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Sharpen Your Shotgun Skills for Dove Season with Low Gun Skeet

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June 04, 2013

Sharpen Your Shotgun Skills for Dove Season with Low Gun Skeet

By Phil Bourjaily

It’s less than three months until dove season and now is the time to start practicing.

There are a few people who don’t need much practice. They are the lucky ones who shoot so much during each season that they can fish or golf all summer, then pick right up where they left off when the season starts again. Most of us don’t fall into that category. I certainly don’t—so instead of fishing or playing golf, I shoot low-gun skeet.

Any shooting is beneficial if you practice good technique, but the skeet field is the very best place to sharpen your wingshooting skills.

I was very good at upland birds when I shot only trap, but was pretty worthless at doves and waterfowl because all the targets are going away. The other problem with trap is that it’s possible to do a lot of things wrong (stand funny, hold the shotgun like a rifle, shut one eye and aim at the target, for instance) and still shoot decent trap scores. That’s fine for your league standings, but it won’t help you much in the field.

Sporting Clays is great practice but it costs a lot, takes a long time to shoot, and it can’t be shot at night. 

Unless you can get very creative, most backyard traps only give you going away shots—way better than no practice at all, but it won’t get you ready for crossing targets.

That leaves skeet, which was, after all, invented by grouse hunters as an off-season practice game. Start now and shoot a couple of rounds of skeet a week from a low-gun start and you will be ready for doves and ducks. The low-gun start sharpens your gun mounting skills and you will get plenty of practice learning to lead targets by a mile on stations 3, 4, and 5.

Andy Duffy, the sporting clays shooter, told me once he shot lots of skeet to get ready for sporting clays tournaments.

“A lot of people practice the hard sporting targets,” he said. “I don’t. I shoot skeet because it’s good practice but it’s easy enough to shoot good scores. Seeing targets shatter builds my confidence.”

You can shoot your hunting gun if you want to. Skeet and improved cylinder chokes work best as all the targets are within 25 yards or so and some are just a few feet off the muzzle. Any gauge works; just be sure not to bring your hunting loads to the gun club (I have seen once-a-year shooters bring steel BBs to the skeet field which is not a safe idea) and use shot sizes 7 ½ or smaller.

Also, skeet shooters tend to be a friendly group, in my experience. If you haven’t shot the game before, most will be more than happy to help you learn the game.

Comments (13)

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from Tim Platt wrote 45 weeks 13 hours ago

You need to fish more. I have caught my limit of trout on four streams this year and the White Bass (Stripes) are running on the Stones River...

I wish I needed to be a better shot at doves, I have trouble finding enough of them to make me look bad. Maybe you should send me to Argentina with a new shotgun to test. Have computer skills, will travel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 45 weeks 10 hours ago

I've already started practicing for the season. Shot up three boxes last week and felt good to be swinging a shot gun again. Corn, millet and sunflowers are planted and the fields are off to a good start. Looking forward to Opening Day

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 45 weeks 10 hours ago

I've already started practicing for the season. Shot up three boxes last week and felt good to be swinging a shot gun again. Corn, millet and sunflowers are planted and the fields are off to a good start. Looking forward to Opening Day

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 45 weeks 9 hours ago

Good thoughts Phil !! If the range allows it you should back up to the 27 yard line ( or farther ) and shoot the crossers from there ! However if you lead them by a mile you will be about 1,598 yards in front of most of them .......
Tim Platt: I found very good dove hunting within a mile or two of my house last fall ( Iowa ), trout streams are at least 90 miles away, farther for the better ones :(
I travel to Wisconsin to chase grouse, ditch parrots are slim here these days :((

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 45 weeks 9 hours ago

Hate writing this, but the cost of ammo...if can be found..and gas has me really cutting back on clay targets. If I shoot now I gotta make it count for something besides a skeet score.

Never thought it come to this. SOB!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Having purchased a new o/u last year I have been out putting a lot of rounds thru it. My go to gun has always been my LT 20 remington but I want to use the o/u this year in the dove fields so it's practice, practice, practice. Your method sounds like a great idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

In other news, I have seen my first bottle of Templeton Rye at my nearest purveyor of fine ethanol and cogeners, etc. It costs around fitty bucks.

Are you sure them Iowa boys know how to make good whiskey? I usually drink the stuff that doesn't have an "e" (whisky, as in Scotch whisky) in the name, but have been known to enjoy a few bottles of the rough "Old Overholt" rye. Nice tangy rye snap to it.

Last question about dove practice on the skeet range: Will they let you eat jerky and sit on an upturned 5-gallon bucket while you shoot?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

I shot 2-3 rounds of skeet twice a week for a good many years and ALWAYS shot low gun. You are absolutely correct Phil. It makes you pretty deadly on just about anything, including Doves. On my first of many dove shooting trips to western Nebraska, I surprised myself by hitting over 90% of the birds; something I did not expect to be able to do after hearing how tough they were to hit. Also, if you are able to find somewhere you can shoot domestic pigeons, they are super practice and just as hard to hit consistently. Also much much physically tougher birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Amflyer: If it is just Phil or I the bucket is welcome, save the TR for after :) I have friends that like to do the same too ( bucket thing )

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

"Old Overcoat"? Ugh! Haven't imbibed any of that stuff since I was too young to drink and broke (a very long time ago!). I have a few very bad memories of that night. Though just a few! Not sure which smelled worse, that open bottle or the toilet I was making out with most of the night. No thanks for the memories!

If I tried shooting at anything sitting on a five-gallon bucket, my knees would get in the way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I like to hold the gun lower than that. Hunting in the field with the low gun, the mount becomes paramount to good shooting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 43 weeks 6 days ago

Dangle,
When hunting with dogs that give good indication that a flush is soon to happen, this is an excellant postion to hold the gun. It allows for a short quick mount where focus can be on the target and less chance the muzzle will be bouncing around vs. a smooth move to the target !

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmn wrote 43 weeks 4 days ago

Hey, Phil or tom warner-
do you guys shoot low gun on station 8 high house?? I'm pretty new to skeet and I've been shooting with a pre-mounted gun. I'll have to try low gun to get ready for the fall. But I can't imagine there's enough time to mount and break that #8 high bird if your gun isn't pre-mounted!
Can you call pull and then mount? Or do you have to wait to see the bird before starting your mount?
Thanks!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Tim Platt wrote 45 weeks 13 hours ago

You need to fish more. I have caught my limit of trout on four streams this year and the White Bass (Stripes) are running on the Stones River...

I wish I needed to be a better shot at doves, I have trouble finding enough of them to make me look bad. Maybe you should send me to Argentina with a new shotgun to test. Have computer skills, will travel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 45 weeks 10 hours ago

I've already started practicing for the season. Shot up three boxes last week and felt good to be swinging a shot gun again. Corn, millet and sunflowers are planted and the fields are off to a good start. Looking forward to Opening Day

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 45 weeks 10 hours ago

I've already started practicing for the season. Shot up three boxes last week and felt good to be swinging a shot gun again. Corn, millet and sunflowers are planted and the fields are off to a good start. Looking forward to Opening Day

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 45 weeks 9 hours ago

Good thoughts Phil !! If the range allows it you should back up to the 27 yard line ( or farther ) and shoot the crossers from there ! However if you lead them by a mile you will be about 1,598 yards in front of most of them .......
Tim Platt: I found very good dove hunting within a mile or two of my house last fall ( Iowa ), trout streams are at least 90 miles away, farther for the better ones :(
I travel to Wisconsin to chase grouse, ditch parrots are slim here these days :((

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 45 weeks 9 hours ago

Hate writing this, but the cost of ammo...if can be found..and gas has me really cutting back on clay targets. If I shoot now I gotta make it count for something besides a skeet score.

Never thought it come to this. SOB!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Having purchased a new o/u last year I have been out putting a lot of rounds thru it. My go to gun has always been my LT 20 remington but I want to use the o/u this year in the dove fields so it's practice, practice, practice. Your method sounds like a great idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

In other news, I have seen my first bottle of Templeton Rye at my nearest purveyor of fine ethanol and cogeners, etc. It costs around fitty bucks.

Are you sure them Iowa boys know how to make good whiskey? I usually drink the stuff that doesn't have an "e" (whisky, as in Scotch whisky) in the name, but have been known to enjoy a few bottles of the rough "Old Overholt" rye. Nice tangy rye snap to it.

Last question about dove practice on the skeet range: Will they let you eat jerky and sit on an upturned 5-gallon bucket while you shoot?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

I shot 2-3 rounds of skeet twice a week for a good many years and ALWAYS shot low gun. You are absolutely correct Phil. It makes you pretty deadly on just about anything, including Doves. On my first of many dove shooting trips to western Nebraska, I surprised myself by hitting over 90% of the birds; something I did not expect to be able to do after hearing how tough they were to hit. Also, if you are able to find somewhere you can shoot domestic pigeons, they are super practice and just as hard to hit consistently. Also much much physically tougher birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Amflyer: If it is just Phil or I the bucket is welcome, save the TR for after :) I have friends that like to do the same too ( bucket thing )

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

"Old Overcoat"? Ugh! Haven't imbibed any of that stuff since I was too young to drink and broke (a very long time ago!). I have a few very bad memories of that night. Though just a few! Not sure which smelled worse, that open bottle or the toilet I was making out with most of the night. No thanks for the memories!

If I tried shooting at anything sitting on a five-gallon bucket, my knees would get in the way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I like to hold the gun lower than that. Hunting in the field with the low gun, the mount becomes paramount to good shooting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 43 weeks 6 days ago

Dangle,
When hunting with dogs that give good indication that a flush is soon to happen, this is an excellant postion to hold the gun. It allows for a short quick mount where focus can be on the target and less chance the muzzle will be bouncing around vs. a smooth move to the target !

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmn wrote 43 weeks 4 days ago

Hey, Phil or tom warner-
do you guys shoot low gun on station 8 high house?? I'm pretty new to skeet and I've been shooting with a pre-mounted gun. I'll have to try low gun to get ready for the fall. But I can't imagine there's enough time to mount and break that #8 high bird if your gun isn't pre-mounted!
Can you call pull and then mount? Or do you have to wait to see the bird before starting your mount?
Thanks!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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