new hunter
A new hunter with her first dove. Phil Bourjaily

The end result we want is the picture above: a happy new hunter with her first dove. After Friday morning, there is one more of us. Here’s how to get that result when introducing someone new to bird hunting:

Get the Gun Right
A gun that fits the new shooter, is easy to shoot and doesn’t hurt is essential. This Remington V3 fits the bill. It’s a very soft-shooting gas gun. If you choose a 12 like this one, load it with factory or handloaded 7/8 ounce, 1200 fps target ammo. This gun weighs a little over 7 pounds, which is not too heavy for most to lift, but heavy enough to swing well. It has a skeet choke for a broad, forgiving pattern. Twenty-gauge gas guns work, too, as long they are not overly light.

Remington V3.
The Remington V3. Remington

Give Lessons
Novice shooters can stay fresh and focused through about 50-75 shots, so you’re better off giving three or four shorter lessons rather than one long one. During the lesson, take a break after every ten shots or so. Backyard trap is okay for starters. You can go through the fundamentals of holding the gun and teaching “head on the gun, eye on the target” which is 95 percent of shooting. For subsequent lessons you will have to find a way to shoot incoming and crossing targets, maybe at a skeet field or sporting clays course. Slow incoming targets give your student time to see the bird coming and make the shot. Work your way up to crossers.

After learning to lead targets, your student needs to work on shooting with a low gun. Let your them call for the target during the gun mount. Again, this is easier with incoming birds. Finally, try some shots sitting on a bucket.

Start With Doves

Dove hunting—if you can get away from crowds—is great for new hunters. The weather is warm. You can sit right with your student and dole out one shell at a time. You can get away with some movement and there’s little pressure because there are lots of chances to hit that first dove. And often one is all it takes.