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Targets Below the Belt


I’m having trouble hitting targets that are going downhill, below the level of the shooting station (or most any target below the level of the shooting station). What is the best way to hit these targets?


There are usually two issues associated with a shooter’s move when missing a target that is below waist level and going down hill or plunging.

First of all, the natural swing of a shooter in a properly balanced, erect shooting stance is 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock or 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock at the elevation of the shooter’s shoulders. When a target is below your waist, however, you need to change your stance to orient your torso to the same elevation as the target’s breakpoint. If you maintain your normal upright stance in the shooting stand, you will tend to move along a line that is above the line of the target and miss over the top.

The best cure for this problem is to reorient your torso to the level of the target’s breakpoint by forcing your butt back, while maintaining good balance with the balls of your shoulders over the balls of your feet. With this move, you properly orient your torso to the level of the target’s breakpoint.

In your scenario, you have the additional challenge of a target that is “plunging” or descending. In these cases, the most common cause of a miss is to set up in the ready position with a muzzle angle that is above the planned breakpoint. In so doing, you must force your barrel toward the breakpoint in a downward direction, frequently occluding the target with the barrel and shooting over the top of the target.

One of the cardinal rules I teach my students is to always set up in the ready position with a muzzle angle no higher than the breakpoint. So, for a target with a line below your waist and plunging, you need to orient your torso to the breakpoint and position your muzzle angle no higher than the planned breakpoint so that you can move laterally to the breakpoint without moving down to the target.

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