On the other hand, I know a number of excellent rifle shooters who are dull, plodding fellows, whose reflexes have more to do with sloths than with cats, but give them the chance and they will put a bullet in whatever you want on the first try.

Back in the 1970s, I saw member of the New York Knicks professional basketball team pick up a trap gun and break something like 20 out of 25 birds. He had never fired a shotgun before, much less shot trap, but his coordination was so good, and his sense of distance and timing so acute, that it was possible for him.

I’ve never seen the equivalent of that in rifle shooting. Everyone, it seems, has to go through a period where they get their technique down, and develop a feel for what happens to a bullet at long range.

The only thing both disciplines have in common, it seems, is this: Unless you have complete mastery over your nervous system, you will never be a great shot with either rifle or shotgun, and you will probably never even be a good shot. The demands of the two guns take different forms, but both require that you be able to piss ice water in times of stress.