Why Slower Is Better
March 2007 Sporting Clays Tip
by Dan Schindler
While certainly not easy by any means, sporting clays is not a complex sport. But we can make it harder than it really is. If you were to ask me to give you one tip that could drastically improve your performance in the box, starting tomorrow, it would be this.
"Blazing barrels" is a term I heard used by Russ Vowell, a well known and highly respected Level III instructor. The term refers to excessive gun speed, hence this appropriate name for a swing that's out of control.
Bill Appel, another well known Level III instructor who owns Thunder Ridge in PA says, "Let the target steer the muzzle." He is so right. But blazing barrels prevent this from happening. So the whole general idea is to slow things down during the swing. No,...even more please.
As someone who works with shooters daily, a great deal of my time is spent getting my student's muzzle in harmony with the target before it reaches the break point. This target/muzzle alignment is critical. While this is not an overly difficult task, you would be amazed at how many people are unaware of what is happening in the middle of their swing. Concentrating hard on breaking the bird, raw determination fuels a swing intent on swatting the target out of the sky. Unfortunately (please read that word again), sometimes the target is hit. To the shooter, this confirms his swing must have been correct. If the next one is missed, more speed is usually added. This destructive cycle can yield broken birds but never consistently and progress is mostly wishful thinking.
So here's the tip: you're setting up on the target, about to call for the bird. At your call, the bird appears. Stop. At this exact micro-second your muzzle is dead still, about to move. Let's look at the very first 2 or 3 inches of muzzle movement. Done incorrectly, the muzzle bolts out of the gate, out of control. Done correctly, the initial move of the muzzle is s-l-o-w-e-r. Because the muzzle starts slowly, it can be more easily synchronized with the target, which is critical to aligning the muzzle with the bird speed and line. A softer, smoother push of the gun prevents your swing from going out of control in the critical, early part of your swing when the shot is being built.
While we can't control the target, we can control our swing and shot,...provided the muzzle hasn't already blurred past the sight picture you want, the target in one place and your muzzle in another. Advanced shooters don't have "blazing barrels." There's a very good reason for that. If consistency is your goal, slow everything down, especially at the beginning of your swing. Then, add speed, but only as needed. A swing that starts under control yields much more consistency on your score sheet. I promise.
Teal shots are not overly difficult, and, like every other shot, they require planning. The shooting method you choose on a teal should be determined by the breakpoint you choose.
Plan first, then execute decisively: going up, at the top or going down...............
It was a bright, sunny day in early 2006 and my practice session was going exceptionally well. Looking into the sky I was startled to see a very large, black, shadowy mass,...which disappeared when I closed my left eye. I stopped shooting and called my eye doctor...............