I am indeed blessed that I am a very busy Instructor/Coach. Every day, Cheryl and I take calls from shooters who are unhappy with their current shooting performances. They are absolutely correct when they tell us, they know they are capable of better. Much better.
Some have already taken lessons from other Instructors. And yet, this shooter’s noticeable, improvement – in the box and on the scorecard – remains absent. To understand why raises questions around 2 very different sessions, time spent with an Instructor.
The first session, I refer to as Gentleman’s Coaching, a noble Instructor assignment. However, the shooter is not here today to learn anything. The shooter’s only goal: have fun and break as many targets as possible. Meaning the Instructor has only 2 objectives. One is safety (across the board in all lessons). The other is entertainment. See the shooter’s goal. Every target thrown today will be extremely easy, a “can’t miss” bird. No exceptions. Point and shoot. XXXXXXXXXX. Goal accomplished. Learning and shooting improvement – are not on the agenda. And why a shooter who is seeking shooting improvement should not accidentally find him/herself in a Gentleman’s Coaching session.
Feed a man a fish – feed him for a day. That’s Gentleman’s Coaching.
As the months go by, maybe you have expectations of your shooting improving? More X’s? More consistency? The question is, precisely, how to do that? If you seek improvement with an Instructor, this type of lesson is what I call “Formal Instruction.” Here, you will be expecting your Instructor to spot – exactly – correctly – what is a) happening correctly, or b) incorrectly; breaking down in each and every swing. Before the trigger pull – for both X and O – WHY did that just happen? Because this is not Gentlemen’s Coaching. This will be about the level of teaching competency and successful student learning. Necessary learning.
After decades of teaching thousands of students, here are obligations I believe your Instructor should fulfill in a Formal lesson.
To teach you – step by patient step – the required, non-negotiable shooting fundamentals. These are the required, essential, set-up and swing components – the very foundation under consistent shooting. The minimum requirements for teaching (and shooting) competency. Because an inconsistent, malfunctioning swing simply cannot be consistent – in the box – or at the target. That’s a given and why your Instructor must know the basics, those individual steps. Until the inconsistencies are adjusted and corrected – by the Instructor and student – actual shooting improvement remains wishful thinking.
Missing is completely understandable, a given, for everyone. From this miss, is your Instructor explaining why you missed. Not where – why? The truth is – the actual cause of the error occurred before the trigger pull, not after. And that is important because? What was that error? If you are not learning what that error was – how can you – on your own – “self-correct” your miss and break the very next target? Dependably? Consistently? If you are not learning how to self-correct your miss with an Instructor behind you – what will you do tomorrow when you miss and there’s no Instructor behind you? Once again, this is not about X’s and O’s like Gentleman’s Coaching. This is all about learning specifically “how” to correct your miss and break more targets – quickly and consistently. That’s the formula. Step-by-step, predictable improvement – in the box and on your scorecard.
Learning how to self-correct applies to the X as well. Was that last X an accident – or a well-executed swing? If you are not sure – what is the plan for this shell – this target? Repeat the uncorrected error and hope for the best – or duplicate that well-executed swing? Which one? Ask your Instructor. If all this is a mystery, how can you trust your next swing to work? Consistently? The Instructor should know – and the student learns – why that target just broke. Exactly. If the X was an accident and the error isn’t corrected, what are the odds the next target will break? Hope is not a plan.
Teach a man “how” to fish – and feed him for a lifetime.
That is a Formal Lesson, all based on your Instructor’s obligations and competency. Successfully teaching the specific steps – the indispensable fundamentals.
For example, if your Instructor makes a corrective recommendation – and you do follow that recommendation correctly – does the target break? Consistently? No, not Gentleman’s Coaching targets. Sporting Clays targets. If you are following his/her recommendation – and the targets are not breaking?
Yes, targets can be broken with an inconsistent swing. But not consistently. Precision – gun management – is not optional in any of the shooting sports. Rifle, handgun or shotgun shooting – errors will cause missing. If your Instructor does not know or can’t see these errors – how can you see and correct your errors? Said respectfully – when and where will your improvement come from?
Feed a man a fish – feed him for a day. That’s Gentleman’s Coaching. Or – teach him how to fish – and feed him for a lifetime. That’s the objective of a Formal Lesson. In my experienced opinion, it is totally fair and reasonable for you to expect your Instructor to know the difference – and handle your session accordingly. If we focus on the word improvement – an X by itself might not represent success. Success only comes from repetitiously assembling the fundamentals and building an error-free, consistent swing. That is precisely where consistency, improvement and higher scores come from.
Thank you for joining us here. Take care and I hope to see you out on the course.
Dan Schindler is one of only 60 worldwide members of the 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!
NEW Take Your Best Shot (Book I) 3rd Edition is all about the fundamentals, a requirement for good shooting.
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' life's work as a teacher, competitor, published writer and much more.