The following appears in the December issue of California Sportsman:
By Brittany Boddington
One of the wonderful things about Arizona is that the state sells over-the-counter dove tags to resident and out-of-state hunters. You need to buy a hunting license and a bird stamp, of course, but otherwise you are ready to go! The bag limit is 15 per person per day, and it is not hard to hit those limits if you are decent at hitting fast-moving birds.
We sponsor an event here every year called the AZ Celebrity Wing Shoot, where we get a bunch of friends to fly in and we go out to a dairy farm in teams of four to try and get the most birds. Team fees are donated to an Arizona charity called Wildlife for Tomorrow (wildlifefortomorrow.org) to help fund the organization’s children’s education program. We didn’t win last year, so this year I decided to bring in some help.
At the She Hunts Skills Camps (California Sportsman, July 2017) we always have industry professionals teach our seminars. This year Olympic shooter Kayle Browning taught the girls how to shoot beautiful Krieghoff shotguns.
She is an incredible instinctual shooter and was able to coach each and every girl into breaking at least one clay, if not many others! Browning did a demonstration after the coaching and showed us some pretty incredible tricks, like holding the shotgun over her head to break a clay or shooting from the hip.
I thought perhaps she would be a good addition to our team for the dove shoot. I invited her on a whim and she jumped on the idea. Browning offered to bring her dad Tommy Browning and do a trick shoot exhibition for us. (Keep in mind that she does these trick shoots professionally and typically gets paid, but because it was for a good cause she offered to do it for nothing to help us raise money for Wildlife For Tomorrow.)
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The dove shoot rolled around and sure enough, Kayle and her dad held to their word and flew into Arizona. We had a big sporting clays competition the day before the doves to kick off the event and to give the shooters some practice. Kayle and her dad shot spectacularly. They took first and second place, with Tommy Browning breaking every single clay. Such accuracy inspired me.
I have never been a good shotgun shooter. I learned to shoot on a scoped rifle, so open sights is a struggle even though I’ve learned to do that pretty well. For some reason I could never translate my open-sight shooting into good shotgun shooting. Kayle explained it to me. She said that I was too busy focusing on the little sight beads instead of looking at my target.
Kayle was right. I was so focused on lining up my beads that the target was getting lost. She explained that the beads are actually only to check the fit of the shotgun and not to be used for aiming. In order to shoot well you should get a gun that fits, get your check weld tight, and keep both eyes on the target.
Kayle said to keep both eyes on the clay and your hands will know what to do. It sounded like witchcraft to me, but I tried it and I broke the clay. This all took place at the She Hunts camp, but sure enough when we started shooting sporting clays I was back to closing one eye and lining up the beads and missing the target. Luckily I had my coach there to remind me of my lessons and Kayle got me back to breaking clays regularly. For the first time in my life I broke at least one clay at every station.
I was pretty excited heading into the dove shoot the next day, but once we started shooting I realized doves are much harder to hit than clays. I did alright but I was happy I had my team to help pick up the slack. My fiancé Brad and I sponsored three teams for the shoot, with most of our team members hitting their bird limits.
We were able to take home the trophy – thanks to some incredible shooting from Kayle and Tommy – and after the dove shoot ended the Brownings put on an incredible trick shot demonstration. Kayle even shot upside down!