Dec 15, 2018 | By: Daniel Schindler, Paragon Master Sporting Clays Instructor; Wingshooting Instructor; Mental Coach
As I sit here, fingers on my keyboard typing this article, I can already hear the cries of disagreement. Schindler is nuts! So be it. If you want the “magic bean” to improve your shooting, here it is. I’m asking you to let go and reconsider how you may be trying to break a target.
Here you stand, gripping your bowling ball as you face the pins. Question – yes or no, please – can you knock down the pins? Think about it for a moment before you answer. The answer is no. At the foul line – which you are not allowed cross – once the ball leaves your fingers by 1/1000th of an inch – how much control do you have over the ball now? None. Zero. The ball knocks down the pins, not personal expectations or determination.
One person is trying very hard to knock down all the pins. The other is doing his/her best to guide the ball. The critical difference here – and my point in this article – is where is each person’s attention? One person’s attention is “down there” at the pins, trying mightily to knock them all down. The other’s attention is “back here” at the foul line, intensely focused on precise ball placement, speed, and curl. Both will knock down pins but the individual who is concentrating on guiding the ball will not only knock down more pins but do it more consistently. Folks, this is a no-brainer.
What does this have to do with your shooting? Everything.
Pick your favorite, the very best clay target shooter you know, or know of. Now, give this person a box of shells and ask him/her to shoot this target. The trap machine is set to throw a soft, incoming teal. No tricks. Distance, 25 yards. Hang time? 11 minutes, give or take a few minutes. Yes or no – can your shooter break this target? If you said yes, please think about this for a moment.
Bang. Shot fired. Once the shot string (or bullet) is on the other side of that muzzle by 1,1000th of an inch – how much control over the shot outcome does the shooter have now? None. His/her work is done. It’s over. Have a seat and we’ll all watch what happens “out there” at the target.
Which brings us to this question. Should we be trying to control that outcome (trying to break the target) – or put our attention on guiding our gun? Our attention can’t be in 2 places at the same time so we’ll have to choose which is more important. Mental focus (NOT visual focus) – all your attention here in the box guiding the gun – or “out there” trying to break the target? Which one do you have control over? Only the shot string can break the target. And who’s guiding that shot string?
At Paragon, for these reasons, our students are taught to focus on their specific TASKS, not outcomes. Outcomes are down range, “out there” at the target at varying distances. All of which are on the other side of the muzzle. So, here’s what is key. X or 0 will always be decided by what took place on THIS side of the muzzle BEFORE the trigger pull. A “process” which we CAN control. Making this process of guiding the gun the priority and where we place our attention.
Swing errors will be costly, losing targets. Count on it. And why Paragon students are first taught their gun management tasks, the basics. How to execute very specific steps to ensure proper gun movement, by focusing on the process. When – and only when – that simple process is executed correctly will the target break dependably, predictably and consistently. There’s a Truth, a scientific fact proven countless times.
So, yes, we should know those basics, the individual set-up, and swing steps. Without those basics – we’re left with trying to break the target – something we (arguably) can’t control. What happens if we wisely decide to move our attention to where it should be – on guiding the gun – but don’t know what those basics/tasks are?
To break targets with any consistency, we first have to learn the setup and swing steps. Using those steps, we then have to focus our mental attention on the process of guiding our gun correctly. X or 0 – and our consistency – will depend on how well we understand and do both of those things.
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!
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To The Target (Book II) speaks directly to gun (swing) management—why it is so critically important— how to do it correctly. For the benefit of both Wingshooters in the field and Sporting Clays shooters, Book II was written in plain language that simplifies the correct gun mount and swing process. It very logically explains what typically happens when the gun starts moving and how to correct those unintentional inconsistencies. As pointed out in all 3 books, repeating and reinforcing random gun movements simply can’t lead to skill improvements and better shooting performances. Book II builds on the foundation outlined in Book I.
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