Where Is My Flashlight?
June 2008 Sporting Clays Tip
by Dan Schindler
In late 2007 I made some important changes to my shooting. That meant I was putting my attention on those changes during practice. Early this year I was still working diligently on those changes, even during my tournaments. As a result of that, my attention riveted on specific parts of my shooting, I slipped and made errors I don't usually make.
One match station in particular had a long, fast, right-to-left crosser through the trees that was causing everyone problems. Hiding in plain sight was a breakpoint on our far left where the target coasted gently into the grass at about 40 yards, a much more manageable shot. One pointed out to us by Mike who shot last on our squad. No one on our squad saw it but Mike. For me, a simple but costly oversight caused by my attention being elsewhere.
I like to refer to our attention as our flashlight. Match pressure bearing down on us, our attention is often bouncing around, distracting us and making concentration difficult. For that reason, it's important that we be aware of where our flashlight is pointing when we step into the box. Then consciously moving it to where it is needed most. Instead of studying the bird above much more closely first, then moving my attention (flashlight) to my shooting, I didn't. I had my flashlight squarely on swing thoughts and never saw the strategy error until too late.
Concentration is a good thing, provided we keep our flashlight pointed in the right direction.
Preparing for competition ahead of time puts your mind at ease, knowing that what you need will be there when you need it. That includes your attention, which you can now put on the target in front of you, unnecessary distractions eliminated because you prepared ahead of time. Here's a short list of things I ask my students to do as they prepare for competition..............
Sporting clays is the ultimate test, pitting ourselves against targets down gullies and through trees at countless unknown speeds, angles and distances. We spend thousands of dollars on equipment, books, videos and training all to master basic, rudimentary skills. Some shooters do, and they have the skills to show for it. But why is it that skills don't always match scores?..............