I took a lesson with USA Shooting’s Haley Dunn a little while ago, and when I arrived at the club she was just finishing up with her previous student. “You did really well,” she was telling him. “I would have never guessed you were an engineer.”
I have heard the same thing from instructor Gil Ash about engineers. They can be difficult students. The problem with engineers is that they are trained to measure precisely, and shotgun shooting is not precise. If shotgunning required precision, believe me, I couldn’t do it. Engineers, or so the stereotype goes, want to measure and double-check everything, including the distance between the bead and a target as they lead it. As soon as you start to measure with a shotgun, you look at the bead, and your swing slows or stops dead.
It’s easy to see someone measuring leads if you’re looking over their shoulder. The muzzle slows before the shot, or it stops dead, or it stops and starts and stops and starts. If I’m teaching, that’s when I say: “You’ve heard that expression ‘measure twice, cut once’? We don’t do that. We just cut.”
It’s very difficult for some people to let go and trust their eye-hand coordination.
So, are engineers the worst shotgunners of all?
I’m not going to go that far. There is definitely some truth to the stereotype. At the very least, engineers can be challenging to teach. But there are also engineers who are terrific shotgun shooters. The best kids I have coached on our trap team have all gone into engineering. My friend Mike Jordan, now retired from Winchester, is a member of ATA Hall of Fame, was a successful live pigeon shooter and an excellent field shot, too. He started out as a product engineer for Winchester back in the 1960s but obviously that engineering background didn’t hurt his shotgun shooting one bit.
*Younger readers: the photo above is not a ruler. Do you know what it is? Also, bonus points to anyone who actually knows how to work one of these things.