Advice from Olympic skeet-shooter Paul Laporte
Sure he’s a former world champion and Olympic skeet shooter. But when you’re having trouble putting grouse in your game bag, you don’t turn to Montreal’s Paul Laporte for his competitive pedigree. Rather, it’s for his 30 years’ experience as an internationally sought-after wingshooting instructor. And it’s easier than you might think to master the art of wingshooting, says Laporte, provided you follow these simple steps.
Get the right gun
Your shotgun should fit your shoulder with the comfort of a tailor-made suit. Indeed, serious shooters—especially men with very wide shoulders—should visit a custom stock-maker to ensure the right fit.
Find the correct shooting position
Basically, the butt should be planted high in your shoulder, with your cheek welded to the stock. In this position, the shotgun becomes a seamless extension of your body, swivelling in tandem with your head and shoulder to follow birds in flight.
Mind your feet
Right-handed shooters will want to set up for a shot with the left foot forward. If a bird flushes and you’re wrong-footed, take the extra step with your left foot, even as you bring the gun up to the shooting position.
Track your target
Swing the barrel toward and through the bird from behind it. You should clearly see the tail first, then the body and then the head come into range. Hold off on the shot until you see daylight—two inches is perfect—between the tip of the barrel and the bird’s head. A shot fired at this point will unerringly find its target (provided you follow the next tip).
Remember to follow through
The most common mistake wingshooters commit is to stop swinging the barrel before squeezing off the shot. Rather, the barrel must continue to move along the bird’s flight path, even after swinging through the bird itself. The barrel must also move faster than the bird so the bird flies into the trajectory of the pellets.