At a recent clinic, Vicki said, “Since you are going to have to learn to know where the gun is pointed without looking at it eventually, then why not learn that from the beginning? Shooters who shoot with a mounted gun must look at the gun to know where it is pointed, but shooters who can move and mount the gun always know where the gun is pointed without looking at it, and become safer and more proficient shooters, sooner!”
We had never really connected shotgunners who could shoot from a low gun position as safer and more proficient sooner, but as we examined it, we believe it is true and as we look back at our 23 years as professional coaches, the evidence is irrefutable. Those shooters who learn to move and mount the gun and become proficient at it early on in their shooting careers are safer and become more proficient with less effort than those who shoot with a pre-mounted gun. We are gonna go out on a limb here and say that shooters who learn to move and mount the gun will learn as much as two or three times faster than those who shoot mounted gun only.
The brain is constantly anticipating ahead of where you are. As we have mentioned, seeing is a brain thing not an eye thing and the more the neurologists study the brain and neural activity, the more they realize the less they really know about the brain. Nonetheless, they are making some remarkable discoveries about how the brain anticipates, where it occurs in the visual cortex, how long this anticipation takes and how this affects skill building and what skill really is. One of the examples in this study was how the brain can make things seem to be in sync, even though they are not. For example, if you were to observe someone dribbling a basketball walking away from you, as they walk away, eventually the timing of the sound arriving and the visual of the ball hitting the ground would be different, but your brain can alter the perception out to about 105 feet and they will look synchronous. However, at 110 feet, the difference in the arrival time of the sound and the visual will be so different that the brain cannot make up the difference and they will look out of sync. That would explain why when we shoot a target out to about 35 yards, the report of the gun and the breaking of the target seem simultaneous and beyond that there is a perceptible delay and the farther out even more perceptible.
The study also explained how the brain is constantly anticipating ahead of where we are, and that is why we are not running into walls or stumbling down stairs or missing our coffee cups in the morning while half awake whether pouring or drinking. It described how it takes this anticipation about 1/10 of a second to occur, and the more you used the anticipation the farther out in front of you it could act, which is what we define as skillful. In fact, the more skillful you are at anything, the less you are really focused as you act out your skill.
For example, a tennis ball traveling 120 mph travels 15 feet in 1/10 of a second, so to return a serve going 120 mph, the player will not see the ball and racket make contact. The player will perceive they saw it, however the reality was their eyes were looking at the last place they saw the ball and the brain just filled in the perception. They were able to make perfect contact with the ball because they had developed perfect tennis fundamentals (move and mount of the gun) through practice and a lot of hard work. Because they didn’t have to think about what they were doing with the racket, they were able to let their anticipation circuit take over and hit the ball over and over again and again. The more they used this circuit, the farther out in front of them it was able to anticipate, and this circuit then began to anticipate where the ball was going based on the physiology of the opponent. That allowed them to be positioned closer to where they would make the shot even before the opponent would hit the shot making the game slow down for them and giving them an ability to win match after match.
Skill is the ability to anticipate farther and farther out in front of where you are, and the more skillful you are at anything the less you focus on anything that you are doing because your fundamentals have been trained by you. The fundamentals are then given the signal to do, and they just do based on how well your anticipation circuit has been trained and that comes from how many times you have actually done the action.
Lets take walking up stairs for example. Lets say that there were a set of 10 stairs at your office and you had just begun this new job and it required you to go up and down those stairs 10 times a day. We gotta believe that after about three weeks of up and down that your anticipation circuit would enable you to go up and down with out even looking critically at any one of those steps. You would be aware through a casual glance that they were there and were the same as the last time you visited them, but conscious focus on them no way. Now lets just think about this for a second, if you were ascending those stairs and all of a sudden you looked down and checked your feet even for half a split second, what do you think would happen? Now lets put a coffee cup in one hand and ten collated documents in the other, heck we are laughing at this as we are putting it together and editing it. Why did it happen is the real question?
Well the short answer is you lost your ability to anticipate and you lost your skill for traversing those stairs. As you began the trip down the stairs, your brain was anticipating where all the stairs were and was directing your feet and coordinating the movement to allow you to flow down the stairs and not spill your coffee. However, the instant you consciously looked at your feet, your ability to anticipate was eliminated and you found yourself in the present and everything stopped and you lost your balance and, well lets just say you were embarrassed.
So you can see that when you are skillful at something, you are focused on less and less of what is going on while you perform your skill and it is the same with a shotgun. We must focus on the target where it is and shoot where it will be, or we must see it where it is and let our anticipation circuit put the gun out there where it will be. But how does our anticipation circuit know?
Well it is pretty simple to us because that is what we do. We teach shooters of all ages how to access this anticipation circuit with a shotgun and focus on the target and let the anticipation circuit take care of the lead while you do two things. One; maintain focus on the target behind the barrels and two; adjust the gun speed to the targets speed as you take the shot. While you are adjusting the gun speed to the targets speed, the anticipation circuit is adjusting the lead and when the shot is taken, the target is hit. It is the matching of the speeds of the target and the gun that makes it all come together because it takes 0.3 of a second for the trigger to get pulled after the brain says now. If the gun and target are not going the same speed for 3/4 of a second, then what you get when the shot exits the barrel is not what you saw to trigger the shot. So the mantra is, see it, match it, shoot it, but you can’t do that if you have to look at the gun to see where it is! As Vicki says, “you will never shoot better than the quality of your subconscious move and mount!” Learn to mount the gun you will shoot better and be safer!–Gil & Vicki Ash