The first, last, and most important consideration in adopting a "correct" gun position is to make sure that it is a safe position. That means position that keeps the gun pointed where an accidental discharge cannot harm you, your shooting companions, or any other
A safe, comfortable, easy-to-get-into-action carry for gunner in bird cover.
Unlike cover picture [in which arms are too close together, cramping the swing) picture below shows arms and head in correct triangle of forces.
Gun butt is pocketed in shoulder as arms support and exert rearward pull without blocking gun movement. Eyes well above barrel get clear view of target. Gunner can swing either way.
This may be fine for riflemen, but it's all wrong for the shotgunner. Eyes are too low, arms are locked.
thing you do not mean to threaten or to hit.
Your gun is, undoubtedly, equipped with a safety, and most of them are good; but never trust a mechanical device to correct your mistakes in gun-pointing. If you can forget to keep the gun pointed safely, you can also forget to set the safety gadget; and the time you forget both is exactly when the accident will happen. The only certain safety with a loaded gun is to keep the muzzles pointed always and invariably in a safe direction. Neither the lie, "The safety failed," nor the truth, "I thought it was on 'safe' and it wasn't," will absolve you in the eyes of a wounded companion—or his widow. AXIOM: The good shooter is a safe shooter. Keep the gun muzzle pointed where it can't do any damage.
The correct firing position for a shotgun is one where the gun butt is snugly placed in the hollow of the shoulder —not out on the tip, nor down on the muscles—and the gun is supported by the arms and held in position by your two hands.
Place your cheek against the stock so that your eyes are well above the top line of the barrel, barrels, or rib. (Hereafter, let's let "barrel" serve the meaning whether your gun be a single or a double, with or without rib.) Never aim down the top line of the barrel. (Accompanying photos show right and wrong positions.) Glance down at your gun only to be sure that your master eye is looking truly along a line above and parallel to the top of the gun.
Question: Which is the master eye?
Answer: The eye which is in control of your vision when both eyes are open.
Question: How can I tell which is my master eye?
Answer: Sight down your finger, or your gun, at some object, with both eyes open. Then close one eye. If you are still sighted on the object, your master eye is open. For a right handed shooter, the right eye is usually master.
Question: Suppose my left eye is master?
Ansiver: There are three things you can do: shoot left handed; get a gun stock which will put your master eye directly above the rib; or,—best of all—forget it. You will see why when you find out that you do not use the rib or the sights or even the barrel, to aim or sight at any target. You look above and parallel to the rib or barrel; and a few inches makes no difference to a shotgun.
Once you have found the correct spot to place your cheek on the stock, never vary it. From there on, never look at any part of your gun. Forget the sight—it is useless. Forget the barrel, except to get and keep it placed properly. And never, never, never, use your hands to move your gun up, down, or sideways toward any target.
Question: How do I move my gun toward the target?
Answer: By using the muscles of your upper body.
Use your hands to raise the gun to its proper mounted position and keep it there. The left hand (for a right-handed shooter) must do a little fingering and pulling straight back to keep the gun butt in its proper place in the hollow of your shoulder. The right hand must grip and pull and hold a little also, to keep the gun butt in its proper position. And ... the right hand must turn its trigger finger loose from all other jobs so that it will always be free to fire the shotgun at the correct time.
Just let your arms alone. Their muscles will soon strengthen to hold your shotgun in its proper position. Work them hard, but only at that one job. If they start to move the gun up, down, or sideways, stop them—tell them to mind their own damn' business.
The arms should be neither directly under nor stuck out at right angles to the gun. (See photos, front view.) There is a reason for the position shown, and it is a compromise between two desirable and mechanically sound positions. If you had to hold up a heavy weight for a long time, you would, naturally, get directly under it. But the gun is not a "heavy weight" and you won't be holding it a long time ... If you wanted to keep the gun from moving to the right or left, you would put one arm on each side and push equally with each arm. But, in the latter pose, you would soon tire and your gun would droop downward . . . So—you compromise; because you want to do two things at once. You want to keep your gun correctly mounted, and you also want it to stay that way while you move it. You want to be able to move it up, down, right, or left, in order to follow the direction of a moving target. How can you do that?
It is not easy, at first; but it soon becomes easy if you simply freeze your upper body in the correct position and then make your upper body muscles do all the work except pulling the trigger. Remember, now: your eyes are above
Properly positioned at start, gunner can swing left or right, as in pictures above, without moving feet.
and parallel to the barrel. Don't look at any part of the gun. Don't aim, or try to use the sight. Let your body do the work.
The functions of your feet and legs are to support you and take you where you want to go. If you are already there, place your feet comfortably and forget'em. In general, right-handed shooters advance the left foot, but comfort is the deciding factor as to how much it should be advanced and how much the feet should be separated.
If your target should appear suddenly from some unexpected direction, let your lower body take care of itself; make your pivot from the waist. If there be plenty of time, you may move your feet so that you face generally toward your target, but if speed is essential, you'd better stand where you are and trust your pivot joints than to start hopping around. I never saw a successful shotgunner shoot while his feet were doing a jig.
AXIOM: The good shooter is strong. Train your muscles.
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Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.