Common Shooting Mistakes

Hunter527

Well-Known Member
Apr 3, 2018
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I was at the range a couple weeks ago and noticed that I tend to jerk the trigger rather than squeeze. I’m guessing I’ll just have to break that habit through practice at the range and with my air rifle at home. I thought it would be a good idea to ask you guys what are some shooting mistakes you see at the range and while hunting with other people. The only big game animal I’ve taken so far was a whitetail buck on a youth hunt in Kansas about four years ago. My first shot missed him and I was lucky that it was a clean miss and he stood still long enough for me to take another shot instead of bolting; so I assume there are other things I can improve on besides squeezing the trigger.
 

GUNDOGLOVER

Well-Known Member
Dec 5, 2018
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In my experience a lot of shooters jerk the trigger because they anticipate the recoil. Always use the pad of your finger, don't wrap your finger around the trigger. Breathing is very important, always shoot on the pause between breaths. avoid real deep breaths where you expand your chest which raises your shoulders. Practice a lot using snap caps or, dry firing, which most guys would say to avoid. Practice with small cal. fire arms like a .22 until you are comfortable and shooting a good group. Other guys here will give you other tips to help you , but there is no better teacher than practice.
 

Morgan1776

Active Member
May 23, 2019
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Shoot with a friend so they can call you out on your bad habits or mistakes you don't realize you're making.
 

Hunter527

Well-Known Member
Apr 3, 2018
357
334
63
In my experience a lot of shooters jerk the trigger because they anticipate the recoil. Always use the pad of your finger, don't wrap your finger around the trigger. Breathing is very important, always shoot on the pause between breaths. avoid real deep breaths where you expand your chest which raises your shoulders. Practice a lot using snap caps or, dry firing, which most guys would say to avoid. Practice with small cal. fire arms like a .22 until you are comfortable and shooting a good group. Other guys here will give you other tips to help you , but there is no better teacher than practice.
Most guys say to avoid dry firing, not snap caps right?
 

ilovesprig

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 3, 2012
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Most guys say to avoid dry firing, not snap caps right?
I've always been told it's OK to dry fire rifles, but not shotguns.

ps...Back when I 1st started hunting big game by myself...I went a whole summer of shooting a bolt action Marlin .22 with scope...Just so I could get used to shooting thru a scope.
 

Aeon

just a dude who duck hunts
Feb 16, 2011
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Dry fire your center fire rifle, have way more rounds dry fired then live fire on a couple of my rigs
 

SurfNHuntSD

Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2013
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San Diego
Practice how you'll shoot a rifle in the field, meaning off the sticks, off your pack, or off hand. Last couple deer I've shot have been while standing up, off sticks, and in odd terrain.

With a shotgun, my biggest problem is rushing shots without shouldering properly (half assing it). My second biggest problem is lazy swinging (also half assing it). Both of these problems, I've found, are helped by slowing down and thinking about fundamentals instead of getting duck fever and going click boom in a hurry. If any of you have played baseball or golf it's just like working on a swing. Also getting in a couple rounds of trap, or shotgunning rabbits or euros before dove and duck openers seems to help shake the rust off.
 
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Snake Charmer

Happiness is a warm gut pile
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Practice how you'll shoot a rifle in the field, meaning off the sticks, off your pack, or off hand. Last couple deer I've shot have been while standing up, off sticks, and in odd terrain.

With a shotgun, my biggest problem is rushing shots without shouldering properly (half assing it). My second biggest problem is lazy swinging (also half assing it). Both of these problems, I've found, are helped by slowing down and thinking about fundamentals instead of getting duck fever and going click boom in a hurry. If any of you have played baseball or golf it's just like working on a swing. Also getting in a couple rounds of trap, or shotgunning rabbits or euros before dove and duck openers seems to help shake the rust off.
Range time with your shotgun will heal you, five stand, skeet and trap, do them all and you will after time begin to slow down and become more focused. Shooting a shotgun is like playing a musical instrument without constant practice you will never achieve or maintain consistent success. Rifles and shotguns are two diferent tools and require two different disciplines. I remember a quote from a famous lawmen who's name escapes me at the moment but what he said about shooting accurately and quickly is - Take your time in a hurry... in other words check the details off the list consistently every time.
 

ilovesprig

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 3, 2012
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The best hunting shots I've ever known were normally athletic...They get the concept of lead...They get, if an end is running across the field, the QB doesn't throw where he's at, he throws where he's going to be...Leading birds is the same concept...There are 4 methods, maintained Lead, Spot Shooting, Pull-Away, and Swing-Through...In different situations, you may need more than one of these techniques.

A shotgun that fits is of the most importance as well...And no one gun fits everybody (old 870's were close)...High comb, low comb, weight distribution, etc. makes a difference too.

Practice is great, if you're hitting the target...Bad form, a poorly fitting gun, or no concept of lead doesn't change, no matter how many times you pull the trigger.

ps...Just a little thing I do to practice away from the range...Take your index finger and point it at birds, cars, airplanes or anything moving...When you get in front of the moving object...Pull your fingers...Again, gives you the concept of lead.
 

monyako

New Member
Jun 15, 2020
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@ilovesprig "maintained Lead, Spot Shooting, Pull-Away, and Swing-Through" This was super useful. I learned rifle marksmanship in the Marines, so I taught my kids with iron sites before letting them use scopes, but I don't have any experience with shotguns. We will start educating ourselves on how to implement these leads. Also, for anyone else looking to learn how to practice I found this video practical and affordable:)
 

HATCHET1

"yes,it killed the hound..ferocious bitch she was"
Aug 2, 2013
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Not compensating enough for the hood scoop....oh my..thats an expensive one..
 
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