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Pigeons compared to clays


martinj
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I suppose thats the danger of comparing clays to pigeons a good clay shot who can break clays at 50 then goes out after pigeons and wonders why they don't drop out the sky .

Maybe clays should be made harder and designed to break only when struck with enough energy comparable to real pigeons .

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2 hours 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 .? 

 

You are of course correct that when pushing the range of our gun, cartridges or capability birds do go away with a leg down, broken wing tip or a pellet or two in a none vital area, flighting or roost shooting pigeon is by its very nature likely to result in a higher number of pricked birds, but should we stop doing it because of this possibility?????

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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 .

That's just the kind of reply I was hoping not to get, I was hoping for helpful comments from someone who knows what they are talking about

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If you can’t see a pricked bird from a clean missed bird you are shooting past the capability of your experience and eyesight. I would hazard that 9 out of 10 misses are missed by a matter of feet not inches (certainly my own seem to be!) A pattern of 5/5/7s at <50 yards is tight enough that a pigeon is generally either in it or out. In my experience very few (less than 1%) will make it more than 200 yards if at all hit, watch them to the horizon. 

A large bird such as a Canada goose is different due to its size comparative to the small critical zones (head/neck/wing below the joint). It is easy to maim them through recklessness or high shooting and they can be gone 1000s yards quite quickly. 

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How many people on here have actually shot at a very large cardboard sheet at 50 yds or more and seen how wide the "pattern " pellets land on it? 

I'm betting very few .very tight chokes aside .your average 1/4  to 3/4 choke is going to be a very wide pattern with loads of pigeon sized holes in it. 

 

The idea of missing a bird by just a couple of inches at 50 yds is 

🤣

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I’ve only patterned at 30 yards. However as a metric the (generally) perpendicular shot string and flight of the bird partially negates the effects of these small holes. A bird has to be able to fly through the 3D pattern unscathed, much more of a challenge than finding a pigeon sized hole on a 2D pattern plate. If a bird is in the pattern at 0-50 yards it will be hit, and say 1% of birds hit between those ranges will make it more than 200 yards?

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There will always be flukey shots where a single pellet brings a bird down stone dead .and by the same degree a lucky bird that manages to get through a pattern unscathed at 30 yds .

But I feel we may owe it to our quarry to do be as efficient  as possible when shooting at them and that for me means shots within 40 yds.

I dont think I've ever watched a bird fly more than 200 yds and drop .

100 yes 

100 or so to a tree and then drop out of it .

But never well over the fields to then fall .

And I do watch the ones I thought should have come down .yes I guess I'm sometimes guilty of pushing the ranges a bit more than I should .But its after such a shot I endeavor to wait till closer and be more assured .

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Agree, 200 yards seems to be the limit of lung shot or blood loss. But I guess the question is, how many that you shoot make it past 200yards, thus maimed. Anything that falls within 200 yards will have the dog sent for it, so is pricked and recovered or dead when it hits the ground. 

Assuming we are exclusively talking pest control of wood pigeon. Cock pheasants will set their wings and can go miles. Also a much bigger bird, like a goose. 

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I have the opposite problem, can shoot pigeons but miss alot of clays, same problem in reverse but maybe I have food for thought.

Went duck flighting for the first time a long time ago with a bunch of pals and was considered to be a competent shot, however, to my amazement I missed the first 5 birds and my mates were rolling with laughter, anyhow one wise old mate asked what you aiming at your above every shot ( other crude language was used ) I said the bird, no no no was the answer - aim at the feet as they are dropping and slowing - job sorted.

So as above there are lot's of factors but I think you need someone experienced to stand behind you on the day to see which birds your missing and hitting to fix the problem BUT another day with different size trees, hungover, wind speed, damp carts you could need re-adjusting again.

I've pondered the very same of the years and if your a decent shot your always going to be close to a clean kill but sometimes we all just completely miss the easy ones ( if there is such a thing) !

It's an amazing sport and know we all love it

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Hello, I think most of my misses is not enough lead, as in distance, pigeon/ pheasants/duck in flighting wind/ strong wind need more lead and that can be difficult to judge, so how much lead for the above flying 20/30 mph ??, also I think as you get older your swing through gets slower, well my excuse 🙄😀

Edited by oldypigeonpopper
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i was out for 3 hours monday,i have beans standing and stubble but birds wont decoy,so i wait in the wood  for em to come rest up,i had 4 shots for 4 woody,coming in high over mature beach trees,gun armsan a620,useing fiocchi 25gram 6,better than i usually do,but them issed a squirrel with all 3 shots,i think its all on the day,sometimes very good sometimes not.

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3 hours ago, hawkfanz said:

4 woody, coming in high over mature beach trees,

well done, they are the ones I'm talking about, perhaps I'll get out at the weekend and try to give more lead. 

Has anyone noticed that sometimes a pigeon will turn back on itself when you fire a shot? I'm wondering if that means I have missed in front and the bird is reacting to the shot string passing in front of it's beak.

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Hi Martin, several things from my experience:

Are you judging the range correctly?  I think range is a factor that we all struggle with in certain situations.  They could be a bit further out/up than you think, and you may indeed be missing behind or the shot might not even be viable.  But they might actually be a bit closer, meaning you're putting too much on them.  Next time you're in your spot, have a really good ponder over it.  Maybe pace out the distance from a certain tree to your shooting position, then try to get a realistic gauge of the height of the tree, remembering that as you look further up it's always a bit taller than you think!  Then you need to go back to school and do a bit of Pythagorus!

 339122678_pythagorean-theorem1.png.e1b94e210bef147cb55599f56007a08c.png

If the tree is 30yds high (a) and you're standing 30yds from the tree (b) then the distance to the top of the tree is 42.4yds (c).  You can eye up a tree from a little distance away, then walk to a spot where you think is an equal distance to its height, then look up and make your judgement.

I miss in front a lot.  I get a bit too reactive I think, and swing through a touch too rapidly.  Misjudgements in range, lead and swing-through are just a symptom of the kind of shooting you're doing - you don't get any time to plan the shot as you do with clays.  When you sight your target shooting live quarry I'm sure you get a much bigger surge of adrenaline than clay shooting, your entire mental state is different, so I'm sure that has a factor in all of the above.

I too have used Pigeon Select quite extensively in the last few years.  I moved on to them after Eley upped the price of their standard "Pigeon" cartridge and added the "Select" to fill the gap.  Initially I was suffering a higher cart/kill ratio and, further to that, I noticed an increase in wounding rather than killing cleanly.  I followed some advice I'd read about those cartridges and tightened up my chokes one stage, which brought an instant noticeable improvement in both cart/kill and the cleanness of the kills.  My suspicion is they don't pattern brilliantly and therefore you need to add that bit more choke to get the pellets to behave.  Give it a go, you've got nothing to lose!

Regarding those very long range birds which perform a brisk aerobatic manoeuvre as you let off your shot - I know exactly what you are describing and here's my theory:  I wonder if, over the distance the shot travels to the bird, the shot decelerates below the speed of sound by the time it gets there to such a degree that sound of the shot has caught it up and overtaken it, therefore meaning the bird hears the shot before the pattern reaches it.  We all know how lightning fast a pigeon's reactions are - maybe it's literally just that bit too far out and they are just reacting in that tiny amount of available time, enough to evade the pellets?

Having said all that... I may have the wrong end of the stick but I think you might be choosing the more difficult aspect of this kind of shooting!  Pigeons zooming into a wood over tall trees are quite possibly the most difficult pigeons, if not of all birds, to hit!  Maybe try a different approach?  The more cartridge-efficient approach is to find which part of the wood they prefer to stage up in when arriving.  They'll turn into the wind to land obviously, so if you stand just upwind of the favourite landing spots you'll catch them decelerating and losing altitude... much easier birds to hit, and you'll pick off a few sitters as well to keep your average a bit lower!

If it was easy, everyone would be world champion, the same as in any other sport.  Keep at it, you'll have a breakthrough at some point :)

 

Edited by Jim Neal
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12 hours ago, Jim Neal said:

Hi Martin, several things from my experience:

Are you judging the range correctly?  I think range is a factor that we all struggle with in certain situations.  They could be a bit further out/up than you think, and you may indeed be missing behind or the shot might not even be viable.  But they might actually be a bit closer, meaning you're putting too much on them.  Next time you're in your spot, have a really good ponder over it.  Maybe pace out the distance from a certain tree to your shooting position, then try to get a realistic gauge of the height of the tree, remembering that as you look further up it's always a bit taller than you think!  Then you need to go back to school and do a bit of Pythagorus!

 

If the tree is 30yds high (a) and you're standing 30yds from the tree (b) then the distance to the top of the tree is 42.4yds (c).  You can eye up a tree from a little distance away, then walk to a spot where you think is an equal distance to its height, then look up and make your judgement.

I miss in front a lot.  I get a bit too reactive I think, and swing through a touch too rapidly.  Misjudgements in range, lead and swing-through are just a symptom of the kind of shooting you're doing - you don't get any time to plan the shot as you do with clays.  When you sight your target shooting live quarry I'm sure you get a much bigger surge of adrenaline than clay shooting, your entire mental state is different, so I'm sure that has a factor in all of the above.

I too have used Pigeon Select quite extensively in the last few years.  I moved on to them after Eley upped the price of their standard "Pigeon" cartridge and added the "Select" to fill the gap.  Initially I was suffering a higher cart/kill ratio and, further to that, I noticed an increase in wounding rather than killing cleanly.  I followed some advice I'd read about those cartridges and tightened up my chokes one stage, which brought an instant noticeable improvement in both cart/kill and the cleanness of the kills.  My suspicion is they don't pattern brilliantly and therefore you need to add that bit more choke to get the pellets to behave.  Give it a go, you've got nothing to lose!

Regarding those very long range birds which perform a brisk aerobatic manoeuvre as you let off your shot - I know exactly what you are describing and here's my theory:  I wonder if, over the distance the shot travels to the bird, the shot decelerates below the speed of sound by the time it gets there to such a degree that sound of the shot has caught it up and overtaken it, therefore meaning the bird hears the shot before the pattern reaches it.  We all know how lightning fast a pigeon's reactions are - maybe it's literally just that bit too far out and they are just reacting in that tiny amount of available time, enough to evade the pellets?

Having said all that... I may have the wrong end of the stick but I think you might be choosing the more difficult aspect of this kind of shooting!  Pigeons zooming into a wood over tall trees are quite possibly the most difficult pigeons, if not of all birds, to hit!  Maybe try a different approach?  The more cartridge-efficient approach is to find which part of the wood they prefer to stage up in when arriving.  They'll turn into the wind to land obviously, so if you stand just upwind of the favourite landing spots you'll catch them decelerating and losing altitude... much easier birds to hit, and you'll pick off a few sitters as well to keep your average a bit lower!

If it was easy, everyone would be world champion, the same as in any other sport.  Keep at it, you'll have a breakthrough at some point

 

A truly great post, the Pythagorus approach quite illuminating. People's ideas of distance are notoriously poor.  A range finder might provide some clues.  On a different tack and just out of interest, I carried out a few basic calculations on the amount of lead required on pigeons, on a horizontal plane, at a distance of 20 yards away and it was surprising. Interestingly, the lead required on subsonics vs supersonics was marginal. Referring to the aerobatics, a possible solution on testing your theory would be a truly silenced gun, or possibly a heavily silenced gun.  The calculations/model needed to prove or disprove your theory is perfectly feasible but not by me. A few unknowns chucked into the equation such as humidity, windspeed etc. would provide a spread of results but a few assumptions would suffice. Anyone with GCSE maths fancy a "shot" at it? A more all-round analytical approach is needed with pigeon shooting although some might argue that this might take the guesswork and fun out of it. 

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Hi Jim, thanks for a well thought out response, - As an Engineer I am familiar with Pythagarus and his theorem  

As a recap - as I said in my original post I'm estimating the range at 40 yards but of course that could easily be plus or minus a few, if it's minus they tend to to get shot more often as one would expect. I'm not some rookie shot, I have been shooting pigeons on and off for 50 plus years and do quite a bit of pigeon decoying most weekends or whenever I think there's a good chance. I also shoot clay competitions regularly, at least twice a month Covid permitting, and am always striving to improve my scores. As for estimating distance, I guess I'm as good as the next person, also being a rifle shooter and carp angler (casting distances) there have been plenty of opportunities to check my guesstimates in the past.

Talking about clay shooting - I'm sure it's bad for pigeon shooting and vice versa, it takes a while to readjust to both.

My point was that, after all these years of doing this I still find this style of shooting difficult, as you say, perhaps THE most difficult form of shooting. I can and do try to hang around where I think they are going to come in but this is what I have to contend with at the moment and this is where I need to improve. 

Interesting about your theory regarding the sound causing them to veer off rather than the shot string passing in front, that's something to think about. 

I'm using half and half choke, I could go up to half and three quarters, that's the tightest I have in my collection although that's academic if I am missing them. I might take Mr. G Digweed's advice where he says if you are missing - double the lead, if you still miss - halve the lead.

This weekend will be the last for a while as they only let me shoot in this spot while they are not shooting pheasants and they re-start on the 5th

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On 27/11/2020 at 12:25, Balotelli said:

A truly great post, the Pythagorus approach quite illuminating. People's ideas of distance are notoriously poor.  A range finder might provide some clues.  On a different tack and just out of interest, I carried out a few basic calculations on the amount of lead required on pigeons, on a horizontal plane, at a distance of 20 yards away and it was surprising. Interestingly, the lead required on subsonics vs supersonics was marginal. Referring to the aerobatics, a possible solution on testing your theory would be a truly silenced gun, or possibly a heavily silenced gun.  The calculations/model needed to prove or disprove your theory is perfectly feasible but not by me. A few unknowns chucked into the equation such as humidity, windspeed etc. would provide a spread of results but a few assumptions would suffice. Anyone with GCSE maths fancy a "shot" at it? A more all-round analytical approach is needed with pigeon shooting although some might argue that this might take the guesswork and fun out of it. 

As you say, so many variables it boggles the mind.  The biggest problem is that the shot decelerates so trying to work that out just melts your brain.  I think you're right - applying a bit of academic thinking at times may help to understand something a bit better but the best teacher is getting out there and learning from experience.  Much more fun with a gun in your hand rather than a calculator!

On 27/11/2020 at 21:00, martinj said:

Hi Jim, thanks for a well thought out response, - As an Engineer I am familiar with Pythagarus and his theorem  

As a recap - as I said in my original post I'm estimating the range at 40 yards but of course that could easily be plus or minus a few, if it's minus they tend to to get shot more often as one would expect. I'm not some rookie shot, I have been shooting pigeons on and off for 50 plus years and do quite a bit of pigeon decoying most weekends or whenever I think there's a good chance. I also shoot clay competitions regularly, at least twice a month Covid permitting, and am always striving to improve my scores. As for estimating distance, I guess I'm as good as the next person, also being a rifle shooter and carp angler (casting distances) there have been plenty of opportunities to check my guesstimates in the past.

Talking about clay shooting - I'm sure it's bad for pigeon shooting and vice versa, it takes a while to readjust to both.

My point was that, after all these years of doing this I still find this style of shooting difficult, as you say, perhaps THE most difficult form of shooting. I can and do try to hang around where I think they are going to come in but this is what I have to contend with at the moment and this is where I need to improve. 

Interesting about your theory regarding the sound causing them to veer off rather than the shot string passing in front, that's something to think about. 

I'm using half and half choke, I could go up to half and three quarters, that's the tightest I have in my collection although that's academic if I am missing them. I might take Mr. G Digweed's advice where he says if you are missing - double the lead, if you still miss - halve the lead.

This weekend will be the last for a while as they only let me shoot in this spot while they are not shooting pheasants and they re-start on the 5th

I didn't want to come across as teaching Granny to suck eggs, if that's how it seemed, but range seems to me like most obvious stumbling block if someone is consistently struggling to connect.  The trouble with live quarry is you can't ask the pigeon to come back and fly across again at exactly the same speed , in exactly the same direction, so you can have another go :D

The only trouble I can think of with consciously trying to experiment with lead is you're then focusing on the wrong thing.  All you should ever be doing is staring at the target and letting instinct do the rest so it's a challenge to try to change what you've done thousands of times before.

It could still be the pattern, for the reasons I mentioned above.  Try the tighter choke in your first barrel, see if it makes any difference.

You could try a different cartridge as well.  It's something a lot of people say although there's no real solid way of proving/disproving it, but some cartridges apparently seem to suit some guns better than others.

Just a thought - what style do you shoot with?  Maintained lead, lock on & push in front, negative lead, or any other?  Could be worth trying a completely different method?

I think you're right in that when you've got your eye in for clays it doesn't always transpose to live quarry.  I shoot clays very rarely, and I'm absolutely hopeless at them!  If I get 50% it's a miracle, whereas I'll usually be around 2.5:1 at the end of a game season and around 3.5:1 roost shooting/flighting pigeons and crows - which are averages I don't think anyone would be ashamed of.  Part of way I keep my cart/kill ratio down though is to have a bit of self-control and not take wild shots with little chance of hitting the bird.  Some years ago I'd have a go at anything and, as a result, I used to buy a lot more cartridges than I do nowadays.... but I bag more now than I used to back then!

Keep persevering, and as long as you're enjoying the challenge it's not a waste of time ;)

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Hi Jim, thanks again, I'm fairly confident about what I should be able to hit at my vast age although what I should hit and what I do hit aren't necessarily the same thing 🙂

Granny sucking eggs, my response was partially for others benefit not yourself. Yes pigeons are not as obliging as clays you only get one chance then you are back to square one.

I don't think cartridges and ammo are the key to my particular problem, There is a hilltop where I sometimes go in summer to shoot returning pigeons in the afternoon, they are often about a similar range but a different speed and I have learned to hit them with maintained lead, the same lead every time within a couple of feet and I get a high percentage of kills just because they do approximately the same thing time after time and I have had time to work it out. I give them 10 to 12 feet maintained with almost predictable results.

Shooting style? generally swing through for fast and close birds, maintained lead for further out targets or a mix and match. I can add lead conciously if I need to,  I did try more lead yesterday and shot 5 so I think I'm on the right track. It's all over for a while now as the Pheasant shoot is back on.

81% is my average for clays so the CPSA tell me, much less for pigeons, I enjoy challenging shots if they are within range, a good tricky shot is more satisfying than an easy target. I can only dream of averages like yours for game and pigeons.

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On 27/11/2020 at 12:25, Balotelli said:

 Referring to the aerobatics, a possible solution on testing your theory would 

With regard to pigeons shying away from the shot string - Based on my own observations I'm 70/30 convinced that it's a clue to where the shot went, if it turns back the shot was in front etc.

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On 22/11/2020 at 21:31, WalkedUp said:

Clays slow down, pigeons speed up. Clays repeat in a set manner, pigeons do as they please. You know when a clay is coming. There are lots of reasons why live quarry is harder. 

In a nutshell.  Don't aim, look at the bird and swing through and keep swinging.  

How many pigeons at 50yrds do you wound but don't realise it.  A clay is inanimate but the aim should be to cleanly kill the quarry species whatever it is.

I know there are youtube films of crows and pigeons being brought down well over 50yrds with hooping and hollering when it happens but they don't go across and show you the dead bird, probably just a broken wing.  Not good.

Edited by Walker570
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