shotgun snap caps
B's Dry Fire Snap Caps for off-season training.

Inasmuch as there is a winter off-season for wingshooters anymore, we’re in it.

It’s time to do drills. You can get as involved in off-season practice as you want. Olympic shooters will do 100 or 200 gun mounts a night, which is a ton. They do eye exercises, too, reading numbers on balls thrown to them or away from them, or reading labels on turntables. Some trapshooters will make tape lines representing all the angles on the field on a wall, then practice moving the gun along the lines.

I don’t go quite as far because my shooting goals are more modest: I want to hit more birds in the fall, and I find that keeping a gun or two close at hand in my office helps me stay familiar with them in the off-season. My dad played the trumpet as a break from writing. I play with guns. I realize that those of you who don’t work at home can’t bring guns to the office, but you can get them out when you come home in the evening, or after the kids have gone to bed.

Right now, for instance, I am brushing up on my double trigger skills. I own exactly one double-triggered gun, and I’ve been drilling with it and snap caps. There’s a print of a pair of wood ducks in my office, and I can stand across the room and pretend I’m shooting a double. Front trigger, back trigger, then switch and try back to front.

Similarly, I’m working on keeping my pumping stroke smooth. My slide action skills have atrophied from too many years of shooting birds with semiautos and O/Us. But I have three snap caps and can sling empties all over the office as I practice going to the plug.

Then there are gun mounts, about which I have written many times, but I can write about them all I want and if you do nothing but read about them, they won’t do you any good. Fix your eyes on a target, and practice pushing the muzzle toward the target while bringing the stock to your face first, then tucking it into your shoulder. Do these both to groove your gun mount and to build endurance. I’ve been doing mine with a 10 gauge BPS, which weighs right at 10 pounds and makes a great dumbbell in the off-season.

Drilling is not as much fun as shooting live rounds at birds or targets, but it will help you hit more of them when the time comes.