For the recreational shooter, the entertainment of shooting and sometimes breaking a target is comparable to reading this month’s copy of Field & Stream. For competitive shooters, however, a day at the range takes on a whole new meaning with a serious emphasis on breaking more targets. If you are one of those not happy with OXOXXOOX and want to break more targets, consistently, here’s how to do precisely that – on time and dependably.
The # 1 question we answer in our office is, “Why am I inconsistent?” Nearly always, the answer is…“It’s because there are inconsistencies in your swing and those inconsistencies cannot produce consistent results.” Maybe a harsh truth but a truth nonetheless. And why I believe the shooting Basics are non-negotiable when the goal is to advance personal performances and scores.
Nothing is particularly hard
if you break it down into small jobs.
So far in this Series we’ve covered the mental approach to these Basics; choosing workable breakpoints (BP); setting up your foot position (FP). From my experience, I believe what follows is the most important Basic in your pre-shot set-up on the target before you call for the bird. This Basic will be your “muzzle hold point” or MHP.
If we wish to, we can personalize our BP’s and FP’s. However, because target presentations are evolving and becoming more and more demanding of our skills by the day, our MHP’s have to be more precise. Misplaced MHP’s will be unforgiving and today’s forecast will become 40% to 50% chance of missing with possible downpours of frustration and disappointments.
To understand why your MHP is so important, let’s first agree that each target – launch to land – gives you a fixed or finite amount of time. In terms of time, what you see is what you get, there is no more. Meaning? Certainly not for all, but for many of our presentations you should be thrifty with time spent on target # 1 in report pairs – and downright greedy with time spent on target # 1 in true pairs, or SIMOS as our good friends up North would say.
All too often and more now than ever before, time lost on today’s target # 1 creates an incrementally more difficult # 2 target. And, BTW, that was intentionally set by your crafty target setter who’s counting on you to overlook his tricks. And why your MHP has to be precise. A precise MHP allows the shooter to be more in control and relaxed, letting the target do all the work. All of this refers to what I call “time management” in the presentation and how to use that time wisely. Using target flight time economically is a general truism in Skeet, Trap and Sporting.
Time management is where your MHP either greatly helps – or hinders – the outcome of your shot. When the trap fires – AND you are set up correctly – a precise MHP prepositions your muzzle in the “best,” most advantageous place to intercept this oncoming target. Whether you prefer that early intercept to be behind / on / or in front of the target – that intercept should be “on time,” as in right now punctual. And speaking of punctual, preparation and good time management typically means the difference between here it comes or there it goes? XX, XO or OO?
While most folks are studying the show bird for the target’s line, speed and distance, the advancing shooter is also visually marking a MHP where the muzzle will intercept target # 1. About now you may be asking, what do you mean marking a MHP? Visually marking means locating a stationary landmark in the background, a tree branch, a leaf, a rock, the top of a pine tree or fence post – no clouds, airplanes or birds please – where the target visually crosses, reasonably consistently. This marked, repeatable MHP will allow you a prompt intercept of that target and start your swing correctly. Anda correct start expedites a successful finish.
To retrace our steps for a moment, your BP, FP, and MHP are all being set up correctly to create the consistency we spoke of earlier and is essential to advance your skill level and scores. When this becomes increasingly important to you – to create the consistency you want – these steps are no longer optional.
Success is created by doing the basics
to a high standard, consistently.
Please forgive my belaboring this point but correctly setting up your BP, FP, and MHP creates both the repeatability and dependability you seek in your swing. This set-up and swing sameness / uniformity delivers a target broken on purpose, not by accident. That string of deliberate X’s is what we call long runs. These long runs are built on a repeatable swing free of errors and mistakes – clean swings that you’ve set up deliberately, target after target.
Constructing a repeatable process is the foundation under consistency. Setting up your BP, FP, and MHP is that repeatable process. An unfailing process that prevents carelessness in the box and maximizes your X count. I encourage you to set up and follow this process.
A special thanks to Robert Roesch (Paragon Professional Instructor) for his insightful contributions to this article. Next article we’ll discuss the last of the pre-shot set-up Basics. I hope you will join me here. Until then, be safe and I look forward to seeing you out on the course soon.
Dan Schindler is one of only 50 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, Skeet, Trap & 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! Dan teaches locally at River Bend Sportsmans Resort in Inman, SC.
Shooters from around the world read Dan's books 2, 3, 4 or more times and refer back to them often. These three EXCELLENT books - Take Your Best Shot, To The Target and Beyond The Target take the MYSTERY out of missing targets so you can shoot more CONSISTENTLY! Order Books!
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