Regression to the Mean

Although saying so isn’t strictly relevant to the story of my learning to shoot a .410, it’s not particularly surprising that a trip out yesterday, for which I took my 16 gauge – fancying a change – turned out to be remarkably unsuccessful.

Of course, the man with one gun does shoot best, but he may not have the most interesting experiences as he downs every bird he sees with one “old faithful” shotgun. For some of us then, a little variety in our shooting is as important as the number of birds we bring home, if not more so.

It’s not that I have bored of the .410 – far from it. I’m actually keen to get on with the job of testing the remaining candidate cartridges and get some proper data collated on this site to determine for myself (and assist others in determining) what might be the best cartridge for this particular gun. However, that process requires the stock of cardboard / paper to be built up again and anyway, it is sometimes nice just to go out for a walk and a shot or two, without having to turn every trip into a scientific experiment.

The 16 gauge, therefore, should have been easy. Good patterns; 50% more shot in the cartridge; heavier gun and less erratic swing; much longer ranges a possibility. Of course, that’s not the way it works out when you’ve spent three months getting used to a gun that’s a slightly different shape and which fires to a slightly different point of aim than what you’ve been used to.

In the end, I missed nine in a row. None were easy shots and if I’d had the .410 with me, I’d probably have only attempted three of them at most, but it’s especially easy to fall into the trap of “having a go” when after a handful of tries, you still have no idea where the gun is shooting and it still feels completely unfamiliar.

I suppose I’ll put it back in the cabinet for another three months and carry on with the little one, though the “interruption” won’t have helped with that either.

It’s rather confusing really. Both guns (supposedly) fit me and I’ve had excellent success with the 16 gauge in the past, shooting 1-for-2 with it a good proportion of the time. I’m not surprised at my poor shooting, but I am disappointed. I know I miss more when I’ve just changed guns, but they ought to be near enough to each other that if I’m shooting 1-for-2 with one of them, I ought to manage to hit at least one or two birds in nine attempts with the other. The fact that I didn’t has dented my confidence a bit.

I suppose that’s the price you pay for the spice of life.