Shooting Lessons Would Be Good For Every Mainer
Every Maine citizen – from kids to seniors – should be familiar with firearms. Our state may have the highest per capita ownership of firearms in the nation.
You are going to encounter guns sometime in your life if you live here. Rather than fear them, you should fire them.
Getting to know guns will be good for you, and fun. The best approach is to take a lesson from an expert. It’s the safest way to shoot and a great learning experience.
After fifty years of no better than modest shooting success with my shotgun during our fall bird hunting seasons, I got a lesson recently from one of Maine’s top teachers, Brad Varney at Varney’s Clay Sports in Richmond.
It was an amazing experience.
Brad began by assessing my “dominant eye.” For years I have closed my left eye when shooting. Turns out that’s wrong.
After figuring out that my two eyes were fighting for dominance, using a simple exercise in which I peered through a piece of plastic piping, Brad said, “It is amazing that you can hit anything!”
Precisely my problem.
When he said he could fix the problem, I feared surgery. But it turned out to be the simplest of solutions.
Handing me a pair of safety glasses, he had me put them on over my regular glasses and focus both eyes down the barrel of the gun toward a spot on the wall. He watched my eyes carefully, and then he taped a small dot on the outside of the left lens on the safety glasses.
The dot blocked my left eye from interfering with my right eye. I lifted the gun, looked down the barrel, and – miraculously – covered the spot on the wall easily, with both eyes open.
My second problem was fixed even more easily.
I asked Brad about the sight post between the two side-by-side barrels on my 12-guage shotgun. A fellow I hunted birds with the previous week had put a larger fluorescent sight on his shotgun, so he could see it more easily. I was thinking this might be a good tactic for me.
In answer, Brad grabbed a roll of black tape and wrapped it around my barrel, taping over my sight!
Turns out I was incorrectly focusing on the sight, instead of the bird. “Watch the bird. Watch the bird.” That was Brad’s mantra for the rest of the afternoon.
And what a difference that made. No longer trying to put that sight on top of the bird, I was quickly and easily covering the “bird” and knocking those sporting clays out of the sky.
Taking to his shooting range, we started the clays with an easy going-away trajectory, building my confidence, and progressed to more difficult trajectories, learning when and by how much to lead, how to slow down the swing of the gun, and most critically for me – learning to stop thinking about it.
I was thinking way too much.
Good teachers – and I’m married to one and have learned a lot listening to and observing her – have a very special quality. Even with the worst of students, they are able to find something good and to focus praise on that good thing. Brad is a good teacher.
Whenever I missed a clay, he’d look at me and wait for my reaction. Amazingly, I almost always knew what I’d done wrong. And he’d offer something positive about the miss.
My confidence soared – as did my shooting accuracy – as the afternoon progressed. And best of all, those shots where the bird comes from my left and passes to my right that have been impossible all these years, suddenly were easy. And there was no thinking involved!
I likened this experience to golf, where even the professionals take lessons. I’ve always thought that shooting lessons were only for beginners. Now I know better.
Even the experts – the guys who consistently win shooting events – show up at Brad Varney’s for lessons. I’ve put it down as an annual event, as I look forward to astonishing my hunting buddies during our upcoming North Dakota pheasant hunt.
I told Brad to stand by the phone that week, in case I need a quick refresher course.
Isn't it time for you to take a shooting lesson?