SCHOOLS FOR WING-SHOOTERS New classes, many teaching an English technique, can help even experienced bird stalkers hit their targets.

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Ever since their father took them on elephant safaris in Kenya as children, the Havens brothers have been shooting. Timothy M. Havens, 41, president of Newbold's Asset Management in Philadelphia, hunts whenever he can; John P. Havens, 30, a securities trader and principal at Morgan Stanley in New York, is a regular skeet-shooter on Long Island. But along with some American friends who joined them for a pheasant shoot in Yorkshire in November, they spent an afternoon at a school outside London run by Holland & Holland Ltd., which makes some of the world's most expensive guns. This was their first formal instruction in the art of shotgunning. ''You get to think you know everything,'' says Tim. ''But people who shoot a lot get sloppy. You can always learn.'' The very idea of going to school to learn to shoot birds is new to most Americans. Until a generation or so ago, boys got guns for Christmas and, by trial and error, learned from their elders to track plentiful wild game. But the ways of hunting in America are changing. Suburban sprawl has banished the sport from ever increasing areas of the country, and large-scale farming has left fewer places for wild birds to live. More and more Americans follow the European practice of paying to shoot game raised expressly for release on preserves, with seasons often lasting from October until March. (A directory of 128 preserves is available from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Box 1075, Riverside, Connecticut 06878.) Such sport can be expensive. Though costs vary with the quality of the birds, amenities, and service, a shooter can spend $400 a day (meals and lodging extra) to bag a dozen quail on a plantation in Georgia. Memberships in hunting clubs that lease land can cost thousands of dollars. Sharpened skills help wing-shooting enthusiasts make the most of their investments. With instruction increasingly available, the sport is broadening: More women are taking up arms. The Greater Houston Gun Club offers a Saturday clinic for women novices, at $30. Claudia J. Hatcher, 36, a partner in Prescott Legal Search, a headhunter for law firms, attended so she could join her husband David, owner of a chemical company, hunting on a 6,000-acre lease in southwest Texas. The next weekend she bagged her first birds on a quail shoot with her husband. ''I felt pretty excited, and we enjoyed eating them,'' she says. UNTIL RECENTLY most instructors in the U.S. taught only skeet- and trapshooting, where clay targets are launched at predictable speeds, distances, and angles. The requisite skill is calculating how far ahead of the target to fire, a method called the sustained lead. But real birds do not fly as predictably as clay ones do: Sustaining a lead is a formidable challenge for the sometime bird-shooter. Even such exponents of the technique as Fred Missildine, 69, former world champion skeet- and trapshooter, allow that wing- shooters rarely get enough practice to succeed with the technique. At the Cloister Hotel on Sea Island, Georgia, where he says he has instructed such luminaries as Exxon Chairman Clifton C. Garvin Jr., Missildine teaches both the sustained lead and a variant of the English method.

The shooter using the English method (sometimes called the Churchill method after the gunsmith and coach who devised it) does not calculate a lead. He mounts the gun to his shoulder as he sights the bird and shoots, turning his body in one swing-through motion, as in golf. In theory if the gun is properly mounted and the rhythm and timing of the swing are correct, the shot and the bird will intersect without conscious planning. Instruction in the English method is becoming more popular in the U.S. Holland & Holland instructors visit regularly, with itineraries arranged by Griffin & Howe, a New York gunsmith. Orvis, a fishing and hunting outfitter, offers sessions from July until October near its Manchester, Vermont, headquarters, then sets up shop until January near Tallahassee, Florida. The Orvis Wing-Shooting Handbook by Bruce Bowlen (Nick Lyons Books, $8.95) explains the company's interpretation of the English method. Near Houston the Highland Bend Shooting School in Fulshear gives instruction year-round except for the hunting season, when shooters take to the fields. Pachmayr, a Los Angeles hunting outfitter, gives summer sessions in the ''instinctive'' method, an American technique much like the English method but simpler. To find out how the English method works, two stockbrokers from Kidder Peabody's Philadelphia office took a lesson at the Fairfield Shooting School near Chestertown, Maryland. (The cost: $200 for the pair for a two-hour session.) A. John Gregg, 39, a vice president and sales manager, and Charles Boinske, 24, an account executive, began with the introductory part of a videotape, Gameshooting, produced by Holland & Holland ($79.95 from Blacksmith Corp., P.O. Box 424, Southport, Connecticut 06490). It demonstrates the importance of stance, placement of hands, eye-hand coordination, mount, and swing-through. In the field, instructor Charles ''Chick'' Darrell, 39, had the men go through the motions they had seen in the video. Boinske faced a 15-foot target-launcher tower, left foot slightly forward with heels six inches apart, and readied his gun with the stock under his right arm and the barrel resting in his left hand; his extended left arm would help him move the gun in the swing-through. Gregg, a left-hander, was his mirror image. As soon as Darrell released the clay pigeons by remote control, his pupils mounted stocks and fired, swinging and pivoting in the direction of the targets. Boinske, who had previously shot only with rifles at stationary targets, found that a lot to remember. Gregg had to overcome a habit of hesitating in midswing. But soon both were breaking pigeons. Later they shot at clays coming from a 50-foot tower that simulated passing geese or doves. ENGLISH-STYLE TRAINING is even providing an alternative to traditional skeet- and trapshooting. Those targets are so predictable that the goal is to break 100% of them -- a tension-filled quest for perfection that turns off many recreational shooters. Sporting Clays, as the new game is called, sets launchers for unpredictable trajectories; breaking 80% of the targets is a high score, and the exercise is more relaxed. Two years ago the Highland Bend School introduced the sport to the U.S. This year regional tournaments were held in New Hampshire and Maryland. ''This is a substitute for hunting that the whole family can enjoy,'' says Bob L. Davis, 40, president of Dove Oil & Gas Co. in Houston and head of the new United States Sporting Clays Association. On the last day of their pheasant shoot in Yorkshire, where beaters tapped the bushes to flush birds released months before, the Havens brothers and their six friends downed 297 birds. They left most with caretakers on the property. But those they brought back to the chef at Brown's Hotel in London made a delectable farewell dinner. Meanwhile, in Maryland, Jack Gregg sat in a blind all day, but nary a fowl winged over. Whatever its merits, the English method is no better than the American at making birds appear in the sky.