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Tips for Better (and Safer) Early-Season Wingshooting

CANTON, MA (August 17, 2022) – September brings a variety of early-season wingshooting opportunities to anxious hunters throughout much of the United States. Are you ready? Follow a few key tips for better – and safer – experiences afield.

Wear Electronic Hearing Protection

Whether lining the edge of a sunflower field with family or friends during a traditional dove hunt, sharing coffee in a blind while waiting for decoying teal or Canada geese, or watching the dogs put up grouse or woodcock, bird hunting is unique in many respects. Most significantly, perhaps, it differs from many other types of hunting in that it’s a social affair. Whether sharing jokes or stories between shots or engaging in strategic talk that improves the group’s coordination or enhances safety, communication is encouraged, not shushed.

These kinds of hunts can also offer opportunities for a lot of shooting, and volleys at birds may come from multiple shotguns. For these reasons, waterfowl and upland hunters should always wear hearing protection. How do you communicate while your ears are plugged, you might ask? Don’t worry; protecting your hearing and conducting conversation aren’t at odds.

Unlike passive types of hearing protection like foam plugs and standard earmuffs that simply block sound, today’s electronic earmuffs and electronic earbuds can provide protection from the dangerous impulse noises produced by firearms, while also amplifying ambient sound in order to make communication easier. It’s a win-win.

Trusted, well-fitting electronic hearing protection like the Howard LeightTM Impact® Sport are an ideal solution for waterfowl and upland bird hunters. They’re available in multiple styles and sizes, and there are simply no good excuses for not wearing them.

Sharpen Your Shooting Skills

Even the most seasoned wingshooters often enter the month of September a bit “rusty.” And while off-season shooting practice is one of the best ways to enjoy more success once the hunting seasons open, hunters have an actual ethical responsibility to the game animals they pursue to be accurate with their firearms. Nobody feels good about crippling and losing a bird – at least they shouldn’t.

Sporting clays, trap, skeet and other clay games are great ways to hone your shotgunning skills before the season opens. As an added bonus, they’re also a whole lot of fun. Upland hunt clubs, shooting sports complexes and outdoor gun ranges across the country offer such opportunities at very reasonable prices, along with expert instruction if desired or needed. Take time to shoot a round or two of sporting clays before the season begins and you’ll knock down more birds come opening morning.

Sporting clays, specifically, is a great warm-up for the season opener because the targets are thrown in different stations that each mimic real hunting situations. Howard Leight Impact® Sport Bluetooth 5.0 Electronic Shooting Earbuds provide a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 29dB and up to 6X amplification, making them a great choice for the range or field.

Bring Extra Shells

Unless you’re hunting a public area that restricts the number of shotgun shells you can legally carry into the field (many do, so check your state’s detailed hunting regulations), make sure you have enough ammunition. This is especially salient advice for the dove hunter. Among the fastest-flying game birds in North America, doves have a habit of making even the best wingshooters miss. Avoid the disappointment that comes from falsely thinking a single box of 25 shotshells will result in a limit of 15 doves. It’s not going to happen.

Take Responsible Shots

Whether hunting teal, geese, doves, or any other free-flying game bird, the temptation is always there to shoot at any bird that passes within 50 yards. But keep in mind that excessive shooting can quickly burn an entire flock or field. Understand the limitations of your firearm, ammunition, and your own shooting ability, and only take high percentage shots. If the birds aren’t coming close enough, change your setup; the birds will tell you where you need to be.

Don’t Forget Your Eyes

Wearing the proper shooting eyewear while hunting not only increases safety, but it can also improve your shooting performance. Start with eyewear marked Z87 on the temples. This means both frames and lenses have passed basic impact testing. Beyond this certification, choose frames that feel comfortable on your face and a lens tint that supports visual acuity. Amber-tinted lenses, specifically, are a wonderful all-around choice because they help to improve contrast and depth perception. That means smaller, fast-flying targets can be picked up and tracked more easily, especially beneath overcast skies. Next to clear, amber lenses also have the best visible light transmission at about 90 percent, which ensures they will perform well in low-light conditions.

Wingshooters don’t need to spend a lot for top-quality shooting glasses. Howard Leight UVEX Genesis eyewear meets ANSI Z87.1-2015 high-impact standards, as well as the Military V0 ballistic test for impact. Available with clear, amber, or vermillion wraparound uni-lenses, Genesis features a soft and flexible ventilated brow guard, plus adjustable temples and nose piece for maximum comfort and a customized fit.

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