I recently started shooting in a trap league one night a week to continue practicing shotgunning coyotes. The trap league consists of shooting a round of singles and then a round of doubles. While most of the guys involved are shooting an over and under shotgun, I have been using my field shotgun. Why not practice trap with what I am going to take into the field predator calling. As I began shooting in this league I had someone ask me whether I shot with my eyes open or with one eye closed. My response was that I shot with one eye closed. I have always shot this way primarily because I shoot more with a rifle than a shotgun. As the discussion continued I found that most shotgun shooters shoot with both eyes open.
Cabela’s Gun Sports
Then next day I received a Cabela’s Gun Sports magazine in the mail. It just so happened that inside there was a section on Shotgun Sports. The one in particular that caught my eye was the section on Trap shooting. Corey Cogdell, bronze medalist in Women’s Trap in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, left a Pro Tip that fell right into line with what I was hearing at the trap league. The tip was this… “The most common mistake I see from even the most experienced shooters is they tend to close one eye and focus on the shotgun sights, as if they were shooting a rifle. With a shotgun, you want to keep both eyes open and focus as hard as you can on the target. Our brains and eyes are not built to focus on two things at once in total clarity. So when we focus on our sights while trying to shoot a moving target we lose clarity of the target and our gun speed slows. This generally causes us to shoot behind the target.”
Shotgunning by Instinct
So just what does the term shotgunning by instinct mean. I think this demonstration helps illustrate the point. Choose an object in the room where you’re sitting and point at it with your finger. Did you have to consciously think about what you were going to do before you did it? Of course not, because you have pointed at countless objects before. Your brain signaled your shoulder, arm, and finger to complete the task as before, subconsciously. Shooting a shotgun is no different. Through training and practice your body can be conditioned to use its instinctive abilities to point—not aim—a shotgun as easily as you would your finger.
What are the basic techniques?
If you shoot right handed, point your left foot in the direction you anticipate shooting your target. Place your right foot in line with your left foot a little less than shoulder width apart. This allows you to react to targets within 180 degrees.
The main thing to focus on with your grip is how you hold the forearm. Hold the shotgun on the forearm with you index finger pointing down the barrel. You will use this index finger to point at your target making your shotgun simply an extension of that finger.
Pulling the trigger
Pick up the target as quickly as possible with your eyes. Next, with your forearm index finger point at the target. Bring the butt of the gun to your shoulder and the comb of the stock to your cheek simultaneously. The instant the gun reaches the firing position, pull the trigger. The gun will shoot where your eyes are looking, so if you are focused on your target and not on the sights of the gun you will hit the target.
What about lead on a moving target? Well, forget about it. Your brain is smart enough to build the lead into every shot. It is a process of not thinking, it is a process of simply reacting.
So how does all of this correlate to shotgunning coyotes? First of all, most of the coyotes you will be shooting at with a shotgun will be moving targets, so you will want to learn to shoot with both eyes open to be able to acquire your target. Second, while stance won’t completely apply for shotgunning coyotes as you will be sitting on the ground, the point is to have your body in a position relative to the target. Third, you will want to practice using your finger to point at the coyote. And, lastly let your brain do the work of adjusting the proper lead as you pull the trigger.