Tag Archives: shotgun instruction

Swinging Through the Target-More Tips from the OSP Knowledge Vault

shotgun-shells-041613In our travels last year we visited several different countries teaching everything from sporting clays to trap, skeet and game shooting of all sorts.  While our regular students see their games improve dramatically both on game and clays our new shooters still bring to us the concept of starting behind the target and swinging through the target and pulling the trigger as the gun goes through the bird.  The number one complaint of our new students is that they are not consistent and they never know where they missed the target and as a result can’t correct an errant shot in the field or on the range.  Now on a trap field that would be what we would teach you to do but on every other occasion we would not want you to mount behind the bird, chase it, and as you pass it pull the trigger.  Why you ask?  Well read on and we will take more of a scientific approach to this more often than not misguided and misunderstood method of getting the gun ahead of a moving object in a consistent way.

First we must discuss consistency and focus on the target.  Regardless of where we are on the planet when we find ourselves in the midst of wing or clay shooters eventually the phrase comes out, “I would do just about anything to be more consistent.”  This seems to be the mantra of almost every wing shooter and clay shooter out there but they really don’t understand why they are inconsistent in the first place.  Shooting a moving target consistently with a shotgun has more to do with the shooters ability to keep their eyes on the target as the trigger is pulled than any other one thing.  Now we are not saying that being able to consistently move and mount the gun without thinking about it is not necessary because it is but the over whelming factor in success with a shotgun in our 20 plus years of research as professional shooting instructors is how to keep the shooters eyes on the target.   As we age that becomes even more of a challenge because of what happens to our vision in the aging process.  We have been introduced by many well-respected scientists to the evolution of the science of vision and what it is and how the visual data is processed and how this visual data is converted into the lead on a moving object.  Because what we see when shooting a moving target is more perception than reality we are going to deal with only one of the visual anomalies that we think causes the most confusion to shooters world wide, relative velocity or what we refer to as visual speed.

When shooting swing through after the bird passes the gun begin your move and mount
When shooting swing through after the bird passes the gun begin your move and mount

We were shooting the USA National Sporting Clays Championships in San Antonio this past October and while at the shoot, fighter jets from the local Air Force base could frequently be seen over head flying in formation.   Although we never could get a photo of them it did occur to us what a great example of relative velocity that was!  Although the jets were going fast enough to stay in the air because they were all going the same speed to us they seemed to move at whatever speed they were flying.  To the pilots looking back and forth at each other as they flew in formation they were motionless.

Now we are going to play with your brain a little here so hang on.  Lets take one of those jets and give it a speed of 500 mph and lets have him do a fly by over you at say 500 feet and then again at 40,000 feet.  He is going to look a lot faster at 500 feet than at 40,000 feet even though he is going the same speed.  Now lets take the same jet and have him do a fly by at 100 feet directly over a car going 100 mph both going the same direction directly in front of you.  How fast will the jet look now?  Well with the jet going 500 mph and the car going 100mph and both going the same direction the jet will appear to be going 400mph due to the speed of the car.  Said another way when two objects are going the same direction their relative velocity would be the difference in their speeds.  Now lets take the two jets, separate them and have them do a fly by at 1000 feet but now they are both going 500 mph but this time they are going opposite directions and only 100 feet apart when they cross, how fast will they appear to fly when they cross over head?  When the objects are going in opposite directions their relative velocity will be the sum of their velocities when they cross or in this instance 1000mph.

So as you can see in just this one example, relative velocity can fool your brain dramatically when there is more than one moving object in

…At the point of insertion the gun should be mounted just off the back edge of the bird and the gun speed adjusted to be the same as the birds speed.
…At the point of insertion the gun should be mounted just off the back edge of the bird and the gun speed adjusted to be the same as the birds speed.

the field of view or even when the moving object is farther away or closer to you.  How does this affect your consistency in hitting a moving target with a shotgun?  Well, as Boone and Crockett scorer Homer Saye says, “The most mainest thing about hitting a moving target is focusing on the bird!”  Our research clearly shows and the vision scientists agree that when there are two objects moving in a single field of view that the eyes will always focus on the fastest moving object.  If that object happens to be the gun then guess what is going to happen?  Do you ever have trouble keeping the gun moving after you shoot and having a smooth consistent follow through?

Now hold on before you throw the magazine in the trash because of the blasphemy we are espousing just listen to a couple more scientific facts that will at least make you think twice about starting behind the bird and trying to out run it.   Science tells us that it takes the brain ¼ of a second to get the trigger pulled after the brain sees what it needs to see to trigger the shot.  If the muzzles are mounted well behind the target and then rapidly moved through the bird as the trigger is pulled then they don’t spend much time in the correct lead now do they.  If, however, the gun is mounted just behind the bird and eased past the bird slowly and the trigger is pulled as the muzzle begins to slowly clear the front of the target then the muzzle is in the correct lead for a longer period of time.  The best of both worlds however is for the muzzles to start in front of the bird and the muzzles to be moving the same speed as the bird as the shot is taken (remember the jet air planes?).  This by far will produce the most consistent results on any target painted or feathered because the muzzle spends the greatest amount of time in the correct lead zone.  Because of the size of

Once the speed of the gun and the bird are the same then ease the gun through the bird and as the muzzles leave the bird take the shot.
Once the speed of the gun and the bird are the same then ease the gun through the bird and as the muzzles leave the bird take the shot.

the pattern the lead doesn’t have to be exact (as long as it is in front!) but our findings indicate that the more the muzzle speed is the same as the birds speed the slower the bird appears to fly and the more consistent the results.  Why more consistent results?  Well first, it is easier to do what Homer says is most important, which would be focus on the target!  Second when the bird and gun are going the same speed for at least ¾ of a second the bird appears to slow down and the ¼ of a second it takes to get the trigger pulled is now irrelevant.  All of this is shown in our animations and ShotKam kill shots in the OSP Knowledge Vault.–Gil & Vicki Ash



Two Things I Hate….Change and The Way Things Are!

On a recent trip to Canada for the third year in a row, we really saw some improvement in the group of guys we coached for the past three years.

Overhead image of shooter position at 100 yard line.
Overhead image of shooter position at 100 yard line. Click image for video.

They, like so many shooters worldwide, are beginning to accept the concept that you cannot buy skill.  Albeit driven by fear, wingshooters and clays shooters always want to get better, but they seem to fall into four different groups when it comes to just how they think they can get better the fastest.

There are those who think that if they just had more time and shot a lot more, then they would get better.  There are those who think that if they would just go and buy the right gun, glasses, custom stock, faster ammo, chokes, etc. that they, too, would get better.  Then there is the group who think that if they could just go shoot with and take a series of lessons with the current national champion, that they would get better quick.

At the end of all of those roads, it seems that all shooters who get really good end up on the same cull de sac, because they realize after trying to buy skill that skill is not something that can be purchased. It must be developed.

Those who think that if they just shot more will never get much better because a bad habit, regardless how good it feels, is still a bad habit.  You can practice poor fundamentals a lot and you are only going to get so far.

We guess that a lot of the fun of doing something like shooting a shotgun is derived from doing it with the best equipment you can afford. But buying expensive equipment will not make you a better shot.  It will get you a membership card in the “More money than brains and ability club.”  And don’t forget the group that wants to learn the secret from the past world champion because there just has got to be a secret.  Maybe a special formula that would allow you to figure the lead correctly on all shots out to, say, 60 yards regardless of angle and speed.  There just has to be a secret that allowed that champion to be able to concentrate long and hard enough to out-shoot and outlast all the other shooters in the world at the competition.

If he would only share it with you, you wouldn’t tell, it would just be your little secret, yours and his.  Well, even if he could do that, you think he would, at any price, give you the ability to beat him in the next championship?

The competitors we train who are at the top of the game do not want us to divulge their working with us because they don’t want any of their competitors to know who they go to for help and preparation!

What the champion and the great wingshooter have discovered is that it is not the arrow, it is the Indian and that skill is developed over a long period of time, constantly improving your fundamentals until you have done it enough that you can do it without thinking about it.  Unfortunately, success comes before work only in the dictionary. Current research shows that to be world class at anything requires 10,000 hours of doing it, no short cuts.

We have discovered something that our research has proven to improve proficiency more quickly than anything else we have ever used in our 20 plus years as professional coaches.  We have developed a series of animations that show where your eyes are when you mount the gun, which is the biggest mystery for most shooters.  What we have discovered is that most shooters have been trying to get the gun in front of the bird a certain amount and not see the gun.

Now this concept on the surface seems to have some traction, but when we ask how do you visualize not seeing the gun, things begin to fall apart in a hurry.  In order for the brain to carry out a task, it first must be able to visualize what it is.

We are finding that the clearer you are to the brain exactly what you are asking it to do, the quicker it will give you the desired result.  When this happens your visualization then becomes your reality and then the picture in your brain is even clearer and that is when you get better quickly, given the time to practice.

In our next few columns, we will be sharing these animations with you and in this column we are going to talk about the left to right sight picture.

In the 2D animation from overhead, as the target emerges, the shooter’s eyes lock onto the target and the gun (green dot) begins to move away from the action.  As the target reaches the 50-yard, line the gun has only moved a small amount, but because it moved the same direction as the target, it has already begun to make the target appear to slow down.

As the target approaches the 75-yard line, the gun mount is completed (the light saber connects the gun to the green dot) and the gun speed is adjusted to the same speed as the target and the shot is taken.

So with the gun ahead of the target on a left-to-right crosser for a right-handed shooter and the shooter’s eyes on the target, where is the shooter really looking?  Both of the shooter’s eyes are looking behind the gun at the target, which in this instance would be to the left of the barrel.

To see this and other right-to-left animations as well as left-to-right kill shots on doves and clay targets, go to the OSP Knowledge Vault.— Gil and Vicki Ash