column By: Bryan E. Bilinski | November, 17
And the reasons we miss … increase. Before you read this article, you might enjoy refreshing your memory with parts I through III of this series in the three previous issues of the magazine. Those begin our discussion of some of the reasons we somewhat imperfect human beings all miss with our beloved shotguns. Now, we continue.
Reason # 12: Rushing or shooting too quickly
Have you ever taken two quick, rushed shots on any game bird that you cleanly missed and realized the bird was still in very killable range and there you stood mouth open, and your gun is empty? Don’t lie; we all have. This is exactly what happens when we rush the shot and overreact. Rushing is known to ruin rhythm. Rushing into a gun mount before a good shot really develops invites a big time miss. Unfortunately, slowing your gun mounting effort is easier said than done. Practicing at home or on the clays range with a slow, efficient gun mount while shooting clays helps prepare us for that unexpected flush, a reaction to the bird in flight that seems to force us into an unnecessary, Mach-speed gun mount. We need to train ourselves to slow down our “Move, Mount and Shoot” sequence of events.
Reason # 13: Changes to health and fitness
Have you ever stopped to reflect for a few moments how many illnesses or even surgeries you have had over the past “blank” number of years? How about how many different prescription medicines you take or have taken? Wow, scary thought isn’t it? Well, as my mom used to say, “Bryan, you are nothing without your health!” Mom was right. Considering the increasing age of many wing shooters today, we have probably all experienced more than one medical setback in the past few years. Every medical procedure takes time, a lot of time, to recover from. So, while your body slowly recovers, and you work to regain your strength, your wing shooting skills and muscle memory suffer major setbacks. Therefore, you must be patient and kind to yourself as you recover. Don’t expect any healing miracles overnight. The older you get, the longer it may take to recover from the simplest medical procedure. Throw in the big stuff like hip, shoulder and knee replacements or even, God forbid, open heart surgery, and I guarantee it will take you longer than you had hoped to get strong enough to perform that simple but athletic activity of “moving, mounting and shooting” your shotgun again. Shooting your shotgun during this time is hardly an option and probably a really bad idea. All our medical setbacks, no matter how positive the results, create a period where we must, sooner or later, begin practicing with our shotguns again with earnest. So if you miss an easy shot at a pheasant or a few more clays than normal, be kind to yourself. The road to recovery toward being a strong and healthy wing shooter again will take time and a concentrated effort. There are no shortcuts on your journey of recovery and ultimate success as a wing shooter.
Reason # 14: Shooting in new, progressive lens eyewear
So, you just got your annual eye exam, and your doc has got you all set with perfect vision at any and all distances. He or she has prescribed the newest, latest and greatest “progressive bifocal” lens. In most domestic daily situations, these types of all-around eyeglasses will work just fine. Therein lies the problem. Progressive bifocals do not make good shooting glasses. In fact, my experience indicates they may be the worst shooting glasses you could wear if you want to shoot straight and exactly where you think you are looking. I have had so many shooting lessons end because clients arrived wearing progressive glasses. That’s all they had. I no longer allow this problem to start or to continue. We now send out a presession letter to the prospective students explaining the problems they are bound to experience if they try to shoot wearing progressive glasses. I highly recommend a pair of high-quality polycarbonate shooting glasses ground with your prescription for distance only. You need your vision to be crystal clear at the average distances you are going to be focusing and shooting game and targets, say 10 to 50 yards. Remember, wing shooting is an eye-hand coordination sport. If your eyes can’t focus sharply on a bird because of mixed messages sent by the varied focal points of progressive lens, you will not be shooting where you are looking. And you will miss more than you will hit. Believe you me: been there, done that!