In all of the shotgun sports, any instructor or veteran will tell you that you should be shooting with both eyes open – I’m piling on. You absolutely should shoot with both eyes open for a multitude of reasons, but you may be struggling with the site picture that doing so presents. Some talk about seeing two barrels, others about losing the target – both due to incorrectly focusing on the wrong thing.
Before I get to how to shoot effectively with this approach, I’d like to point out why you should work on this technique.
First, it makes all of your peripheral vision available which will help you in seeing the second target in a pair of doubles much quicker. The average shooting window for most clays is about 2-3 seconds, any advantage in target acquisition must be taken.
Second, it allows you to see trough the muzzle of your shotgun. That’s right, if you focus properly on the target (and not the bead at the end of your gun) the barrel will be translucent. This is a great help when you have to use the swing-through lead method to catch up to a clay that got ahead of you or if the proper shot is to cover up the clay with the barrel.
The most important thing to remember in making the two-eyed technique work is to focus on the target, not the gun. If your eyes are intently focused on the clay, your brain will process the information from both of your eyes and render a picture where the gun appears to be see-through at the muzzle.
First, you must be confident in the accuracy of your mount. If you are still working to get a consistent mount, consider starting with the gun mounted for this exercise.
Find a place in your home where you can point at a small target from 10-20 feet away. I use the corner where two walls and the ceiling meet. Focus on the target you have selected, now mount your shotgun. Stay focused on the corner, doorknob or whatever you have chosen – ignore the gun completely. While focusing on the target, move the muzzle on and off the target – you should notice that you can actually see the target even when the muzzle is directly over it. If you can’t, your focusing on the gun – not the target. This is the difference between pointing and aiming that the other shooters have been trying to tell you about. Aiming requires equal focus on the gun sights and the target (as in riflemanship) but shotgunning is about pointing – the site is irrelevant for clays.
Once you train your brain to see through the gun, start working on mounting directly at your focus point and never losing focus on the target. When you can do this reliably, it’s time to apply your new skill to moving targets – head to the range.
To improve your shotgunning, you should practice your shotgun mounts 10-20 repititions 2 or more times a week. Now add in this focus drill and you are working on two critical skills at the same time.
Keep both eyes open, point – don’t aim, and bust ’em!