Rob Eaton is widely recognised as one of the country’s top coaches and is the Head Coach at the renowned Wylye Valley Shooting Ground. Now retired from competitions his 45 years’ experience in shooting both game and clays really shows and has been noticed by other grounds that like to use his services. Ian Coley Shooting and Richard Faulds’s Owls Lodge to name but a few. Rob or Robbie to his friends is regularly featured in magazines and was chosen by IPC Media’s www.shootinguk.co.uk to be the resident Coach on the website.
Rob Eaton Technical Training
Knowing how and where your gun patterns it’s lead is very important and should never be over looked if your serious about your shooting. Something that every single shotgun shooter should know is that a shot gun is actually designed to shoot very slightly high if it fits properly. That is to say that only around 40% of the lead (led) shot leaves the barrels in a straight, flat line. The other 60% (70% if a game gun) rises very slightly just above the barrels or at least it should if fitted properly. This is done so that the shooter can actually see the target / bird killed without having to look for it by taking their head off the stock, which will of course end up with a miss, often over the top. As a result you often here an instructor tell you to shoot it’s feet off or such like.
This is because if the site picture up the rib is correct when your cheek bone is on the stock, you will have to place the bead/muzzles so that the target just sits on the top of the barrels. That way the 60% will slightly rise and kill the target. If the target is a crosser you will also need to be in front as well of course. Swing through it’s feet or start on it’s feet before pulling way or following through. Game guns it should be said tend to place their lead 70% above the barrels because they are used to kill live targets so need a little more lead to do the job instantly and humanely……we hope.
Have a shot or two at a pattern plate and see where your gun puts it’s lead, some of you will be surprised to find that it’s not quite where you think it’s going to be. Or you can try shooting at a large cardboard sheet in a field. Mark the centre of the sheet with a black dot about the size of a golf ball, then put your bead on it and shoot it from around 17/18yds. If all is well you should have a pattern that places about 60% just above the black dot and 40% dead central around the black dot. This should be done by shooting pre-mounted and also from out of the shoulder and as quick as you can (instinctively) to find a true reading. If your mount is not yet any good then just do it from the shoulder (pre-mounted) for now. If the shot pattern is anywhere else like over to one side or very high etc, get a qualified coach to have a look at the fit and your mount for you as soon as possible.
Believe it or not the position of your forefinger on the trigger is very important indeed for a smooth, gentle, minimalistic squeeze of the trigger. If you have your finger wrapped around the trigger or even in the first joint, you will find that the amount of movement of the finger you will need to both squeeze and also release the trigger (in order to cock the internal mechanism for second shot) is quite a lot. Too much movement can cause bad timing and inconsistent trigger pulling. The cure for this is to put the first pad of the finger (that’s the one with the nail on it) on the trigger, but exactly half way across the finger pad. This will give a lot less movement in the finger and even help towards curing what’s known as flinching, where you go to pull the trigger but don’t so you have another go, all in an instant. Very frustrating is flinching.
Some guns have an adjustable trigger and may need adjusting to feel right when shooting this way. But it can be done on guns with fixed triggers with a little practice. This trigger technique will also help when you’re having trouble with shooting behind everything as your timing is better because it actually takes time to pull a trigger with your finger wrapped around it. Shooting with a shot gun is very instinctive and your instincts are spot on and you have to trust them when to pull the trigger.
So if you have a lot of extra movement in the pulling of the trigger you’re going to find that you will pull the trigger very slightly later than necessary, resulting in a miss right on the clays/birds tail. If you’re shooting game then it’s fine to have your finger on the trigger guard or the wood above it for safety but practice this finger technique before going into the field or you will have trouble. When Clay Shooting, put the finger pad on the trigger gently before you call PULL.
When you’re waiting for the clay and about to call pull, focus not so much on the area where you will see the clay first, known as your pick-up point, but on something behind it. It could be a 1/4 mile directly behind the flight path of the target, but focus on it.Do what? I hear you say.I’ll explain.The way the muscles work in the eye is that in order for you to focus on a target some 30/40/50 yds away shall we say, the muscles have to make two movements or operations? But in order to focus back to the target from say 1/4 of a mile away only takes one movement/operation.That can have a dramatic effect on the speed in which you focus perfectly on the target.(Hard Focus)The object you focus on in the distance can be just about anything from a tree, a cloud, a cow, a fence post, a dandelion, a thistle, just about anything that is directly behind your pick-up point (The pick-up point is the place that you can first hard focus on the target.)Focusing on the distant object behind your pick-up point…the clay will go through your vision which will automatically latch on to the fastest thing moving it can see i.e. the clay. But the muscles only have one movement now to focus backwards onto it. The result is that you pick-up / focus on the clay about a second earlier which can have an effect that fools you into believing the clay is moving slower, giving you more time to get onto the clay target and shoot it smooothlyAmazing when used on battues as you can see them coming earlier.
The place that your muzzles are positioned before calling PULL is absolutely vital to good shooting. Every target has what’s known as a pick-up point. The pick-up point is the place that you first focus on the target. You will also have a gun hold point where you need to hold the guns muzzles. That place will be just a little ahead of the pick-up point. The exact place will be from your pick-up point X (times/multiplied) by your reactionary time. That is to say if you look at the pick-up point, call PULL and then bring your finger up to the clay as fast as you can as if mounting the gun, your hold point will be where you managed to put your finger on the clay target. This is where you put your muzzles. But always put them JUST under the flight line of the target, as you should ALWAYS come UP to a target. This way you will never lose sight of the target behind the barrels as it flies over the top of the barrels. If you have the muzzles too high it will cause all sorts of problems with your mount / swing / focus etc as you lose sight of it behind the barrels for a moment.
So remember to ALWAYS come up to the target (both clay and feathered).
SHOOTING TIP No2
From the second you first see the clay/bird/target you should be totally focussed on that target and nothing else. With your gun at the hold point, your eyes at the pick-up point and your leading foot pointing to your kill point, your all ready to go. From the first instant you see the target you should never take your eyes off that target what ever it may be, not for an instant. You need to stare hard at the target and nothing else at all while swinging. A good way of doing this is to try and read the name on the clay.
Most clays have a makers name written on them, quite literally try to read that name, you won’t be able to of course but that’s how hard you need to try. If it’s a bird, try and stare hard at the beak and nothing else.
Once your swing is under way, never ever look at the guns rib/bead for any reason, it’s usually fatal as it will stop or slow your swing for an instant and result in a miss, usually behind the target. Stay hard focussed on the target.
So many shooters both game and clay miss targets simply because they have the wrong feet
position. You should always, always, always point your leading foot in the direction that your going to kill thetarget. Or if you like, where your going to pull the trigger. In fact the perfect kill point is just up theinside of the leading foot. The other foot should only ever be placed behind the leading foot if shooting driven birds over head using the Stanbury or Churchill methods as they are known. Normally it should be placed not behind the leading foot but just up along side it almost.
Once your leading foot is pointing to the kill point, place your trailing foot so that the first half of it,(the bit with the toes on) is along side of the arch of the leading foot. You should have your feet no more than 8-10 inches apart and the trailing foot should be pointing over to 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock if shooting from the left shoulder. If done properly this will help place the gun squarely into the cheek bone and shoulder, lining the rib up with the eye central above it. It will also help you to put the stock into the correct position in the shoulder and not out on the arm or shoulder joint.
Your balance when starting your mount and swing should be 60% on the front foot and 40% on the back foot.Then and only then do you place your gun in the hold position and look back to your pickup point……PULL!….and hard focus on the target only.
This of course should also be done on game but will take a little practice to instantly turn onto the bird and fire when on a crosser. Try it at home regularly. It can’t be said enough that every shooter should practice dry mounting and swinging etc at home at least twice a week for 10 minute if you want to be any good.