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    In the Swing

    The Quartering Away Shot: A "Spearing"-Type Move

    The crisp air is invigorating for both you and your pup as you ease along the final 20 yards of the tall grass prairie field before it ends at a two-track farm road. Your pup is birdy as hell, and you can easily hear her inhaling gulps of hot pheasant scent. One more step and the flushes begin! Two hens rocket out and peel back around you in an attempt to return to the CRP. One more step and a beautiful, mature cock bird launches at a rising, slight right to left, quartering away angle. The perfect shot, you instinctively surmise. You lift your favorite 12-bore to your face, swing through the bird and shoot your first barrel – nothing. Then you keep swinging and reach for the back trigger – Bang! – again nothing. The rooster cackles in laughter as he flies away, headed for a cattail slough a quarter mile away.

    The shooter begins the spearing move on a quartering, right to left clay target. Notice that the barrels are still just behind the back edge of the target.
    The shooter begins the spearing move on a quartering, right to left clay target. Notice that the barrels are still just behind the back edge of the target.
    Having speared the barrels through to the leading edge of the target, the shooter discharges the gun, and the shot is in line to intercept the clay.
    Having speared the barrels through to the leading edge of the target, the shooter discharges the gun, and the shot is in line to intercept the clay.
    At impact, notice that the muzzle has traveled beyond the edge of the powdered clay target.
    At impact, notice that the muzzle has traveled beyond the edge of the powdered clay target.
    Gun empty, you chide yourself. “How in the hell did I miss that simple, quartering away shot? It was a layup as they say in so many other sports.”

    The reason you missed was because you made, in the excitement of the flush, such a strong and subconscious swing through the bird that you actually shot in front and to the left of the tight, quartering away shot. The quartering away angle simply does not require the swinging energy of a crossing shot.

    Properly replicating the line and angle of this shot requires a “spearing”-type movement of your gun while you are completing and anchoring the stock to your cheek bone anchor point. The line and angle of this type of shot on game or clays are very acute. The spearing-type movement of your hands simply needs to intercept the tip of the left wing of the pheasant or left edge of your clay target adversary and Bang! – dead bird.

    Crossing shots require a more exaggerated swinging movement that achieves daylight as you overtake your target. Quartering shots require more of the spearing-type movement to achieve the same awareness of lead. Remember that the speed of the gun overtaking the bird is the factor that achieves lead. The common phrase from the English shooting schools rings true: “Speed is lead and lead is speed.” The speed of the gun on a quartering away shot must be more controlled and deliberate, not a “swing-through for more daylight” move.

    To practice and feel the spearing-type shotgun move, find any household object that could be considered to be a “spear.”

    A five-foot-long, round wooden closet pole makes a dandy spear.

    Hold it in your hands like a caveman and make a spearing movement forward and up in order to kill the mastodon. Now you get it. Simple. The movement is both forward and up for a right-handed shooter, the hands traveling right to left in order to achieve thrust. A spearing-type move.

    Now pick up your unloaded bird gun and replicate the same spearing-type move. Starting in a classic, ready position, begin a slight thrust of the gun away from you all while you lift the gun in a level and firm manner to your cheekbone. Another key to practicing properly and being effective on the quartering away shot is to not “teeter-totter” the gun on the way to the face. For a proper spearing-type move, the hands must lift the gun to the face in harmony. The forward hand on your barrels leads the movement while the hand on the grip of your stock politely follows.

    Lastly and most importantly, where should you focus on a quartering away, right to left, rooster pheasant? The tip of his left wing, for sure. On a left to right, focus and look hard at the tip of the right wing.

    The next time a beautiful old rooster explodes up and away in front of you, in an acute, quartering away angle, implement a spearing-type move with your bird gun.

    Next, you can send your pup for the retrieve!

    Wolfe Publishing Group