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The Gazette
instinctive shooting • the gazette for spring

Speed is Lead and Lead is Speed


     Sitting in a duck blind, there has been little action, you are day-dreaming, admiring your decoy pattern. Suddenly a mallard buzzes the pattern, crossing fast and furious, you leap up and swing onto the duck, pull the trigger and he crumples and folds, clean shot!
      Later that same week, out with the dog, you are caught wrong-footed by a grouse breaking cover behind you. Once again you turn and swing in one motion and, as the muzzles catch up with the bird, you fire and down it with your first barrel.
       Flushed with success, that same day you visit your Sporting Club for the evening Skeet practice, thinking “if it works, don’t fix it.” You swing and fire at every target-the result? Your personal best!
       If asked, you would swear that you shot directly at all of the targets. Yet it has been indisputably proven that to hit a moving target, forward allowance or lead is needed.

shooter in silhouette

     This is the simple equation of personal reaction time added to the constants of hammer fall, ignition time and travel of shot.
       It is impossible to shoot directly at a moving object and hit it. Or is it?


       This controversial debate has raged since a certain Mr Robert Churchill championed his “Instinctive Style” of shooting in the 1920’s.


     There is an optical illusion that takes place when shooting instinctively that is the result of gun speed. The lead we see between barrels and target on pulling the trigger is less than the true lead at the target, which is greater, because of the delay in pulling the trigger (personal reaction time) and the shot leaving the barrel (ballistic time).
      For the shot to be successful, the barrels must be moving faster than the target when shooting instinctively. Speed is lead and lead is speed using this technique.
      This phenomenon is why Churchill was so insistent that you could shoot directly at a target without visible lead.
       If the swing was fast enough, the lag from the time you pulled the trigger to when the shot left the barrels would be enough to place the barrels, and hence the shot string, several feet in front of the target. Though if asked, a sportsman would insist that he shot directly at the target!

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