Keeping Your Head Down by Joe Schram


When I was growing up, my father would give me rules for living a good life. Sometimes when we were fishing or hunting, I would ask questions and he would respond by giving me “sayings” instead of full-fledged answers. It frustrated me then, but it makes good sense now.

Once I complained to him about a teacher that was grading unfairly on the work I turned in during class. Dad looked at me and said “Just keep your head down and keep working, eventually it will pay off”. I have to tell you, that was not really what I wanted to hear. In fact, a little sympathy or “I will handle that teacher for you” would have been great to hear. But what he said to me had far reaching implications in many areas of my life, especially Skeet Shooting.

I can take a snap shot of the many different students I have had over the years, and so many have the same issues. It doesn’t always have to be a brand new shooter; even guys who have been shooting a long time seem to have some of the same issues. The biggest of these, is lifting the head while swinging the gun, or not “Keeping your head down”. A shooters head should be firmly pressed into the comb of the gun. That area of your cheek that should be pressed against the comb is what I like to call the “Anchor Point”. When your Anchor Point is not firmly against the stock, there are two primary things that can happen as a result. One, the point of impact of your pattern can change. Two, the swing of the gun slows down. 

Let’s tackle the point of impact first. To find out how lifting your head changes your point of impact, let’s do the following experiment:

Take your shotgun and mount it facing a mirror in your home (please do this with the gun unloaded and finger off the trigger). Mount the gun just as you would when you are about to call for the bird. Then, watch the end of the barrel in the mirror as you lift your head off the comb of the stock. I would be willing to bet that the end of your barrel moved either up or down when you eased the pressure on your Anchor Point. It was probably not more than an inch or so right? How far were you from the mirror? A foot or so? Take that inch and multiply it out over 20-25 yards and just imagine how much it changes the point of impact! Lifting your head will cause you to shoot over or possibly under the bird (depending on how your shotgun is balanced).

Now, let’s talk about gun swing or barrel speed as some like to call it. Standing in front of the same mirror, mount your gun again. Start at the left side of the mirror and start to swing all the way to the right side. When you reach the middle of the mirror, lift your head slightly. I would be willing to bet that if you were watching the end of your barrel when you lifted your head, you would have noticed that the swing of the gun(the forward travel) slowed just slightly. Now without getting into ballistics, geometry or any mathematics, let me explain what happens to the swing as you lift your head; The swing slows down just enough for you to shoot behind the target! Now, there are exceptions to that rule. In fact if you are extremely athletic and use your legs really well to move your gun barrel, you might get by occasionally and somehow keep the barrel moving at the same speed when lifting you head. You also might occasionally be able to keep the gun swing level and not let the barrel lift upwards or downwards as you lift your head. Quite frankly, I am not that good…I need everything working in unison to shoot well, and I bet you do too.

In the picture below, one of my 4-H students is shooting from station 2 on a low house bird.

Matt Shooting

What great form, and how firmly he has his head into his Anchor Point. This young man will do well as long as he keeps this up!

Make no mistake about it, lifting the head can cause several problems in your shooting game. There are some fundamentals to this sport that you just can’t compromise if you want to be in the winner’s circle at the end of the day. And you bird hunters out there would do well to follow this young man’s example. Developing these good habits will serve you well in the field.

Keep your Head Down and Keep Working!

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

Bible Verse of the Day

A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, But the LORD upholds the righteous.