- Use good ammo
Don’t use the promotional, cheap stuff. Premium ammunition provides better patterns and impact, resulting in more one-shot kills and broken targets.
- Change your patterns
You can easily do this by changing your choke or changing your shot size. If you hit birds with just one or two pellets, try using a tighter choke. If you miss close-range birds, use a more open choke.
- Dry fire and mount
Practice your gun mount at home, with safety precautions. If you have snap caps, mount the gun, take the safety off, then swing and pull the trigger. Have a shooting partner shine a flashlight at a wall and move the beam. Practice mounting and following the beam. Each time you mount your gun, you develop muscle memory. The whole act of mounting and firing will eventually become instinctive.
- Learn a proper stance
Shot gunning and rifle shooting are not similar. A lot of novice shotgun shooters use a wide stance and often have their feet 90 degrees to the line of their target. In wing shooting, your feet should be no more than shoulder width apart and the toe of your lead foot should point toward the target.
- Let birds get up and out
Most hunters tend to shoot at flushing birds when they first come up off the ground. Have patience. Shooting too quickly usually results in a miss. Say to yourself “move, mount, shoot” on close, quick shots. Say “butt, belly, beak, bang” on longer shots.
- Concentrate on the front end of the target
Most misses on crossing targets are due to shooting behind the target. This phenomenon often occurs when the shooter stops the gun after he or she sees the bird or the shooter shifts focus to the shotgun bead. Make a conscious effort to look for and focus on the bird’s head or the leading edge of the target.
- Get your nose over your toes
Shotgun shooters should not lean back nor bend at the hip. Proper shotgun shooting involves leaning your weight forward.
- Fit your gun properly
Much like a tennis racket or golf club, a shotgun should be an extension of your body. Many modern guns have stock shims. Spend time on the pattern board and get a professional gun fitting. Your eyes are the back sight of the shotgun and it should shoot wherever you look, as long as your gun mount is consistent.