The truth is, there is no free ride to higher scores. At least not consistently higher scores.
OK. Any good news? Absolutely.
Recently we’ve been talking about the shooting fundamentals – what I call the non-negotiable basics. I call them that because, regardless of shooter age, gender or skill level, when swing precision is compromised, missing can now be expected. This means (after safety, of course) reducing “random gun movement” (RGM) moves to the front of the line in importance. RGM is kryptonite to X’s and our best shooting.
“Plan your work…
Work your plan.”
Previously, we discussed what our Break Point and Foot Position have to do with our set-up on the target. Step-by-step we’re deliberately setting up a swing that will minimize RGM. And while we can’t realistically control what takes place 40 yards downrange at the target, we CAN control swing precision. Job 1 – that precision – or not – will decide OXOXXO or XXXXXX.
Which brings us to what I believe – and teach – is the most important step in our set-up on the target: our “muzzle hold point” (MHP). This is where our swing will start, the very first, critical movement of the gun when the trap machine fires.
Many believe the Break Point is the most important place on the target’s flight path. Completely understandable. For good reasons. However – way back at the MHP where the swing begins – if the swing starts incorrectly, creating the wrong bird / barrel relationship – why would the swing end correctly with the right bird / barrel relationship at the Break Point? X sometimes? Sure – IF the swing can be corrected on time before the Break Point and trigger pull. Erratic, this is a swing in “repair mode.” Dependable? Nope. X consistently? Not going to happen. Compromise the swing precision with RGM = OXOXXO. Predictably. And not because I say so.
I don’t use math in my teaching. So, at the risk of opening Pandora’s box, I want to say this as briefly as possible. There is an art to good shooting. That would be the shooter. Here’s the science. Swing precision is a non-negotiable basic because – shooting a rifle, handgun or shotgun – precision with all 3 is strictly governed by math. Geometry, physics, trigonometry, yadayada. Make a mistake back here and it will cost you way out there. Consider this: during your swing – make a 2-inch mistake at the muzzle and your point of impact at 40 yards just moved off the target 4 FEET. Any questions? That’s RGM. Rifle and handgun shooters understand this and how very little latitude there is with precision. Shotgun shooters? Not so much. After all, we’ve got a pattern out there THIS BIG. No offense – how’s that plan working out?
To add swing precision means we have to decrease RGM. And that has to happen “way back here” at the beginning of our swing at the MHP.
The MHP should be set up correctly so the muzzle can intercept that target, on time. Miss that intercept and say hello to RGM. For a swing and trigger pull to end successfully – that intercept – target / muzzle alignment – is critical. For XXXXXX consistently – it is required. Non-negotiable. The math says so.
This is why our set up on a target shouldn’t be taken for granted. Carefully – intentionally – placing our MHP correctly allows us to achieve that punctual target / muzzle alignment. That alignment – precision – puts our muzzle a) on the target line and b) matches the target speed – 2 critical conditions for X consistency. ALL at the very beginning of our swing. 90% of our work is now completed with minimal or no RGM. No stress – no extra corrections needed – just a beautiful, smooth swing. These X’s are planned, intentional and repeatable! A system that is uber-dependable and trustworthy.
The early bird / barrel alignment I am speaking of can vary somewhat – slightly behind, on, or in front of the target – depending on shooter preference and shooting method being used. But it can’t be compromised early in the swing. Not if the shooter is determined to be consistent. And why our MHP is the most important step in our set-up on the target.
By failing to prepare…
You are preparing to fail.”
There’s no judgment being cast here when I say, too often shooters are casual when they set-up on a target. Good shooters – consistently good shooters – are not casual. They are deliberate. XXXXXX. Intentionally. A system you can learn and use just as effectively.
Thanks for stopping by. Be safe and I hope to see 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!
Take the MYSTERY out of missing targets and help you quickly learn steps to shoot more CONSISTENTLY! Order Dan's 3 books NOW!
Newest Release...Take Your Best Shot (Book I), 3rd Edition isTHE Gold Standard Primer...
and is 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' 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."
David T. Dobson, M.B.A.
Paragon Master Instructor
NSCA Instructor, Level III
NSSA Instructor, Level III
Mark EngenThese 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 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.