Addressing the Target
In sporting clay shooting one has the great advantage (if one takes it) of knowing from where the bird is coming and to where it is going. One can and should select a killing point so that one can swing on and through the target without tension, a point where the gun will be held (so that unnecessary gun movement is avoided) and a point where the eyes will look in anticipation of the target (so that they will lock onto it without delay). When shooting game, though, one does not have the benefit of the same pre-shot intelligence before one sees the bird. Game shootng is a more unpredictable business, but one can still stack the odds in one's favour.
If you hold a gun in the ready position, butt down, muzzles up, and rotate the upper body right and left, the arc within which one will be able to shoot without moving the feet and without too much tension or discomfort will be apparent. The first stage in preparing our address position when driven shooting therefore is to make sure that this arc matches, or nearly matches, the zone in which the birds are likely to fly. Simple? Maybe. But it is amazing how many people - both live quarry and clay shots - have never bothered to test precisely their ability to move right and left in this way and consider their ideal stance and address position in the light of it. If you hold the gun as a right hander, you will discover your movement to the left is significantly easier than to the right (and visa versa, of course for southpaws).
Let us now get something else out of the way: the position of the muzzles when at the ready for game shooting. Arguments about the relative merits of Mr Stanbury's and Mr Churchill's style not withstanding, most of us like to see the muzzles held well up when waiting (or walking) for game. It is essential for safety. The ideal gameshooting ready position is something above 45 degrees usually (depending on gradient - 45 degrees may not be enough in some circumstances - for example, if you have higher ground to your front or rear). The eyes, meantime, should be scanning the area to your front looking just above or, sometimes, through the muzzles. You are not just looking for quarry birds, of course, but anything out of the ordinary (escaped vultures, courting couples, the neighbours children etc.). It is amazing how often someone has been shot, because someone else assumed they were not there. If the first rule of gun safety is never point your gun at something you do not wish to shoot, the second is do not assume. BEWARE THE INVISIBLE MAN. Those who point their barrels horizontally forward on a driven game shoot take a terrible risk. Don't bring you gun barrels up from a low position through the hozizon - HOLD THEM HIGH. When you take a shot you must see sky - NEVER risk a low shot.
The trigger finger should be behind the trigger guard, or, extended along the edge of the trigger guard in the address, the safety must be engaged, and the thumb should be wrapped around the grip rather than riding the safety. The safety is only removed once a safe and legal target is identified and the decsion to shoot it immedaitely has been made. One operates the safety momentarily BEFORE the gun is raised to face and shoulder controlling the muzzles thoughout. The trigger finger need only be brought on to the trigger towards the end of the mount. Far too many Guns wait either with the safety off and/or with their finger on the trigger. Some fiddle with the safety nervously. All horrible and potentially fatal habits. How the mount and swing may progress once a safe bird is found is a matter of circumstance and personal preference as we have previously discussed. When you pull the trigger it is always your responsibility - if in doubt, don't.
Once we have determined what it is, where it is going and approximately where we may want to shoot it, most us will want to take the barrels to and through the bird. If there is no opportunity to move the feet, one must rely on body rotation and good use of the front arm. BUT, there usually is time to move. Most of us do not move the feet enough (and consequently end up wrong footed and running out of swing). Moving the feet needs to become a habit - a standard operating procedure. The address position needs to be considered in this light - a means to the end of facilitating movement - it is not a static position. A good address provides a compromise position for dealing with unpredictable targets to one's front, but it also provides a firm, balanced, position from which one may step right or left into the line of the bird.
See the Bird
Quartering right or left?
Shall I move?
Where do I want to kill it?
The front foot and barrels move in unison right or left. The rear foot stays put and acts as pivot.
The new foot position is completed, the weight is transferred
Upper body rotation continues and the shot is finished with good use of the front arm.
Complicated? Not all. Try it. Grab a gun. Prove it empty. Take up an address position for driven birds to your front. Imagine a bird breaking right or left of centre. Let's take one to the right. Touch the muzzles to it. Keep the muzzles on line and up by good use of the front hand. Now, take a small step 'into the line of the bird' with the front foot (it need only move 6" or so). Complete the shot keeping the gun moving and up on line. You will have noticed in all this, that I have not made much mention of forward allowance. That's because I wanted to discuss this separately. Please note the disclaimer below.
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