Aug 11, 2018 | By: Daniel Schindler, Paragon Master Sporting Clays Instructor and Wingshooting Teacher
If there’s a common denominator in the phone calls we receive regarding instruction, it’s about the same word…consistency. As in, “Why am I not consistent?”
The gentleman in Alaska was on the phone asking that question. His being a AA shooter, I could hear his frustration. He knew, correctly, that he was better than his scorecards were showing. After a few minutes of listening, I very politely explained that I knew why he was not consistent. After a bit of silence, he very respectfully said there wasn’t any way I could know that. He went on to say, we’d never met, and to his knowledge, I’d never seen him shoot. AND…he said he used the XYZ shooting method which is very reliable. He was right on all 3 counts, so no argument from me on any of that. However, I explained that I stood by my statement.
OK Dan, tell me why I am inconsistent.
After decades of teaching in this sport, I knew that what he perceived he was doing with his shotgun…would be different from what he was actually doing…as could be seen by standing behind him and watching carefully. I shared this with him, using a term I learned from Gary Greenway when he was the Chief Instructor at NSCA: perception versus reality.
Because I’ve watched this perception phenomenon many thousands of times, I explained that his swing…10 times in a row on the exact same target presentation…was not always the same. It was changing. At that moment, I did not know exactly what those inconsistencies were…but I did know there were inconsistencies in his swing. Again, politely, he disagreed with me a bit more strongly. So I asked, “What’s causing the 0’s on your scorecard. Not where…but why are you missing?” Another pause. He laughed and admitted he didn’t know and that maybe there was some merit to my statement.
He flew to the Carolina’s and was patiently shown what his gun was really doing. To say he was surprised would be an understatement. Step by step, we kept reducing the swing inconsistencies. Gradually, following the adjustment process, his swing was steadily becoming more and more precise, more consistent…the same, every single time…as evidenced by his increasing X count. His training was intensely focused on assembling a swing that was more consistent…the same, each and every time…to make it more precise, dependable, and trustworthy.
Once the decision is made to be more consistent at the target…and on our scorecard…then we have to become more precise, more consistent in the shooting box with our shot preparation…and our swing. That’s a requirement and not because I say so…but because set-up and swing inconsistencies will never allow a more consistent performance in the shooting box. A higher score might very well be achieved this weekend…but true, measurable consistency at the target will require more consistency behind the muzzle. This is a law of precision. There is no other way to move a skill level up.
I am often asked about choke changing…good or bad? Same for ammunition and, occasionally, changing guns. If a choke is changed…or the ammunition…or a gun…will any of those changes compensate for a swing error…and deliver an X? The answer is…yes, it might, by accident…but not consistently. Hoping this change will break the target (a crutch)…wont because equipment changes cannot overcome, or compensate for gun movement errors…the set-up and swing inconsistencies that are the real cause of all the missing.
This is because precision in the shotgun sports is no less important than all the other shooting sports. The actual latitude…or room for errors in our movement…is very, very small in the shotgun sports. And why each and every inconsistency in the shooting box is so costly out at the target…putting a premium on our becoming more consistent, more precise behind the muzzle.
Nothing in this article disputes the value of good equipment. However, rifle, handgun, shotgun…every mistake at the muzzle will be hugely magnified downrange at the target. And not because I say so…but because the laws of precision in the shooting sports say so. A harsh truth? Yes, it is…but one we must face if becoming more consistent is the goal. That consistency will always be decided by the laws of precision.
There are simple preparation and swing steps that, executed correctly, can and will create this precision. These steps are NOT complicated…but are non-negotiable if one decides to raise their skill level. On their own, another choke or a different shell can’t deliver consistency. Only a consistent set-up and swing can do that.
As always, we greatly appreciate your being here 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, U.K.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 Your Best Shot (Book I) is all about the fundamentals, a requirement for good shooting.
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.