February 25, 2013
Shotgun Shooting: Using a Double Gun for Pheasant Hunting
By Phil Bourjaily
A couple of times each fall I shoot double guns on pheasant hunts. I usually break out my Ruger Gold Label a time or two and I get to shoot some other people’s doubles, too.* I am always reminded when I take a double hunting that shooting one is different from shooting O/Us and single barrel guns.
Most doubles – except the old American guns which have way too much drop – are stocked a little straighter than O/Us and repeaters. This is in part because theoretically a side by side shoots slightly lower than does an O/U. Doubles are stocked straighter to compensate, with the result being, when you mount a double you see more rib and, of course, you see that wide expanse of barrels. To me it’s like looking up a two-lane road. My first thought it always “how can anyone miss with one of these?”
Of course you can miss with them – at least I can – and like most misses with shotguns the root cause is the same: looking at the barrels, not at the bird.
To me the main difference between doubles and O/Us and single barrels is that when I shoot a double well I am almost completely unaware of the barrels, where with other guns, I see the rib as a blur in my peripheral vision. With the straighter stock I feel like am almost looking over the barrels of a double, not down them as you might with an O/U or repeater. When I shoot a double gun well, it becomes, as Field & Stream’s Gene Hill once wrote, “just a place to put two shells” and the real shooting is done with my eyes and hands working together as if the gun wasn’t there at all.
*That is an Aya 4/53 in the picture. No, it is not mine. Yes, I wish it was.