MDC holds wing shooting workshop in St. Charles for waterfowl and upland game bird hunters

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St. Charles — There’s no doubt that good marksmanship skills play a key role in hunting success. But it takes more than a sharp eye to be effective at hunting migratory and upland birds. Proper shooting technique and understanding ammunition characteristics are both just as crucial. They’re also critical to reduce the unwanted wounding of birds.

“Effective Wing Shooting for the Hunter” is a workshop that sets its sights on giving hunters the knowledge they need to become better wing shooters.

The workshop will be presented by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Sept. 7 at 8 a.m. at the Conservation Department’s Regional Office in St. Charles. Participants can then hone their new-found skills in the afternoon during the field portion at the nearby August A. Busch Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center.

“It is without a doubt the most informative program that I have ever been a part of,” said Busch Outdoor Education Center Supervisor Bryant Hertel in describing the Effective Wing Shooting workshop.

The classroom portion of the workshop will cover topics such as improving shooting skills, shotgun patterning, choosing proper load/choke combinations and most importantly, how to accurately estimate distance. The latter can be challenging when targets are flying through the air, where there are no trees, landmarks or terrain for reference.

Underestimating distances and overestimating their effective shooting range is the most common mistake hunters make. The goal of the workshop is to improve wing shooting not only through shooting abilities, but also range estimation.

The workshop will also cover the characteristics of steel shot. The US Fish and Wildlife Service requires the use of non-toxic steel shot on waterfowl hunting areas. It is also mandatory on many Conservation Department areas used for upland game bird hunting.

The course will demonstrate how steel can be just as effective as lead, or more so. Steel shot simply requires greater shooting precision compared to lead because steel produces a smaller, more compact pattern. “If you know how it acts and performs,” said Hertel referring to steel shot, “you’re going to be a much better hunter.”

The field portion will allow participants to put what they learn into practice. Hands-on shooting exercises will reinforce shotgun patterning and distance estimation skills. Shooters should bring their own firearms and chokes. All target clays and ammunition will be provided free of charge.

One of the most important goals of improving wing shooting accuracy is to reduce the unintentional wounding of birds. “If we can reduce that by a few percentage points, we’re sending a million extra birds back north every year to nest,” Hertel said. “That means bigger bird populations down the road and better hunting for the future.”

The workshop is free and open to anyone 15 years or older. Space is limited for the class and advanced registration is required. Participants are required to attend the morning seminar before attending the field portion.

The Conservation Department Regional Office is located on Route D two miles west of Highway 94 in St. Charles. The August A. Busch Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center is also on Route D, three miles west of the Regional Office.

For more information or to register, call 636-441-4554.