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Teaching Swing-Through Pheasant Hunters in South Dakota

We’re returning from South Dakota from teaching at Hunters Pointe near Sioux Falls, and renewing our friendship with Tony Bour and his family. What a relief to have cooler weather: highs of 85 instead of a heat index of 107 in Houston. And we’re planning to return once and maybe twice next year.

Teaching Swing-Through Pheasant Hunters

Well, we are in pheasant country and encountered a lot of swing-through shooters that were hunters. In their minds, they were good shots on pheasants, but not so good on clays. The real story, however, is they were good on flushing pheasants but not so good on crossing shots.

This is what we see in so many different areas of the country where there are a lot of hunters, so it’s not surprising. But we still are amazed at the amount of misinformation out there about what really happens when you shoot a shotgun. We got the usual: “just swing the muzzle faster and the shot will go sideways” and “just shoot right at them” or “if you swing fast enough, you will spread the shot.” I had a demonstration on that which opened quite a few eyes.

Although all were willing to change from their swing-through techniques, some were more reluctant than others. We talked about how swing-through shooters can’t hit long shots, curling shots, quick window shots and have trouble on the second bird on pairs and have a score differential of 12-20 birds.

When we first brought this up, people were shocked at what we knew about what they could hit and not hit. We explained that it was not their ability that was keeping their consistency where it was. Rather, it was their technique that was causing the inconsistency and was keeping them from getting better. When we first showed the animations and the DNR toolbox, the shooters were amazed – and still a little reluctant about whether they would be able to execute their newly-understood shooting method of coming up in front of the bird and stabilizing the shot.

We continue to be amazed at how in our presentation we can actually change the brain’s perceptions and pictures and how quickly shooters get the new images and become consistent on distant crossers. We like to go to right-to-left crossers first because when you mount the gun on left-to-rights, your nose is pointed to the right of the barrels, which makes it easier for you to keep focus on the bird when you mount well in front of the bird and see it come. This, combined with the across-the-barrel picture, makes success almost instant and the shooter is shocked at hitting 35 to 40 yard crossers on the first station. Especially when they have been trying to swing through them.

A Teachable Moment

On the last day, one of the students was a barrel checker who thought the shooter must know where the barrel is pointing in order to hit the targets. He was a retired cardiologist, we came to find out, so go figure: a control freak who is never wrong.

Well, he and his Benelli met their match on Saturday and he finally gave in. All I did was let him shoot and kept calling his misses.

When he could not consciously correct the shot, a teachable moment was finally created by his frustration of not being able to correct the miss combined with the amazing successes of the others in the group who saw how easy it was when they were not measuring the shot. It was fun for me and he finally gave in and shot well.

We had a few more successes, but I’m still amazed at how shooters’ fear changes and missing the targets, and how many shooters absolutely refuse to practice their gun mounts at home so they can really concentrate on the target and what the shot should look like.

This has been a common thread by many shooters. They think they can just mount the gun, get the figure “8,” and then look back to the trap, call “pull,” and hit the target consistently. It’s just not gonna happen.

The Joy of a Custom Stock

On another note, we absolutely without a doubt love our custom stocks made by Neal Bauder. It might be hard for you to believe, but we have never had a custom stock made and fitted to us and our guns. Man, what a difference a fitted gun makes.

I changed the shape of the cross-section shape of the pistol grip to more of an oval than a circle like the original stocks come with. I also took the flange off the front of the Schnabel and just tapered the front up to the barrel like a Browning Superposed. What a difference it makes in the way the Parcour handles.

Both guns were exactly 8#s and man, do they handle and shoot well. What a pleasure we have been missing by me just adapting the factory stocks we have been shooting over the past 25 years. When you have a good gun mount, you really can appreciate a custom-fitted gun. The problem we see is that most shooters do not have a consistent enough gun mount to allow for a custom-fitted stock.

We used our original stocks as “pattern stocks” and I cut the combs low so we could Bondo the stocks and work with comb shape and drip to get the fit perfect. And man, am I glad we did. It’s the only way to go and know that what you’re going to get will fit perfectly.

I guess our K- 20s will be next on the custom fitting scene when we return from Argentina in mid-August…