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Ask The Instructor: Crossing Targets

Question: Yesterday at my club, I was practicing on a 30-yard left-to-right crosser. I tried to break the target at various spots along the flight path. My best breaks were shots where I hit the bird just before it started to fade and fall off the target line. When I tried to break the target a bit later, I had a lot of trouble. Why did I have so much trouble breaking this target as it was starting to slow down and fall?

Answer: Let’s eliminate eye dominance and gun fit and assume that the issue here is technique. Identifying a specific terrain feature to mark your break point is a good idea. It is critical to identify and commit to a specific break point and observe the behavior of the target at your chosen break point. If you fail to commit to the break point, you might be shooting a target that’s different in character than the one you planned to engage.

If you are forced to engage a crossing target at a transition point, where the target is “losing its line,” it is more likely that you will occlude or block the target with the barrel. Because all crossing targets eventually lose speed and line, a lack of commitment to the break point can cause you to delay shot execution and get the barrel between the eye and the target, disconnecting you visually from the target.

A target that is losing its line or descending slightly at your chosen break point requires a slight modification in technique:

  1. Shorten your stroke a bit by moving your hold point slightly closer to your break point, and lower your muzzle angle so that your movement to the break point is at a slight upward angle.

  2. Start your gun movement early, in plenty of time to beat the target to the break point. If you don’t start your move early, you are likely to speed up your movement at the end of your stroke, creating a situation where your muzzle is speeding up as the target is slowing down. This frequently results in a miss over the top.

Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at

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