Snapshots Are For Photography!
October 2011 Sporting Clays Tip
by Dan Schindler
Once the preliminaries are finished in the clubhouse, I'm more comfortable with what lies ahead because I've gotten to know my client and I'm mentally preparing a lesson format that I believe will best meets his or her goals. Arriving on station, I prefer to watch a few shots before giving any advice. How would I know what needs attention if I don't watch first? After 4 to 6 shells, I've learned a lot about my shooter in those first few minutes.
Frequently, my student will be breaking this warm up target fairly consistently. What I've noticed is a rather quick, instinctive "snap shot" with some good success. I change the target presentation a bit and we go from XXX0XX0XXX to 00XX0X00X0X. That's OK, that inconsistency is why he's here. I'm also noticing my student likes to pull the trigger just as the gun touches his cheek.
We stop for a moment and I ask this question carefully as I don't want to offend. The question is, "If your muzzle is not in the right place, with an incorrect lead or picture - as evidenced by the lost bird - why are you pulling the trigger when the stock reaches your cheek?" There is a moment of puzzlement as the question sinks in. Good question. Some say they were taught to do that - some say they always feel a bit rushed, followed by a need to shoot quickly. Perfectly sound answers. But the question is still valid.
Many of us have been taught that "riding a bird" is a bad thing. Provided we're not holding onto it too long, I disagree. I ask my student to look for a "sight picture confirmation" during the swing and before the shot. Holding onto the bird, cheek on the stock, is a good thing. While this "time on the cheek confirmation" is brief - and sometimes very brief - it is there nonetheless. Not all, but most targets do give us that time and usually more time than we think we had.
Here's the good news on a snap shot: it works. Here's the bad news on a snap shot: it works. And the X makes us believe we must have done something right - luring us into doing it again. Except, there's a disclaimer in small print at the bottom of the page on this method. "Note: Method will break targets and is very seductive, but also inconsistent and not reliable."
In all fairness, the snapshot can be very effective on quail and grouse. But I'm suggesting you not count on it in the clay target sports. If our instinctive shot was reliable - and the muzzle always went to the right lead or sight picture - we wouldn't need our sight picture confirmation. But it doesn't. XX0X000X. Yes, there are exceptions in sporting clays - but a "brief" moment on the cheek coming into the trigger pull - confirming the right sight picture - increases the probability of XXXXXXXX.
Coupling long years of experience and skill development with advancing age creates the evolution of a wise and formidable competitor.
Forgive me but I've long been loyal, outspoken, and at times a maniac in support of the underdog. My rough count showed 21 of the 59 Master class shooters at the 2011 Turkey Shoot at the Meadows in GA - are classified as Veterans. 6 of those Veterans scored in the top half of all Master class............
In this instance, I think the "disclaimer" should come first because folks enjoy our great sport for different reasons. For many shooters, sporting clays is more a social event, a relaxed round of clays with friends. Skill improvement would of course be nice, but weekly training sessions aren't likely on the priority list. Perfectly understandable. I think the social approach is pretty much where we all started, didn't we?............