Maybe we all think we know better than everybody else. It’s just that some of us are less brazen about pronouncing our wisdom than others. It’s always best to show respect and listen to someone with an opposing viewpoint and if you can’t do that, it’s polite to at least pretend to do so.
Shooters are no different from other people when it comes to believing their way is the right way. But two experiences taught me that trying to enforce orthodoxy can be counter-productive.
The first experience that impressed that on me was playing tennis. I loved the game when I was in my teens and it was important to me to not only win but win with the proper style. I wanted to look like a tennis player as well as beat my opponent.
I ended up looking pretty good on the court while losing 6-1, 6-2. When I started playing, I was self-taught and got pretty good results. I then took lessons, learned proper form and lost consistently for the rest of my tennis playing days.
What I failed to realize was my self-taught ways naturally compensated for certain physical shortcomings like a lack of depth perception. After I quit playing, I looked at my drooping success trajectory and traced it back to formal instruction.
When I took up another competitive endeavor, shooting, I swore that I would spurn orthodoxy and formal instruction. Over the years, quite a few folks have tried to get me to do several things that I resisted. And until age, eyesight and lack of repetition began beating me down, I was pretty pleased with the results.
There are two groups of shooters who show the most disdain for peers who don’t share their style. The first are two-eyed shooters. The second are swing-through shooters. I learned years ago that I could not argue with them.
Two-eyed shooters contend that you cannot truly come into your own as a shooter unless you shoot with both eyes open. There is plenty of logic on their side. Closing one eye eliminates depth perception and it also means you lose some peripheral vision. The good Lord gave us depth perception and peripheral vision and it makes sense to use it.
But if you are naturally right-handed and your dominant eye (everybody has one) is your left eye, leaving both eyes open means your will shoot right-handed and left eyed. The results are will not be good.
The two-eyed shooters insist if you are left-eyed and right handed, you should teach yourself to shoot left handed. I know people who have inflicted this torture on themselves and their children and some who have been successful. Others have simply made their children quit shooting.
I shoot with one eye, my left, closed. I’ve tried to explain to two-eyed shooters why it doesn’t matter in my case but most won’t listen. The short version is that because of an eye muscle problem and the brain’s mysterious nature, I only see through one eye at a time no matter how many eyes I open. I figure if I’m only going to see out of one eye no matter what, it might as well be my right one and I close my left.
Is shooting with two eyes open better? Perhaps. Can you buck the eye orthodoxy and be successful? Yes, you can. Two of the best shooters I’ve ever seen shot with one eye. Jeff Vick told me he and his mentor both shoot with one eye.
The late Jim Collins, who still holds pistol competition records, shot with his left eye and right hand. Jim’s method was so unorthodox I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. But he made it work so don’t say it can’t be done.
Swing-through shooters claim the only way to kill a bird is to start behind it, pull through the bird, moving the barrel of the gun faster than the target and pull the trigger when the shooter sees daylight between the barrel and the bird. They frequently heap disdain on sustained lead shooters like me.
The swing-through technique works. There is a variant in which the shooter starts swinging the gun before mounting it and fires just as the gun touches the shoulder. I’ve heard that shooters properly trained in this technique are deadly. It’s my opinion that the timing this requires is beyond me. And it seems like something that was born to sell custom-fitted guns, which are too expensive for me.
Personally, I never thought it made sense to start behind a bird you wanted to wind up in front of. I mount the gun at a point in front of the bird that I feel is appropriate for the bird’s speed and its distance, match its speed with my swing and pull the trigger.
There are times when I simply must mount the gun and fire and those reactive shots often bring good results. Also, sweeping through a target coming directly at you works best (just start behind the target, pull through it and pull the trigger when the barrel blots out the target). But a sustained lead works best for me and is far superior for skeet shooting.
With either technique, if you stop swinging the barrel, you will miss. Follow-through is essential.
Hopefully, juggling all of this around in your mind won’t mess things up for you when you head out into the dove field. Remember, do what works best for your and don’t let anybody tell you differently.
Robert DeWitt is the Outdoors writer for The Tuscaloosa News. Readers can email him at email@example.com.