Shotgunning Tips and Tricks

If you have to mount the gun with a lot of pressure it will tend to shoot high left or right, depending on dominate hand.
If you have to mount the gun with a lot of pressure it will tend to shoot high left or right, depending on dominate hand.

We continue to receive emails from many of you telling us how you are using our OSP System in the field and on the range and it makes us feel so used! By far the most referred to tip is when you start missing “Slow Down” and focus more on the bird and less on the lead. There is something magical about being able to move and mount the gun consistently without thinking about it and without having to check the bead sights to make sure it is in the right place. In our clinics we consistently see shooters who think they can become proficient with a shotgun without going through the process of learning how to move and mount the gun with the target! Well believe us when we say that if you ever want to shoot a shotgun consistently well it will not happen until you learn to move and mount it in sync with and to the target.

In conjunction with Texas Parks and Wildlife we have done the OSP Flashlight drill in a more condensed version and here is a link to view it. If you will do this drill for 3 weeks for 5 minutes twice a day before your next hunt or trip to the range we guarantee you will shoot better percentages on clays as well as in the field. We have added a new twist as a suggestion from Paul one of our students in England but you will have to click the link to see what it is.

We have been talking about gun fit and its advantages for the last few months and just received an email from one of our students and feel strongly we should share it and thanks Kevin for letting us do so.

“ ‘There is nothing else I would rather be doing today than having Gil Ash cut down my stock.’ I said these exact words to myself while landing at the Houston airport early yesterday morning. After several passes with a wood rasp to lower my comb and offset it to the right my eye was perfectly aligned with the rib and then the fun really began. With a relaxed upright shooting posture, not ‘fighting my stock’, the last year of studying Gil and Vicki’s teaching came together. With a comb now fit so that GENTLE CHEEK PRESSURE allows the gun to shoot flat, my head and eyes were free from the comb for a longer period of time before triggering the shot.

When the gun fits with slight cheek pressure it dramatically improves consistency shot to shot.
When the gun fits with slight cheek pressure it dramatically improves consistency shot to shot.

I just softly mounted the gun to my shoulder (engage the target early as Gil said), followed the target with my nose letting my cheek come to the comb, and allowed the target to push the gun to the same speed as the bird. When the picture was stable indicating that the gun and target were going the same speed just like the animations and ShotKam shots on the web site I centered targets better than I had all of the past year. I now understand why Gil and Vicki say that it is impossible to track a bird with your foveal(sharp or center) vision and have your head mashed down on the stock. When I mounted early and let the highest acuity centers of my retinas give my anticipation circuit and subconscious more time to do their magic great shots occurred.

The only reasons I missed yesterday were: 1. Shooting the old unequal sight pictures which got better over the course of the lesson. 2. Mounting too late in the shot, which caused me to hurry to get the gun in place on my shoulder and face and in front of the target. 3. Not moving the same speed at the end of the shot. Most importantly I knew why I missed nearly every time and the question of gun fit not once came into the equation!

After 14 boxes of shells I felt less physical, mental and visual fatigue than shooting half as many just the week before. It was as if my brain was relieved and it did not have to do as many calculations for a gun that previously shot high and left. Gil mentioned that he had observed so many shot gunners with their face mashed down into the comb in an effort to try to make the gun shoot true to aim but they would never be able to shoot it well. They finally figure out that if right handed they must see twice as much lead on left to right as they do on right to left and just the opposite for left handers and they don’t understand that the real problem is that their gun shoots high left if right handed and again just the opposite for left handed shooters. So if the gun shoots left then you have built in lead on right to left shots and must build in more lead than normal on left to right shots. The real paradox is that both pictures are incorrect and this confuses the brain and creates mental and physical fatigue. As Gil pointed out it would be like turning a car 90 degrees to the left using 2 turns of the steering wheel and 90 degrees to the right and using 6 turns. Just imaging driving around all day having to do that! While the brain can compensate for this it can’t do it all the time and it leads to certain shots that the shooter cannot ever hit regardless of how hard they try.

Thanks again for and outstanding lesson and gun fit. Going pheasant hunting this weekend and I just sanded the comb on my 20 gauge down to the same dimension and cant wait to just sit back and watch it happen…Kevin.”

We would like to add on to what Kevin discovered on this journey of gun fit and mention that a moveable comb is not necessarily the answer to getting your gun to fit. In fact we would go so far as to say that almost all guns that come with a moveable comb from the factory can be adjusted to shoot as much as three or more patterns too high but seldom can be adjusted to shoot flat for the majority of shooters.  It makes sense to have the ability to adjust the point of impact with a movable comb but we think it would make more sense if, when the comb was pushed all the way down, it was too low for most shooters so it could then be raised up to the correct dimension. Sadly we see a dozen or so shooters who come to us each year with guns that they have paid to have a movable comb installed and when they ask us to adjust it we must tell them that it can’t be adjusted because with it in its lowest position it is still too high. We have not understood why this is but it does exist in the world of target guns and in some field guns even though most field guns don’t come with moveable combs. Something we have learned in doing gun fitting for 25 years is that the lower the comb and the thinner the comb the less cast the guns needs to shoot straight and the more forgiving consistently mounting the gun becomes. Another big thing we have learned is you can mount and shoot a gun with a stock that is too low infinitely better than you can one that is too high unless you shoot trap because all trap guns must shoot high because all targets are rising. We spend most of our time coaching game shooting or sporting clays and don’t teach or shoot much trap. Were we to teach you how to shoot trap we would set your gun up to shoot high but we would never suggest that you set your gun up to shoot high to shoot game or sporting clays. Funny thing most of the dimensions on the factory guns are closer to trap dimensions than field dimensions and that is still a puzzle to us.

Next installment we will be talking about improving your performance both in the field and on the clays course by understanding fear and what it does to you and how to recognize it and deal with it.–Gil & Vicki Ash

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