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    In the Swing

    Leads = Gaps of Daylight

    Bryan Bilinski owns Fieldsport, purveyors of fine guns and renowned wing shooting instruction, based in Traverse City, Michigan. One of the country’s leading shotgun fitters and shooting instructors, Bryan is credited with introducing sporting clays to the United States.
    Bryan Bilinski owns Fieldsport, purveyors of fine guns and renowned wing shooting instruction, based in Traverse City, Michigan. One of the country’s leading shotgun fitters and shooting instructors, Bryan is credited with introducing sporting clays to the United States.
    One of the greatest mysteries in the world of wing shooting centers around the topic of “lead.” How much lead or daylight in front of the target is needed to cleanly kill a game bird or crush a clay target? In addition, when is too little lead not enough, and the shot string exiting your shotgun flies harmlessly behind?

    First question, how do you, we see lead? Well, no two shooters may see or explain lead exactly the same way.

    One of the best ways I attempt to describe lead is “a gap or open space of daylight.” The gap of daylight is the open space between the shooter’s subconscious awareness of his shotgun barrel or rib and their conscious awareness of the target of their choice. When a wing shooter misses either clay targets or game birds consistently, one of the first questions they usually ask is, “How much do you or did you lead this target?”

    Great question – difficult to definitively answer. There are many variables that affect the way our human eyes and brains see lead. When a successful shot is made, the shooter may jump right in and state what they think they recall the lead was in inches or feet of daylight. Sorry, no metric measurements for me. But how is that gap of daylight in inches or feet perceived? Therein lies the crux of establishing lead on a moving target.

    Eons ago, I had a private shooting lesson with the late, great English shooting instructor, Jack Mitchell. Jack made one short and sweet statement to help his students understand the simple but complex awareness of how to establish lead.

    “Lead is speed, and speed is lead!”

    These few choice words describe the gap of daylight or lead that is established by the speed or swing of the barrels of your shotgun overtaking the flight line of the target. In effect, the gun, controlled by your hands and eye concentrating on the target, is moved from where the target was, to where it is, to where it is going. You may take these two statements describing lead to the bank.

    For example, if you have enjoyed bird hunted enough seasons to be collecting and saving your expired hunting licenses, you may have made a fine shot in the field or woods that you simply cannot put to words. A ruffed grouse, woodcock, quail or pheasant hiding nearby flushed without warning, and you were totally unprepared or ready. As your eyes focused on the bird and your predatory instincts a went into high gear, you moved your shotgun in pursuit of the bird, began mounting the gun as you were overtaking the bird and when the lead picture instinctively looked right, you pulled the trigger. Speed is lead, and lead is speed. You experienced the dynamics of lead and wing shooting at its finest. Fortunately, by properly practicing and preforming this method over and over and over again on the clays range, you can commit this learned experience to your muscle memory.

    In my Traditional Fieldsport Wingshooting Schools, fellow instructor Dale Tate and I basically teach this method of shooting a shotgun. It is simply called a “Swing-Through” or “Pass-Through” method. The basis for this method is simple: Upon calling for a target, the student’s gun begins moving in harmony with the target. Then as the gun catches up to the target, the gun is mounted firmly to the cheekbone. As the gun overtakes the target, the gun’s speed moves it through the target, and the trigger is pulled. Nice shot. Center punched.

    Speed is lead, and lead is speed.

    Wolfe Publishing Group