All Choked Up
For most of my life, I would have considered myself a lousy shot. I’ve blamed a lot of my shooting ineptness on my lazy right eye. A lot can also be blamed on an Allen Iverson-level of interest in shooting practice. Add those two factors and it equals a shooter’s kryptonite: a lack of confidence.
However, the proverbial tide has turned in my shooting ability over the last few years. While I wouldn’t challenge Tom Knapp to a high noon shootout, I have gained confidence to hold my own against any flushing ring-neck, bobwhite bumble bee or ruffed grouse rocket.
I credit two changes in my newfound killer confidence.
1) A Good Dog. I believe the first step to improving a hunter’s shooting is to add a good bird dog to the mix. If you are a really bad shot, then add a pointer. It’s logical; pointers give any hunter advance notice to be ready. Don’t get me wrong, not every shot over a pointer is simple, but I’ve had more “confidence building” shots over my GSP than ever before and those confidence builders have made me a more focused, faster and accurate shot on the tougher flushes. I believe any dog owning hunter would tell a non-dog owning hunter that they are able to read their pup’s body language to know when to be ready. Those seconds of awareness to a wingshooter are equivalent to a batter stealing signs before the pitcher releases his wicked curve ball.
2) Skeet Choke. At about the same time I added my shorthair to the mix, I screwed a skeet choke into my Beretta’s first barrel. If you subscribe to Upland Almanac, you’ll find some fascinating info about different choke’s ability to deliver various shot sizes to a 30-inch circle on page 4 of their Spring issue. While I always take factors like the type of cover and time of season into account, my go-to pattern is the skeet choke with 92 percent of a shell’s pellets delivered into that 30-inch circle at 20 yards and 72 percent of those pellets in the circle at 30 yards. For ruffed grouse, it’s a no brainer to use a skeet choke or even the wider patterning cylinder choke. While other skilled pheasant shooters may disagree, I personally have found the skeet choke to dramatically improve my success because the vast majority of my shots at roosters are coming within that 30 yard window.
What choke has made you a successful ringneck wrangler?
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.
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