Shotgunning in ‘the Zone’

Shotgunning in the Automatic Mind: The Guide for Shotgunners and Instructors
By Tom Sternal

Shotgunning in the Automatic Mind: The Guide for Shotgunners and Instructors offers a premise that is hard to argue with: that success requires a shooter to shoot in “the zone”—an elusive, almost Zen-like state where information, knowledge, understanding and skill converge in the act of intuitive, or automatic, shooting. And it doesn’t happen by accident. As well-known shooting instructor and competitor Warren Watson and his co-author, Mike Wilfley, assert: Shooters aren’t born; they are trained. Which is why their book offers training for shooters at all levels.

On the surface Shotgunning in the Automatic Mind is a bit intimidating. In size, thickness and heft it presents as a somewhat imposing encyclopedia of shooting theory and practice. In actuality the book offers an uncommonly clear, concise and stress-free examination of the art and science of shooting. Think of the structure of the book as a pyramid grouping 18 chapters into four critical strata: core physical skills, core mental skills, achieving the “automatic mind,” and broad applications from fieldwork to advanced games. As heavy as that all sounds, the book is plainly written, never collapsing into jargon, quips or trademarked phrases. In addition, the 256 pages are filled with easy-to-understand photos, diagrams and charts. 

Accomplished shooters may find little new information in necessary-but-remedial sections, from descriptions of gun terminology to recommendations for chokes and shot sizes. But these sections are easily bypassed to get to critical information. 

If you are truly serious about improving your shooting, it’s all about the intentionality and work you put into it. Shotgunning in the Automatic Mind holds up its end in that process; the rest is up to you.

The hardcover is available for $49.95 from

Editor's note: We want to respectfully acknowledge the recent passing of Warren Watson, co-author of Shotgunning in the Automatic Mind, on June 9. 

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