However, the shock of recoil doesn't interfere with the work of a gunner so much as its anticipation, an anticipation that causes flinching and dodging before the shot is fired. Flinching after the recoil takes place would not merit much consideration, in fact would not be flinching. Flinching interferes so greatly with the delivery of both the first and second barrels, especially the latter, that we must analyze and give it full consideration.

The commonly accepted conclusion is that in shooting flinching is due entirely to the fear of punishing recoil. It is supposed to consist of blinking and dodging to such an extent as to deflect the muzzle, one man perhaps merely blinking while another dodges, or possibly blinks and dodges. My own conclusion is that flinching cannot in all cases be analyzed so simply as that.

Recoil undoubtedly is a prime factor in the trouble, but the sharp report of the gun has its influence also, for people with a tendency to flinch have noted an improvement in their work where a longer barrel was used, thus carrying the stunning noise farther away from the head. The loud report may cause more actual pain also than even the jolt of the butt stock. Mr. Roosevelt illustrates this in "African Game Trails" when telling how the heavy report of his elephant rifle caused bleeding of the nose and ears of a companion who stood beside him. It is claimed for the Maxim Silencer that it greatly lessens the inclination to flinch.

The above causes of flinching are obvious, but many flinch when shouting a 22 rifle which has neither recoil nor any undue noise. This might be ascribed to habit, but people dodge who are not in the habit of shooting at all.

Careful study of the matter has led me to believe that flinching is as much due to the strain of aiming and fifing as any other cause. It requires a highly concentrated effort to hold either a shotgun or rifle perfectly steady and pull the trigger. The mind and nerves may not be able to sustain this strain for any great length of time, and certainly both are glad to be relieved of it as quickly as possible. Sometimes the brain gives up the task just an instant too soon, permitting the muscles to have their will of the piece, and of where it might afterward be pointed neither the eye nor the brain will take any cognizance.

Being overstrained, mind and nerves go on a strike, quit temporarily, making no further records until after the discharge takes place. Of whatever happens during this interim the shooter has no knowledge, though another man standing near can observe perfectly and tell him, generally much to the gunner's surprise, and often little to his conviction. Whatever the eye might see, if the brain refrained from making any record, that particular thing never happened so far as the gunner's mind and memory are concerned. This is what renders it extremely difficult to cure flinching, the fact that so far as the marksman's own knowledge is concerned it never occurred. He did not know it and could not know it except from the observation of others and a reasonable conviction based upon the effects of the shot.

Moreover the brain sometimes makes records with perfect clearness of things which never occurred. For instance, the shooter notes the speed of flight of the target, the velocity with which his line of swing is traveling to cover the mark, and calculates where he must hold in order to connect, but just at this instant the brain ceases to act, and the movements it has recorded as having taken place were never in fact accomplished. The result is a miss which to the marksman must always remain an absolute mystery.

The duration of time of which the marksman has no record, that is the space in which his brain is practically paralyzed, varies greatly with different individuals, though I am impressed with the belief that everyone is affected without exception. It might not last longer than the twentieth of a second, a time so short that it would have no practical influence upon gunner's work, or it might have such duration as to make him very slow with the second barrel.

Moreover the mind may take cognizance of what is occurring without being able to take the initiative; it can note what is transpiring without having the power to give active commands. Afterwards the shooter can remember what took place and see where he missed an opportunity, but cannot tell why he failed to take advantage of it. We note examples of this kind in ordinary life: someone may neglect to act at a critical period and we say he lacked presence of mind—the shock caused a cessation of brain control. The brain may either not have been acting at all, or it may have been like the engine of an automobile that is pounding away with the clutch disengaged. In such an event, if muscles and nerves accomplish anything they must do it automatically; the machine could only go forward from previous momentum.

That is the point we are trying to drive home in shooting. For an infinitesimal or greater length of time when a shot is fired the brain having lost control under shock, the muscles must be taught to carry on certain actions without conscious effort and yet with precision. There is no question but they can be trained to do this and it must be done if anv m great brilliance in marksmanship is ever to be attained. The greater the effect of recoil upon the gunner, the longer space of time in which the brain fails to function, the more thoroughly must nerves and muscles be taught to do things automatically, or instinctively, or unconsciously, call it what you will.

Could training of this nature be made perfect, the shooter might sight his target, throw up his gun to cover the bird, mentally calculate the point where it would be killed, that is where line of aim and line of flight would connect, and then all brain effort having ceased the shot would be fired at the given point, and the piccc carried on to where the second charge was to be sent.

1 he writer has seen something similar to this accomplished numerous times in night shooting. The bird having shown only for an instant, giving its line and speed of flight, then disappeared utterly, but wras killed with almost the same certainty as though it had been in plain sight. Naturally no second barrel could have been fired under such cir-cumstanccs, because the result of the first barrel would not be seen, but had the gunner become aware in some way that he had missed, he might still have killed the bird with his remaining load, the whole mental effort being matured in the short space of time the bird was in sight.

The gist of this is that flinching, the cause of which is overstraining mind and nerves, can be cured by rigid training, but where the cause is an actual fear of punishment, either sound or jab, it is a different matter. The trite saying that prevention is better than cure applies with special forcc here. Had I the coaching of a lady or sensitive lad in shotgun shooting, no heavily charged twelve bore would ever be tolerated; I would choose a twenty gauge of more than normal weight, with barrels thirty or thirty-two inches long, and charge them lightly. Bad eggs are never so laid, but chemistry can do little for them after they have passed a certain stage; granting we have fair eyesight, nature has kindly endowed us with every power necessary to the making of a good shot, but very often indeed we foil her good intentions.

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