What is the secret to keeping one’s head on the stock? When I raise my head, I miss. I can’t seem to stop it, and it’s very frustrating.
Shooters who have trouble with head lifting usually premount or mount to the shoulder first instead of mounting to the cheek first. The first and best thing you can do to prevent head lifting is to mount to the cheek first, instead of the shoulder. If a shooter properly mounts to the cheek first and maintains the weight of the gun in the hands throughout execution of the target pair, it is virtually impossible to lift the head. If you premount your gun to the shoulder or shift the weight of the gun to the shoulder after you mount, you will have a greater tendency to lift your head from the stock during shot execution.
There are typically three reasons you would tend to subconsciously lift your head from the stock after shifting the weight of the gun into the shoulder:
1) Gun fit. If the drop at comb is too excessive (the height of the comb is too low), the lifting of the head is a subconscious effort to see the target as it disappears behind the barrel and receiver.
2) Gun mount. Assuming that your shotgun fits you properly, you might be “digging in” to the stock with your head as you mount. Once again, this can cause the target to be occluded (blocked) by the shotgun, and you will tend to lift your head subconsciously in an effort to see the target.
3) Ejecting from the gun prematurely. Occasionally, I will work with a shooter who is dismounting the shotgun very quickly after executing the shot, perhaps even before the shot is complete. This is usually caused by a failure to maintain acute visual focus on the target as it breaks. So, make sure your gun fits, keep the head still and oriented on the target (don’t dig in) and follow through with your eyes (watch impact).
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at www.doncurrie.com.