May 16, 2020 | By: Daniel Schindler, Master Sporting Clays, Skeet, Trap and Wingshooting Instructor
Our recent series on the pre-shot, set-up Basics got us down in the weeds sorting out the specifics, the correct sequence of those Basics. Not just what…but when, where, how, and why each of those 4 steps (in Book 1, Take Your Best Shot) are essential to putting more X’s on your score card…consistently. I thought we might want to stand up, take a break, and put a bird’s eye view on how so many shooters games typically develop…why some shooter's games mature and why others don’t.
“The Truth…the whole Truth…and nothing but the Truth.”
I. What a joyful revelation it is when we discover the utter enjoyment of breaking clay targets. Hand-eye coordination is the shooting method we use, the only one we have. Scores? Not so great…but who cares? Our old field gun confesses some age but targets are breaking and that’s all that matters. O’s are conveniently overlooked…every X applauded, ensuring our return. We are happy and rightfully so.
II. Without it being obvious of course…‘cept for our staring…we’ve begun watching one of the ‘regulars’ who is breaking more targets than we are. Sherlock we are not but AHA!!THIS we have detected! It HAS TO BE their gun. Off we go to look at gun candy, where our dream comes true…we find THE ONE. It costs how much? OK…maybe skip a mortgage payment or two? But, if this is what higher scores cost…so be it. HOA’s don’t come cheap! Absolutely promising us more X’s, that box is going home with us. Poorer we may be, but who’s your Daddy now!! Begone mediocrity!
III. Yee haw!! The new gun is working! Mostly. Sometimes. Say what? Sometimes? Time out. Something’s missing. Obviously, we need some of those “Deluxe Pro” choke tubes. Back to the candy store. They cost how much? @#$%&!…forget that. We know they work…see…right HERE it says so on the box…guarantees XXXXXXXX. Visions of grandeur…stand back folks!!
IV. Those Deluxe Pro chokes work great…for some people…but not for us over the last few weeks. Surely there’s a reason? Maybe it’s our ammunition? That’s it!! We heard some of the best shooters say they like the “Double X Thunders.” Those 3 flats cost how much? Will you take a post-dated check? OK…seriously now…can there be ANY doubts about our shooting better? We ache with anticipation! C’mon Saturday!!
The unexpected Humbling
V. As the week-ends pass, the enjoyment in our shooting begins to wane. Bewildered by X’s and O’s, we’re fed up with our expectations and irritations chewing non-stop on our confidence. Like that’s not enough, how to repeat the X “consistently” remains stubbornly unsolved. Our scoring angels…unanimously exasperated btw…all left and are over there helping Bill Nevermiss. We shoot better on Saturday, then…on the very same course…fall down on Sunday. Repeating these up-and-down performances…with no sign of any real consistency or improvement…leaves us lost and disoriented with no compass.
“And that’s the way it is.”
Wait!! Behold…the Awakening
VI. (Expletive deleted) Bill Nevermiss is using the exact same gun, choke, and shell we are. This disturbing Truth—while painful – also tells us something. Really? Like what? Exactly? "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
“The problem with being self-taught is often the Teacher.”
Witness the Revelation…
VII. Well…turns out it ain’t our equipment. It’s us. This is the turning point. No longer can it be just about X's and O's. This is the blunt realization…we will have to change what we are doing in the shooting box. History has clearly shown us, forestalling those changes will delay any consistent, ongoing improvements in our shooting, and scores, until after the mountains disappear into the plains. The harsh truth is, there most definitely are skills involved…presently absent…and, in order to improve our game, “the process” of developing those skills must now become priority 1.
If only perfect practice makes perfect…
what does a flat of shells accomplish if, at the end of that practice,
we can’t specifically identify what was learned?
I’ll have what’s behind Door Number 3, please! The Solution...
VIII. While highly demanding mentally…it is here where we move our attention away from X’s and O’s (outcomes)…and shift our attention to adding the Basics; our TASKS; the “steps;” the structure into our game, with every shell, every target. It is only through this process that we can improve our gun management skills, add necessary precision, and raise our X count! Whether on our own with the problematic “trial-and-error” method…or under the guidance of a COMPETENT Instructor…to move our game up…to raise our scores…our mission is to learn how to DELIBERATELY and REPEATEDLY build the fundamentally correct swing. That entails…actually requires…executing each step by following a very specific set-up and swing formula.
1 shell, 1 target…practicing a technique is great.
But, if you don’t see and then act on the effects of that practice shot,
how can you improve?
IX. This is called “calculated practice”…where we see our mistake…correct it…learn from it…our ladder to higher scores. Skip the useless frustration and focus HARD on WHY…what we learned from that miss. From an O to an X with ONE shell. If an X…confirm WHY that target broke. If the swing was correct…repeat. If the X was a coincidence, see the error and correct it. X. X. X. X. ON PURPOSE! X or O, what we learn offers us a pearl. To walk past the pearl and miss the lesson comes from a misguided focus on wishful thinking, i.e. expectations, not improvement.
X. Consider letting go of ALL personal expectations and give ourselves some room to remember that this really IS a simple game, but NOT an easy game…a game of skills. Skills that can only be earnt. So…big and small…rejoice and savor every single lesson we learn. Folks, a cumulative Kaizen process, this is the practice of patience, self-forgiveness, and tenacity…step-by-step improvement …the wisdom of the advancing shooter. There is no elevator to success…we each have to take the stairs.
“The only place where success comes before work…
is in the dictionary.”
Thanks for joining us here. It is appreciated. As we did here, later, Robert and I will discuss some of the techniques that apply to the more intermediate and advancing skills. In the meantime, be safe and we look forward to seeing 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."
Mark Engen, DVM These 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.