The Most Common Reason Shotgunners Miss

ACUI Intercollegiate Clay Target Championship
Watch for this practice while watching some of the better shooters, you find that their heads stay put long after the shot is fired. –-( There are many reasons why shooters miss targets, but in my opinion, the most common reason for losses is lifting the head prior to shooting the target.

This is a difficult problem for many shooters because they don’t realize that the head is being lifted. The head need not be lifted a great deal in order for the target to be missed.

This is because of the “megaphone effect.”

The megaphone effect means that a slight lift in the head from the stock, (the mouthpiece of the megaphone), is compounded by distance, and by the time the shot reaches the area of the target, (the open end of the megaphone), the mistake is much larger and often results in a lost target.

Fortunately, there is a way for shooters to prevent lost targets due to head lifting and at the same time, allows a shooter to see his own target pointing errors.  It’s called follow-through.  Now, when I mention follow through, I’m not referring to the gun moving beyond the target after the gun has been fired.  That’s called momentum and if you’re building up enough momentum to carry the gun well beyond the target, then the gun is probably a little out of control.

The follow through I’m speaking of is keeping the head on the stock long enough to insure that head lifting will never cause a lost target.

For those of you who would like to develop follow-through, you will have to do a little thinking about it when you practice shooting until the follow-through becomes second nature to your style of shooting. At that point, you won’t have to think your way through each shot as follow-through will just be a part of what you do each time you call for and shoot at a target. I wouldn’t want you to have to think too much during competition because every time someone tells me that they were shooting quite well and “I got to thinking”, I know they are going to tell me about losing a target.  We want follow-through to become second nature to you so that thinking is no longer necessary. Now, all you need to do is see the target and react to what you see without having to think.

In order to develop follow-through, you must force yourself to pick out a piece of the target you just broke and point at it before you dismount the gun. By doing this, you will ensure that you are still well attached to the stock after breaking a target. If you are still lifting your head, you will be made aware of the situation when you try to point at the piece and you can’t get a good sight picture. If you are not lifting your head, you will still have your normal sight picture, and pointing at a piece of the target will be easy. In addition, with the sight picture still intact, you will clearly see pointing errors if you happen to over-lead, under-lead, or shoot above or below a target.

Follow through will make a much better shooter out of you, but like I said earlier, it will take some thinking during practice sessions until follow through becomes second nature to you. 

If you watch for this practice while watching some of the better shooters, you find that their heads stay put long after the shot is fired.  If you develop the same habit, you will probably find yourself in more shoot-offs with those same better shooters.

TIP: In-Chamber Laser Boresights are the most natural way to improve your shotgun mounting technique.

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