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Fiber-optic sights can be a great asset to marksmanship, especially when the shooter is handicapped by aging eyes or low-light conditions. They tend to draw one’s eyes to the front post, probably adding a slight psychological advantage, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Marine who doesn’t love his ACOG.

But there’s one place fiber-optics have no business: on the end of a shotgun barrel. Okay, allow me to clarify. There are certain applications in which the shotgun is aimed like a rifle–turkey hunting and tactical drills, for instance–and fiber-optic sights and beads can be of benefit here. However, no serious wing or clays shot should ever put a device on his or her shotgun that encourages aiming.

Proper wingshooting technique is instinctive in nature. You pick out the duck or clay, focus on it with both eyes open, and smoothly mount the shotgun. Your brain subconsciously determines the lead and proper time to pull the trigger. It is a mistake to glance at your shotgun bead or the barrel in an effort to actively determine lead. This interrupts your brain’s ability to process the target’s path.

“Your eyes can only focus on one object at once–try it,” says Gil Ash of the OSP Shooting School. “The brain is very good at observing an object’s speed and path, and determining where it will be in another second or two. So if you let your brain work, it will direct your shotgun barrel where it needs to go. Interrupt that process and you’ll be off the mark.”

Yet plenty of shotgunners close an eye, look at the bead and try to pick out the lead. And marketers of fiber-optic shotgun beads have convinced us that they can help in this misguided, active-aiming technique. In reality, all fiber-optic shotgun beads do is insert a bright shiny object into the shooter’s periphery, which distracts his eyes from the target and interrupts the brain’s focus.

What should you do if your duck or upland gun has a fiber-optic bead? Replace it with a subtler white or brass bead, or put a strip of black electrical tape over it.