Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bird Hunting Mechanics

Wizbang is describing what bird hunting is like and why Cheney didn't see Whittington until it was too late.
Anyone who has ever raised a shotgun to track a quail or pheasant would understand how the eye and the trigger finger are operating in different planes of space and time. When swiveling to track flushed game the information being processed by the eyes and the operation of the gun lag each other. With experience hunters learn to compensate for this disconnect (as well as for the physics of hitting a moving target) by leading the shot.

I find it perfectly reasonable to believe that Cheney may have seen a flash of Whittington right as he was firing or even a split second before - past the point where the brain can recall the impulse it has already sent to the hand to fire. Once the shot is fired all sorts of visual information from the periphery - information the brain had been blocking to concentrate on the flight of the bird - comes rushing back into the hunters view.
I don't bird hunt, but I have shot clays and Kevin Aylward's description of the mechanics of shotgunning are dead on. If you are shooting a bird, you are shooting the bird. You are focused on it. Not what is behind it (Whittington) or what is in front of it (your gun).

Stephen Hunter is also a bird hunter. His column at the Washington Post fleshes out a lot of details of birding from his own personal experience. It is well worth the read.

UPDATE: King of Fools linked to this pdf of Texas hunting accident records. There were 29 accidents in 2004 (the last year with data). 4 were fatal. That's slightly up from the all time low, but down significantly from when they started keeping records. The document has a profile for the typical accident and much of the description fits the Cheney case.

No comments: