It’s crit­i­cal to be­ing a good shot, yet so many of us get it wrong, says Steve. Here’s his de­fin­i­tive guide to gun mount

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

Af­ter foot­work, gun mount is one of the most ne­glected parts of shoot­ing tech­nique. If you do not have a good, con­sis­tent gun mount you will never be­come a re­ally good shot.

For you and your gun to shoot ac­cu­rately to­gether, your mas­ter eye (or the open eye if you need to shut one eye be­cause of dom­i­nance is­sues) needs to be in the same po­si­tion rel­a­tive to the rib for ev­ery shot. And not just in the same po­si­tion, but in the cor­rect po­si­tion, with the pupil of the eye a mil­lime­tre or two above the rib, nicely cen­tred and look­ing straight along it. The way that you get your eye into this po­si­tion is with a good gun mount.

Most right-handers have a stronger, more dom­i­nant right hand than left and tend to lead any ac­tiv­i­ties with their right hand (and vice versa for lefties). There­fore, it is nat­u­ral, when mount­ing a gun, for right-handers to pull the stock up to the face or shoul­der with the right hand, which is where the prob­lem starts. Try this ex­per­i­ment. Hold­ing your un­loaded gun butt down be­low your armpit, with your left hand on the fore-end and bar­rels at around 45 de­grees, pull the stock up slowly to your face. Hold the left hand still as you do this, so that the gun piv­ots in the left hand. As you pull up with the right hand the muz­zles will be mov­ing down to­wards the floor, so you will have to push your head over to the side and pull the gun back­wards into your shoul­der. You will very likely have your head canted and one eye look­ing well above the rib and to the side. You have just learned how not to do it, yet this is how many shoot­ers mount their gun, con­sciously or oth­er­wise.

The cor­rect way

The gun mount needs to be led by the left hand – the ma­jor­ity of the ef­fort (60%) comes from this hand. The rear hand is for dec­o­ra­tion and pulling the trig­ger! If your gun was sus­pended on two wires and you pulled it for­wards gen­tly, it would ro­tate for­wards and up­wards in a nice par­al­lel move­ment – in fact, a per­fect gun mount. So, with your front (left) hand on the fore-end and grip­ping the wrist of the stock in your right, tuck the last inch of the stock up un­der the armpit. Hav­ing it there pre­vents you pulling up with the right hand and forces you to draw the gun for­wards with the left. Imag­ine a line across the muz­zles from your eye to where you will see your imag­i­nary tar­get. Keep your head up, push for­wards with the front hand and al­low the rear hand to fol­low, so that the comb of the stock moves for­wards and up­wards, to a point on your cheek about where your teeth meet. Keep­ing your head ver­ti­cal, ro­tate your head slightly from the neck as you per­form this move­ment and push your shoul­der for­wards into the butt – you now have a per­fect gun mount. Do­ing it this way – i.e. push­ing the shoul­der for­wards into the butt – sets the shoul­der pocket up so that it wraps around the stock and you do not end up with the butt on the out­side of the shoul­der joint, where there is only a thin cov­er­ing of skin and tis­sue (it bruises eas­ily).

More im­por­tantly, if you reg­is­ter the comb on the cheek it puts the eye and face in the same po­si­tion rel­a­tive to the rib ev­ery time, so your shot will go to the same place ev­ery time too.

‘When you prac­tise like this, it is im­por­tant that you do it cor­rectly, oth­er­wise you are just wast­ing time and cre­at­ing bad habits’

Gun mount, stage one

You can prac­tise your gun mount in a cost-ef­fec­tive way at home and it will pay off hand­somely. To start with, use an un­loaded gun and slowly (about a third of the nor­mal speed) prac­tise mount­ing it as above, bring­ing the gun up onto an imag­i­nary ris­ing teal, then, us­ing your front hand, bring the comb to the cheek, push the shoul­der for­wards and then check you are in the cor­rect po­si­tion when you fin­ish the mount. Build the mus­cle mem­ory – do eight or 10 mounts – have a break and then start again. When this is per­fect, you’re ready for stage two.

Gun mount, stage two

For stage two we use the line where the wall and ceil­ing meet. Put a mark at the mid-point. Set your feet up, with this as the break point. Take your muz­zles back to the left end of the line (about a third of the nor­mal speed again), push for­wards and mount the gun, but, as you do so, move the muz­zles along the line, so that you com­plete the mount be­fore you reach the mark, then men­tally fire and fol­low through to the other end of the line. Now start at the right-hand end and do the same back to the left end. As you mount the gun the end of the bar­rels should not wa­ver above or be­low the line but should stay with the line, the line of your tar­get. When you have per­fected the move­ment, grad­u­ally in­crease the speed of the mount.

When you prac­tise like this, it is im­por­tant that you do it cor­rectly, oth­er­wise you are just wast­ing your time and cre­at­ing bad habits. Do this ex­er­cise for a few min­utes at a time, so you stay fresh, rather than do­ing a hun­dred rushed, rub­bish mounts one af­ter the other.

Gun fit

It is so of­ten the case that when some­one comes for a fit­ting les­son, they can­not mount the gun con­sis­tently, so we can­not fit a gun for them. Gun fit is not a magic pill that will sud­denly turn you into George Dig­weed, but it can help, and at the top level may give you that ex­tra point to win a ti­tle. First though, you need to have learned and mas­tered the ba­sics of stance, gun mount and how to shoot.

As you age, your pos­ture changes and your eye dom­i­nance may al­ter, so the gun that fit­ted you 10 years ago may need tweak­ing. It is worth hav­ing it checked by an expert (by which I mean some­one with years of ex­pe­ri­ence) us­ing a ‘try gun’ and pat­tern plate – you can­not do it in a shop or with­out shoot­ing. At Hol­land & Hol­land we have a va­ri­ety of ‘try guns’ in over-and-un­der and side-by-side for­mats, and are the ac­knowl­edged ex­perts in the field; other gun­mak­ers send their clients to us to be fit­ted. It is money well spent.

For right-handers, the gun mount is led by the left hand...

... while the right hand grips the wrist of the stock

The comb is brought up to the cheek, keep­ing the head ver­ti­cal and push­ing the shoul­der into the butt

In­cor­rect eye/rib po­si­tion

Cor­rect eye/rib po­si­tion

Steve demon­strates a bad gun mount...

... if we ever want to be­come re­ally good shots

... show­ing us how not to do it...

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