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Zen and the Art
of Aiming Binoculars

by Michael and Diane Porter

...right at the bird!

Did you ever have trouble finding the bird when looking through binoculars? It can be hard, especially if the bird is against a dense, complicated background, such as twigs or leaves.

Here's a tip from Zen archery.

In Japan, the traditional Zen archer learned to position his body and bow in relation to the target so that the arrow pointed in the correct direction in a natural and instinctive way. (It's said that Zen archers could even hit the target blindfolded.)

Expert birders, who may never have even heard of Zen, have learned to use the same principle when using their binoculars.

The secret is to square yourself up to the bird. Your whole body, including your feet, should turn to face the bird. It won't work if you turn just your head.

Notice how you're holding your binocular. You'll want to use the same grip every time.

Raise your head so that you're looking straight at the bird. Your whole head is tilting up to face the bird -- not just your eyes looking up.

Raise your head

Now put your binoculars squarely in front your eyes.

Binoculars to eyes

You'll find you're looking right at the bird.

At the bird!

It helps to practice this technique consciously. Even the Zen archery masters had to practice to learn their skill.

Try it on a steeple, a rock, and the truck down the street. Then when you are faced with an exciting bird, your muscles will be trained, and you'll have success. It will soon become automatic.

Copyright 2000-2009 Michael and Diane Porter



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