Dec 26, 2020 | By: Daniel Schindler, Master Sporting Clays, Skeet, Trap and Wingshooting Instructor
Pick one for a higher X count. Luck or skill? With luck, you only get one and that’s luck – sometimes. With skill, you’ll have both skill AND luck.
“Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember,
it didn’t work out too well for the rabbit.”
R. E. Shaw
In short, this is about a belief and how that belief relentlessly betrays so many shooters. I offer it to you constructively with no disrespect intended. It’s a truth I believe merits your consideration, nothing more.
Generally speaking, and I think I speak for all of us when I say this, breaking the target is genuinely satisfying. And why wouldn’t it be? Obviously, we did something right. Yes? I mean, there’s the X! Based on that X – it seems coming to that conclusion is automatic. Who wants to argue that? Well, while the belief about that being a great swing seems entirely logical in so many ways, let’s back up a moment and look at where that belief takes us.
Your belief that your swing was “right,” is that belief based merely on the “result,” an X? Asked another way, from a purely objective standpoint, does that X confirm your swing was actually correct?
Enthusiasm and skill make good friends…
but only one puts more Xs on a score card.
In my humble opinion, generally speaking, those of us on the clay shooting courses fall into 2 groups. Those who shoot solely for entertainment purposes, and those who are much more score conscious.
For the first group, the debate over whether each X was luck or skill is totally irrelevant. And rightfully so. Maybe it’s irrelevant in your personal shooting? Good on you. We all shoot for our own personal reasons and not a single one of those reasons needs explaining to anyone. Yes, X’s will matter today, but nowhere near as much as the trash talk, friendly competition, and camaraderie with friends.
Then there’s the second group where the X count does matter. Like, a lot! For this group: beware of the X trap. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling gratified over an X on your score card, how is that X is perceived? What does it tell you? A perfect swing? For all of us in this group – where our X count does matter – is this conclusion a perception or reality?
Understandably, it is all too common for a shooter to believe that XX XX XX absolutely proves his/her shooting is improving. The perception is, those X’s are all the evidence needed. And then, on the very next Station, XO OX XO. All too often, the reality is, at each Station, some of these X’s may very well have been luck. This is the X trap where “beliefs” about accumulating progress and higher scores are based solely on the deceitfully encouraging results, X’s here, X’s there. But never consistently. For the social shooter, no harm done. However, for the many shooters whose X count is very important, truthfully now, how many of these random X’s are the result of luck and not skill? And that’s important because? A lucky (inconsistent) swing simply cannot be consistent. OX XO XO OX. The question now is, should anyone believe an inconsistent (lucky) swing can be counted on to realistically raise scores and not just today? No. And there ends the perception, the misconception that X’s here and there confirm a game is getting better.
Looking at the lucky swing…
Imperfect but still effective.
What’s sacrificed is consistency.
As a full-time, very busy Instructor / Coach, I regularly work with shooters who – with the very best of intentions – have fallen into the X trap, faithfully believing all their previous X’s would indeed lead to something better and have not. With a history of unmet expectations, they haven’t for a long time. The reason they haven’t is because luck on its own, at best, is a needy substitute for skill in the shooting box.
Luck rarely finds the shooter who depends on it.
Actual, predictable shooting improvement is the outcome of skill development, along with a strong dose of luck – occurring in that order. When your set-up and swing are based on luck – a hope and a “don’t miss” prayer – believing this X will lead to more X’s – is simply wishful thinking. And here, I’ll ask that you not shoot the messenger. Thanks.
A wake-up call? Maybe just a friendly reminder. Hey, seriously, I’m on your side. I too would like to see your scores move up. And why I am suggesting, seeing the X trap for what it is would be a good first step.
Thanks for joining me here again 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
and parents of youth shooters."
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
Paragon School of Sporting Professional Instructor
NSCA Level II Instructor
NSSA Skeet Instructor
NC State Scholastic Clay Target Program Advisor & Coach
“Few authors have tried to take the shooter on from the novice stage to serious competitor. “To The Target” does just that and it is one of the most innovative and important books yet published on the art of shooting clay targets.”
"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."