Shotgun Basics by Charles Duff

  • Friday, 12 February 2016 10:34
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Shotgun Basics: Shotgunning is a sport of movement and hand-eye coordination. Since learning on your own is an extremely expensive and frustrating business, here are some hard-earned pointers towards the right path.

It is vital to determine which of your eyes is your master eye. Testing eye dominance is simple. With both eyes open, extend a finger and point it at an object 30 to 50 metres away. Now close your left eye. If the finger does not ‘move’ to one side then you are right-eye dominant. If it does move, then you are left-eye dominant.

Check this by opening both eyes again and closing your right eye. No movement of the finger confirms left-eye dominance. Any movement verifies right-eye dominance.

At the moment of pulling the trigger there is a strong tendency to shut the non-dominant eye. This is instinctive and usually unnoticed by the shooter. However, statistically speaking, about 10% of right-handed males have a left master-eye, while nearly 50% of right-handed females are so affected. If such a person mounts a shotgun to the right shoulder, the non-master right eye is over the barrels. At the moment of firing, the left takes over instinctively and slews the shot markedly to that side, resulting in a miss.

In such a case it is best to learn to shoot from the left shoulder because trying to keep your dominant eye shut usually doesn’t work. Otherwise wearing glasses with a 25-30mm round black sticker stuck centrally on the left-hand lens does the job. Should you then shut your non-dominant eye, that is, the one over the barrels, the world goes black! It does, however, still allow you to use peripheral vision to acquire the target with both eyes.

Curiously, left-handed people with a right master-eye are very rare so they have fewer problems.

This hand-eye coordination is of supreme importance. Unless you are capable of quick fluid movement, you are not going to succeed. It follows that any stance that locks you up or stresses any part of your body will disadvantage you. If you don’t stand right, you can’t shoot right.

Read the full article in the March 2016 issue of Magnum

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