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Bad Habits

Lapses in proper shooting form usually lead to missed shots
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  • photo by Chris Jennings
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By Aaron Fraser Pass

My last column dealt with what might be called the psychology of shooting—specifically, how subconscious mental laziness and loss of focus can lead to shooting slumps. In this column, we are going to get down to the nitty-gritty and discuss specific bad shooting habits that are all too easy to acquire but often difficult to lose.

Lifting your head as you fire is one of the most common bad habits. Since your eye is essentially the "rear sight" of your shotgun, raising the eye raises your point of impact and causes you to shoot high.

Perhaps the main reason shooters lift their head is to see the effect of the shot on the target. Unfortunately, lifting your head often results in the shot having no effect on the target. Also, hunters trying for a double lift their head when they want to verify a solid hit with their first shot, but of course missing the first shot is not the easiest way to get a double.
My solution is to use shotguns with a slightly high point of impact. I prefer a 60-40 pattern—60 percent above and 40 percent below the point of aim. This provides me with a good, clear view of the target above my sighting plane. Except for very steeply rising targets or very fast incomers, I don't have to cover the target with the gun muzzle.

Another common bad habit is slowing or stopping the swing as the shot is fired. One reason for this is the shooter tries to recheck his sight picture one last time to make sure he's dead on. This invariably slows the swing and usually wrecks the shot. The other reasons are simple laziness or fatigue.
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There is no cute technical trick to cure the slowed or stopped swing. The cure is relentless discipline. "Push the gun, pass the bird, pull the trigger, push the gun some more." Make it a mantra.

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