By Harley Jackson, Outfitters Guide
Nestled amongst a grove of Aspens in the backcountry of Victory Ranch, we are fortunate to have a unique, beautiful and action packed 5 Stand shooting platform, otherwise known as Double Barrel.
For many people, the first time shooting can be quite nerve racking. However, shooting shotguns and actually hitting the target can be exhilarating and approachable for both beginners and advanced shooters. By following a few simple tips shooting can be an exciting, fun and a safe activity for all ages. The following are a few tips to remember for shooters of all skill levels.
1. The number one tip when shooting a shotgun is to keep your face on the gun! When shooting a shotgun, the gun always follows your eyes (which are on your face), and even a small gap from the gun to your face translates to inches, if not feet, missed from the impact point on the target. The other reason is for safety. If the gun is not firm on your face just below your cheek bone, the recoil can kick the gun up to your face and cause some pain. We are all about fun, not pain at Double Barrel!
2. The next tip is keep the balance of your weight on your front foot. This is important in any kind of shooting, especially when shooting a shotgun. People generally want to lean back on their back foot to absorb the impact of the recoil of a shotgun, causing gunners to shoot over the target. A flexed knee and weight on the front foot will minimize this and allows your leg to adjust to any shot. The balance forward allows you to pivot and swing more easily. If weight is on the back foot, the pivot comes more from the torso and is not as smooth or effective. If you watch very good or professional shooters they are almost leaning over the railing, maximizing the pivot and allowing for even the tiniest midair adjustment.
3. Number three is keep the gun swinging. Unlike rifles or pistols, a shotgun has to be moving at all times. The target is moving, so the gun must also. Stopping the gun or shooting “at” the target instead of shooting “with” or “swinging with” the target will lead to shooting behind the target almost every time. Staying loose and practicing a smooth swing, and exaggerating the swing, will create good muscle memory, leading to much more success on the range.
4. Breathe and relax. It sounds simple, but can be very hard to do when shooting a gun. I like to say be firm but relaxed. If a shooter is tense and tight their muscles won’t react as quickly or as smoothly. If the forward hand is tight on the gun it can also cantor the gun to one side, causing you to miss from the left or to the right. One deep breathe, in through the mouth and out.
Harley joined the Victory Ranch team in May of 2013 where he runs the Upland Bird and shooting programs. He also acts as the head guide for fishing at Victory Ranch. Before becoming part of the Victory Ranch team, Harley hosted American Gun Dog, which aired on ESPN, Outdoor Channel, and Sportsman Channel, for seven years. He has been bird hunting and guiding fly-fishing excursions since 1994. Harley’s love for hunting goes beyond Victory Ranch; he currently lives on an acre of land just five minutes from Victory Ranch and owns 10 bird dogs.