Dove Grant: Spend $50 on Skeet, Nail More Doves Opening Day

Photograph by Ralph Smith

A skeet field offers almost every shot you’ll encounter in a dove field. In most places, $50 will get you four boxes of shells and four rounds of skeet. Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck:

1. Use your dove gun with a Skeet or Improved Cylinder choke. Also use your regular dove loads, but remember that most clubs don’t allow shot larger than steel 7 or lead 71⁄2.

2. Do two rounds of skeet on two visits rather than all four at once. Go with friends and get a field to yourselves so that you can customize your practice. Skeet has four doubles (at Stations 1, 2, 6, and 7) that bear no resemblance to a pair of real doves in the field. For better practice, tell the puller you want to shoot your doubles as single targets, and that you want to skip the unnatural Station 8 and instead take those shots at Station 4.

3. It’s best to shoot from a low-gun start so you can practice mounting your gun. If you find that’s too hard at first, start with a premounted gun and take heart. Any practice is good.

4. The first target, High House 1, simulates a dove that sneaks in overhead from behind, a common shot when your back is to a power line. Call “pull” with your muzzle held high, then move the gun down, shooting when you see the whole bird over the gun. If you aim or try to double-check on this target, you’ll shoot high. Remember this hold for the field.

5. Long crossers may be the most common shot opportunity on a dove field. Practice them at Stations 3, 4, and 5. Start your gun far enough away from the house that you can keep the muzzle in front of the target throughout the shot. A sustained lead on long crossing birds is much easier than swinging through them.