Jan 2, 2020 | By: Daniel Schindler, Master Sporting Clays, Skeet Trap and Wingshooting Instructor
Fix your swing…
Master Your Tempo."
It was Saturday and I had a quiet weekend to myself. So – knowing the critical role of gun management in our sport – off I went to the golf driving range to confirm my theory that slowing my swing down by a substantial margin might keep my ball on the fairway.
Here’s how my session went.
After buying a bucket of balls, I didn’t have any clubs so the manager looked under his mower in the gardening shed and found a 7 iron, a 3 wood, and a driver. The woods were typical driving range clubs, both bent, but, what the hey, I haven’t hit a golf ball since forever. Lifting the bucket off the counter I walked to the driving range with a confident, easy stride and did a push up to impress the young dudes watching.
With my lower back on fire and in spasms, the too-short 7 iron club nearly crippled me after a few swings. I was consoled by knowing even the pros take divots. Mine were the size of your Subaru but hey, I got to walk out and pick up my ball each time so I got better value from my bucket than those other guys.
Waiting for the Charlie-horse in both legs to subside, I put the 7 iron away and picked up the Driver. Only sissies use 3 woods ya’know. I told myself slow, slow, slow. Be graceful. Think smoooooth. Winding up slowwwwly, I CUT IT LOOSE – missed the ball completely and my follow thru had me facing the parking lot. OK, strike one. Old baseball swing habits die hard. Hard to admit it, but it did seem I could use a tiny bit of improvement here. And, as a preacher of positive thinking, let’s all not forget that my bucket was still nearly full.
OK Dan, tempo. Pace yourself. EEEEEssssssy now – up nice and slow, RRRRiippppp. My left hip outran the downswing by just a tad as I went for the left-field bleachers. Except that the ball went hard left across the driving range, over the fairway fence and rolled under the neighbor’s dog box, it was a spectacular shot. Yiiiiiikes but that hurt. I guess it was because I was lying face down in the grass that the guy behind me asked if I was OK. Told him, “Of course. Just looking for my tee.” Damn. Every swing so far at warp speed. Nothing like staying within myself.
OK, this one will be right. Up nice and smooth and down it went in slowwwwww motion. No kidding, I lasered it down the middle where it literally bounced off the 250-yard sign with a dead range ball that had been dredged up out of a swamp somewhere. Wanting to appear nonchalant I only did two fist-pumping celebration laps around the practice area to sounds of admiration. I think. They did get a little obnoxious when I walked out to find that ball though. You’d think they could be a little more respectful!!!
And so it went. 3 rocket downswings for every slow one. Each time I got it right – swing speed reduced about 80% – I sent it dead down the middle. Hey, I’m on to something here. SLOWER GIVES YOU BETTER CONTROL IN GOLF. What a novel concept!
I’ve decided not to put a notice in the paper about when I’ll be back on the links though – I don’t think I’m ready to play in front of a gallery yet.
Like it or not – we men being hardwired – it’s our nature to be the biggest, strongest, toughest bull in the pasture. Be it a shotgun, Tiger’s autographed driver or Barry Bond’s bat, when it’s our turn, everybody better step back and give us some room to swing. We know, the more we put into this the more we’ll get out, right? It seems fans live vicariously on watching bone-crushing tackles and long ball drives. Looking over our popcorn at the wide-screen as our hero takes out twelve heavily armed terrorists with his .22 derringer, for just a split second we think, “yeah, that’s how I’d do it.” This fever-pitched propensity for power, winning and “who’s your daddy” masculinity fuels this excitement. Without this adrenaline rush, sports would be as exciting as watching corn grow.
So where’s the surprise when we’re asked to hit a clay target with an Acme Thunder 12 gauge throwing lead at 1,400 fps? Muscles tense, eyebrows furrowed and a vice grip on the gun, move over NASCAR, bring it on! Two shots later, yonder targets float onto the pond unbroken. How can that be? Repeated missing only confuses and frustrates.
“Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.”
To really understand why all this machismo doesn’t work, I can’t think of a better visual example than to visit an LPGA golf tournament and watch the women on the practice tee. Gone is the grunting, Herculean effort to paste the ball into the next county. With supple grace and agility, she drives the ball 250 yards down the middle of the fairway. She does this without trying, using sublime effort and a relaxed swing that totally defies the impressive result. She knows. She understands. It’s more about control than power.
This is where Sporting Clays shooters sacrifice control for power, a common mistake costing us on our score sheet.
It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing
that assures the X.
Those with control – who bring the gun to bear on the target to develop their sight picture with the least amount of random movement – will break the most targets. This requires a gun speed where the eyes can track its placement during the swing and correctly time the trigger pull.
Though many blame their equipment, weather, the target setter or their next-door neighbor, the number one cause of loss of control is incorrect swing speed, in most cases going too fast. And it’s the level or degree of swing precision in the clay target disciplines that will decide X or O.
Testosterone has little value in the clay sports and “control” with a shotgun is arguably the single most important component of good shooting. Ever wonder why the top shooters look so smooth? It’s all about gun speed or more appropriately, being frugal with it. If you get out of the speed trap and put some precision in your swing, your scorecard will thank you for it. This is a case where less is definitely more.
Happy New Yeareveryone. I hope to see you out on the course.
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!
Newest Release...Take Your Best Shot (Book I), 3rd Edition isTHE Gold Standard Primer for shooters of ALL skill levels...
Solid, valuable, concise informationthat has helped thousands of shooters shoot more consistently with higher scores. It provides the steps and succinctly lays out the fundamentals required for good shooting. This book is used by recreational and competitive shooters...high school and college shooting teams from around the world.
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.