Written by: James Ross, Chief Shooting Instructor
Shooting a shotgun is a dynamic feat of visual concentration and movement— movement being essential to match the pace of the gun barrels to the pace of the target. This can be a very awkward to do when the gun is pre-mounted in the cheek and shoulder. I am a firm believer and advocate of starting with the shotgun in the low gun position.
When coaching a new shooter, I do start them with the gun pre-mounted. This allows the shooter to gain the muscle memory of where the gun needs to be in the body. Soon after the shooter begins to become comfortable with the gun mount, however, I quickly get the gun out of the shoulder and face and into the low gun position. This will advance the shooter’s ability ten fold over continuing with the gun pre-mounted.
The low gun helps the shooter see the target much more clearly because they are not fighting looking beyond the gun barrels. Seeing the target line clearly allows the shooter to begin the movement of the gun barrels smoothly and deliberately to the target. In the pre-mounted gun the barrels are actually visually distracting and the shooter has an inherited desire to focus on the end of the gun and not the target. I also see a lot of head movement in this situation.
The low gun allows the shooter’s natural hand and eye coordination to take over and begin to move the gun barrels much more smoothly to the target versus the jerky movement I see when the gun is pre-mounted.
Finally, the low gun allows the balance of a fine shotgun to be between the hands and not supported by the lesser arm. Fatigue is a factor for all shooters, especially the beginner. It takes very little effort to support the weight of the shotgun from the low gun position.