"The method controls the swing…
the precision puts the shot string on the target.
There’s an enormous joy found in shotgunning. But, when the missing starts…for some of us…there comes a time when we decide to become more CONSISTENT with our shotgunning. To do that, here are some truths that have a direct bearing on whether we hit the target or not.
If you wish, there’s a library full of shooting ballistics you can study, internal, external and terminal. And when you lump all those very relevant ballistic calculations together, their combined importance at the target will pretty much be reduced to zero if precision is compromised.
Rifle and handgun shooters learn very quickly what happens when unintended movement occurs: precious accuracy is lost. We call that missing. So do they. Conclusion? Precision is non-negotiable. Why? Because of the strict, uncompromising math involved. Math is the one silent, invisible, unforgiving component in precision, regardless of firearm. Room for errors? Little to none.
The precision that so strictly applies above, also governs what happens with our Sporting Clays (Trap, Skeet, F.I.T.A.S.C.) targets. Our movement errors will create missing and for darn sure, not because I say so, but because the math says so…regardless of what firearm we’re holding.
Understandably, a great many shotgunners use instinct to break targets…because it works! Right up until it doesn’t, when instinct doesn’t quite provide the precision necessary to break a clay target CONSISTENTLY. Right here is where our unintentional swing inconsistencies can only yield inconsistent results at the target. A stubborn truth. So…while the math involved in those swing errors is (thank goodness) unknown to us…the results sure aren’t. 00.
Bob Lockett – a Paragon Instructor in Raytown, MO – often asks his students: Is your shotgun more like a garden hose with a spray nozzle – or a scalpel? For those seeking more CONSISTENCY and higher scores…the answer is a scalpel. Why? To get our shot string onto the target…CONSISTENTLY…we have to control the movement…and not compromise the critically needed precision.
Which brings us clay shooters right back to gun control. And by control, I am not saying or implying that we institute the “aiming” principles used in rifle and handgun shooting. Please don’t, as that will lead you down a path, straight into missing. That said…those of us who are serious about seeking improvement…we can’t ignore the requirement of precision either.
Here’s a quote from Part 1 of this article: “The purpose of this piece is to discuss the relevance…and unconditional necessity…of precision in our clay target shooting. Because once the missing starts, the ever-hopeful premise that “I’ve got a pattern out there THIS BIG,” quietly goes away. And while a shotgun “pattern” can be and usually is effective in most cases…the reality and real truth is…we cannot count on that pattern to compensate or make up for swing errors.”
Over the decades, countless times, I have witnessed misses when shotgun control was compromised…many times minutely. Over and over again, that shot string was so close, it should have at least chipped the target and didn’t! Thus, I have taught my students specific steps on how to more tightly control their movements, which keeps their swing under control and inside the math formula. XXXXXX. CONSISTENTLY. By default, these steps are totally dependable when executed correctly. The method controls the swing…the precision puts the shot string on the target. Predictably.
There are very specific set-up and swing steps you can follow to put more Xs on your score card. CONSISTENTLY. Good swing execution promises an X. I’m not implying here that that swing is easy…the skill must first be learned and then developed. But the method/steps are not complicated. Build the swing correctly and we can honestly count on that precision to break the target. It will break. Because the math in that precision is totally dependable.
Shooters vary…equipment varies…and shooting methods vary. But the math behind an X never varies. Be assured…we do not have to understand the math. But we do have to control the gun (precision) to put our shot string on the bird…IF we are expecting CONSISTENT results.
Shotgunning can be instinctive and, yes, there are times when it very much should be. So let’s agree on that. But counting on our instinctive swing to be consistent is an iffy proposition. And why my students are taught the simple, basic steps that help them control their movements, which are necessary to make sure the shot string arrives on target. This is how the Big Dawg shooters put up the scores they rightfully do…by minimizing movement errors.
To summarize, please keep in mind that the precision in your movements will decide, X or 0. Make a swing error… and the math just moved your shot string off the target. Plain and simple. Just as precision works in your favor. Correctly control the movement (precision) and the shot string will arrive on the target…CONSISTENTLY. A truth we can count on. More consistency in the shooting box = more consistent results at the target. Plain and simple.
If you believe the word “math” doesn’t belong in shotgunning, OK, there’s some merit to that, so maybe it doesn’t? But, the word “precision” does. To become casual about how precise we are in the shooting box is an open invitation to inconsistencies and missing. It is because the math inside every shot is so absolute…that precision in our movements becomes priority 1 for more consistent results and higher scores.
Glad to have you here today. Be safe and I hope to see you out on the course.
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About Dan Schindler:
Dan Schindler is one of only 60 worldwide members of the Guild of Shooting Instructors, U.K. and is one of the most highly respected Sporting Clays and Wingshooting Instructors in the US. Dan is an NSCA Level III Instructor (since 1995) and founded the Paragon School of Sporting with one goal in mind. Whether it be for the advanced competitor or providing the basics to the entry-level shooter, Paragon provides the simplest, most practical and most effective Instruction, Coaching and Mental Training for the Sporting Clays & Wingshooting enthusiast. Dan Schindler helps shooters alleviate a lot of their frustration by taking the mystery out of breaking targets, calling their own misses and make their own corrections. Lessons are fun, enlightening and our clients learn to shoot better in minutes!