Ask Dr. Shotgun
Who is “Dr. Shotgun”™ you ask? Simply said, he is the answer to everything you ever wanted to know about shotguns, gunfitting and wingshooting... but have not known who to ask! “Dr. Shotgun”™ is here to help and serve. “Dr. Shotgun”™ has over 35 years of experience in the world of fine shotguns and he realized quite awhile back that many of the questions he’s fielded by his clients are repeated over and over and over again. Therefore, he will selectively answer your questions on the FIELDSPORT web site in a public forum. “Dr. Shotgun”™ has decided to help more than one dedicated Wingshooter at a time by publicly posting the answers to both commonly asked and difficult questions alike. If the good Dr. is stumped, he will dig deep into his group of Wingshooting friends and cronies to research and arrive at the correct answer for all.
So, fire away... e-mail “Dr. Shotgun”™ your questions and he will do his best to answer them, for the benefit of all.
Best Wishes & Good Shooting, “Dr. Shotgun”™
Bonjour Monsieur, I have a question that has been bothering me for a while; do you think what is called "instinctive shot" is still valid. In with other techniques, it seems relegated to history. Thank you for your reply - your French fan
My Dear French Friend,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the status of what is an "instinctive shot"... or who and what is an "instinctive shot."
This is a very interesting question and deserves a few different viewpoints in order to be addressed correctly and with some relevance.
First, in response to your inquiry, I looked up the definition of the word, instinctive, in Webster's Dictionary. In relation to the shooting sports, the applicable definition is: prompted by natural instinct or propensity and being independent of judgement.
As a student of the teachings or the great gun maker and shooting instructor, Robert Churchill, I believe his words about shooting "instinctively" have been somewhat lost is translation and revision over the years. Having read Churchill's book, GAME SHOOTING, many, many times, it occurred to me ages ago that Churchill was basically teaching a "swing or pass through method" of shooting a shotgun that somehow got informally connected to the "instinctive method" of shooting or simply the actual word, instinctive. When a shooter moves his or her gun from "where the bird was, to where it is to where it is going", we are using a "swing through method".
I'm sure you have heard of two of the other methods of shooting a clay target or game bird, namely: the sustained lead or pull-away methods.
Neither of these methods of leading a target however could be connected to the infamous English phrase: Butt, Belly, Beak, Bang! This phrase perfectly describes the "swing through" method of shooting a shotgun.
Now back to the thoughts or question on what is an instinctive shot? The key connection to the word instinctive is that it is not really a shooting method...I believe it is the way we subconsciously see "lead" or daylight when we pull the trigger. Lead is not so much a measured gap of daylight but rather a picture we subconsciously see and acknowledge while "being independent of (conscious) judgement." When we are shooting well and "without conscious judgement" or measurement of lead, every shot we take is an instinctive shot. When I have made a good shot and my fellow bird hunter asks "How far did you lead that bird?" My most common answer is "I don't really know, I don't try to measure lead, rather I see and feel the daylight and simply pull the trigger!" And therein is what I think constitutes an "instinctive shot."
I hope this answer in my humble opinion is of value to you and you enjoy your journey as an "instinctive wing shot."
If you ever traveling through the U.S., please look us and FIELDSPORT up... I'm sure we would have a number of additional wing shooting subjects we would enjoy discussing...