Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Orvis Sandanona Chronicles Part III

This lesson orignally appeared in the Shotgun free weekly e-letter. To subscribe, please visit

Welcome to the third installment of Shotgun Life’s Sandanona Chronicles. For our new readers here’s a quick recap on the series. The Orvis Sandanona Chronicles came about from our visit to 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. Today, we share with you the wisdom of Chris Batha.

Chris is a Renaissance man of the shotgun world. He makes his own shotguns through the revival of the Boswell name, teaches around the world, has written best-selling books on shooting instructions and appears in several DVDs. In addition, Chris heads up international wingshooting expeditions.

At Sandanona, Chris conducted his lessons on the modern-skeet field. The class we attended had six participants, including a husband and wife with a beautiful pair of his-and-hers Purdeys.

Chris teaches the Churchill style of shooting, which for us Yankees is a form of low-gun. With that in mind, here are excerpts from Chris’ session:

* Always be square to where you’re going to break the target, or you’ll run out of swing.
* When you look at the bead, the gun stops swinging. Discipline yourself to look at the target.
* Take the practice target you get in sporting clays to practice your mount and swing, rather than just watch the target.
* Your lead and mount are integrated into one movement. The lead is not separate. It is not a second step. The mount is an insertion of the shotgun to the target (like a bayonet thrust), making sure the shotgun is firmly to your cheek. The mount should involve a minimum amount of movement.
* When you put your work into the mount, you have to trust that it will result in a broken target (or dead bird).
* A smooth mount is quicker inasmuch as it provides you with maximum efficiency.
* Coming from behind is a terrible way to shoot a target, because you can overpower the target and swing through, too far in front of it. The bird should never beat the barrel.
* You have to move to the target, and then in front of it (to the proper lead).
* You’re always in charge of the target.
* Don’t keep feet too far apart. You’re not lifting a refrigerator.
* Stare the target to death.
* If you do end up missing the target, it’s always better to miss in front of it rather than behind it.

You can arrange a private lesson at the Orvis Wingshooting School by calling 1-800-235-9760 or by