Mental Note

Shooting shotguns and shooting handguns are two very different sports but the more I get into handguns the more similarities I find between the two.

For example, while at a steel shoot at Paul Bunyan Rifle & Sportmen’s Club we ran across an interesting stage. It had three steel plates: one positioned on the far left, one straight in the center, and one on the far right, to the extent that it pushed the 180 but didn’t break it. The course of fire was two shots on each of the side plates and one shot on the center plate. What was most interesting about this particular stage was listening to how everyone was planning to shoot it: what would be fastest? Do you stop on the middle plate? Do you try and swing through it?

The same rules of swing and momentum apply to pistol shooting that do to shotgun shooting. You have to consider the amount of time lost if you pause your swing just as you have to consider how a lack of follow through is going to kill the momentum of your pattern when shooting a skeet bird. Of course I’m not experienced enough for this to really affect me right now.

However, this week I managed to figure something out about the two sports that did directly affect my shooting: when you’re shooting skeet the only thing you want to see is the bird. The only thing I want to think about is that bird. If I look at anything else, if I think about anything else I won’t hit the bird. It’s the same thing with handguns, except all I want to see is the front sight and all I want to think about is having a smooth trigger pull. I’ve found that if that’s all I’m focused on then, like hitting the skeet bird, I’ll hit my target.


  1. Along those lines, I talked to Haley Dunn, she shoots Olympic Skeet ,about follow through. She told me that AFTER you’ve pulled the trigger it doesn’t matter what you do. You can stop right then. BUT, key is not stopping before, or as, you pull the trigger. If a long follow through helps you make sure you don’t stop before the shot, go for it. It is impossible to “paint” the sky with your pattern. They’ve done pattern tests and you can’t swing fast enough to elongate a pattern.

    1. This is true, but for a lot of shooters follow through becomes very important because it’s easy to find the bird, stop and then pull the trigger.

    2. I agree with you Larry for an Olympic skeet shooter but for most of us mortals different rules apply: If you are thinking about stopping after you pull the trigger you are usually stopping, or at least losing momentum, before you pull the trigger. The goal isn’t to elongate the patter it is to prevent yourself from losing your pace.

  2. Never shot competition, but have done alot of bird hunting and informal trap shooting and I’ve always been a point and shoot man myself.
    If the gun fits you properly it works beautifully. Fix on the target, throw the gun up and fire as it hits my shoulder and down goes the bird, if I let myself think about lead and swing I miss everytime.

    I had a Mossberg 500AT that fit me perfectly, and was stupid enough to sell it, that gun was magic. Everything that went up in front of it came back down broken or dead. I miss it……

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