It’s March and another hunting season is over and we hope yours was better than average. We learned years ago not to compare hunts from year to year but to look at each one as an adventure and concentrate on what we learned that made us better. My wife, Vicki, and I received many pictures and thank you cards this past Christmas from clients who had shot with us last summer before the season began. Many of them had improved their gun mounts and gun fits by coming to see us and learning what it really looks like to pull the trigger on a moving target successfully.
In our seminars that we put on for Safari Clubs we continue to be amazed at the number of people who are still looking down the barrel trying to aim the gun ahead of the bird and on top of that are clueless as to what it really looks like when you pull the trigger on a moving object with a shotgun.
This past January in one of our seminars at Dallas Safari Convention and we were asked some great questions about how to teach youth shooters to become more proficient on the range and in the field. My first response was, “with both eyes open it is a very confusing picture looking down the barrel of a shotgun!” You must keep your eyes on the bird and the muzzle must be ahead of the bird to hit it, so the muzzle and the bird cannot be in the same place when the shot is taken.
We have a simple drill that, if you will just do it 5 minutes a day for 21 days straight days, you will train your brain to understand and consistently apply the correct sight picture when shooting clays or doves. We call it the three-bullet drill. You can use three cartridges, cups, or saltshakers or 3 of anything else you might have. Place the three objects on a book-shelf at eye level about 12 inches apart and back up across the room. With an EMPTY GUN look at the middle object and mount the gun on the right object (which would be the sight picture for the left to right target). While still looking at the center object mount the gun to the left object (which would be the sight picture of the right to left target). It will be visually confusing at first but continue doing this home drill until your brain understands what it looks like to have both eyes focused on the bird and the muzzle in your periphery. Eventually with repetition your brain will begin to make sense of the picture and then you will begin to understand what it really looks like to see the bird behind where the barrel is pointing. If we always see the bird behind where the barrel is pointed then that would mean we would always be ahead of the target, which, if I remember correctly, is where we must be to hit the target!
Many people ask at what age someone should begin their journey with a shotgun. Age is not as important as weight. When we get this question asked, as we often do, we answer with, “the shooter should weigh at least 92 pounds.” You’re probably wondering where we get the “92 pounds” number? It’s simple. Regardless of how excited the new shooter or their parent or grandparent is about learning, unlike shooting a .22 rifle from a bench rest, to learn how to shoot a shotgun, the wing-shooter must be able to hold the gun up long enough and enough times to shoot with proper shooting posture. Most of our first lessons last about 30 minutes and the shooter only shoots about 10-20 times because they can’t hold the gun up and keep their weight on their front foot. Our shooters are shown the three-bullet drill and are asked to practice the drill every day with an empty gun. The students who actually practice the drill, learn at an accelerated rate (actually 2-3 times faster!). When practicing the drill, not only are you training the sight pictures with both eyes open, but you are also building up the muscles that you will need to use to mount the gun. This allows you to learn longer and become a better safer shot on the range or in the field. Yes, we said safer! Our research shows that shooters who have a trained consistent smooth move and mount are not only better shots they are safer too.
With last season in the history books, now is the time to make the investment to take a lesson or two and learn what it really looks like to hit a moving target with a shotgun. You’ve got 6 months until September 1 to do some things that will improve your proficiency in the field and make you or your son, grandson, or daughter safer in the field and a better shot to boot!
Our OSP Knowledge Vault consists of 5,000 video lessons, 4,000 pages of written data, 16 books and countless video shooting tips. We consistently hear from people who watched the 500+ dove ShotKam shots in the vault that afterwards they shot better than they ever have. For more information, go to ospschool.com.
By Gil Ash
OSP Shooting School