Doing Your Homework 101...


Dave McCracken
December 2, 2004, 05:47 PM
In the real world few of us get to the range as often as we want, and alas, fewer of us can duck out the back door and touch off a few rounds at barn pigeons, starlings, etc, while supper's cooking.

So, our progress is a bit slower than it could be. But, on the days when we cannot shoot, there's a few things we can do to condition ourselves and help when we do step onto the range or move in past a pointer frozen in position to flush the covey.

First is simple conditioning. Shotgunning is an athletic event requiring some strength and co-ordination. Even if some top shotgunners look more like Sumo Wrestlers than Marathon winners, there are movements that require effort and precision. These take practice. One can use bar bells, light ones with lots of reps to build tone rather than bulk, but...

A good way to learn handling your shotgun is to handle your shotgun. After ensuring that it is DEFINITELY UNLOADED, practice mounting for 15 minutes a day. Concentrate on placing the stock so it touches your face in the same place every time. Focus on a spot on the wall or ceiling and while focusing, bring the shotgun into position. Do NOT shift your focus to the rib, barrel or bead. Note the position of the shotgun in your peripheral vision and repeat.

As mentioned in the sections on proper mounting techniques and stance, the whole body is involved.

A good ready position for starting the move is with the shotgun more or less level with the muzzle below the target's "line". The butt may have the last inch or so trapped in the armpit so a slight move forward frees it to slide up into position.

Work on smoothness and precision. When you have those, speed will show up uninvited. Think of the moves in Tai Chi. Even Septagenerians can do the moves with amazing speed after repeating them thousands of times slowly.

Shotgunning IS a martial art.

Here's a quote from Gene Hill.....

"It's not the accumulation of technique that makes a decent field shot-it's the elimination of mistakes".

In Hill's Shotgunner's Notebook where that quote originates, there's a passage where Hill goes to visit a trapshooter, one of the all time greats. He finds the legend punching a tennis ball hung by a string to work on his eye/hand co- ordination. The legend says it's a regular workout and part of his daily routine.

The legend also has laid out on his garage wall duct tape duplicating the angles of trap shooting, and he spends 30 minutes daily with his shotgun "Shooting" all the possible target paths.

If this can help the performance of someone who well knows shooting and runs 100s nearly at will, how much will it help mere mortals such as we?

As we practice the mount, remember that shotgunning is a dynamic act. The target's moving, the shotguns's moving and so are we. So we should practice the swing as we drymount. Trace the lines where ceiling and walls meet for starters, add other angles and keep in touch with your body.

That means feeling the point where we run out of swing, when the barrel moves in an arch rather than a line. We can ID this and reposition as needed. it helps us to know our limits even as we broaden them.

IMO, 15 minutes a day spent in drymounts will pay off more than shooting a round of trap or skeet daily. This especially applies to new shooters....


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December 2, 2004, 06:13 PM
Excellent Dave.

I have been trying to get some people that I am helping out to understand this exact thing... but you say so much more eloquently. ;)

December 2, 2004, 11:34 PM

December 2, 2004, 11:41 PM
Dave - So when my wife asks me why I'm taping up a trap layout on the walls in the family room, I'll just have her register and send you a PM, OK? :)

Actually, winter league starts in exactly one month, and she's determined to shoot better this season. She might think that it's a good idea! We'll just chat with the neighbors and make sure that they don't freak out if they see us swinging shotguns around for a half hour every night. ;)

December 2, 2004, 11:55 PM

Wives really appreciate chalk outlines of shooting stations on the Garage cement floor-

For some reason Wives are speechless when they enter the spare room and itty bitty slivers of orange are suspended from the ceiling . I guess it comes from being surprised by the slivers of orange on the Garage wall...

Not that I would know anything about this of course...

Heck I heard tell a person can't miss with all them pellets.


Dave McCracken
December 3, 2004, 06:37 AM
Thanks, folks.

Glad to help, Kudu. Pointing those new folks to the 101 threads may be a good idea. That's why I started them.

If she PMs me, TR, no prob. I do my mounts in the family room, which is mostly used for storage, us being major packrats.

Sm, you're grounded again.

December 3, 2004, 09:18 AM
Thanx for this illustrative and simply-stated exercise primer, Dave. I'm eager to share it with my S.O. as well as try out the path tracing exercises myself. Having the suggestions come from someone else is always helpful in a relationship/family member situation. Are there particular books you have also found to be helpful for newer clay game shooters?

It'll be necessary to pull the blinds in the living room (the only place in my small'ish house with enough space for this exercise) lest the neighbors get any odd ideas. The less they know about firearms being in my house, the better. :eek:

BTW, I can't seem to work it out with the Wind. As blustery as it was Wednesday, by the time I got to PGC (4:30'ish), the winds had dropped off to almost nothing. Here I was looking forward to an amusing, challenging, frustrating and instructional practice session...and the wind pooped out. DRAT. :( What I got were 3 decent rounds of trap...not at all bad...and to watch a string of deer brazenly trot along the outer edge of the field. The pointers you gave me definitely are helping.

BR and wishes for hunting success.

December 3, 2004, 10:08 AM
< peeks down the hallway, Dave is gone, sneaks out>
I stay in trouble, I am consistent tho" :)

I'm a big believer in a lot of "old school" ideas, as many have noticed from my posts, PMs emails or phone calls. I just believe in CORRECT basic fundamentals being learned, instilled, practiced, and when things get off kilter - going back to the basics. Whether one is referring to shotguns, handguns, rifles...or anything else.

Granted not as effective, but I have had folks take the bbl off , put the forearm/ forend back on and practice mounting this way. Small bedrooms with light fixtures, ceiling fans , or furniture can impede a bbl . :p

Orange "Post It" notes don't hurt paint or furniture finishes. That gummy stuff one buys to stick stuff onto paper , works for holding slivers of orange.

Just following the "line" where wall meets ceiling is good practice. Some of us have been known to add moulding ...only downside, "Honey that is really cool in your gun room , do that in the kitchen, bedroom, den..."

I bet I had the only garage with Moulding on the block.

Straight pins work to hang, leaves a smaller hole than thumbtacks. Oh - Don'lt forget toothpaste makes a great "spackle" in a pinch. ;)

If you have a view of power lines outside , and not where neighbors can peer in - follow the power lines, follow the pigeons.

At the gun club, inform the Mgr, RO, SO , you would like to get over out of the way, and observe all Safety rules, and follow the power lines. Even with a few others, say students. If folks know you, or you do this with a known member in good standing, often times this is allowed.

I once went over to a Single Mom's house that I had been teaching Her Daughter was about 7 ,"almost 8" . Daughter grabs my hand and off to the garage we go. Observing Safety rules, she visually inspected and then had me visually inspect "her" shotgun, she was taking a stance, mounting gun to face, swinging through a target and dryfiring.

I wonder these two ladies got that idea and others?

There is a reason why the Orange "Post it" and other Self Sticky notes sell out first - now ya know. ;)

Shotguns are NOT the only firearms that benefit from Orange Sticky notes handgun and rifles have been safely practiced with in my abode,using a bucket of sand for a "dry fire bucket" with a sticky on the side. Orange self stick notes get used on paper targets at the range. ;)

Dave McCracken
December 3, 2004, 08:36 PM
Good books are not that rare,T2T. A couple I recommened....

Brister's masterwork, Shotgunning, the Art and the Science.

Jerry Meyer's Clay Target Handbook.

Gene Hill's Shotgunner's Notebook.

I may be shooting Sunday Morn, can you and SO make it?

Good show, Sm. Teaching new folks is good Karma.

December 3, 2004, 10:02 PM

Does this mean I am not grounded anymore?
Like I mind and stay within bounds of being grounded.

This is the type of stuff I have done with others for a long time. Passing forward what passed to me.

Two other books I personally recommend are Misseldine's.

Heck - I know a member in NZ that has one or both ordered...wonder where that idea came from? ;)

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