The Effect of Recoil

It might be argued that it doesn't require the fourth of a second for the mind to realize a miss which the eye can see instantly. So it would not except for the effect of shock upon the human brain, the shock of recoil. Furthermore, when the mind has just concluded a strenuous piece of work, like aiming and firing a gun, it pauses an instant before tackling a fresh problem. Combining this cessation of brain recording with the shock of recoil which causes the brain to cease acting entirely for a space of time, however small, and we have a loss of at least a quarter of a second—sometimes more. In fact so far has the bird flown meantime that the gunner despairs of being able to reach it and so witholds his fire.

Recoil and its effects upon the shooter are worthy of careful study. It affccts every one, but in varying degrees. It has been observed that the most noted pigeon shots are men of strong physique, some of them seeming almost impervious to recoil, on the same principle that a pugilist might without blinking an eye take a blow, on the jaw which would render an ordinary man unconscious. The jar of a shotgun's recoil and the blow of a fist differ only in the extent of shock and the time needed to re cover. The shotgun may knock you out for perhaps not more than the tenth of a second, while the fist blow puts you away for ten minutes.

Nevertheless, no matter how hardy the constitution of the man, even a John L. Brewer, there is a shorter or longer space of time after a shot is fired when he can do nothing except he does it involuntarily, for the brain has been momentarily shocked into a state of coma. Notwithstanding this the nerves and muscles can be taught to accomplish orders given previous to this shock, maintaining certain actions automatically, or as we say from habit. The boxer does this when he starts a blow and sends it in after receiving such a jarring slap himself that he cannot remember when his own fist landed. If anyone doubts the effect of recoil shock upon the brain, let him try to recall the movements of his gun muzzle immediately subsequent to firing.

In the case of the writer his first distinct knowledge of where his gun is directed is when he finds it pointing below the target. Reasoning the matter out, he knows that the muzzle first flew up and then reacted downward, but from anything the brain has actually recorded it simply dropped below the point of aim. Accepting the foregoing as true we can see the need of acquiring a habit of maintaining the swing, such an absolutely fixed habit as to require no direct brain control.

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