I stumbled on this phrase while researching another and found it worth sharing for those of you who are writing of sea travels during the 19th century, or of emmigrants who have come to America during the 19th century. In any case, below is a quote from Adventures in Australia in 1852 and 1853 by Henry Berkeley Jones ©1853
It puzzled many of our people to see the Captain every morning take the altitude of the sun, and at mid-day the meridian altitude ; what the sailors call " the skipper shooting the sun." With some difficulty we succeeded in making a few understand its purpose and end. It was our custom to explain anything upon which they desired to be informed.