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Perceived Lead

The subject of perceived lead continues to come up in the forums we post to. This is my most recent post and encompasses personal experiences with longer barrels. I thought you might enjoy the perspective and the analogies. It is what it is. It becomes what you make it.

When switching to shorter barrels for hunting, take care and go out and shoot the gun so the brain can make the changes. It will take a few shots for your brain to make the change. This perception is in great part what created “new gun syndrome.” In fact, it is “new gun syndrome” and it explains to a point why you shoot the new gun great and then your old habits take over. Sometimes I even surprise myself. Enjoy.

About 10 years ago, several of our shooters began to shoot 34-inch Kreighoff barrels without factory chokes because they were lighter than the 32-inch ones with chokes. We got several panicked calls saying “Help, I’m in front of everything. What do I do?” Our answer: just shoot right at stuff for about 500 rounds and things will return to normal.

And what happened? After about 500 rounds, things returned to normal and there was peace in the valley once again.

Remember that the eyes don’t see; it is the brain that interprets the data. And lead is a perception. In our experience, anything that happens in the periphery is a perception and the brain will adjust to anything new strikingly fast. Heck, when we shot skeet, the lead on high 4 was enormous to me. But after shooting tons of long targets it seems to be just in front of the target.

You can learn to fly a 150 mph airplane fairly easily, but if you buy a jet you better hire a pilot. Because at 500 mph, you’ve got to anticipate a lot farther out in front of where you are.

All of this has to do with the anticipation circuit in the brain. And how much you are aware of this anticipation will determine how far out in front the brain can anticipate. You will never be able to consistently mount a gun any farther in front of a target than you are comfortable with. If you want to get comfortable on 40-yard crossers then shoot 60-yard chandelles for a few weeks and you will be shocked at how easy a 40-yard crosser becomes.

The perception of lead can easily be affected when a target is perceived as a hard target because the harder it is, the more you are aware of the lead and the larger the perceived lead becomes because you are aware of it. The more you are aware of it, the bigger it gets, and the less you are aware of it, the smaller it gets. It’s a perception.

Heck, a person’s experience can determine “how big is big” or “how much is a lot” from one shooter to another with much more experience would seem a little. In our experience, anything that occurs in the periphery is more perception than reality – albeit real to us, it is a perception.

If you want to understand more about how the brain fills in the blanks in what it sees in the periphery there is a series called “Brain Games” on Nat Geo. Check it out and you will begin to understand this anticipation circuit and how your brain fills in the gaps between what you are really aware of and things that are not relevant to the task at hand. Your brain is easily fooled, which we feel leads to the varying perceptions that have to do with perceived lead.