A report by DANA FARRELL from Clay Shooting USA Magazine
National champion, Bill McGuire, suggests that the old phrase hand-eye coordination should be changed to eye-hand coordination when it relates to clay target sports. It's his way of saying that the eyes must first clearly 'see' what a target is doing and feed good information to the brain, before the hands can make move to the target.
The matter of how to reach hard visual focus on the target and its importance in shooting excellence is something best handled by a highly qualified instructor, but there are two new visual tools on the market that are worth looking at. One can help tune your visual perception when engaging a target; the other can help train your eyes to focus on a target faster and with better visual acuity.
Invented by David Stewart, the ShotKam is an ingeniously designed, user friendly video camera that mounts underneath a gun barrel. The inspiration for the ShotKam came when Stewart was introducing his then ten year old son to shooting, and was struggling to find a way to demonstrate the concept of forward allowance. Weighing 5.5 ounces, the ShotKam connects to your smart phone via WiFi, allowing reticle alignment, in-the-field video playback, and changing of playback speeds. Videos are recorded at 120 frames per second, allowing frame by frame playback that’s detailed and fast enough to even see shot clouds. Connecting to a computer is achieved using a USB connection, and the ShotKam’s software suite includes well produced video tutorials on using the unit and organizing the resulting video files. The Shotkam stores data on an onboard micro SD card, is rechargeable via a USB cord, and like a cell phone, can either be charged by connecting to a computer, or by using the optional wall plug /USB adapter.
A 12 gauge, rubber padded bracket is included with the unit, with 20, 28 and .410 and 12 gauge side by side brackets optionally available for $40 each. I found the unit simple to mount using the included hex wrench, then downloaded the free ShotKamPro smart phone app from the web and followed the instructions to link to my phone via WiFi. Once mated to the unit, the smart phone is used to position the reticle to your point of aim. When ready to use, a push of the button turns the unit on, and the ShotKam remains idle until the gun action is closed, at which point it begins a buffered recording session. When it senses the recoil of the gun the device automatically saves the video sequence from before, during and after the shot, compiling a short video file, then it returns to an idle state until the next shot is taken. Although the ShotKam is a very advanced piece of high tech hardware, it’s surprisingly simple enough to use – even for those of us who are technophobes. Critics might say the one drawback is the weight the unit adds to the gun barrel. It’s certainly not a cure-all for correcting all problems a shooter may be have, but one tool, that if used smartly, could result in more Xs on a scorecard. Instructor Mike McAlpine says he loves the unit because it confirms his calls of where a students’ misses are, and gives the students something they themselves can take home and view.
I mounted the camera to a friend’s gun for a trial run during a 5-Stand session at my local club. The subject is an experienced bird hunter, but is a less proficient clays shooter who struggles with technical targets. After viewing his videos, he was able to see he was often shooting over top of many targets. A light-bulb moment also occurred for him when he realized just how much more forward allowance must be given to a laser-fast, quartering incomer that he failed to hit after multiple attempts. Excited with the results of that first ShotKam session, he was very anxious to try it again. This is the inherent value of the ShotKam: showing a shooter’s Point-Of-Aim in relation to a moving target. During a recorded shooting lesson an instructor could conceivably break a troublesome target with the student’s gun, contrasting the video with one of the student attempting the same presentation. Beginning/lower level shooters would naturally benefit more than advanced shooters, although I could see higher level shooters using the ShotKam to work on a particular bogie target – possibly one that they’re having trouble with at a certain point in its flight path. Aside from the learning potential of using the ShotKam to improve one’s shooting, it’s just plain fun to watch the videos of clay targets being crushed, and bird hunters will appreciate the opportunity to video archive their hunts from the perspective of the gun barrel. Purchase price is $695 and includes a padded case, lens cleaner pen and an assortment of spare mounting parts. Free express shipping to anywhere in the US, and 30 day money back guarantee is standard. www.shotkam.com