By: Bob Foege
I started my life-long interest in shooting when my parents finally succumbed to my entreaties as a nine-year-old, and the Red Ryder Daisy air rifle arrived under the Christmas tree along with a box of 10,000 BBs.
By the time I was thirteen, I had shot every one of those original 10,000. A Mossberg 22 caliber rifle followed shortly thereafter, and I would bike up to the hardware store and buy a box of Peters 22LRs for $0.45 for my thirsty gun.
In my sixteenth year, I bought a Stevens 12-gauge pump gun from our local fish/hunt store and started missing ducks. And miss was what I mostly did. As a rifle shooter, I had no idea how to hit a moving target. Unfortunately, this is the same tale that belongs to many shotgun shooters who were trained with the BB gun and 22 rifle before the shotgun showed up and who are completely ignorant of the skills required to hit moving targets.
Today's world offers much more to the beginning shotgun shooter, and the huge variety of specialized shotgun-oriented magazines offers advice columns from beginners to experienced shooters and are universally well-intended and well-presented.
More now than ever, the importance of "shotgun fit" is taking center stage. My own masthead had at its initial offering in 2004 the homily, "If it doesn't fit, you can't hit," and referred to the use of the shotgun combo gauge for accurately measuring your shotgun’s exterior dimensions.
Early on, determining if a shotgun fit or not depended on the skills of the stock maker/gunsmith who would instruct you to mount your gun and then to point the gun between his eye, a nervous undertaking under any circumstances, and he would then determine if his stock-changing chore were properly completed. Much of that we now know was smoke and mirrors.
Then the attempt was made using a small flashlight somehow pushed into the shotgun's muzzle and sighting along its rib that would simulate the swing mount procedure accurately. But the "always on" flashlight dominated your eye, and its light dot became the ever-elusive aiming point. Essentially, it gave the shooter completely wrong information and was abandoned.
RED LASER SHOOTER FOR GUN FIT
Around 2010, we began promoting the use of a red laser shooter for "shotgun fit." Our experience by then was solid, and by simply inserting a red laser shooter in your gun’s muzzle and touching the trigger through the swing-and-mount procedure aimed at a wall-mounted target shot the gun's laser at the exact right moment and produced way more information on gun fit to both the shooter and gun fitter simultaneously.
As good as this is, however, it is not complete, since the shooter many times will aim the shotgun much like a rifle, and the information about the gun’s fit will not be completely accurate. After all, the gun's fit is dynamic, not static, and is only accurate in motion. Even live shooting the gun at patterning paper only shows that the gun is delivering its pattern where you aimed, but aiming it like a rifle, perhaps making little finite adjustments to secure the "fit.” Not like the dynamic instrument it becomes in motion.
Actually, when the gun fits properly, the swing/mount procedure, along with the complete concentration of the gunner’s eyes on the target, leave NO ROOM for final adjustment by the shooter before he pulls the trigger. Ideally, since the shooter’s concentration is 100% on the moving target, the gun is just a shadow in the shooter’s vision as it moves along the axis of flight through the target at faster speed than the target, and the trigger is pulled when the lead has been established by the shooter’s instinct and experience.
The whole procedure from the start of the swing to the shot should not exceed about one second in duration, and for the skeet shooter, the break should be in the center point of the field. For the trap, sporting, and game shooters, the ability to pick the exact right moment to make the shot is typically: “The faster the target acquisition the better.”
Slow gun speed and lingering on the target are major sources of missing for all the shotgun games. The ability to accurately and quickly break the target is only available through practice shooting at moving targets. Practice and repetition in this discipline are the single most important requirements for excellence.
GUN FIT USING A MOVING TARGET
It is now practical and available for the gun fitter to have the shooter shoot at a moving target while assessing his or her hits--or gun fit. Employing a red laser shooter mounted in the gun’s muzzle and projecting a moving target using a moving target projector gives the gun fitter the optimum tools for observing the shooter’s relationship to his gun in motion. It is the ideal platform.
These tools are capable of presentations from the left or the right, quartering or up or down; speed selections from slow to fast; and even a voice command (say, “PULL!”) to release a target in the most realistic environment possible so the gun fitter/coach can now assess the whole shooter in relationship to his gun....all in the confines of a shop or gun room.
Stance, swing and mount, gun speed, accuracy of the shot and follow-through, among other elements, are all available to the gun fitter and are clearly observed with the moving target laser beam in relationship to the "shot" taken by the fittee illustrated by his gun mounted red laser and thus the opportunity to truly finetune the gun fit to perfection; where here the definition of "gun fit to perfection" is when the shooter makes the shot and the hit without noticing the gun.
Bob Foege owns the Robert Louis Company, Inc.