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Bourjaily: Slow Down To Speed Up

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October 29, 2009

Bourjaily: Slow Down To Speed Up

By Phil Bourjaily

Over the weekend I helped out at a Pheasants Forever Mentored Youth Hunt. PF, I should mention here, is my favorite of the single-species groups because they spend all their money locally, do good habitat work, and support youth hunting and shooting of all kinds. Anyway, it was my job to run three groups of kids through some shooting instruction before they went hunting.  I’ve done this before, and I learn more from watching the kids shoot than they learn listening to me.

This weekend’s takeaway: slow down to speed up.

Since the kids were going to shoot flushing birds, I had them start from a safe field carry position, then call pull, and mount and shoot. Naturally, all of them wanted to throw the gun up as fast as possible.  The kids would whip the gun up, then have to readust their faces on the stock, then find the target again,  and shoot.

Move slowly, I told them. Push the muzzle toward the bird like you’re trying to stick it with a bayonet and raise the gun to your face smoothly.

I expected them to start hitting targets better. What I didn’t expect was that they would start hitting targets faster. But they did. Moving slower got them on target sooner.

Watching over their shoulders, the difference in the speed and quality of their breaks was dramatic.  Why?  Because the mount was right the first time; because their eye was never pulled off target and onto the gun; because they were moving in synch with the bird. As they smoked birds effortlessly, the kids looked at me like I had taught them a magic trick, which, in a way, I had: our eye to hand coordination is capable of miraculous feats, if we just let it work.

Try it yourself: slow down, you’ll shoot faster.

Comments (17)

Top Rated
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from Mjenkins1 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

slow is smooth, smooth is fast

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from texasfirst wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

This is good advice Phil. My first weekend out for dove I was throwing the gun up to my shoulder like a spaz and missing so many birds for it. And Mjenkins above speaks the truth, which I learned as an adage they taught us in the Marines: slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Our drill instructors drilled that one into our heads and guess what? It's good advice as an 'anti-spazitive.'

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Thanks for the reminder. Mindfully slowing down I took two woodcock with two shots this past Sunday (contacts instead of bifocals also helped). But the real test will be maintaining my composure on a grouse flushing at light speed through dense aspens and pines.

It's always a treat working with the kids and seeing their delight when they take their first birds.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ruckweiler wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Used to teach skydiving and would tell my students and novices to go slow to go fast as they were learning to fly their bodies in close proximity to others. When shifting from one formation to another, I taught that rushing made it worse. When they figured that out, their flying produced more points (numbers of formations in about a minute). Agree with Mjenkins1.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Right'on Bourjaily!

Another problem in relation to shotguns is rifle shooting. In High Power competition the same holds true, I always taught you always place the butt into your shoulder and sometimes by using your right hand or left if your a South Paw! Sure makes a difference it does especially when shooting a magnum when hunting!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sayerbefiddlin wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

My last hunt I missed alot of quail but I was so excited and anxious. When I read this it hit men well now I understood how i missed so much, thanks for making me feel like a kid again!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Sound Advise...I remember in my early days being a "fast shooter" at birds and missing alot of them!
Move slow--hit more...works for me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ed J wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Yeah, learn how to do it right and speed will come on its own.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Bourjaily Sir

You and I have something very in common here, how many times have you been ask to assist in instructing a Hunter Safety or Firearms coarse and winding up teaching it because the Chief Instructor had to leave on a emergency. Had a dollar for every time this happened, we just might be able to buy a good rifle or scope what you think? LOL!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

From Bill Jordan's book, "No Second Place Winner" comes advice given to the legendary Jordan by an old time Texas lawman and gunfighter: "Take your time, fast!"
Still excellent advice for any shooting today.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from elmer f. wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

GOOD JOB DAVE! mentoring our kids is one of the best thing any of us can do. reguardless of what the subject is, except for maybe how to be like charles manson or jeffery dahlmer. we, are who we are. nothing is going to change that. but, the kids, ahhhhh, they are a blank canvas (or at least have a lot of space left on them), just waiting to be painted. that, is where we all can do the most good. if we teach them right, the world will be a much better place. if not in our lifetime, hopefully in theirs.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckcreekdick wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Another way to say it is to "make haste, slowly."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Nice advice. I'll keep that in mind in a few weeks when my buddy's dad has the annual trap shoot at the end of rifle season. Maybe this time I can break more than my usual of about 10-13 out of 25 in a round.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

good thought. at this point i'll try anything to hit more birds and stop embarrassing myself. my dog is getting tire of just being company. you should see the look he gives me when i miss nowadays! glad he can't talk!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Where were you when I was a youngster, flinging lead all over the skies and hitting darned little? It took me decades to overcome my bad habits to where I now hit slightly more than I miss (on live birds). Now you tell me something that could have made a big difference 50 years ago. Life isn't fair! :-(

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Hmmmmm, might explain why I cannot hit a Grouse to save my life! The noise of the flush startles the crap outta ya then you rush to recover and get on target! Can't be helping any can it?
Question is how do you stop it?
Pheasants, Quail, Turkey, Rabbits, and Squirrels all stand little chance of getting away from me, but Grouse all ways get missed. Gets really frustrating after a while.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ruckweiler wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Zermoid:
You train yourself mentally to visualize the alarm and teach your mind by use of your will to ignore the surprise. Eventually you will react positively and your shooting will become more effective. Example, about 3 years ago I bought a .50 caliber flintlock and the first six rounds at the range went high over the target when the pan ignited. Shooters next to me said that I flinched and pulled the barrel up when ignition occurred. I mentally trained the flinch out of me and now I don't even notice it. Try it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I think the key words were stick it with a bayonet. That is as good a description of mounting a shotgun as I have ever heard.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WhitetailHunter706 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

great advice thanks, and thanks for being a great person, we need more people helping our youth, the more we help them now the better they will be then and it will be easier for them to do the same for the youth then than it will be if we leave them on their own.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Mjenkins1 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

slow is smooth, smooth is fast

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from texasfirst wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

This is good advice Phil. My first weekend out for dove I was throwing the gun up to my shoulder like a spaz and missing so many birds for it. And Mjenkins above speaks the truth, which I learned as an adage they taught us in the Marines: slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Our drill instructors drilled that one into our heads and guess what? It's good advice as an 'anti-spazitive.'

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Thanks for the reminder. Mindfully slowing down I took two woodcock with two shots this past Sunday (contacts instead of bifocals also helped). But the real test will be maintaining my composure on a grouse flushing at light speed through dense aspens and pines.

It's always a treat working with the kids and seeing their delight when they take their first birds.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ruckweiler wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Used to teach skydiving and would tell my students and novices to go slow to go fast as they were learning to fly their bodies in close proximity to others. When shifting from one formation to another, I taught that rushing made it worse. When they figured that out, their flying produced more points (numbers of formations in about a minute). Agree with Mjenkins1.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

good thought. at this point i'll try anything to hit more birds and stop embarrassing myself. my dog is getting tire of just being company. you should see the look he gives me when i miss nowadays! glad he can't talk!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Where were you when I was a youngster, flinging lead all over the skies and hitting darned little? It took me decades to overcome my bad habits to where I now hit slightly more than I miss (on live birds). Now you tell me something that could have made a big difference 50 years ago. Life isn't fair! :-(

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Right'on Bourjaily!

Another problem in relation to shotguns is rifle shooting. In High Power competition the same holds true, I always taught you always place the butt into your shoulder and sometimes by using your right hand or left if your a South Paw! Sure makes a difference it does especially when shooting a magnum when hunting!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sayerbefiddlin wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

My last hunt I missed alot of quail but I was so excited and anxious. When I read this it hit men well now I understood how i missed so much, thanks for making me feel like a kid again!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Sound Advise...I remember in my early days being a "fast shooter" at birds and missing alot of them!
Move slow--hit more...works for me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ed J wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Yeah, learn how to do it right and speed will come on its own.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Bourjaily Sir

You and I have something very in common here, how many times have you been ask to assist in instructing a Hunter Safety or Firearms coarse and winding up teaching it because the Chief Instructor had to leave on a emergency. Had a dollar for every time this happened, we just might be able to buy a good rifle or scope what you think? LOL!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

From Bill Jordan's book, "No Second Place Winner" comes advice given to the legendary Jordan by an old time Texas lawman and gunfighter: "Take your time, fast!"
Still excellent advice for any shooting today.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from elmer f. wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

GOOD JOB DAVE! mentoring our kids is one of the best thing any of us can do. reguardless of what the subject is, except for maybe how to be like charles manson or jeffery dahlmer. we, are who we are. nothing is going to change that. but, the kids, ahhhhh, they are a blank canvas (or at least have a lot of space left on them), just waiting to be painted. that, is where we all can do the most good. if we teach them right, the world will be a much better place. if not in our lifetime, hopefully in theirs.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckcreekdick wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Another way to say it is to "make haste, slowly."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Nice advice. I'll keep that in mind in a few weeks when my buddy's dad has the annual trap shoot at the end of rifle season. Maybe this time I can break more than my usual of about 10-13 out of 25 in a round.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Hmmmmm, might explain why I cannot hit a Grouse to save my life! The noise of the flush startles the crap outta ya then you rush to recover and get on target! Can't be helping any can it?
Question is how do you stop it?
Pheasants, Quail, Turkey, Rabbits, and Squirrels all stand little chance of getting away from me, but Grouse all ways get missed. Gets really frustrating after a while.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ruckweiler wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Zermoid:
You train yourself mentally to visualize the alarm and teach your mind by use of your will to ignore the surprise. Eventually you will react positively and your shooting will become more effective. Example, about 3 years ago I bought a .50 caliber flintlock and the first six rounds at the range went high over the target when the pan ignited. Shooters next to me said that I flinched and pulled the barrel up when ignition occurred. I mentally trained the flinch out of me and now I don't even notice it. Try it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WhitetailHunter706 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

great advice thanks, and thanks for being a great person, we need more people helping our youth, the more we help them now the better they will be then and it will be easier for them to do the same for the youth then than it will be if we leave them on their own.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I think the key words were stick it with a bayonet. That is as good a description of mounting a shotgun as I have ever heard.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment