Dec 12, 2020 | By: Daniel Schindler, Master Sporting Clays, Skeet, Trap and Wingshooting Instructor
Just asking…missing too many targets lately? XO OX OO inconsistent? Confused?
Have you tried this?
“I usually take a 2-hour nap from 1 to 4.”
Yeah…and that makes about as much sense as this…
In spite of more than a decade of hard evidence to the contrary, some Instructors are still telling their students to stare harder at the target. See the target and ONLY the target. Maybe you’ve heard this? Focus HARD, see the rings and edges. OXOO. LOOK HARDER. Like something magical will happen. So you do. OOO. NO, look harder please and THE TARGET WILL BREAK! And when it does break – see, there’s all the proof you need. Case closed! Right? Well…what about when it doesn’t break? And this you can bet your last dime on, right on schedule it won’t break. OXOO?? Now what? Stare at the target until your eyes blur?
Becoming doubtful? Suspicious? Good on you.
If you’ve been following this advice and are wondering why you are not more consistent in Sporting Clays, Trap or Skeet, here’s what’s missing (no pun intended).
From the beginning using some common sense…
Did you miss the target? That’s OK, welcome to the club, we all do. Now what? Well – the important question now is – do you know why you missed? As in what actually caused the miss? Not where someone said you missed it (behind it, over it, etc.), but why – what was the swing error that took place inside the shooting box? So you can correct it. Unintentionally of course, swing precision was compromised. Folks…this is the same precision that is required IF we want to hit our targets consistently. The simple truth is, what caused your miss took place in your swing before the trigger pull, not after. Just as what went right before the trigger pull caused the break. Hopefully, you saw that, what went right or wrong? Yes?
Consistently good shooting is all about guiding your gun so you can see and develop the correct sight pictures before the trigger pull. I’m referring to your seeing the visual, moving “relationship” between the bird and your barrel. We know where the target was. Where was your gun during the swing, start to finish?
Looking but not seeing.
A dependable shooting method?
Where your shotgun really is (not where you might think or hope it is) – in relation to the moving target – is critical to the success of each shot. Which asks the question – when the trap fires, do you know where it is? Just staring at the target harder…that’s shooting in the dark.
Seeing is believing…right?
Well, that depends. What are you watching?
Say hello to your MA.
Can your swing be consistent – can you depend on your swing if you don't know where your muzzle is? Folks, so we have no misunderstandings, let’s be absolutely clear about 2 things.
First, and most importantly, we must keep our primary vision on the target – leaving our PERIPHERAL vision to guide the muzzle. How we do that is just as simple and no different than pointing your finger at a moving clay. Eyes on the clay, finger in your PERIPHERAL vision, were you pointing at the target? Yes, of course, you were! If you didn’t see your blurry finger, how would you know where your finger was pointing?
Second, a TOTAL focus on the target – with no MA (muzzle “awareness”) – can break a target, sometimes. Sometimes? This is because using the TOTAL focus method flat guarantees inconsistent shooting in the clay target sports. This is not opinion or speculation. Good shooters around the world depend on their visual “bird/barrel relationships,” sight pictures, to break their targets consistently. They don’t leave home without MA.
The shooter who watches these bird/barrel relationships has 2 huge advantages over those who don't. First – after the X – the sight pictures that appeared over the barrel during the previous swing can now be repeated from visual memory. Having used MA, our shooter watched what happened and can now successfully repeat the same swing, XX XX XX, and do this intentionally. Second – Lost target – using MA to see the swing error – there is no mystery about what caused the miss. None. Visually correcting the swing mistake…XX XX XX, predictably.
In my experienced, professional opinion, X or O, without MA, if you didn't see what happened before the trigger was pulled – specifically – what is the plan for the next shell going into your gun? You’re not sure? OK…but take a moment to consider: can your swing be dependable if it’s not precise? And, how can it be precise if don’t know where your barrel is? Staring at the target and blindly trusting your muzzle will always be in the right place – right there is the formula for inconsistent shooting.
A few years back, esteemed Editor George Conrad published 2 of my well-documented articles on MA in Sporting Clays magazine. Those 2 articles are included in my third book, Beyond The Target.
“Trust but verify.”
-- Ronald Reagan
Had Mr. Reagan been a clay shooter, I’m sure he would have told you. Trust your MA.
God bless and Happy Holidays. Thanks for joining us here today. Be safe and I look forward to seeing 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!
"Recommended for shooters of all skill levels, Coaches, Instructors
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Schindler's books are written for shooters like you!
Take the mystery out of missing targets and feathers with Dan Schindler's simple, easy-to-understand books. They're your road map for consistently and dependably shooting higher scores.
Warning: Shooters from around the world tell us ...if you lend these 3 excellent books to your shooting buddies, you may never see the books again! Some say they'd give up their spouse before they give up these books.
Take Your Best Shot (Book I), 3rd Edition isTHE Gold Standard Primer It's 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.
Here's what Shooters, Coaches and Clay Shooting USA saying...
"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."
Jacksonville University Sporting, Skeet & Trap Team
(Founding & Head Coach)
SCTP & ACUI Event and Divisional National Champions
Paragon Master Instructor
NSCA Instructor, Level III
NSSA Instructor, Level III
"Take Your Best Shot is the greatest publication ever written on how to increase X’s on a score card and put more game birds in a hunting vest. In plain language, Take Your Best Shot teaches the essential, non-negotiable basics for building shooting excellence. It should be a required text for every clay target shooter, Wingshooter, Coach, Instructor and parent of a youth shooter who is looking for a step-by-step shooting “system” that is easy to understand, repeatable and utterly dependable. Take Your Best Shot is not only the best, but the only book that provides this knowledge. Seriously – Take Your Best Shot is a must have for every shotgunner."
Jeff Allen, Head Coach Carolina Clays
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"This third volume in the Paragon school trilogy is the second best thing to booking a lesson with Schindler himself. Dan writes the way he coaches in person: respectfully, provocatively, humorously, and, most of all, effectively. His new book informs the Sporting Clays arts not only with a clear and proven blueprint for breaking (many) more targets, but with great heart as well."