The most basic principle
Those familiar with rifle shooting often find it difficult in the initial stages to come to terms with the quite different philosophy behind the use of the shotgun. Quite simply, a rifle is a long range weapon firing a single projectile, and is deliberately aimed using either open or telescopic sights usually at a stationary target. Depending on the calibre its accurate range can stretch out to 1,000 metres and more. The shotgun is effective at much shorter distances, with 40 metres considered a long shot and 25 metres a more typical range. It is fired almost invariably at moving targets, and its pattern of shot spreads gradually as the range increases.
Focus the target
Unlike the rifle the shotgun is used much more instinctively. Indeed, among sporting implements the rifle might be considered the odd man out. In ball sports the focus of attention is the ball, never the instrument with which it is to be struck. The shotgun employs this same principle: it is the target on which the eye focuses, never the gun. How does this work? Eye and hand co-ordination is the answer, coupled with correct training, the same as in a ball sport. Wouldn't it be more effective to aim the shotgun like a rifle? No! Many beginners struggle to accept the idea of focussing the target rather than the gun. However, once the penny drops and targets begin to break with some regularity the thought of deliberate aiming soon fades.
In the early stages of a shotgun shooting career it takes a degree of faith to believe that this can work. At first it doesn't make much sense. However, provided the gun is used as the coach advises it will soon begin to point where the eyes are looking.
For further information on eyes in shooting see Master Eye
A good stance allows easy movement to the left, right, up and down, while maintaining perfect balance. This is not quite as easy as it sounds, and learning it properly is one of the keys to good shooting. What is perhaps surprising is the relatively small arc of swing in which most shots are taken. Other than in shots taken behind, as are occasionally encountered in the game field, few shots require an arc exceeding 90 degrees. Most are a good deal less. For further information see Dry Training
Done correctly a good stance allows the shooter to remain centred, both physically and mentally. Because it is so important it forms the basis of several training drills that are fundamental to Total Shooting coaching.
In order for eye and hand co-ordination to work it's vital that the gun is correctly aligned both vertically and horizontally. A good gun mount takes care of this. There are special Total Shooting drills specifically designed to help perfect this all important aspect.
See Gun mounting.
There is more to good shooting than these basics. However, get these right from the outset and you are well on the way to becoming a better Shot.