column By: Bryan E. Bilinski | March, 21
Because we rarely – if ever – see this type of shot, we almost never practice the technique required to properly shoot the true, high-incomer. Therefore, this shot presentation constantly confuses and befuddles many American wing shooters. Why?
Simply because it is not a shot that we were weaned on or exposed to on virtually any of our traditional clay target disciplines: trap, skeet, five stand and even sporting clays. The opposite is true of English wing shooters who are teethed on such high incoming birds and targets. It is the very nature and core of their traditional style of shooting “driven” birds: pheasant, red grouse, red-legged partridge and even mallard ducks. Americans are exposed to upland hunting by walking through the fields and woods in search of ruffed grouse, woodcock, bobwhite quail, pheasants of the prairies, Hungarian partridge, chukar, etc. In Europe they call this style of shooting “rough shooting.” We recognize it as the basis of our wing shooting roots, walking behind flushing or pointing dogs in search of the game birds native to the region of our upbringing.
Virtually every shot we get while walking up to our upland birds will be flushed and fly away from the danger of the gun: quartering away shots, high or low, tight angles, broad angles, the birds heading for cover far, far away from their pursuers. Only a few game birds in America are capable of being presented as a high-incomer. Usually this happens when pass shooting mourning doves, ducks and geese and for high, well-presented ring-necked pheasants on a professional shooting preserve featuring high hills, deep topography or a tower.
The other point to think about is that if you see the true shallow angled incomer when you shoot, you will be behind the bird. If you see it, you have missed. What? The leap of faith in shooting the high-incomer is to come through or swing your barrels past the head of the bird or leading edge of a clay target and pull the trigger. The shot will be true if you are looking into the bright blue sky. Unfortunately, if you still see the bird, you are behind every time. The lead on the incomer is created by the speed of the gun overtaking the bird.
When you read the target correctly, you must also recognize that a high percentage of incomers flying over you have a drift or curl to your right or left. I find this especially challenging to teach and convey because it can be difficult to read the curl or drift of the target when you have no obvious landmark in the sky to compare the flight of the bird or clay target to. However, if you have read the target line correctly, based on the target’s drift, simply move the barrels of your shotgun through the left or right wing of the game bird or the left or right edge of the clay target, and the shot will be true.
There you have it. Consistently shooting the high-incomer takes confidence in the awareness that if you see the game bird or target, you have missed!