Recently, I noticed I have a tendency to look at my sights when shooting sporting clays. A friend told me that many shooters have started taking the sights off of their guns. I haven’t heard of this and am hesitant to make alterations on my gun. Your opinion?
Perhaps the most important phrase in your question was, “recently I noticed I have a tendency to look at my sights.” Clearly something has happened to make you more barrel conscious than you were before, and the possible causes are numerous.
1) Have you changed shotguns or your setup? If you changed your shotgun to one that has more drop at comb or significantly less cast, this change could certainly explain your increased barrel awareness.
2) Have you lost weight recently, say 10-15 pounds? Weight loss of this magnitude can easily affect the height at which your eye comes to rest over the rib of the shotgun when properly mounted. In many cases, weight loss translates to a need for greater comb height (less drop at comb) and less cast.
3) Another common issue I see, particularly in men over 55, is a general loss of visual confidence. It could be a new glasses prescription, Lasik surgery or the onset of cataracts that force a shooter to question his visual acuity and therefore induce a “check” or measure as you execute the shot.
4) Depending on your age, it is possible that your eye dominance has “flattened out” or softened. Computer screen time, reading, and the loss of elasticity in our eye muscles can all contribute to cumulative changes in our eyes.
In which of these areas does your problem lie? It is difficult to tell without seeing you. As for the front sight of your shotgun, it is of no practical use to the shotgun aficionado, so removing it or replacing it with a white insert will make the front sight disappear against the background and prevent you from being visually distracted as the muzzle moves in front of your eye.
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.