Shooters often buy a new gun expecting that it will transform their shooting overnight and are disappointed when it does not. Shooting a gun is the same as driving a car or anything else we do in our day to day to lives. We rely on muscle memory. Put simply, muscle memory is what we learn when we frequently and repetitively carry out the same action. In the case of a gun it is achieving the mount automatically and without conscious thought. This is possible because the repetitive action has taught the muscles exactly what effort is required and where the gun has to be positioned. It is exactly the same with shooting because we learn the weight and responsiveness of the gun and our muscles apply exactly the right amount of force to drive it to catch the target. The action of catching the target and achieving the correct sight picture is done automatically and without any conscious thought.
When we acquire a new gun we generally shoot well with it the first time out because we are conscious of what we do. We take care to mount the gun in the right place and look that we are on the target before pulling the trigger. The result is we shoot well. After that it is downhill all the way because the moment we stop thinking about what we do we fall back on previously learnt muscle memory. If our last gun was of different stock dimensions or weight then both gun mount and handling will suffer. The combination of bad gun mount and over leading/under leading targets pretty much destroys our score. Must be the gun, can’t get on with it, has to go. Sound familiar?
Here are the hard facts. It takes 4,000 targets to build the muscle memory so that shooting the new gun becomes instinctive. There are no short cuts and you cannot “buy” the targets or get someone else to shoot them for you. It is only after you have reached this total that you will discover if the new gun was a good move or a bad move. If you put the gun in the cupboard and go back to another gun then you will never develop the essential muscle memory. To do so you need to shoot the one gun exclusively, at least for a particular purpose. It does not mean you can only shoot one gun for every discipline as we are all capable of adopting different learnt sets of muscle memory for different purposes, Trap and Sporting for example. When we pick up our Trap gun and stand on the line it is enough visual stimulus to ensure we use the correct muscle memory and we are not likely to confuse it with shooting Sporting or Skeet.
If you supplement your actual targets with regular gun handling, say at least 20 minutes every evening, you will find it easier, Shooting 25 or 50 practice targets at the weekend is not enough and it will take a long time before the gun feels a part of you.
Shooting is like every other sport, we get out of it what we are prepared to put in. The harder you work the better you will shoot. You cannot buy a score and expecting a new gun to do it for you just because successful shooters use the same model is simply unrealistic.