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Pigeons compared to clays


martinj
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Here's a question that has been puzzling me for years, I shoot clays and am an OK shooter, I have been doing clay (and pigeon) shooting for decades. I was at a clay shoot recently and was breaking fast crossers at about 50 yards, hitting more than I missed but can I do that with pigeons? I can not.

My problem birds are roosting pigeons, anyone who has done it knows what I'm talking about, you are standing under trees and birds are flying fairly fast over the treetops, looking for their buddies and a safe place to land, they are at a reasonable range, say 40 yards but should be killable with 1/2 and 3/4 chokes. In the past I have been continuously wasting cartridges, missing most of what I shoot at. If there is anyone out there who can hit them I'd appreciate a few tips.

I think my problem is that I am misreading the speed of the birds and am not giving the right amount of lead, I have experimented but this remains a major bugbear.

I realise that Pigeons are always going to be harder than clays due to the unpredictable nature of the quarry.

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I recently had a go at some pigeons leaving a wood and flying over a field on some high ground, there was a steady stream of pigeons but most were either wide or 60 yards up so I had to wait for birds that were shootable, the birds were moving fast and most shots were around 40 yards, my kill to cartridges was around 3:1, now move those highish fast flying birds over a wood and it becomes that little harder to see/pick your birds, I would think the average shooter in that situation would be looking at 4, 5 or more cartridges for 1 bird.

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1 hour ago, old'un said:

I recently had a go at some pigeons leaving a wood and flying over a field on some high ground, there was a steady stream of pigeons but most were either wide or 60 yards up so I had to wait for birds that were shootable, the birds were moving fast and most shots were around 40 yards, my kill to cartridges was around 3:1, now move those highish fast flying birds over a wood and it becomes that little harder to see/pick your birds, I would think the average shooter in that situation would be looking at 4, 5 or more cartridges for 1 bird.

Last week in a strong wind roost shooting at pigeons flying over tall trees I shot 8 for 27 shots. I  felt as if I had exceeded my usual standard of shooting by some margin.

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17 minutes ago, JDog said:

Last week in a strong wind roost shooting at pigeons flying over tall trees I shot 8 for 27 shots. I  felt as if I had exceeded my usual standard of shooting by some margin.

Id be happy with that ratio of kills to cartridges, although I have done better, but also much worse. :yes:

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6 minutes ago, JDog said:

Last week in a strong wind roost shooting at pigeons flying over tall trees I shot 8 for 27 shots. I  felt as if I had exceeded my usual standard of shooting by some margin.

Yes JDog, perhaps I should manage my expectations,

I know what range I can shoot pigeons at, it's just that those flying over the treetops seem a lot more difficult than a bird at similar range, for example, when decoying. They are probably faster (or are they slower?) I have been pigeon shooting on and off for many decades but still struggle with roosting pigeons, I guess everyone else does too.

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10 minutes ago, martinj said:

Yes JDog, perhaps I should manage my expectations,

I know what range I can shoot pigeons at, it's just that those flying over the treetops seem a lot more difficult than a bird at similar range, for example, when decoying. They are probably faster (or are they slower?) I have been pigeon shooting on and off for many decades but still struggle with roosting pigeons, I guess everyone else does too.

Despite the old adage of not seeing the trees when roost shooting I fear that many of us do and this may put us off. I am normally conscious that I am looking for spaces in the canopy rather than shooting when I should.

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1 hour ago, JDog said:

Despite the old adage of not seeing the trees when roost shooting I fear that many of us do and this may put us off. I am normally conscious that I am looking for spaces in the canopy rather than shooting when I should.

What prompted me to raise this question was that I was standing in a ride a while back, it was clear overhead and a few pigeons were flying over the surrounding trees and over the clear spot where I was standing, I shot 4 for around 20 shots. I know I was losing some, due to being surprised by birds coming from behind or whatever and footwork was poor to non-existent in some cases, however there were a few opportunities where I had no excuses, I just missed by getting the lead wrong, maybe next time I'll make a concious decision to add another few feet and see how I get on.

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11 minutes ago, martinj said:

What prompted me to raise this question was that I was standing in a ride a while back, it was clear overhead and a few pigeons were flying over the surrounding trees and over the clear spot where I was standing, I shot 4 for around 20 shots. I know I was losing some, due to being surprised by birds coming from behind or whatever and footwork was poor to non-existent in some cases, however there were a few opportunities where I had no excuses, I just missed by getting the lead wrong, maybe next time I'll make a concious decision to add another few feet and see how I get on.

Out of interest what cartridges were you using?

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Hmm though about this one for a bit 🤔

here’s my take on it 

shooting long distance clays you have in your head a kill zone easy to setup and shoot breaking the clay 

with pigeon this doesn’t happen especially with roosting pigeon there either diving into the trees less lead and shoot under them or flighting across the trees and unless you can get the kill zones correct you will run out of swing and miss behind or push the gun off your face and miss in front 

I would suggest that if it’s a regular wood for you to shoot find a clearing in the right place and then only shoot at the ones your confidant at killing leave the others 

appreciate there’s many styles of shooting and I could be a mile off here but it’s the best I can do without seeing you shoot 

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🙂 when I shoot at the ones I'm confident in killing, they are the ones I hit. I don't think there is any harm in shooting at birds which are in range but are pushing the boundaries a little, that's the way we learn and improve.

I agree that a number of shots are taken where I am not fully prepared, a bird appears in your peripheral vision and you do the best you can, that's the nature of the game, sometimes it pays off, I suspect most shooters would do the same.

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42 minutes ago, martinj said:

I use Eley Pigeon Select 30G No.6 fibre and have found them to be an excellent cartridge.

Try some 28g 7.5 (UK 7s) felt wad, you will be surprised at how well they kill at range, occasionally I pluck a pigeon to see how many pellets have hit the bird, the other day I took a long crosser, on pacing it out it was around 50 yards, on plucking the bird in the field I was surprised to find it was hit by 6 pellets through ¼ choke.

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I rarely shoot roost areas as I have a real problem staying focused on the bird , I see branches but loose sight of the bird before getting a shot off, reaction time for me is slow and the fact that the bird appears overhead without warning puts me in panic mode to take the shot.

By the time I pull the trigger I am shooting branches off the trees or just an empty sky, My son who is in his 40's can hit them all day long but at 72 I am way too slow, and the more I miss the worse it gets with sheer frustration. 

I much prefer open farm land with wide clear views, giving me plenty of time to prepare mentally  for the shot, I use 31 gm 6's through a half choke and regularly kill out to 50 yards plus, I was standing with the gamekeeper last week as a pigeon came across out at 75 yards, (paced out later) I took the shot and killed it stone dead in the air.(the keeper was very impressed)

Long shots are a matter of confidence and experience, just watch Andy Crow etc to see long range accurate shooting.

Also the cartridge makes a lot of difference in pattern and energy at range, recently I have been trying out some Italian Romagnola by RC ,they are 31 gm 6's and pack a real punch .

Just as an after though I would never use 7's on pigeons as I don't believe they hold enough pattern or energy even at 30 yards, many will disagree but after 50 years of shooting that's my experience. 

On 22/11/2020 at 21:00, Ultrastu said:

50 yds is too far away to kill a pigeon .

There isnt enough lead on target or enough energy .

Clays require only a few hits at low energy to break .

40 yds is my maximum on pige and crows .

The energy and pattern fail considerably after this .

 

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1 hour ago, lakeside1000 said:

I rarely shoot roost areas as I have a real problem staying focused on the bird , I see branches but loose sight of the bird before getting a shot off, reaction time for me is slow and the fact that the bird appears overhead without warning puts me in panic mode to take the shot.

By the time I pull the trigger I am shooting branches off the trees or just an empty sky, My son who is in his 40's can hit them all day long but at 72 I am way too slow, and the more I miss the worse it gets with sheer frustration. 

I much prefer open farm land with wide clear views, giving me plenty of time to prepare mentally  for the shot, I use 31 gm 6's through a half choke and regularly kill out to 50 yards plus, I was standing with the gamekeeper last week as a pigeon came across out at 75 yards, (paced out later) I took the shot and killed it stone dead in the air.(the keeper was very impressed)

Long shots are a matter of confidence and experience, just watch Andy Crow etc to see long range accurate shooting.

Also the cartridge makes a lot of difference in pattern and energy at range, recently I have been trying out some Italian Romagnola by RC ,they are 31 gm 6's and pack a real punch .

Just as an after though I would never use 7's on pigeons as I don't believe they hold enough pattern or energy even at 30 yards, many will disagree but after 50 years of shooting that's my experience. 

 

Sorry, but I have to say I'm one of the many.

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Does nobody feel it unethical to shoot at a bird where we only have say a 20 % chance of bringing it down .  5 /1 cartridge ratio . 

I'd argue that you haven't missed the bird at all just peppered it with a few low energy pellets and watch it fly onwards  , to what ever fate becomes it later .

I know it sounds a bit holier than thou .but I strive when decoying to at least have a 2/1 cart to bird ratio at the end of the day .

I count my carts and if the number is getting a bit too high as the day goes on I try at least to rain in my ranges to around 30 yds this (funnily enough) does the trick and i can go 1/1 for a good 10 / 15 birds before i fuff a shot or 2  .

In Rifle shooting we always strive to be as humane as possible .why is shotgun shooting seemingly exempt .? 

 

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4 minutes ago, Ultrastu said:

Does nobody feel it unethical to shoot at a bird where we only have say a 20 % chance of bringing it down .  5 /1 cartridge ratio . 

I'd argue that you haven't missed the bird at all just peppered it with a few low energy pellets and watch it fly onwards  , to what ever fate becomes it later .

I know it sounds a bit holier than thou .but I strive when decoying to at least have a 2/1 cart to bird ratio at the end of the day .

I count my carts and if the number is getting a bit too high as the day goes on I try at least to rain in my ranges to around 30 yds this (funnily enough) does the trick and i can go 1/1 for a good 10 / 15 birds before i fuff a shot or 2  .

In Rifle shooting we always strive to be as humane as possible .why is shotgun shooting seemingly exempt .? 

 

That rather depends whether you are there for the "certain Kills" or to deter the WPs for the Farmer I guess.

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By that logic it would be ok to shoot rabbits with a low powered airgun at long range in the belly as long as it died eventually. To keep the horse owners happy .???

Errrrr  .!

I think we must accept  when we shoot at a bird out of range we don't always miss completely.? 

The chances of a clean miss go up as the range reduces  .

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