Semi-Snap Shooting a Shotgun
While rough snap shooting is very inaccurate the second style of snap shooting is much more reliable. With this method the gun is thrown up below the target, first, that the view of the game may not be obscured in the least; second, that time may be given to the gun muzzle to cease its vibrations ere it covers the point of aim; third, that while the line of sight is moving steadily yet rapidly to the point where the charge is to go the trigger finger can be given due warning to pull; fourth, the estimates for lead and speed of flight are greatly simplified because only taken from the time the guns is up and not from the rising bird. The problem here is to make the line of swing cross the line of flight of the bird, and this is comparatively easy.
In its principle rough snap shooting is to throw the gun to the point of aim without a line of swing. That of semi-snap shooting is to intersect the line of flight with the line of swing in the shortest and most direct way. For instance with some angles of flight the gun might be thrown too far ahead and then the “line of aim” would be carried back toward the flying target. Naturally this happens seldom unless the bird changes his course, the skilled shot endeavoring to throw up his weapon in such a position that it will only be necessary to lift it straight to the spot where it will be fired.
The more accurate the judgement of the sportsman as to the bird’s speed of flight, the nearer he will come to throwing his piece to the proper place with a consequent shorter line of swing and a quicker shot. But in doing this it should not be forgotten that the line of aim must always be of sufficient length to steady the gun before it covers the mark and to fairly warn the pulling finger. Otherwise you are on the bird, as they say, before you know it, and the result is an almost inevitable miss. This is not infrequently happens with straightaway birds, where in the nature of things the swing is short and is a most productive and irritating source of misses. In-deed, it is an axiom with veteran field shots that the driving bird requires the steadiest of all holdings.
Successful snap shooting necessitates a very quick and sensitive trigger. Bear in mind that the line of swing merely intercepts the line of flight and can only do so at one point, at one instant; any dwelling upon the trigger, a pressure that comes a fraction of a second too soon or too late, leads to certain missing. The bird may be traveling fifty feet per second, the line of swing a hundred feet a second or more; should the trigger yield the hundredth of a second fast or slow the game will be missed a foot. Any irregularity of trigger pulling is fatal, and a man who needs a greater time than a fiftieth of a second to release his trigger had better adopt some other style of aiming.
Snap shooting or semi-snap shooting is an effective style of aiming only upon birds that are not changing their angle with regard to the gun too rapidly—that is upon straightway or quartering birds. Should the quarry rise and swing about the gun would inevitably have to follow it if the piece came up promptly, or a swift flying fowl might come in from the right and pass to the left before it could be covered, with the result that the gun would have to swing after and overtake it before being discharged. This would lead to the third style of shooting a shotgun, the rapid swing.
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