A few truths first. Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. The target presentations we’re shooting now are definitely not the presentations of year’s past. Intentionally, today’s presentations are more complex, more challenging than ever before. Which means exactly what? It means our good old reliable “hand-eye coordination” (HEC) with endless trial and error past practice targets – which broke targets – won’t break today’s targets consistently or dependably. Not gonna happen, McGee. It’s a humbling lesson that is lost on far too many shooters.
Our shooting game is built on our beliefs.
Can we advance if our beliefs don’t change?
Daniel L. Schindler
HEC is still very important, but today’s targets additionally require more precise set-up and swing “structure.” That structure – which is set-up “steps” and swing management – is critically necessary and not an option. Control of your muzzles has moved to the front of the line. That control is a requirement to build consistency and dependability into one’s game.
OK, let’s move on and visualize one of the most important swing steps – target / muzzle alignment. Picture your gun in complete harmony with the target. Many very good shooters maintain that the muzzle be “on” the target early before the trigger pull. Good advice. Others suggest doing the same only placing the muzzle slightly behind or ahead of the target early – again, before the trigger pull. There are advantages and disadvantages to each muzzle “placement,” depending on who is talking to you. And, trust me on this, no one muzzle placement fits all target presentations. Some targets will have to be approached from behind thanks to the target setter and pair presentations. Nonetheless, the bird / barrel harmony is absolutely essential to CONSISTENT success in the shooting box.
Here’s why we can’t lose that brief, repetitious, ever-dependable target / muzzle connection. Achieving that connection early develops THE constant swing component that creates the all-important CONSISTENCY in your swing. Skip that step for any reason, and there’s your hiccup – which will invariably and predictably, like a silent thief in the night, lead to a missed target. Your bird / barrel alignment early and mid-way through the swing is what I call a non-negotiable. The target setter may make you bend that rule slightly here and there, but it is a constant non-negotiable requisite for consistently good shooting. Miss that alignment and gun control has now been compromised – OXXOOX. And that is as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow.
Let’s back up a moment and talk about the set-up and swing structure mentioned earlier. It’s that structure that reduces random gun movement (RGM) – the random movement that causes swing inconsistencies – which causes missing. Got it? Ever so briefly on the target; ever so briefly in front or slightly behind the target; it’s that precise bird / barrel alignment which builds consistency into your swing – XXXXXX.
Personally speaking, top shooters like Duffy, Cherry, McGuire, Carlisle, Matarese, Callahan, Sorrentino, et al, have not built their winning reputations by using only their God-given HEC. These are not only abundantly skilled shooters. They are wise men and women who’ve patiently, relentlessly built their highly successful games on a tremendous amount of hard work and sound gun-management principles. The very same universal principles being discussed here that deliver superior shooting. Kudos to each of these men and women who’ve earned their top rankings.
All of this is a major step beyond just using HEC to break targets. Actual, measurable improvement in your shooting game can only be built by learning – then adding – this essential structure. While the individual steps may vary slightly from shooter to shooter – Instructor to Instructor – they are absolutely required to achieve the necessary gun control. It is the very one and the same control that delivers a better performance in the shooting box and higher scores – on time – predictably and dependably.
Is your shotgun a garden hose or is it a precision scalpel?
I started this piece with the term “Time Management” in mind. From seconds to milliseconds, how much time each target gives us and how to best use that time without errors. Which target is first; which shooting method goes where; how to decide where each breakpoint will be to produce XXXXXX. The point here being, no offense to you, is that CARELESSNESS costs. If you’re not sure why you are inconsistent – STOP. Slowly, carefully, and precisely examine your set-up and swing. It must be PRECISE and it must be CORRECT, every single time.
I got sidetracked a bit and slowed down to discuss why target / muzzle harmony is a necessary gun control issue. Skip the harmony, and you will lose your consistency. That hiccup in your game ends the mystery in the vast majority of your misses.
There’s a plan at work here folks. These are steps that will work for anyone who will take the time to learn and use them correctly. They are your ladder from OXOOXO to XXXXXX. These are not empty promises, but there are no magic beans. This is the vital knowledge you must have to build the performance and the resultant scores you deserve.
To see the scores you want,
you must change the way you look at your shooting.
Daniel L. Schindler
Another thanks to Bob Lockett, Paragon Senior Instructor for his insightful input here. We appreciate your visiting with us today. 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!
Here's what Michael Bane (Outdoor Channel Shooting Gallery) had to say about Dan Schindler:
We were filming a sporting clays episode of SHOOTING GALLERY, something you guys have been asking me about for years. The big delay was finding an instructor I was comfortable with and felt would fit into the SG model, such as it is. I found Dan Schindler through his book, TO THE TARGET, and his work on mental training and was impressed with his holistic view of the shooting sports. He proved to be every bit as good — and better — than we expected. As always, my goal is take-home value, which I think you guys have come to expect. He is truly a world-class instructor capable of taking complex actions and breaking them down into simple, repeatable pieces...and good heavens, doesn't sport shooting need more of that!
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.
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"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 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 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.
Don N Lisha SanteGot my three-book set. Read Take Your Best Shot (Book I) and can’t put book II down. Can’t wait to apply all I’ve learned tomorrow now that the rains gone.
Steve PowersI got my copy about a month ago. I’ve read it twice, cover to cover & reviewed the sequence of steps multiple times. Good Book.
Jim ButlerI've read my copies twice now and it has absolutely picked up my game. Joined a sporting clays league this spring. Increased my top score by 7. Thought them to be expensive at first, but now find them extremely valuable now. Thank You !!!
David ParksReceived mine yesterday and have one chapter left to read. Can’t wait to get to the range and practice the new techniques I have learned. Now I feel like I have a system to work with instead of shoot and hope.
Bill FibelkornCalled the number on their website, ( leary of ordering through Facebook posts) and Mr. Schlinder himself answered the phone. One of the most pleasant people I have ever talked to about anything. Whenever I get a chance to get down his way, I am going to get in touch with him to shoot. Got my books this weekend, read the first one and it reminded me of the basics. Just started on the second one, going to keep reading them over and over. The best reading you have for shooting clays.