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The Journey Begins: Training Wingshooters

Helping Wingshooters Improve

We spent the last week training Texas Parks and Wildlife staff to use our Knowledge Vault videos and data to begin their journey of improving shooting proficiency in this country’s wingshooters.

Vicki, Brian, and I trained 14 trainers to teach the OSP system for three days… and man, were their eyes opened.

We are still amazed at how many people are trying to shoot a shotgun while looking down the barrel of the shotgun!

After the training, I spoke at the Hunter Ed conference to all the volunteers who will be using our technology to teach wingshooting. After that, they all came to the range to apply our system while being trained by the trainers we had just worked with. Some amazing things happened.

All trainers were blown away by the fact that almost all 70 volunteers were looking down the barrel and most had no clue what it really looks like to hit a moving target with a shotgun.

They all were amazed at just how much the shooters were looking at the gun in the setup, which as we know, leads to muzzle awareness in the shot. As is customary, they all stumbled a little in their coaching but they all recovered to have a great day of coaching.

My biggest takeaway was that TP&W does a great job in teaching safety, which is primary in all shooting venues. They are also great at teaching bird identification and distance for an ethical shot and how to make “shoot or don’t shoot” decisions to keep from wounding another bird in the flock while shooting at a bird.

The way I am looking at this situation now is that if hunters were more proficient in shooting their shotguns, they instantly become safer and can learn to make more ethical shots.

Move and Mount Consistently!

The weakest link in proficiency in all shotgun shooters is the lack of ability to move and mount the gun consistently without thinking about it or looking at the end of the muzzle. Eventually, you must learn to know where the muzzle is pointed without looking at it.

So why not learn that from the beginning?

The average wingshooter mounts the gun, looks down the barrel, and begins chasing the bird with the muzzle, trying to get the gun in front of the bird. They shoot three times, and someone says “great shot.” But they don’t have a clue how they hit the bird or what it looked like when they pulled the trigger!

In fact, the trainers were amazed at how all the volunteer instructors looked at the end of the muzzle in the setup and during the shot.

This is something that we have witnessed as professional shooting instructors. But until last week I don’t think hunter education professionals realized the real depth of the problem with wingshooter proficiency!

Muzzle awareness is the leading cause for the lack of proficiency among all wing and clay shooters. After this past week, it occurs to me that improving proficiency is the key to improving safety and ethics in clay and wingshooting.

To shoot a shotgun you must develop the ability to move and mount the gun without thinking about it or looking at it. This is a basic threshold concept that controls proficiency, just like casting for the fisher or the trigger release for the pistol, rifle, or bow hunter.

When we step back and look at wing and clay shooters that are proficient, they are instantly safer because they don’t have to look at the gun to see where it is pointed.

They can become instantly more ethical; they can be more aware of what is happening during a shot because they are not thinking about what they are doing with the gun. They know what it looks like to focus on the bird and see it behind where the gun is pointed.

So, the journey has begun and we are looking forward to making a difference in the wingshooting world. More later.

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