Crow shooting preparation

Practise at the clay ground from a seated position is a good warm-up for shooting from a hide

Practise at the clay ground from a seated position is a good warm-up for shooting from a hide - Credit: Archant

I’ve been lucky enough to receive a few invitations to join my mates in a spot of corvid control since the season finished. I’ve never done this sort of shooting before – what, if anything, should I do to prepare myself?

WILL EDWARDS replies: This is a cracking time of year to gain major brownie points with gamekeepers and landowners to assist with pest control. Whether it’s hitting the crows over old cover crops on shoots, or pigeons on the new spring drillings, you’re going to want to be on top form to prove that you are the Gun for the job and keep your integrity.

My first bit of advice is to get down to your local Sporting clays layouts and engage any driven and crossing clays of all heights and angles, and in all weather and wind conditions! This will get you up to speed for a full-on work out for what you’re about to encounter. I’d suggest the minimum of a 30 to 32g load through ¼ to ½ choke when in the field. I’ve been quite surprised over the years watching competent Guns shooting crows, even with tight chokes, who comment: “They take a fair bit of killing!” I reckon they are as tough as old boots!

Now, one of my top tips at the clay ground (you may want to explain to the ground owner why) is to borrow one of the plastic chairs the scorers use on competition days so you can start from a seated position. What you want to try to perfect is rising from the seat in a steady and controlled movement to shoot your clay, focusing on a consistent gun mount, picking up on the line of your clay, the shot and the follow through, and not being afraid to give the clay that second shot if needed. What you’re trying to do is simulate and replicate a real time scenario when in your hide.

If you’re flighting birds as they are coming in to roost or you’re lucky enough to position yourself under that magic flight line, again try and stay as still as possible until you need to push your gun up in a smooth movement to shoot, reminding yourself that any unnecessary pre-shot actions will only give your position away, leading to your quarry flaring off in the opposite direction at double quick speed.

Even a short session at the clay ground will help to get you in the right mindset for tackling a different type of target and help ensure you get the most out of what is a really fun type of shooting. Enjoy!