Recreational shooting is a fun and satisfying hobby. Learning how to properly handle, care for and shoot a firearm can teach disscipline and stronger hand-eye coordination. At Invictus, passion is our main focus.
Shotgun shooting is one of the most difficult skills to master. To be able to pick up a fast-moving target with your eyes and to develop the proper lead and follow-through skills, takes a lot of patience, persistence and practice. There are no shortcuts to shotgun shooting success, and your skills improvement will always depend on practise. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Tip #1: Get to know your shotgun.
The best place to practise your shotgun skills is at the shooting range and if you can’t get to the shooting range on a regular basis, try to handle your shotgun as often as you can by taking your unloaded shotgun out of its case and handling it. Always practise gun safety rules and keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. When you are handling your unloaded shotgun safely, move around in different positions on how you expect to be shooting, for example lie down and practise sitting up to take the shot, practise sitting in a chair and stand up to take the shot, work on your stance, practice mounting your shotgun and work on your swing and follow-through. To be able to find and focus on your target takes practise, and when you are shooting at your target, your shotgun becomes an extension of your arm. You need to master the skill of target location and focus, as your shotgun should automatically locate your target in a matter of seconds in the direction you are looking. Once you handle your shotgun regularly and frequently, this skill becomes automatic and instinctive.
Tip #2: Practice your gun mount.
To be successful in shotgun shooting a proper gun mount is critical, thus it’s very important to practise often in a distraction free safe place with plenty of space to move around in. To mount your shotgun properly you need to mount your unloaded shotgun to your shoulder and cheek, with your eyes aligned naturally down the barrel in a smooth motion. To practice your gun mount, focus on the seam of your wall where it meets the ceiling and imagine the seam as the path the target travels from left to right, or right to left. Next, insert a small flashlight into the barrel end of your unloaded shotgun and turn it on. Beginning at one corner, intensely focus on the seam and as your eyes slowly travel across the seam, raise your unloaded shotgun to your shoulder and cheek as you continuously move your eyes to the opposite corner of the ceiling. Swing your shotgun, following the “target,” as your eyes travel the line. Continue to do this exercise slowly and with precision, so the movement of bringing your shotgun up to your shoulder and cheek embeds itself into your muscle memory. Keep on practising your gun mount until you accomplish a fluid, smooth motion to the shoulder and cheek and you can focus on the target without having to think about it.
Tip #3: Focus on the target.
When we shoot, we often miss the target because we lose focus on the target. Your brain has the amazing ability to recognize the target you are seeing, judge its speed, flight path and distance and predicts where it is going when you identify a target and begin your gun mount. Allowing your brain to do what it’s supposed to do while you focus on the target and mount your shotgun, increases your chances of success significantly. If you look at the barrel while mounting the shotgun the movement of the shotgun barrel will distract you by catching your eye, and for that moment you will look away from the target and then you will quickly try to relocate the target by chasing it across the sky with your barrel resulting in a target miss, as any visual distraction away from the target interrupts the message your brain is receiving about the speed, path and distance of the target. To practise to not get distracted by the movement of the shotgun barrel, place three targets (cups, balls, shotgun shells) on a ledge or counter about 8 to 10 inches apart. Stand with your unloaded shotgun and focus on the centre target. Keeping your eyes on that centre target, slowly raise your shotgun and mount it to the left target and lower your shotgun. Continue to focus your eyes on the centre target. Slowly mount your shotgun to the right target and repeat this exercise as often as possible as this exercise forces you to “accept” your shotgun in your peripheral vision rather than taking your eyes off your target.
Know your shotgun, perfect your gun mount, focus on your target and let your brain do the rest.
Stance is a crucial element of shooting that can at times be overlooked. Perhaps the best way to emphasize the value of a solid stance, which provides the foundation of your shooting platform, is to look at other examples in different activities where a strong foundation is important. Have you ever observed a new home being constructed? In the Northeast, where I'm from, the majority of homes have basements. When the builder is constructing the basement he goes to great lengths to ensure that the footings are strong and level. No matter how well made the upper portions of the house are constructed, if the foundation is flawed, the rest of the house is destined for major problems.
CREATING YOUR STRONG FOUNDATION
When attempting to accurately shoot a handgun, no matter how good your sight alignment, breath control and other skills are, if your stance doesn't provide you with a stable shooting platform, you’re destined to be inconsistent with your shot placement. Consistency in all aspects of shooting is the key to accuracy. When it comes to shooting stances, you have three choices:
In the past, the standard taught was the Isosceles Stance. The shooter faces the target squarely, the feet are set shoulder width (or slightly wider) apart. The toes face the target and are aligned. The knees are flexed at an angle that varies somewhat and the shooter leans forward from the waist towards the target. The shooter’s arms are extended and form an isosceles triangle, hence the name.
Pros: The positives include the fact that it feels like a comfortable and natural position to most shooters. In addition, the body positioning seems to have a positive effect on accuracy.
Cons: The predominant problem with the Isosceles Stance is that while it has side-to-side stability, it lacks front-to-rear balance due to the positioning of the feet.
The Weaver Stance has become very popular and replaced the Isosceles as the standard taught to most new shooters. The shooter blades his body, placing the foot on the firing side back and turning the support side towards the target. The shooter’s strong, or firing side, arm is extended and the support arm’s elbow is bent. This allows the shooter to employ a very stable push-pull grip. The shooter pushes with his firing arm and pulls with the support arm to stabilize the weapon.
Pros: The biggest plus is the push pull grip which is effective in controlling recoil and weapon control in general.
Cons: A major problem with the stance for the law enforcement community is that by blading the body, an officer is exposing an area of his torso that isn’t completely covered with body armour. A right-handed shooter exposes his left armpit, which is an entryway to the heart. In fact, many officers have been fatally shot in this area in spite of body armour.
Another problem with the Weaver is that movement while attempting to maintain the bladed position is awkward and problematic. Additionally, post shooting studies have shown that the majority of Weaver shooters reverted to a form of the Isosceles Stance during actual shootings.
The last stance has a variety of names. Some instructors refer to it as a modified Isosceles or Weaver. Others call it a fighting, boxer or tactical stance. For our purposes we will refer to it as the Fighting Stance.
The Fighting Stance was developed in the military in the special forces community. It made its way into law enforcement training and became popular because it allows officers to defend themselves with their hands, baton or firearm all from the same platform.
It’s also a great advanced technique for civilian shooters. In the Fighting Stance, the shooter is square to the target. His feet are shoulder width or slightly wider and the firing side foot is slightly behind the support side foot.
A good landmark is for the toe of the shooting foot to be at the instep of the support foot. This offsetting of the feet eliminates the forward-rear balance issue of the Isosceles Stance.
The knees are flexed to absorb recoil and to act as shock absorbers when moving in any direction. The shooter leans slightly forward and extends the arms straight out, bringing the sights to the eyes. The head is kept level to maintain balance, especially when moving.
Pros: Any weapon can be fired effectively from it this stance, although a case can be made for the traditional shotgun stance due to the recoil.
Cons: With the fighting stance, there really isn't a downside. By modifying the Weaver and Isosceles stances, it eliminates the common drawbacks of the other two stances.
Try the different stances, see which one is most comfortable and fits your needs. Once you have made a choice, practice, practice, practice. You don’t need to be on the range or have a weapon in your hands to practice your stance. Muscle memory is real. Make your stance second nature and watch your shooting consistency improve.
Source: Kenneth De Cicco - The Tactical List Contributor
Fighting is an instinct in human nature. It lies dormant within us until the right buttons are pushed. This instinct is crucial to our survival as a species and continues to play a major part in our daily lives. Recognizing and learning to control that competitive urge is very important. If you avoid exploring this shadow-land, you don’t know how you might react in an extreme situation. If you do explore this territory, you will gain self-confidence because you will know yourself and your abilities better and you will understand your options. Contact us for more information on close quarter combat training.