Brad Varney’s new book, Maine-ly Wing Shooting, is not only an exceptional how-to instructional guide, but also an entertaining read of stories. Brad is the best shooting instructor in the state. I can say that because he significantly improved my bird shooting success in a single lesson a few years ago.
I’ve enjoyed five pheasant hunting adventures in North Dakota with some of my Maine hunting buddies. The first time I went with them, it took me 23 shots to kill my three pheasants. Jim Robbins felt sorry for me and offered me one of his side-by-side shotguns, and the next day, I got my three pheasants with four shots. But my shooting continued to be erratic, so I did two things when I got home.
I purchased a light side-by-side shotgun, and I traveled to Richmond for a shooting lesson with Brad Varney at Varney’s Clay Sports. In his book, Brad lays out the detailed steps he takes to make you a better wing shooter. He begins with a test to discover which of your eyes is dominant. Both of mine were, so he placed a black dot over the left lens on my glasses.
There were several key recommendations following that step, but the most important thing I learned is that, as a life-long deer hunter, I was aiming my shotgun. Nope, you can’t do that. Brad taught me the smooth process of shouldering the gun and moving through the target. When we went outside to try that, I was astonished by how good a shot I was! And I’ve held my own every hunting trip since then.
Mark Brannon, a national award-winning shooter and author who received shooting lessons from Brad early in his career, in the book’s introduction notes that Brad, “has a passion for teaching that conveys itself to his students, bringing out their best. This book encompasses all of Brad’s years of experience shooting and teaching and is delivered with all of the passion Brad brings to the shooting field.”
Brannon reports that, “During Brad’s 50 years of shot gunning he has shot clay target sports competitively all over the North East, winning many state and regional championships. He has been a field trial gunner for both pointer and retriever trials. He has participated in the annual Maine Pheasant Shoot for over 25 years, always as the dominant shooter and winning it the last three years in a row.”
I especially enjoyed Brad’s bird hunting stories and all the photos of his hunting dog/partner. “Life is too short to ever be without a hunting dog,” he writes. In one essay, he describes my experience exactly: “There comes a time in a sportsman’s life when he realizes that he has fewer days in the field ahead of him than he has behind him. By that point in time a change in attitude has suddenly overcome him. No longer does the number of birds bagged or the length of time spent hunting really matter. Almost like magic the hunt is all about quality.” Exactly!
At the end of the book, Brad outlines his Pledge as a Shooting Instructor. “I will guarantee that you will shoot better after taking a lesson with me. I will give you your money back if three conditions are not met: If you do not have fun; If you are not completely satisfied; If you do not feel I have helped you become a better shooter.” Trust me, no one has ever asked for their money back, nor will they after reading Maine-ly Wing Shooting.
I won’t tell you his name, but a well-known Maine outdoor leader, who also teaches shooting, went on two of our North Dakota trips with us. The first time, I don’t think he missed a shot. The second time, he missed several shots, and it bothered him so much that he told me he was going up to Richmond as soon as he got back to Maine to have a refresher lesson from Brad. Good idea!
In the book, Brad tells you how to use and trust your senses – all of them – foremost among them your eyes. Even before you go up there for a lesson, it would be good to read the book. And for those who do take a lesson, Brad offers a steep discount on the book before you return for lesson number two. He says the second lesson will go much better after you’ve read the book.
Honestly, he did so much for me I haven’t had to return for a second lesson. But we’ll see how well I shoot on this year’s trip to North Dakota!
Contact: Brad Varney, 207-737-4993, www.varneysclaysports.com. You can buy the book directly from Brad, or on Amazon.