Wingshooting can be an incredibly satisfying or supremely frustrating experience, depending on how well you’re connecting with your targets.
To boost your odds of connecting with every pull of the trigger, we enlisted world champion trapshooter Rick Marshall, Jr. The incredibly consistent hall-of-famer and veteran shooting instructor offers the following tips to take your wingshooting to the next level.
“Proper gun fit is critical to success whether you’re shooting ducks, pheasants or clay pigeons,” says Marshall. “If your gun doesn't fit, it most likely won't shoot where you're looking.”
Much goes into fit, including length of pull, pitch, and drop at both comb and heel. Simple fitting tests can help, such as lining up the beads to form a figure-eight, and making sure you’re not crawling up a short stock or over-extending your form due to a protracted length of pull. But when in doubt, consult a gunsmith.
Make Yourself Comfortable
“Find your comfort zone and success soars,” says Marshall.
Keys to stress-free shooting include being familiar with your firearm, so there’s no hesitation when the targets start flying.
“Knowing your shotgun is critical to avoid fumbling and getting flustered at the moment of truth,” he explains. “To achieve it, there’s no substitute for plenty of practice.”
Fine-tuning form likewise engenders accuracy.
“Always assume the most comfortable position possible, so you can swing the barrel with no restriction of movement,” he adds.
“Shooting is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical,” Marshall explains. “Keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself, even after you miss a shot. Entertaining negative thoughts and dwelling on mistakes will only drag you down. I’ve seen too many shooters get mad or discouraged after missing a target, then miss two or three more because of their attitude.”
Rather than being intimidated by wind, rain and other adverse conditions, Marshall embraces the challenge.
“I actually love shooting in inclement weather because I know that most of the other shooters will get frustrated and let it affect them,” he says. “Facing challenges with a positive mindset serves you better than worrying or complaining about them.”
Because distractions fuel misses, Marshall councils total concentration when it’s time to shoot.
“When you start to mount the gun, focus on the job at hand—which is seeing what you want to hit,” he says.
To keep your mind on point, he recommends using a catch phrase that will focus your attention like a laser.
“I tell myself to ‘see the target’ right before I call pull,” he says. “When the target comes out, I see it and break it. It’s as simple as that.”
trapshooter Rick Marshall shares his top seven tips for better wingshooting.
Goals foster progress and breed success.
“Setting goals and working toward them make you a better shooter than simply hoping for the best,” says Marshall.
He recommends keeping goals realistic and achievable, with short-term objectives leading up to loftier aspirations.
“It’s OK to say you want to be a world champion, but if it’s your second day of shooting, you’d better add a series of goals to help get you there,” he explains.
Accept Fundamental Truths
Slumps happen to the best of shooters. The difference between champions and average gunners is how they respond.
“If you’re struggling to connect with targets, go back to the basics,” says Marshall. “Making sure your foot setup, eye position and hold points are correct will often get you back on track.”