Bourjaily: Don't Block the Target with Your Gun

A major cause of baffling misses on the range and in the field comes when shooters block their own view of the target with their gun. Your muzzle should always be below the line of the target's flight. When you have an unobstructed view of the bird and the gun is in your peripheral vision, it's very simple to focus on the target, see where the muzzle has to go, and put it in the right place. On the other hand, if you hold the gun up in such a way that you block your view of the target even for a moment your eyes will go to the gun, which then stops, causing you to miss over and behind. On crossing and quartering targets, be sure to start your gun below the line of flight.

On birds that go up like springing teal or fly straight away like the one in this picture, you need to start your gun to one side of the target or the other to keep it from blocking your view. Typically, if you are right handed you want to hold your gun to the right of the target's line of flight, as the shooter in this picture is doing.

Where you start your gun is as important in hunting as it is in target shooting. And, while shot opportunities come quickly and unexpectedly in the field it's still possible to train yourself to set up for a shot in such a way that the gun doesn't block the target. If you're used to carrying your gun safely with the muzzle pointed straight up, try moving it down until it's almost parallel with the ground and below the target before you mount the gun and shoot. You will find yourself hitting birds you used to mysteriously miss.