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The Difference Between Shooting a Rifle and Shotgun

When shooting a rifle, the shooter is looking down the barrel and lining it up with the target. While holding the barrel on the target, the shooter begins to squeeze the trigger and the gun goes off. But when the gun is going to go off should be a surprise to the shooter.

When shooting a shotgun, the shooter is never looking down the barrel. If they’re looking down the barrel and at the target at the same time, the barrel would have to be on the bird. If the bird is moving, it would be behind the bird.

The wing or clay shooter must be looking at the target to hit it and the muzzle must be ahead of the target (painted or feathered). What that looks like varies from shooter to shooter based on their experience in the field or the range.

We have yet to meet anyone who begins this journey who isn’t confused in the beginning. Through experience and perseverance, patience and determination, they eventually understand what the sight picture looks like to them!

The other huge difference in wing and clay shooting is how the trigger is pulled. When the target is still, you line everything up and squeeze the trigger and the gun goes off when it goes off.

When the target and the gun are moving, when the brain sees what it wants to see to send the shot, the trigger must be pulled decisively at that instant. Otherwise, the sight picture could change and a miss will occur.

In wing and clay shooting this is called timing. When the muzzle is synced, and the sight picture is stable, you must pull the trigger decisively!