I’m inconsistent when shooting rabbit targets. Sometimes I break them OK; especially medium speed and closer targets. Other times I can’t seem to hit them at all. I do find that I am consistent when I get a good bounce and can shoot them in the air. I need help.
Rabbits are deceptive. Due to this target’s proximity to the ground, the rabbit appears to be moving faster than it really is. Our natural reaction is to generate excess gun speed, resulting in the most common miss on a rabbit: in front. However, most of our squad mates will tell us that we are missing behind, because the cloud of dust left by the shot column appears to be behind the rabbit.
Just like other targets, there is more than one technique to break a rabbit, however, there are some techniques that prove more effective than others. For a crossing rabbit at most distances, the most effective technique is to let the rabbit beat your gun muzzle by just a bit, then “stab it with a fork” while maintaining acute focus on the front foot of the target (4:30 for a left-to-right rabbit, and 7:30 for a right-to-left rabbit). This “stab it with a fork” move is unique to rabbits. Let the target beat your muzzle by just a bit, then go to the nose of the rabbit and immediately pull the trigger. It’s sort of like playing “whack-a-mole” at Chuck E. Cheese. To ensure that the rabbit beats your gun, the best place for your hold point is a foot or two behind (toward the trap) a spot along the ground where you see the rabbit the clearest. Exactly where you establish your hold point is not as important as allowing the target to beat your muzzle before moving to it and executing the shot.
For very close, very slow rabbits, sustained lead can be very effective as well. For a shallow quartering rabbit, where you are shooting at the back or front edge as it moves away from you or toward you, a diminishing lead technique can work well. I hope that helps!
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 www.doncurrie.com.