man shooting skeet duck training
Pull! Get on ducks faster by "hunting" clays now. Rick Adair

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It doesn’t take a sporting clays course or skeet field to sharpen your shotgun game. With a buddy, a hand thrower, and a case of clays you can easily mimic common field shots and get in gunning shape for waterfowl season. Plus, it’s not a bad way to spend a summer afternoon.

duck hunting skeet training tips
Four training exercises to up your shotgunning game. Steve Sanford

1. The Hard Crosser
With your friend standing 40 yards downrange, and safely to one side, have him hurl a clay left to right as hard as he can. Vary the heights. When you start breaking them, move on to doubles if you have a two-clay chucker. Repeat with right-to-left crossers.

2. Crossing Away
Just like the hardest station on the skeet field, station 2, ducks love to bomb into the decoys over a shooter’s shoulder. Position the thrower behind you and 15 yards to your left. The clay should cross away from you at a sharp diagonal. Switch sides and repeat.

3. Passing Ducks
Position the thrower directly behind you, elevated on a hill or picnic table if possible. Have him send the clay out, directly over your head, high and fast. With more than one buddy and thrower, try multiple clays fast and furious, just like a flock of passing ducks.

4. Decoying Ducks
Have the thrower send targets toward you from a safe angle so they hit the ground about 20 yards out front. Don’t shoot until they’re a few feet off the ground. If you have a small pond to practice over, all the better. Break them just before they splash.

Bonus Tip: Pick Your Shots

If you have a skeet or sporting clays course to shoot, save your shells for the more challenging targets. Rather than run the course, drill skeet stations 2, 3, 4, and 5; focus on the blind incoming, outgoing, and springing sporting-clay shots. Realistic presentations will help your game more than the chip shots.

RELATED: Shotgun Drills: Improve Your Shooting in the Off-Season