There are many things that go into being a good shot, but let’s discuss a few of my personal tips that are crucial to get right and can help you out on the range or in the field.
Tip No. 1
First things first, check your eye dominance. I do this by keeping both eyes open and pointing my dominant pointer finger at something. Then, I close my non-dominant eye without moving my finger and see if it is still lined up with what I was initially pointing at. If this is the case, you’re good.
If it’s way off, try it a few more times to make sure it wasn’t just an error. If you are consistently off, then you are dominant with the eye opposite of your dominant hand. You can either switch shooting sides or use something to slightly obscure your vision of the barrel in that eye so as to make your dominant hand also the dominant eye.
Eye on the Prize
Next, you need to make sure that the gun fits. When looking down the barrel of a shotgun, you need to make sure that the beads (sights) line up straight. This ensures that the gun is pointing where you want to shoot. Think of your eye (the one lining up down the barrel) as the back sight. If it is not lined up correctly, then the impact of the shot will not be what you’re looking at, but rather off to the side.
Tip number three: Keep both eyes open! This provides a clearer sight picture, better field of view and better depth perception.
Don’t squeeze the life out of your gun. Keep a firm but soft hold of the stock and forearm so as to maintain control, but do NOT “white-knuckle” it. White knuckling engages your major muscle groups, which make twitchy movements. The minor muscle groups, on the other hand, provide smoothness and fluidity of motion.
Get Your Gear in Order
Pattern your gun. Take it to the patterning board at your local range and test your chokes with the ammo that you will primarily be using. Different ammunition will give a slightly different pattern as well. The barrel of a gun is like a fingerprint; none of them are ever truly the same. And the same can be said for choke tubes.
Find the distance you want to pattern each choke and then shoot the board or paper. See if you can fit a target into any holes in the pattern on its face or even on its edge. If you can’t fit a target in anywhere, then the choke isn’t tight enough. You will either need a different choke tube or to use a tighter one. (It could be that the one you have is slightly defective if you have a bunch of fliers or big holes.)
Last But Not Least
Practice, practice, practice! As with anything you want to be good at, it takes time and effort to get there. If you want to be proficient at shooting, then a couple times a month will be good. If you want to be competitive at your local range in leagues, you should probably shoot a couple times each week. If you want to take it to the next level, well, that takes a whole lot more.
Someone once said that it takes 10,000 hours to create an elite athlete, and I would completely agree. It takes dedication to make it to that level. Only through all of those hours spent working to get better can you make it to that top level.
Lastly, have fun! This is the biggest thing to remember. Every time you step out onto the range, enjoy yourself. It’s another blessed day to enjoy something as fun and rewarding as breaking some clays or going out into the field.