it’s good to have a less primitive weapon for back up.

My worst miss of the day was at close range.  The dogs were telling us there was a bird in a thick patch of thorn bushes right across one of the canals from where we were walking, maybe 10 yards.  When it flushed, iridescent feathers shinning out of the dull, dark fall foliage, I waited for the three arrows to fly and then shot.  The rooster was hit.

Ron said, “Hey, you shot my arrow!” and we all laughed.

The bird had flown on a bit and then crumpled over the adjacent alfalfa field.  It took us a few minutes to get to a bridge to cross the canal and then another few before Ripley found him in the uniform greenery.  He flushed up and Ron managed to put a final arrow into him.  Then he was in the game vest.

For the next hour or two (and the next miss or two) we enjoyed the hunt.  Then, at the end of the day, Ron wanted to do an autopsy to see who had actually shot that bird.  No problem, I was confident.  We found evidence that two arrows had made contact but not a pellet hole anywhere to be seen.  Damn!  I really can’t hit the broadside of a barn.

Ron has some guidance for me:

1) At home, practice mounting and swinging the gun.  (Obviously not loaded but I’m going to write that down anyway.)

2) Use snap caps so that you can actually pull the triggers while practicing.

3) Stick a MiniMag flashlight in the end of the barrel (fits just right in a 12GA) to indicate where the gun is aimed while swinging it.

4) Swing through the shot.  DON’T STOP THE SWING!

5) Practice until muscle fatigue sets in.

“Do this and I guarantee you’ll never miss again.”

At home, as usual, I got caught up with life and didn’t make the effort until the next hunting opportunity came along.  The night before I brought out the shotgun and snap caps and a mini-mag light and spent 10 or 15 minutes swinging the gun around the family room.  I “shot” all of the pot lights in the ceiling.  That was easy.  And Ron guaranteed results!

Ripley and Penny scared up half a dozen birds again that day.  My shooting?  Just one for six.  The one that I hit was a tough crossing shot.  The five that I missed were all ridiculously easy shots at rising birds or birds flying straight away from me.  So much for Ron’s guarantees.  I don’t think I’m going to bother practicing anymore.

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