“Mount to the Cheek, Not the shoulder” by Don Currie
I often get a confused look from students who are experienced shooters when I tell them that they should mount to the cheek, not the shoulder. “Really?” they ask. In order to shoot your best, one of the essential truths you need to embrace is that the shotgun must be is mounted to the cheek, NOT to the shoulder. If the gun fits, the dominant eye will be aligned with the barrel when the comb of the stock is brought into contact with the cheek. As a result, the gun will shoot where you are looking. If you mount your gun to your shoulder first, instead of bringing the gun all the way up to the cheek, you now have to bring your head down to the gun to complete the shot. In so doing, the eye may or may not be aligned with the center of the rib when the mount is completed. Additionally, bringing the head to the gun violates one of the five principles of good movement: Keep the head still. As you may recall from a previous article, the five principles of movement are:
Keep the weight of the gun in the hands – Throughout the move and mount, the entire weight of the gun should remain in the hands.
Front hand leads – the front hand, actually the front index finger, should lead the gun to the target.
Keep head still (oriented on the target) – The gun should come to the head without the head lowering to the gun.
Move at a comfortable pace – the simultaneous mounting of the gun to the cheek ledge and movement of the gun to the target should approximate the speed of the target.
Finish the shot – As the body, head and gun move toward the breakpoint from the hold point, visual focus is heightened, the comb of the stock touches the cheek and the gun is discharged.
How many times have you heard a squad mate say that he missed because he didn’t have his head on the gun? How many times have YOU thought the reason you missed was because your head wasn’t on the gun. The fact is that people don’t miss because their head isn’t on the gun. They miss because they didn’t mount the gun to the cheek. By mounting to the shoulder and bringing the head down to the gun, you completely interrupt the flow of your mount and move to the target. Additionally, mounting to the shoulder first often results in a “roll-over” with the head rolling over the stock and the dominant eye coming to rest on the outside of the rib. It can also result in a shooter’s eye coming to rest below the rib, with the gun breaking the visual connection to the target.
So much for all the bad things that can happen when mounting to the shoulder first. How about the benefits of mounting to the cheek first? If you buy in to the idea that a “quiet gun” enables you to see the target better, mounting to the cheek will improve your focus. Next time you are on the sporting clays course or skeet field, watch the muzzle of a shooter that mounts to the shoulder first. There is a dip of the muzzle or seesaw motion of the gun just as the shooter completes his or her mount to the target. The seesaw can cause the shooter to miss over the top because the front of the gun is moving upward as the shot is completed. By mounting to the cheek, and not the shoulder, you will never again have to worry about having your head on the gun or proper alignment with the rib. Perhaps most importantly, mounting to the cheek promotes an efficient mount and a gun that is quiet, with no barrel wobble or seesaw at the muzzle. This means optimal focus.
So if you currently mount to the shoulder first, how do you fix it? Start out with mount drills in your home. Then move to the skeet field and practice from stations 3, 4 and 5.
Mount a small thin flashlight (a laser pointer or LaserShooter is even better) toward the muzzle-end of your barrel such that the line of the beam is in precise alignment with your shotgun barrel. Pick the biggest room in your house and use the seam between the wall and ceiling as your target line. Simulating a clay target crossing left to right, use the left corner as the trap location. Pick a spot about two feet to the right of the corner as your hold point and a spot about three feet left of the right corner as your breakpoint. Assume a good stance and ready position with the heel of the stock (top of the recoil pad) on your “nipple line” and the forearm of your trigger hand parallel with the comb of the stock. Orient the barrel at your hold point so that the flashlight beam is on the seam. Now imagine a slow, gradual left-to-right crossing target as you move the laser/light beam along the target line simultaneously raising the gun straight up toward your cheek (NOT to your shoulder) and moving in synchronization with the target. Move both hands equally and together to keep the beam on the seam the entire distance along the seam to the break point. The comb of the stock should reach your cheek just prior to the breakpoint and your gun should continue to move through the breakpoint smoothly. Focus on the seam only, NOT the bead or muzzle. The gun will naturally be in your shoulder, in the right place, if you execute properly and your gun fits. Say “bang” as the comb of your stock reaches the cheek and the gun passes through the breakpoint. Alternatively, you can use snap caps and pull the trigger as you pass through the breakpoint for each iteration. Reverse all the above for a right to left crosser. Once you have perfected your indoor mount, move to the skeet field and practice the same motion on stations 3, 4 and 5. (see Skeet for Practice)
© 2015 – Don Currie