When the success of a hunt is so often gauged by how many birds you come home with, hunters must do everything they can to stack the odds in their favor. Using the off-season to hone your skills as a shot-gunner will lead to more birds in your bag at the end of the day. The majority of successful hunters will tell you that they shoot a lot of clays in the off-season, and “practice like you play” is as true in this situation as any other.

In the clay target shooting world, that means shooting the same amount of targets (or more), wearing the same type of clothing, and using the same choke tubes in practice as you would when you shoot in the field. This type of repetition increases a shooters comfort level and helps to work out any kinks that could potentially arise. This mentality carries over to practicing for the upcoming hunting season.

Their are a few exercises that you can incorporate to your next trip to Michigan Shooting Centers that will replicate the shots that you will find yourself taking in the field.

For upland covey practice, find outgoing presentations. Whether it be on the trap field or the sporting clays course, we have lots of flushing away presentations for you to practice. Try out or solo delay feature or have your puller manually delay, that way you can concentrate on keeping the gun still until you’ve acquired the target visually. Practicing a low gun hold position, as you won’t find yourself walking through the fields with your gun shouldered!

For waterfowl practice, sporting clays presents long crossing targets, incoming shots, and opportunities to practice doubles. Skip rabbit targets and anything that simulates flushing birds to focus on the crossing and dropping targets. Spend the whole session at one station if you want, letting other groups “play through” as they go around the course. Specialty birds like chandelles and battues don’t fly like ducks, but they’re just right for learning how to shoot under dropping birds.

For optimum hunting practice, consider booking one of our clay target shooting instructors. We have several instructors at each range, with lesson rates start at just $50 per hour. Visit our instruction page for more details and to contact an instructor to book a session.

Clay target shooting provides an opportunity for hunters to practice a correct gun mount, to master observation techniques and to shoot better!

About the Author: Drew Lieske is the oldest son of Michigan Shooting Centers’ founder, Pat Lieske, and the Director of Sales for Michigan Shooting Centers. He started competing in sporting clays at age 12 and by 15 became Michigan’s youngest ever Master class shotgun shooter. Drew is an 8-time NSCA All-American and a member of the Kolar Arms pro team. Drew can be contacted at dlieske@mishoot.com.