Sports. It conjures up images of tremendous endurance, speed, and muscle. Players hit hard, play hard. With intensity and aggressiveness, the tempo is fast. Want to win? Get tough. It’s all about more—more speed, more torque. Bigger and faster is better. We have Indy blood. We are addicted to the lip-curled, anytime, anywhere-you-want attitude.
Misdirecting that determination, however, can cost us critically needed precision in our swing. Compromise that precision and scores will go down. Predictably. Precision is King—not speed or power.
Sporting is not a game of muscular dominance but control. It is here where trying to “force” the break leads us away from doing what good shooting requires. Swing the gun too fast and unfortunately, sometimes the target will break. Unfortunately? Yes. Because those X’s reinforce the belief—if gun speed broke the target—more gun speed will likely break more targets.
This belief grows until gun speed goes out of control, scores go down, consistency is lost and our shooter plateaus. It is here where the targets that are broken, stingily feed our shooter encouragement to do it again. Only to have the cycle of inconsistency continue. Too much aggression in the swing leads to blazing barrels—a misguided muzzle—and a determined shot string sent to the wrong address. It’s the controlled swing and shot placement that breaks targets consistently—not testosterone.
It’s the X’s here and X’s there that increase the dependency on excessive gun speed to break the target. On a good day, when the timing is just right, XXXXXX making this method of shooting very seductive. Those who do it well, love it. Until it stops working. It still feels right. It’s the same swing. But the target flies off intact and the 0’s are piling up. What’s wrong? What happened to consistency?
Unfortunately, every X or 0 will depend on the timing of the trigger pull. Pull the trigger even a fraction of a second too soon, or too late, 00. Those who can manage the timing can be effective with this aggressive tempo but I’ve met very few who can do it reliably and consistently. Those who lean hard on timing the shot will too often get the timing wrong. Not only that, excessive gun speed makes it difficult if not impossible to see the critically needed bird/barrel relationships (sight pictures) during the swing.
Before they pull the trigger, those who discipline themselves to see their sight pictures—albeit briefly—put the odds in their favor. The brain won’t signal for the trigger-pull until the planned picture appears—a highly valued shooting habit. The results are not only impressive but consistent. It’s the slower swing that reveals those sight pictures, which create more X’s.
"Feather or clay, shotgun consistency is all about what we see and controlling our movements."
Putting the shot string on a flight path where it will intercept our target requires swing control and the right sight picture. Both come from a slower swing. The objective is to precisely control the movement.
In and out of my classes, I see a lot of un-controlled gun speed. It is because target speeds vary that we do have to adjust our swing speed accordingly. Much of this adjusting will be based on visual feedback—and the higher the gun speed the less the feedback. The less the visual feedback, the more control we lose in each swing.
HOA won’t go to the hairy-chested who retrieves his 32” club and triumphantly drags home the biggest mastodon. Our game is not about force but rather who can be the most precise the most times. When it comes to swing speed, less is definitely more. A LOT less.
SWING SPEED: WHY LESS CREATES MORE X’s
In the first 2 of the 3 steps, the correct swing speed will match the muzzle and target speed.
A much slower swing creates much better sight pictures = more precision = more Xs!
Excessive gun speed eliminates critically needed visual feedback during the swing.
Shot placement always determines X or 0. That consistent placement will depend on the sight picture and knowing exactly when to pull the trigger. A much slower swing will let you know when. Exactly.
Thank you for stopping by. Be safe and enjoy this glorious Fall season!
Dan Schindler is one of only 60 worldwide members of theGuild 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 Your Best Shot (Book I) 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.