How far do you lead targets?

Trap, Skeet, Sporting Clays; pistol/rifle target shooting, to plinking cans with a bb gun.

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How far do you lead targets?

Postby doehunter » Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:51 pm

I went skeet shooting for the first time Sunday and did pretty bad. 9 out of 25! I get the feeling I was shooting in front of them most of the time. Is there a sort of average lead people can suggest to improve my score? I think I was shooting about a foot in front. Maybe more.
Probably explains why I miss so often at close shots on ducks over decoys.
I was trying out a new gun, a Stoeger O/U 12ga. with IC and Mod. chokes and 26" barrels.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby apexhunter » Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:52 am

Typically speaking, the lead on a target is very dependent upon a few factors like distance to target, speed of target, angle of target's flight path and, to some extent, the speed of the load one is shooting. That said, on a typical skeet range a foot of lead may be correct on a few stands does sound a bit excessive for others...IF you are properly following through and continuing your swing after pulling the trigger. Most people don't follow through properly on crossing shots (and most all other shots) which will result in shooting behind the target or bird.

The best advice I can offer is to have somebody stand behind you and watch you shoot. They should be able to see where your shot is going (watching the wad is a good way) to determine if you are shooting behind or in front AND whether you are following through or not. You might also consider more open chokes like skeet or IC at the tightest.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby waterfowlhunter » Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:27 am

to add to Apex, Some targets are deceiving and I have had to give a good 3' lead on targets that Seem to be slow. The best advice is another shooter behind you calling your misses. some people have with a long lead, they say it just does not feel right to be so far in front of the target. But MOST misses are behind. you rerely miss in front of a target.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby doehunter » Fri Dec 11, 2009 4:19 pm

Yea I figured my question was a little too generic. It does seem that at the close ranges on the skeet range, the leads wouldn't vary a lot. I usually shoot pretty quick. I don't wait for the target to get way out there.
My best angle is targets coming to me. Even ducks. Going away is shots are harder for me.
Left to right is my next best. I really only went because I couldn't go hunting, although I;m sure my shooting would improve a lot if I went on a regular basis.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby LaRedneck » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:56 pm

Have you patterned your gun?
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby TopGunMich » Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:30 pm

I had the honor of being instructed by an old timer. He first made me do all the math for each station, which in the ling run helps. I had a station card with the leads on it for memory. A few practice swings, always lining up to break the bird, weight 60/40 on front foot, knees bent, head up with good gun alignment. In a summer I went from a 10-12 avg, to a 20-23. I have cleaned it a few times over the past yrs, but have also been humbled.

Heres some good info......

http://www.scskeet.com/Beginner_skeet/B ... _Skeet.htm
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby apexhunter » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:25 pm

TopGun makes a point about skeet compared to other shooting sports. Before I go further I want to say that I have nothing against skeet and enjoy shooting a round or 2 on occasion...when shot at the top levels, skeet is basically a game of memory in that the same bird is presented at the same angle and speed every time making it possible to memorize the "lead" and/or the timing of the trap releasing and where to shoot.

I have seen top skeet shooters prepared to call the target be blindfolded before calling and break several in succession. They knew their body position and "aiming spot" from each station so well they could call the bird and instinctively break targets without seeing them. That said, I'm not taking anything away from skeet or skeet shooters but there are other aspects of clays that might better teach one the basics of a proper swing and follow through if that is what you are looking for.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby TopGunMich » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:57 pm

I agree with Apex on the facts that skeet does have some common variables. Some people say that skeet isnt the best training for hunting, but I disagree. I think its a great training tool for hunters because you can learn the leads and apply them into your type of hunting.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby doehunter » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:35 pm

I live in Houston. I don't know of a place where I can pattern my gun. Carters Country only has trap and skeet ranges. I just assumed the other ranges are the same.
I thought the middle positions on the skeet range would simulate birds crossing over decoys. Problem was, I couldn't tell how I was missing. It's too expensive for me to go there very often. When I go, my 2 sons go to. I pay.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby TopGunMich » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:03 pm

Most skeet/trap ranges have a pattern range/ board. Just ask one of the range masters. I would take a 4

'' x4'' piece of cardboard/plywood and some paper. I have used old rolls of wrapping paper reversed. They may let you just shoot it on a range that isnt being used. I have made impromto pattern ranges, shooting into stumps, ditches, etc. Just take a tape measure to take the guess out of the range.

Buy a handthrower $5 bucks and a box of clays $10 bucks and have your friends or sons throw them.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby doehunter » Fri Dec 18, 2009 10:43 am

I didn't ask the people at Carters Country, they seem pretty strict about gun control and there isn't a formal place set up for patterning. Next time I go, I will ask.
As for target shooting on my own, in Texas you have to be on private property. I don't have access to a place for that. We do have public hunting areas, but none of them allow target shooting. I probably could get away with it where I duck hunt but you know those wardens will sit off in the distance and watch you hunt. The river authority where I hunt makes the rules and it's waterfowl only, no target shooting. Seems kinda silly to me.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby killerv » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:31 pm

Just a few tips when learning.

Keep your head down on the gun. Don't pick your head up
Swing through the target (follow through)
Don't aim.
Get your body in the right position. Don't setup where you are gonna run out of swing before where you want to break the target.
and most importantly Don't let it get in your head if you start missing. It will only make matters worse.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby augerin » Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:09 pm

There are alot of variables in shooting skeet. Learn the basics and practice practice practice. Find someone in your area to give you some instruction. Take a look on you-tube for Todd Bender. He uses a eye-cam (mounted to the gun) giving you a view of what he see's as far as leads right down the barrel. It's a great way to get the idea to visualize the concept of leading the target. Do you shoot both eyes open? A good pair of shooting glasses helps. Try to use more open chokes for skeet. As far as loads, look for the bargin basement stuff. Light loads, 1oz of #8 or #9 shot works real good. Hope this helps, Tom :beer:
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby doehunter » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:17 pm

Well I went back, and this time I shot 1 round with the Stoeger OU and 1 round with my 30 year old Savage SxS
I got 9 out of 25 with the Stoeger and 17 with the Savage!
Interestingly, my son shot a 6 or 7 with the Stoeger and a 16 with the Savage, and he isn't used to either one of them.
I still haven't shot either one at paper. Now I really want to. The Stoeger was supposed to come with IC and MOD tubes, which should shoot the same as my Savage.
I know which one I'm gonna hunt with now. The next thing is to find the ducks!
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby Sagebrush » Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:22 pm

Breaking clay birds comes down to three main things.............

1. Correct gun fit.
If the gun will not shoot where you are looking it is not a good thing...............

2. Correct Choke
if the pattern is too light (open)or even to tight (small ) for the range, you will miss targets.

3. Correct Stance
A good stance will let one be able to swing on the target, be balanced and prevent muscle strain.

Mental conditioning is said to be 80% of the game but these are the basic building blocks, along with
lots of practice.

As for lead it can be from none to as much as 4 feet at the center station and #8 is just the matter of getting in front of the target, at this close range, depending on how fast you swing your gun.

Good shooting.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby apexhunter » Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:00 am

Sagebrush wrote:Breaking clay birds comes down to three main things.............

1. Correct gun fit.
If the gun will not shoot where you are looking it is not a good thing...............

2. Correct Choke
if the pattern is too light (open)or even to tight (small ) for the range, you will miss targets.

3. Correct Stance
A good stance will let one be able to swing on the target, be balanced and prevent muscle strain.

Mental conditioning is said to be 80% of the game but these are the basic building blocks, along with
lots of practice.

As for lead it can be from none to as much as 4 feet at the center station and #8 is just the matter of getting in front of the target, at this close range, depending on how fast you swing your gun.

Good shooting.


I totally agree and would add a proper and consistent gun mount to the above list. Even a perfectly fitted gun with a proper stance will result in misses if the gun is not properly shouldered every time.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby doehunter » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:04 pm

Thanks for the input.
I probably won't ever be a serious skeet shooter. My idea was to mimic duck hunting shots. Yall know in the field that conditions are rarely the best.
Technically speaking, the Stoeger fits me pretty well. At least, when I put the stock in the crook of my arm, the trigger is right where I want it. My Savage is a little short but I'm used to it.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby apexhunter » Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:16 pm

doehunter wrote:... At least, when I put the stock in the crook of my arm, the trigger is right where I want it. My Savage is a little short but I'm used to it.
Jim


Actually that method of "measuring" the LOP of a gun to yourself is a wive's tale and not accurate at all. Everybody has different body geometry meaning the mesurements of width of chest, length of neck, face height/size and upper arm length vs lower arm length vs hand size that all come into play to determine the proper LOP. As an example I have the same crook to finger measurement as my brother but we have drastically different measurements of properly fitted stocks...I'm 5'10" with a 49" chest and short & stocky neck- he is 6'1" with a more slender build (44" chest) and longer slender neck. Our true measurements result in 5/8" difference in properly fitting stock lengths.

The proper way to check for a proper LOP is to mount the gun and measure the distance betwen the pad of the trigger thumb and the nose/face. You should have a 2 to 3 fingers' width gap (depending upon the kind and style of gun) if the gun is of the correct length. That said, the drop at comb and at heel can also play with this dimension so all 3 factors (along with cast if there is any) can play into the measurements of a properly fitted gun as well.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby waterfowlhunter » Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:58 pm

I just picked up an EPIC Cam and will be mounting it to my gun for the next sporting clays outing just to kind of visualize the lead to a couple of new shooters I know. AND I am curious as to where I am actually pointing the gun when I miss. just shot this weekend and scored a 42 out of 50 and it was a fairly hard course, the problem I had was when I missed I could have sworn I would nail it when i pulled the trigger.

Some times your mind and trigger finger can get out of wack, You know your lead is not right but your mind has already sent the signal telling the finger to pull. you know you missed before you even shoot. these were not like that for the most part, so I am hoping the cam video will tell me if I was ahead, behind or no where near the bird. :huh:
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby apexhunter » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:03 am

I bet you'll find that like me, and most other shooters you are failing to follow through. It'll be interesting to hear your results with the camera.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby waterfowlhunter » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:07 am

I have never had the follow thru issue, I generally follow the target even after it is broken. The biggest issue I have is shooting a semi at this course and some targets are 20yds and others are 45 yds. with an O/U I could choke properly for both but with a semi I generally just shoot a Mod choke. I have always been great a distant targets and at falling targets but miss some of the close ones. The guys I hunt with give that "how the hell did you hit that" look a lot when were in the blind and the ducks are only working way out. I have never been a skeet shooter but plan to pick it up this spring hoping it will help me on the close in targets. and I am considering an O/U for the sporting clays ranges. :beer:

You are right that a lot of guys do not follow thru at all. :thumbsup:

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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby Frank Lopez » Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:45 pm

In ddition to the rest of the great advice here, I'll just add this. In skeet, you typically break each target at the center stake, 21 yards away. The target is traveling at approximately 40 to 45 mph at that point. Typically you use shells in the 1200fps range. What all this means is that the lead for every single target (except station 8) is approximately 3 1/2 feet. The trick is to a) recognize what 3 1/2 feet actually looks like to YOU (MY 3 1/2 feet may look like 2 feet or 5 feet to you). And B) you need to compensate for the angle. At station 7,, for example, you'll see no lead, but if you kill the bird at the center stake, it will move 3 1/2 feet from the time you pull the trigger to the time the bird is struck. What you can do to help you recognize this is to set a marker (traffic cones work well) 3 1/2 feet back toward the trap house from the center stake. Now, no matter where you stand on the field, you will have the proper sight picture for the lead.

Frank
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby reconner » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:24 pm

Lead? What is this "lead" that you speak of???

But somewhat more seriously, the one and only time I went to a formal skeet range I shot 8/25 at best. Since we own a bit of land (and since I'm undeniably cheap), I picked up one of those yellow Do-All throwers for $30 and we've been busting (well, trying to bust) clays every weekend.

I'm leading the first of a double by about 3-6" with a decent follow through and love watching 'em burst. My problem is the second one - I just sorta point where I think its going to be and fire...missing nearly every time.

Check with your range to see if they offer instruction. There's one near me that will run a small group lesson for less than an arm and a leg, so my teenage son and I will be out getting some help once spring comes and learning how to break bad habits.

Have fun!
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby swampbilly 1980 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:02 am

doehunter wrote: Going away is shots are harder for me.
....Trap would help you here. Need to remember something on going away targets,..most of the time they are going to be gaining elevation as they leave. Knowing how your gun will pattern is a big plus. Your gun barrel on going away targets, will somewhat obscure the target from view when you raise the bead off of it to shoot "above" the target projectory,.. simular to targets coming straight to you that are high when you come off of the incoming target with the bead to lead it.
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Re: How far do you lead targets?

Postby kjm1022 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:37 am

Skeet is a great way to warm up for the bird season. It was originally invented here in my home state of Massachusetts in the town of Andover. :thumbsup: Hunters were looking for a way to stay sharp in the off season, and skeet was born.

You're going to get all kinds of advice on how to shoot skeet, lead targets, how to stand, how to swing, where to hold, both on the website and at the range. :huh:

Do yourself a favor and pay for a few lessons with an instructor. Its the best money you'll ever spend improving your clay shooting and bird shooting. I took about 12 lessons a few years back and I never regreted it. Once you learn a few fundamentals, you'll be scoring in the 20's consistently, hitting more ducks in the fall, and most importantly, you'll learn why you are missing. It use to take me several rounds to figuer out what I was doing wrong, now it takes me a a station or two :thumbsup: .

Its kinda like golf. You can watch all kinds of videos, have friends give you tips, but until you take a few lessons with a pro, you'll never really grasp what you're doing right or wrong.
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