Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Orvis Sandanona Chronicles Part II

This shooting tip originally appeared in the Shotgun Life free weekly e-letter. You can sign up for it at You can download this tip to your iPod, Blackberry or other Web-enabled PDA and take these lessons anywhere.

The Orvis Sandanona Chronicles Part II

Shotgun Life’s Sandanona Chronicles were developed at the luxurious Orvis Sandanona Shooting Grounds ( in Millbrook, New York. On September 13th and 14th Orvis Sandanona hosted the 4th Annual Shotgun Classic and the 2008 Orvis Cup.

Shotgun Life was invited to attend the instruction areas of the Shotgun Classic. The event focused on the teaching skills of wingshooting by top instructors from around the world, including Chris Batha, Keith Lupton, John Higgins, and Roddy Watson and Alan Rose from the West London Shooting School.

We are privileged to offer you notes from these esteemed instructors over the coming weeks. In this issue of the Sandanona Chronicles we focus on Bruce Bower.

Bruce, along with other Orvis instructors, used the method of having a student shoot a few targets. After each shot, Bruce would talk with the student, his conversation an object lesson in the fine art of wingshooting for the small group in attendance.

Bruce’s class consisted of six students. It took place in a leafy grove on a station that threw a crosser and an outgoer.

Here are excerpts from Bruce’s session:

On an outgoer, your muzzle should be closer into the target, about 15-20 feet in front of the trap, so you can see the target earlier.

If you use the Churchill Method of Instinctive Wingshooting, it will let you swing the gun naturally and take you through the target as you shoot it -- the natural swing enhancing your ability to focus on the target. It should be an easy delivery.

If you shoot the target in the same spot, you begin to shoot it by rote, reducing your chances of missing the target.

Your eyes should grab hold of the target and not let go.

Don’t let your eyes get distracted by the gun barrel.

Let your eyes and hands work together.

Most American shooters assume a wide rifle stance. By contrast, your feet should be slightly narrower than the width of your shoulders when shooting a shotgun.

The shooters instinct is to move the gun quickly. Do that and you’ll pass the target. The results are that you’ll “slam on the brakes” and have to wait for the target -- meaning that you’ll stop the gun prematurely during your swing. That’s called “hop and stop.”

Your left hand should be held out to the end of the forearm of the shotgun for maximum control.

Don’t look down the barrel.

Don’t beat yourself up when you miss a target.

You can arrange a private lesson at the Orvis Wingshooting School at or by calling 1-800-235-9763. You can also visit the Orvis Sandanona web site at

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