The Wild Side: Practice to improve shot

Thursday’s story about taking the first steps to correct the “so you can’t hit anything” shotgunning problems, brought memories of some terrific gunners. I was fortunate to have been in the field with them on hunts.

George Vicknair; Jimmy Jenkins; Jim Boyce; Grits Gresham and his son Tom; Richard Lipsey; Tommy Root; Leon Measures; and the guys and gals who’ve busted so many clays at Hunter’s Run. And apologies because somebody is always left out.

These men had and still have a good shooting eye, a great touch and feel for their guns and a passion for their sport.

And they practiced.

Walking from a north Louisiana dove field one opening day, Jenkins chuckled after saying he believed his dad paid for a boxcar-load of shells.

With the exception of Measures, most Louisiana shooters know or have heard of these men. Vicknair was a world champion.

Measures is a teacher, and outdoors broadcaster Don Dubuc and I left his class five years ago knowing we were better shooters, and knowing that we had more work do to in his system.

His “Shoot Where You Look” method is simple.

It helps make you a better shooter if you follow his instructions and devote 10 minutes twice a day for at least two weeks in front of a mirror. You don’t need to go to a range or fire a shot.

Find the $10 book and a $45 DVD on website

After visiting with Measures, the August Field & Stream arrived with Phil Bourjaily’s piece “Shoot the Shot.”

Never been afield him, but I knew and admired his father Vance, an accomplished author who taught at LSU.

Phil Bourjaily is equally accomplished when it comes to writing about shotguns and how to use them.

His suggestion was to use a video camera to study your shooting habits. His method of setting the camera to the side of your shooting side (to the right for righthanders and the left for lefties) and “far enough away so the shooter’s whole body, from head to toe, is in the frame.”

I have done this. That full view allows the gunner to see the movement of mounting the gun to shoulder, head movement and follow-through on the shot. It’s a great learning tool.

Bourjaily listed stance, weight and foot positioning, all of which should be basic practices.

When he added gun mount and head movement, that meshed with what Measures is trying to teach, too: Never move your head to the gun, but make sure the gun comes to your head.

Then, don’t move your head, because that’s like a batter taking his eye off the ball when he swings.

Bourjaily writes that moving the eye most times means you’re moving back to the gun barrel, raising your head to see the barrel, and moving your eyes off the target. That’s a miss darned near every time.

And with shells costing what they do, misses are costly, and most of us don’t have the means to buy shells by the boxcar.