It is about mid-year for us as we write this and while our hunting seasons are still a couple of months off we have just returned from Argentina where we had an outstanding group of wing shooters who progressed dramatically in the field! Each year we take a group of wing shooters who really want to improve their abilities in the field to the target rich environment of Argentina to coach them for three days on “the real thing!” They all arrive shooters of different levels but after four trips to the field with us over their shoulders, they are no longer panicked and chasing birds. They have all learned to look farther out and notice the patterns of the birds and have begun to anticipate the birds arrival, which leads to much less gun movement and a much more efficient move and mount, which allows for a much more consistent result!
Typically they are using skeet or improve cylinder chokes on the first hunt and shooting birds at less than 25 yards and mounting late and having to shove the muzzle of the gun out in front of the bird at the last moment in the hope of hitting the bird. This is typical of almost every person we have taken on the past 23 trips and we feel it is a reaction to how many birds there really are and how shooters are over-whelmed with the opportunities to shoot a lifetime’s worth of birds in a couple of days. After the first hunt, they are typically ready to learn some things, so the first thing we have them do is put in a modified choke and begin to take birds that are in the 35 to 40 yard range. That requires them to move much slower to match the speed of the bird with the muzzle speed and to also mount much farther out in front so the brain can anticipate better where the bird will be in the future.
It is in the second hunt where we see dramatic differences in the shooters who have prepared for the trip and those who haven’t. What do we recommend to do to prepare for a high volume hunt? First, practice your gun mount by doing the OSP Flashlight drill and second, practice the sight pictures by doing the OSP Three Bullet Drill.
Most first time shooters don’t think about the fact that, if you are going to shoot 500 cartridges in the morning and 500 in the afternoon, that they will be mounting and shooting the gun more than 1000 times in one day. If each hunt takes three hours, that would be 1000 shots in six hours, or 2.75 shots per minute–and that is a conservative estimate! When you are not shooting, you are holding the gun in your hands or loading it, and all that creates a lot of fatigue after the normal shooter shoots about 300 rounds. The shooters who prepare for the trip by doing the drills every day for 30 days are obvious to us, and have a much better time being consistent in the field and thus are able to learn so much more from us in the field. The shooters who don’t prepare will have a much greater chance of getting a bruise on their bicep or jaw due to a sloppy gun mount brought on by fatigue and being in a hurry.
The OSP Three Bullet Drill imbeds the sight pictures in your brain and eliminates so much of the visual confusion experienced by wing shooters who, for what ever reason, seem to want to look down the barrel and try to aim the gun ahead of the bird. Once the shooter understands what the sight pictures really look like, and actually practices them, the visual confusion seems to melt away. So the two drills are of paramount importance if you are going to learn to be more consistent on game birds, especially at distance. After the first two hunts, most of our clients put in a full choke and, due to the instruction before the hunt and during the hunt, they begin to cleanly harvest birds at 50 or more yards! By the fifth hunt, they are all ready to be left alone and really enjoy their new found skills and, by the end of the trip, they have really improved and are a pleasure to watch.
There is one more thing that shooters of all passions are beginning to use, and they’re getting dramatic results. For the past five or six years, we have been using the ShotKam to develop what we call Kill Shot Reviews (KSR), not only on sporting clays but trap and skeet as well as doves, ducks, quail, pheasants, grouse and pigeons. When wing and clay shooters watch these species-specific KSRs the night before and the morning of the hunt or clay shooting, their scores are going up and the number of shots per bird in the field is going down. In a recent study of skeet shooters who watched the Skeet KSRs and did the Three Bullet Drill and the Flashlight Drill before they went out to shoot two rounds of skeet for four weeks, the shooters reduced the number of birds missed by more than 40%! That means if they were shooting 15/25 they improved to 19/25 and if they were shooting 20/25 then they improved to 23/25 across the board!
The question you might be asking if you shoot skeet is why would practicing my gun mount help me shoot better skeet? Well, when you do the Flashlight Drill you are training your hands to mount the gun in the correct place and to work together while pointing at an object, and you are not looking at the gun! Yes we understand that you shoot with a pre-mounted gun, but what you may not have considered is that the more you are focused on what you are doing with the gun in the set up, the more you will be aware of the gun in the shot. Our research shows, without a doubt, that your attention or focus is divided between the target and the gun and, the more you are aware of the gun in the set up, the more you will be aware of the gun in the shot. That is why when shooters do the two drills and watch the Kill Shot Reviews, they shoot so well. They are not wasting precious attention on mounting the gun or getting the beads lined up and trying to decipher the sight picture. As Dean Trout said, “You are either back in the cage with the gun or down range in the zone of the targets, and you can’t be in two places at once!”
What we see in clay shooters, and especially hunters, is (because they refuse to really practice their gun mounts and do the sight picture drills) they mount the gun and end up chasing the target and trying to consciously fix the shot at the end or they shoot when they mount the gun hoping they have mounted the gun correctly and the muzzle is going the correct speed. In a recent shooting clinic in the mountains of Montana we were practicing after the shooters left one day and Gil was shooting crossing targets both right to left and left to right from about 45 yards and Vicki asked him to shoot one Move Mount Shoot and tell me what he saw. He did, and while he hit the target, he said that everything seemed to speed up and nothing was slow. What Vicki observed was that the muzzle was indeed accelerating and that acceleration would eventually cost him a target on the second bird of the pair because there was so much movement to overcome to go to the second target. Gil then shot the same target letting the target come to him and adjusting the gun speed to the targets speed and he appeared in slow motion to me and there was 60 to 80% less gun movement! When he finished the shot, Gil turned to Vicki and said, “The difference when I see the target coming to the lead and I stabilize the shot is that everything appears to me in slow motion and I know I am going to hit the target!”–Gil & Vicki Ash