Skill Level & Performance - A Candid Look
October 2008 Sporting Clays Tip
by Dan Schindler
I hear this frequently when my student first calls to inquire about taking lessons with me at his club or River Bend. My caller is (understandably?) disappointed over breaking fewer of his or her targets than the group's 70% or 80%, maybe a 90%.
When I ask how long he's been in sporting clays, the answer is usually less than a year or two. We can all relate, it's human nature to compare ourselves to those ahead of us, sometimes forgetting they've been shooting 4, 8, maybe 15 years or more.
In the early 1980's when sporting clays took root in the US, I was fortunate to be involved. Those were good days. Actually those were great days. At Hummelstown Field & Stream in Hummelstown PA, a 50 bird course, we all started with scores in the high teens or low 20's. That's less than 50%. And that was everybody. 50% was a good score. We were the happiest group of people missing targets you've ever seen! Considerable time passed before Bill Costello was the first person to break 30 out of 50 (55%) at our club. We all thought that was amazing! Listening to my story, my student laughs and understands.
Today's scores reflect your current skill level. That's it. No need to fret or grade it. This is about you enjoying your time on the shooting ground and remembering there is a learning curve for all of us. The people ahead of you aren't gifted or have any more potential than you do. With a plan and some effort, they've moved their skills to the next level. Whether you need 15 birds or 3, you can too.
Have you noticed how the really good ones make it look so easy? Gymnasts, skateboarders, cyclists, runners, shooters - the ones in the lead - all have an easy, rhythmic stride or stroke.
Too many shooters approach the shot anxiously, the swing is much too fast and the shot is launched, more with hope than confidence. Their tempo - the first T - is too fast, putting the gun out of control..............
As you would expect, I field a lot of questions about shooting methods. Which is best, where and why. 30 years of sporting and watching literally millions of targets from behind the trigger has taught me this.
No one shooting method is best for all targets. The wide diversity of target presentations in sporting clays strongly suggests we have more than one shooting method in our skill inventory..............