Have You Lost Your Gun?
August 2007 Sporting Clays Tip
by Dan Schindler
Though I can't really say this is common, it does happen enough times during my lessons that I feel it's worth mentioning here. And, it does happen at all skill levels.
Here,...my student and I are primarily working on getting his set-up correct before each shot. Doing so correctly eliminates wasted time and wasted gun movements.
Everything seems in place as he calls for the bird and the trap fires. But the error he was never told about before today will now likely cause him to miss. His eyes are tracking the bird hard, but, as I expected and right on schedule, his gun stutter-steps just at the point when his muzzle should be merging with the bird, early in the swing.
Why? Here's the sequence. The muzzle is set (muzzle hold point—MHP) and the eyes move back to the Focal Point (where the bird will be first seen). But the eyes have turned so hard, the muzzle can no longer be seen in his peripheral vision. He's lost his gun. When the trap fires, his eyes will lock on the bird as they should. However, his eyes must now find the muzzle too. It takes a little more than a half-second to do that. And, it takes another half-second to put the muzzle and the bird together, if he can. This little stutter-step costs valuable time and creates erratic gun movement,...2 costly mistakes.
As you set your MHP and turn your head towards the trap, remember to keep your muzzle in your peripheral vision. When the bird appears, your merge with the target will be smooth and uninterrupted. That's a good idea if you want your muzzle to get to the breakpoint on time, and in the right place.
Here's another small step in our set-up that's often forgotten, then costs us a target. Or more.
Before the target leaves the trap, hopefully your muzzle is very still, motionless before you call for the bird. When the trap fires, your muzzle begins to move. It slowly accelerates, building speed to match the target's speed and possibly accelerating even further to create forward allowance. So it's fair to say as the muzzle picks up speed, the swing is building momentum coming into the breakpoint and the trigger pull...............
Well, 2, of course. Right? That depends. If we're counting, 2 is the right number. And that's why, when 2 shells go into the gun, the trouble begins.
2 birds and 2 shells equals 2 shots. Sounds right. But here's the problem. When the first trap fires, your eyes lock on one bird. When you pull the trigger one shell fires. You then move your eyes to the one remaining bird. When you pull the trigger, one shell fires. Regardless of how many traps fire, or quail take wing, one bird requires one shell, one shot...............