Gunning for Spaniels

There is are few things more statisfying than shooting over a well trained flushing spaniel. In this day and age, however, we need to treat our right to bears arm as a privilege in order to maintain that right.

Disclaimer: All items on this page are suggestions. The reader may use this information, however he or she chooses.

Shotgun Safety and Knowing the Rules

The safe handling of firearms is paramount in training. We recommend that you do one of the following yearly:

  • Review the Hunters Safety Section of your state's hunting guide. These should be available wherever you renew your hunting licenses
  • Take the online hunter's safety course provided at or look at their resource directory to see if your state offers a version tailored to the rules of that state.
  • Check with any shooting or hunting club which you are a memeber to see if the club offers a yearly gunner's seminar to review all the rules for gunning at training sessions.

Following the above suggestions will help keep you informed of the latest safe hunting practices.

If you plan to travel out of state for gunning training, please remember the following:

  • Check the rules applying to the safe storage of firearms for each of the states through which you may be traveling.
  • Bring your Hunters Safety Certificate on the trip. You will need this to purchase a hunting license in the state where you will be training.
  • Check the DNR or Federal rules of the state in which you are to train. You may be required to use non-toxic shot.

Practice Makes Prefect

There is always room for improvement to become a better shooter. Shooting Sporting Clays or Skeet using a low gun technique on a regular basis can improve your field gunning. Another option is to work with a professional shooting instructor to clean up your technique. Though a bit more expensive, these private lessons or seminars may be a good investment.

What Gauge Gun, Chokes and Shot should be used?

A few guidelines to follow:

  • Traditionally, the 12-gauge has been used for shooting over flushing spaniels. Almost all gunners at Hunt Tests use an over-under 12-gauge gun.
  • Get your gun "fitted" in order to eliminate potentially destructive habits in your shooting style.
  • Most kills will happen 35-60 yards from the dog, so modified and full chokes should be used.
  • Five or Six shot should be used when gunning. Lead shot is still the prevalent shot in use however more and more laws are being enacted requiring the use of non-toxic shot. You should always find out about any regulations regarding the type of shot you may use, particularly when shooting in an unfamiliar area. . Bill Hanus has an excellent primer about non-toxic shot at Bill Hanus Bird Guns.

How to Gun For Spaniels

Take a look at the following article, "Gunners Guidelines for Spaniel Training Sessions" by Ed Hershey published by This helpful article can help you understand all of the different things a prospective gunner will need to think about (and possibly act upon) during a training session.

There is one thing the article does not touch upon, but that we consider critical in either a small group or a club setting while gunning, Check your ego in your vechicle!. Training sessions are about trying to accomplish something with the dog and the handler. If you are shooting badly, be courteous and pull yourself out of the gunning rotation. If you are sitting on the sidelines, find some other way to help the training session progress well. Please don't be one of those people who constantly snipes about how much better at gunning you are than someone else.