Things are finally returning back to normal! The pipe has been burried and the cleanup crew should arrive shortly. Starting today the rifle and pistol range is back in business! There may be a few more short interuptions once the cleanup crew is on the scene, but until then, business as usual! We appologize for the inconvenience during the pipeline construction, and are excited to start 2014 off on a good note.  
  Everyone sees the world slightly different from the next person. Nothing profound in that statement except for how it applies in our world of shooting. Hand eye coordination is essential to all sports, but nowhere is it more critical than in shotgun sports. If everything is hitting on all eight cylinders, what you see is what you break, so what happens on those days when it feels like you are driving an AMC Pacer? How do we get all eight firing every time we enter the stand? In past tips, I’ve discussed what I call the, The One Second Rule or the time lapse from visually acquiring the target to the time you pull the trigger. Most of the time, I pull the trigger in less than a second (Can’t wait to hear from you guys on that one!). If you can trust your sub-conscious, chances are your squad mate just wrote down an “X”, so why does it work so easy for some shooters and not so easy for others? The answer is simple. It’s your move!

When you watch the target, light is reflected by it and processed by our eyes via the retina. The image is carried by the thalamus to the cortex. The cerebellum is now positioning the body’s balance. The hypothalamus is telling the pituitary gland to release hormones to deal with the stress, and the pons and medulla are trying to control your breathing, sweating, and heart rate to an acceptable level. While all of this is going on, a billion neurons through an electrochemical process are sending messages to your muscle cells. The nerve cells release a touch of acetylcholine onto the receptors of the muscle cells which causes an itsy bitsy amount of sodium to flow into the muscle cell which, you guessed it, causes the muscle to move. If that isn’t enough for you, any shooter that has repeated the process has well established neural pathways to and from the hippocampus and the amygdale which makes his shooting process a little easier than yours. “Whew! And……all I thought I was doing was shooting a target.”

Every shooter sees and reacts differently than his fellow shooters, some a little slower, some a little faster, some a little longer, and some a little shorter, so how do you use this information to improve your shooting? After watching shooters struggle with breaking targets, I try to help them find their move. I have a defined move for each individual target. Based on the target presentation, it is defined by speed and distance of my body’s movement, and when I deviate from it, the typical end result is a big fat “0” on the score sheet. If I try to move to fast, another part of the body tries to overcorrect for the fast move, and the word discombobulated usually defines my end result. If I move too far, say…start tracking the target from the machine, across the river and through the woods, I end up Grandma’s house with nothing but milk and cookies with the cookies being the only thing that breaks. My timing suffers, and my hands, eyes, and swing are all fighting for first position. Have you ever watched a really smooth shooter? He barely moves the gun, breaks every target in the same spot every time. This is a person that has defined his move. He knows that chasing a target is never the answer. Seeing the target too long causes too much acetylcholine on the receptors, and that never ends well. His conscious mind will take over with his hands starting to play a bad game of Twister. Right hand on orange target while left hand and eye is on barrel, but when just enough neurons are sending all the right impulses, his barrel is poetry in motion.

Without getting too Zen like, begin listening to your sub-conscious and feeling your gun movement. When the two are synchronized, you will notice that you will have a defined distance of movement from start to finish. Start practicing at home. Use the roof line in your back yard. Pointing your finger at one end, follow the roof line until you have comfortable move. Use all of the roof lines. How far do you move before you hear that little voice say, “Bang!” If you are turning at the waist, my guess is that it wasn’t much more than six to eight feet. If you begin shooting within your move, you are destine to break more targets!