A Shooter's Dilemma: I Can't, NOT I cannot, but CAN'T

One small adjustment, more targets broken!

I see it on the range every day. Whether it is gun fit, laziness, fatigue, eye dominance; whatever the cause, it is killing your score. This is one of those things that you CAN fix without any cost whatsoever! But it goes on without change. Some folks don't even know they are doing it. But here are some clues:

  • If you seem to hit every hard or left target on posts 1 and 2 (right hand shooter canting left) but begin having difficulty with straight aways and posts 4 and 5, particularly hard right targets. If you are left handed, probably can't to the right, this is all backwards of course.
  • If you have difficulty with straight away targets in trap - and everything looks good otherwise, see if you are canting your gun!
  • Pattern your shotgun. It will reveal your POI, point of impact - which may reveal your can't.
  • In skeet, it kills your high house if you are right handed and when you get to low 7, problems not seen otherwise.

It is really pretty easy to understand - if you are shooting a gun that throws 90% of the shot above the barrel, and you hold the barrel at anything less than vertical, some percentage of shot are no longer in the intended pattern area. The more you can't the gun, the less the shot in the intended pattern area. If your gun is throwing 50/50 pattern (above/below) you have even less shot in the pattern area!

Proper Alignment

In the figure above it I am attempting, in a crude way, to show a straight up hold with approximately 90% of the shot pattern above the bead. If you pattern your shotgun and this isn't the case, video tape yourself or have someone do it with their cell phone so you can see if you are canting your gun! Of course if you are shooting a field gun or if it is set up for less than 90%, which most stock guns are, it will have the pattern split much lower but that just means the can't is even more important.

When You CANT

All Guns Are Affected

I've been showing how a can't affects a 90% above throwing gun - but it is even worse when you shoot a stock gun or field gun that shoots 50/50 patterns! Take a look, the light green is the intended target area.

What CAN you do?

The first step is identifying that you are canting your gun - right or left handed. It doesn't matter that it is not an over/under - the effects are the same regardless.

Once you have identified that you have the problem, sometimes being aware and just making an adjustment will take care of it. But maybe you need to look into the cause.

It can be gun fit. Sometimes adjustments can be made either by installing an adjustable butt or moving an adjustable comb. Either of these are fairly obvious and a good gun fitter can make these adjustments for you or you may be proficient enough to do it yourself. I've seen some use moleskin but be sure it isn't moving your gun too far away from your eye too, this leads to other problems.

It may well be your vision. Sometimes left eye dominance, or even cross dominance, can affect your hold. That left eye (for right handed shooters) is wanting in the game! It wants to pull the bead over so it can be the one making the decisions. Taking that eye out of the game with a "magic dot" or some cellophane tape that blurs the target for that eye may well allow you to "see" with your right eye clearly.

Now I won't go too far with a saying my father must have said every time I said I can't - he would respond, "I can't never did a thing!" Well, in this case, I can't - breaks fewer targets! So change I can't to I can! Good Shooting!

The Inventurist

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