Head Up Or Head Down

Dear Technoid,

How about a little bit of your infamous insight on proper gun mount. In the pre-mounted game of skeet , one can observe extreme styles. Some AAA skeet shooters really get down into the gun by crawling the stock and a lot face pressure on the stock. Other top shooters seem to hardly move their head when they bring their gun up to their face.

One would think that long necked people would tend to use the former and short or no neck folks would chose the latter. However, this is not always the case. It seems that by crawling and getting down on the stock, one is really locked into the gun. But with your head down , can you see as good as with your head more erect. A stock fitted to allow you to hold your head up, is going to have a good deal of drop. Wonít a gun with a lot of drop have more barrel jump than one with the pad more in line with the axis of the barrels.

Hopefully, well no doubt really, the Technoid has all this figured out.

Thank you,

Dear Floyd,

I am so pleased that you feel that the Technoid has this head position stuff all figured out. Of course I do. Well, sorta. Sometimes. Maybe tomorrow.

You aren’t going to find this in anyone’s shooting book (maybe mine, if I ever get roundtoit), but I have always felt that there were two criteria governing head position.

The first is that the more erect the head, the more level the eyes and the better the vision. Any optometrist will tell you that your eyes work best when you look straight ahead with your head erect. Peripheral vision (including the periphery when you look up through your eyebrows) is never as good as using the center of the eye.

That said, head position promoting good vision has to be compared to head position promoting aggression and confidence. Many American shooters have grown up on contact sports- the kind where you sort of hunker down and get ready before unleashing yourself on some hapless victim. This means a more aggressive stance and that means crawling the stock a bit (or pushing the head forward and slightly down). If you crawl the stock, you will look through the top of your eye glasses, not the center.

Good shooters use both methods, more of one than the other depending on the game. The European and Asian shooters I have seen competing in World Class International events have tended to be more upright and more disciplined. The Americans tend to get into their guns more. We had one guy in International Skeet who used to crouch down so much that his fanny would almost touch the ground. He would lock into that gun like a death grip. The Europeans fell over laughing the first few times they saw him. One Olympic Gold medal (LA-’80), numerous World Championships and a World record 200×200 later they stopped laughing. A dozen years later the Chinese woman who won the Olympic Gold in IntSk in Barcelona ’92 shot as though she had a book balanced on her head. Different styles, same results.

The superlative Italian Olympic trench shooters tend to have close erect stances with narrow foot position, leaning forward from the waist a bit with fairly erect heads. The best sporting clays shots shoot with fairly erect heads also, perhaps because so many of them deliver the shot the moment the stock touches their cheek. The best American-style trap and skeet shooters tend to crawl the stocks a bit and lock in hard.

I have no idea which is best. It would seem that premounted gun games lend themselves to firm cheek placement and crawling the stock a bit more than the gun down game of sporting does. IntSk is a gun down game, but the good guys “box” their birds by mounting as quickly as possible and then tracking the target like an Exocet missile with all the pivot coming from both flexed knees. At least that’s what our Olympians were doing when I coached.

It would seem to me that most clay target games are ones of consistency, not vision. You usually know where the target is going, at least within a small area. By crawling the stock you are ensuring the maximum consistency of cheek placement and have the best chance to avoid lifting the head. In return, you sacrifice some visibility, which shouldn’t hurt too much if you know where the targets are going.

Not everyone has the ability to cheek lightly and still be consistent, but some people can. People who shoot off the corner of their jaw, instead of off the notch in their cheekbone, can often be consistent with light pressure. Sporting Clays champion Andy Duffy can shoot like this. Most others need more cheek pressure to ensure consistency.

Have I answered your question? Well, what did you expect. Consider the source. If it helps at all, I shoot with firm cheek contact and head pushed well forward for everything except hunting. Then it is catch as catch can.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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