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.
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!