Here is the question I’ve been asked many, many times over the last 2 decades by folks with good intentions, who, misguided, arrived for their lessons confused and frustrated: why is my shooting so inconsistent?
We’re all long overdue to do 3 things. 1) End the fairytale that staring at the bird harder and harder will raise your game and your scores. It won’t. 2) End the mystery…why did I miss…why did that target just break? It’s not a mystery. 3) It’s way past time to stop believing in voodoo, that trying harder and trusting yourself will break the target. Trust what? Exactly?
The Truth is: to break more targets, consistently and dependably – to put more X’s on a scorecard, predictably – the clay target games require knowledge and skill, in that order. Here are a few thoughts on the first step.
After safety, of course – in my experienced opinion – this is the # 1 most important Instructor responsibility during a formal lesson where you’ve clearly stated, improvement is your goal. Knowing that goal, your Instructor’s responsibility is to make sure he or she is “preparing” you to succeed – to keep your improvement moving forward – AFTER the lesson is over and you are alone in the box with no Instructor behind you.
For example, you just missed. If you don’t know what the set-up and/or swing error was – exactly – what are you going to correct with this shell so you don’t miss again? Hope is not a plan. And the purpose of yesterday’s lesson was?
And, when your lesson target does break – shouldn’t you know WHY it broke and HOW to repeat that X on purpose – dependably? It will break, right? Not sure? If you don’t know why it broke – what is the plan for the next shell? Are you learning, specifically, what you should be seeing over your muzzle, before and during this next swing? If you’re not sure, the purpose of today’s lesson is?
Here are 2 shooting “improvement” fantasies: 1) Breaking the target means the shot was a success. 2) That X means you are improving. From an improvement perspective, both 1 and 2 are untrue because countless targets can be broken by inconsistent, error-filled swings – and 2 – an X on its own guarantees you nothing more than brief gratification. Is your Instructor teaching you the basics – teaching you the specific steps – what to see – what to correct – what to repeat?
Ask yourself these questions. Are you being taught the basics so – if I miss – I’ll know HOW to self-correct my error? Am I learning HOW to repeat the X – on my own – after my lessons? If not – where will my improvement ever come from?
Rifle and pistol shooters know they cannot compromise precision and expect to hit their target. In the clay target sports, we can compromise precision and the target still might break. Maybe. But not consistently. Not dependably.
Which brings us here – to the hard questions. Shooters are constantly being asked to, “Look at the target harder. See the rings. Stare at the leading edge. Do that and the target WILL break.” Here’s the hard question: did the target break? Here’s another shell. Will it break this time? Are you sure?
Here’s another empty promise: “Trust yourself and the target WILL break.” OOXOO. Response: “You’re not trying hard enough. You’re not trusting yourself enough.” OXOOO. You ask, “How will I know if it’s right before I pull the trigger?” That’s a very good question. Response, “You’ll just know.” Really? OOXO0.
How can all this trying and trusting work, if you don’t know what to trust? Magic? Please, forgive my sarcasm, but right there is the elephant in the room. The truth is, all these good intentions, trusting and trying aren’t nearly enough to put more Xs on a scorecard. Sorry, but, not today, not tomorrow, not dependably and for darn sure, not consistently. Because they can’t.
And why, “swing, trust, and hope,” is not a shooting method. At least, not one you can depend on. Consistently good shooting is very much a skill to be learned, then built on the very specific structure and reliable basics. Those who do learn and apply those basics really do improve and shoot higher scores. Understandably and predictably.
Safe travels everyone and Happy Holidays. I hope to see you out on the course.
Dan Schindler is one of only 60 worldwide members of the Guild of Shooting Instructors (UK) 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!
Take the MYSTERY out of missing targets and help you quickly learn steps to shoot more CONSISTENTLY! Order Books!
Newest Release...Take Your Best Shot (Book I), 3rd Edition isTHE Gold Standard Primer...
and is all about the fundamentals, a requirement for good shooting. This book is used by high school and college shooting teams, recreational and competitive shooters from around the world. Solid, valuable, concise information that has helped thousands of shooters shoot more consistently with higher scores.
To The Target (Book II) Builds on the steps outlined in Book I. Emphasises Gun Management skills when the trap fires, creating a consistent, reliable, trustworthy swing.
Beyond the Target (Book III) is for shooters of all levels, filled with valuable information, clay target truths. Entertaining and a culmination of 3 decades of Dan's life's work as a teacher, competitor, published writer and much more.
"Take Your Best Shot is the best clay and wingshooting shooting primer on the market that I have ever seen. The brilliance of its simplicity aids in getting across the correct messages for successful shooting for ANY clay/wingshooting shooter, let alone a new shooter. As a master instructor, founder/Head Coach of the Jacksonville University Shooting Team (a national championship program), and JU faculty member, Take Your Best Shot is standard reading for ALL of our varsity shooters. Dan has managed to capture the basics beautifully, and he has placed them in an easy, simple-to-follow, witty presentation. My students love the book and read it time and again. Highly recommend, no matter what your level of shooting experience and expertise."
David T. Dobson, M.B.A.
Paragon Master Instructor
NSCA Instructor, Level III
NSSA Instructor, Level III
Mark EngenThese three books are a must-read for all clay target shooters. They are clear, concise, logical instructions on how to shoot clay targets and how to improve your scores. Taking a lesson from Dan would be very advantageous & help hasten the learning process. He has been my instructor for 15 years. With each lesson, I always come away amazed at how much I have learned & how my scores improve. He also emphasizes how important it is to practice regularly & stay with his advice & recommendations to really learn new skills to improve your scores. He has helped me tremendously & I highly recommend him.