How to Improve Your Shooting with Just 10 Minutes a Day of Your Time!
Ever wondered why you can hit a target one moment and not the next? Or some days you shoot better than others? Or do you just think “I’m must be rubbish at shooting”! If so take a good look at your gun mount. If, when you pull the trigger the gun is “nowhere near your face” or even just “somewhere near your face” then you’re setting yourself up for a miss!
Why Does the Quality of the Gun Mount Matter?
A good gun mount can make a difference to your success and enjoyment on the range and in the field. I’m amazed how many people do not know you need to have your head on the stock to shoot well. Whether you shoot gun in or gun down you need a solid mount for consistent shooting: gun down takes longer to perfect but the benefits are well worth it especially for game shooters. As an Olympic Skeet shooter, where the gun mount is vital, I have put in many happy hours Dry Gun Mounting practice over the years!
So here is a basic guide to the gun mount, what to look out for and how to practice. I’m keeping it simple for now but I‘ll cover the individual elements of the mount again in future blogs when we will drill down into more detail.
First things First!
Before you start your gun mounting practice, you need to establish certain things to get the full benefit of your time and effort “off range”. The pay-off is in the benefit you get from your time and effort and money “on range”!
1 Eye Dominance (The subject of a future blog)
For good shooting, it is essential to understand how your eyes work, which is your dominant eye and therefore which shoulder to shoot off or how you might otherwise need to adapt your vision.
2 Gun Fit (The subject of an existing blog)
A well fitted gun is vital for successful shooting. It’s very hard, if not impossible, to perfect your gun mount if your gun doesn’t fit. The reason for having a gun that fits is so that when your head is on the stock your dominant eye is in line with the rib and you’re shooting where you’re looking: makes sense? In my experience the majority of clients that I see, especially ladies but men too, arrive with a gun that doesn’t fit them although they’ve been told it does, so be aware!
3 Gun Handling (The subject of a future blog)
You need to understand how to handle the gun correctly to produce a good mount and it’s surprising how many shooters do not.
4 Stance and Ready Position (The subject of a future blog)
To mount the gun well, you also need to know how to stand, be aware of your balance, and address the target correctly. Again, a lot of shooters do not have an appreciation of this.
What are the Ingredients for a Perfect Gun Mount?
1 Simple Lift of the Gun to the Face
Aim for an efficient mount. Extreme, jerky, or unnecessary movements will probably cause a miss. Keep it smooth and simple!
2 Good Barrel Control
Precise control of the barrels is required. If the barrels dip during the mount it’s more likely to result in a miss; and because the dip needs correcting, it takes longer to acquire the target so you shoot slower.
3 Firm Contact with the Cheek
The mount is completed only when the gun is firmly in the cheek, tucking into the eye-tooth area, with the nose practically touching the front of the stock. Feel the gun squeezed in the cheek; learn to love that feeling; it’s your ticket to success!
4 No Unnecessary Head or Body Movement
The Ready Position sets your head and body in the correct posture to receive the gun. Only the arms move during the simple lift of the gun to the face. The rotation from the hips happens naturally with a crossing target as you watch the target.
5 Good Balance
You must remain balanced throughout the shot with your weight over your front hip. Leaning backwards or sideways will most probably cause you to miss. No rocking or lurching!
How to Practice Your Dry Gun Mounting
Treat this as a serious project and set aside your allotted time. Put on your skeet vest and flat shoes to show you mean business. Find a safe place, inside or out, where you have space to waggle your gun without anyone feeling in danger! Check that your gun is empty and double check! Find a spot on the wall, 2.5 – 3m high, to mount the gun to and then stand a few feet from a wall. Be meticulous about every aspect of the process.
Set yourself to address a target/your spot is and check:
Stance including foot position, knee position, and balance
Ready position including upper body neck and head and gun position
Gun handling including the grip and forend hold positions
Start with the stock about waist height and the barrels at about 45°
Settle your eyes on the spot/target and maintain focus throughout
Lift the gun to the cheek positively, using the lower arms only
Keep the head and body still, only moving the arms to lift the gun
Pivot the end of the barrels into the target with no dipping
Ensure precise control of the barrels
Keep the movement and pace of the mount smooth throughout
Establish firm contact between the gun and cheek and hold
Reverse the process carefully back to the Ready Position
The mount should be practiced in slow motion (I count 3 crocodiles) and held for a moment. Then un-mount the gun by reversing the process again in slow motion, keeping everything still except the arms. The slow-motion reinforces the neural pathways, otherwise known as “muscle memory”.
Repeat the mount for 3, 5, or 10 consecutive mounts depending on how many you can complete sensibly before your arms go wobbly. Then break for a minute and repeat the set again and so on. Do say 5 x 5 sets and build up to 10 x 5 sets or 10 x 10 sets. Set yourself targets each day so you know when you’ve finished. Video yourself and analyse what you are doing and correct any mistakes. Make it meaningful; imagine shooting the target at the same time; feel the gun, feel the wood of the stock in your cheek and the butt pad in your shoulder; be aware of your relationship with your gun. Soon you will start to feel connected to your gun rather than fighting it. Happy practicing and happy shooting!