May 15, 2013

Becoming A Master of Rascally Rabbits

No target on a sporting clays course requires more concentration and focus than those sometimes unpredictable and often frustrating rabbits.

Bouncing bunnies have been known to leap in the air, zip across the terrain, hop, skip, jump or even bounce backwards – rarely in a predictable pattern.

Because the targets are flatter and thicker than standard clays in order to withstand rolling on the ground without shattering, the clays often require a little harder hit before shooters can prove they are masters of “rascally rabbits.”

Just poking holes in the rabbit, rather than breaking it into pieces, doesn’t help your score. Even if the target path is up close and personal, No. 7 1/2 shot will normally produce more breaks than No. 8 or 9 shot.

With the proper shells in your pouch, the next step is to work on proper gun movement.

Unlike most sporting clays shots where more lead is a good thing, many shooters being bamboozled by bouncing bunnies are actually giving the clays too much respect and are shooting in front of their target.

One successful technique is the “rule of thirds” where the focal point (where you first clearly see the clay after it leaves the arm of the trap); the hold point (the spot where you point your shotgun on the target path ready to swing through the target); and the break point (where you shoot at the target) are equally spaced in your shooting procedure.

Rabbit targets, unless the throwing arm is really cranked up and your shooting window is very limited, really start slowing down as they roll across the ground.

Misses in front are normally the result of not staying focused on the target or overestimating the speed of the rabbit.

Before you take your first shot, carefully scan the target path and then pick your most comfortable break point. Move your focus back to the spot where you can first clearly see the rabbit target after it leaves the arm of the trap and you are ready to get started.

One successful technique is the “rule of thirds” where the focal point (where you first clearly see the clay after it leaves the arm of the trap); the hold point (the spot where you point your shotgun on the target path ready to swing through the target); and the break point (where you shoot at the target) are equally spaced in your shooting procedure.

To help a shooter visualize the rule of thirds, one shooting instructor places three empty shotgun shells equally spaced on the shooting stand in front of his student.

Centering your pattern on the clay, rather than hoping to catch it with the edge of a wider spread, will normally produce better bunny busting results.

“The first shell represents where you first clearly see the target, the second is where you insert the barrels on the target and the third is where you pull the trigger and break the target. It’s just one, two, three.’’

If you maintain focus on the rabbit – just in case the clay takes one of those unexpected hops – and shoot right at the front edge of the target as you move through it, bouncing bunnies will lose a lot of their intimidation factor.

One final rabbit reminder – in most cases if you are choking up (with your shotgun and not in your throat) you stand a better chance of making a good hit on the target.

Some shooters make the mistake of using a skeet or cylinder choke on very close rabbit targets when an improved cylinder or light modified will provide the denser pattern needed to break the thick targets.

Centering your pattern on the clay, rather than hoping to catch it with the edge of a wider spread, will normally produce better bunny busting results.