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Teaching in Beaumont: How Quickly the Brain Can Respond

Last week I shot in both Beaumont and Houston with several different shooters, and most of them were confused and trying not to see the barrel. It’s becoming more and more evident to me that trying not to see the barrel on the surface seems like something you can do, but the reality is that it’s impossible for any length of time.

The One-Eye Shooter: Eye Dominance and Consistency

The dreaded one-eyed shooter reared its ugly head once again. I had one of each type: a shooter with taped glasses and one who was closing an eye.

First, I had a man who was an experienced and fairly good shooter. But he had a one-inch piece of tape over his glasses horizontally and thought his problem was mental. After I watched him shoot a few crossers, I discovered it was not mental!

He was a good shooter but had no control over his gun speed, especially at the end of his shot. Inconsistency abounded, especially on right-to-left shots (right eye occluded). When I asked about shooting with two eyes, he said he had tried shooting with both and shot some scores in the 80s, but not consistently. He then went into a long monologue about where exactly his dominance was – just inside of the bridge of his nose on the side of the right eye!

He said he consistently missed a foot-and-a-half ahead of right-to-left and a foot-and-a-half behind left-to-right, and that he had adjusted his gun all out of whack with reasoning I still don’t understand. But eventually, he went back to one eye. No big deal to me, but he should have come to see me when he tried to shoot with both eyes because I could have fixed him fast.

So I gave him some things to work on got him to understand the value of being stable at the end. After Nationals, he’s going to come back and give me a chance to help him. I hope he does.

Learning Consistency Quickly

On Saturday morning, I taught two high school boys, a younger boy, and a girl. They all wanted to get better at crossers, especially long crossers. I showed them the picture and how to stabilize the shot at the end. And man, it was amazing how quickly their brains picked this up. They all became more consistent and confident immediately and they all shot a true 75-yard crosser at the end of the two-hour session.

The little girl kept looking down the barrel. No big deal – she just needs experience. When I showed her what it was supposed to look like, she whacked the chandelle and all the crossers and got tired toward the end of the lesson. What a great group of young adults. And what manners and respect they all had for each other and me. It was truly amazing being among them.

In my last lesson on Saturday, I had a left-handed shooter who had just had surgery on his left hand a few months before and had not recovered his ability to shoot after the surgery.

He shared a lesson with another shooter, a young lady and her six or seven-year-old daughter  She was a classic example of someone who had an adjustable everything on her over-and-under Zoli, and she used every adjustment on it. It was all out of whack! Her husband had adjusted it to poor shooting posture. You know, the real wide stance lunging forward back straight or slightly bent back to hold up the gun. She had her head cocked to the right with left eye closed looking down the barrel.

Well, first I showed her the three-bullet drill and then the animations. She said they made sense, but she concluded that she could not shoot with both eyes because she didn’t know which barrel to aim. No problem. Close an eye.

I finally got her to see the bird behind the barrel. She began to develop some timing and rhythm with the target. Then I said something I have never said before!

Rebuilding Your Timing Circuits

While walking her through and encouraging her to do the three-bullet drill with her gun as I had adjusted it, she was beginning to come around and understand the pictures once we got her to mount the gun standing like a shooter should. In trying to help her to have the courage to continue to do the drill, I said the following:

“The problem with shutting an eye is that you will not be able to use all those timing circuits in your brain because they were developed with two eyes. And when you shut an eye, the target is half as large and twice as fast.”

(She did agree that it was faster when she closed her eye. At that point I had her)

“So, with one eye,” I continued, “you will have to rebuild all your timing circuits, but you will keep living your life and learning new circuits with two eyes, which will continue to confuse the brain about what you really want it to do. If you will do the three-bullet drill for three weeks, twice a day for five to ten minutes, about halfway through the second week it will begin to look normal – as long as you don’t try to look down the barrel. Looking down the barrel creates the visual confusion!”

The funny thing is that while we were talking and getting her to stand correctly with her spine curved slightly forward, as she understood the stance and why it was that way, she began to mount the gun correctly after I had readjusted it.

We went out and shot a teal from about 25 yards. The man who was shooting understood the picture on the third shot and just hammered about 20 in a row. He was beaming and said he had never been able to hit that #$%& target!

Then she got up and I started her with an up gun a third up, looking over it and seeing the bird above the barrel and pushing through it and shooting when she covered it. Well, she was so much more in balance when doing this shot that even she was amazed. And she shot it consistently well.

The man got back in and whacked another 10 or 12 from 35 yards. And you guessed it, she did too. It was as if every time she mounted the gun with the proper stance, she began to look more and more like a shooter. My only hope is that she will really do the three-bullet drill and her husband will leave her alone.

When we come back in November, we hope she will come out and shoot with Vicki once each day without her husband around. He is a barrel-dragging, one-eyed, muzzle-slashing lead chaser with A.D.D. and three nervous tics.

I continue to be amazed at how quickly the brain can respond when it clearly understands what you’re asking it to do. My left-handed sight pictures are beginning to be so much clearer. Simply amazing.