Nov 17, 2018 | By: Daniel Schindler, Paragon Master Sporting Clays Instructor; Wingshooting Instructor; Mental Coach
A Smooth Sporting Clays Swing
Turn the volume up...This is a short video of Dan Schindler working with a shooter to develop a slow, smooth, controlled sporting clays swing that will allow the shooter to move their game forward. When a shooter takes lessons, it's important they schedule their practice time so they maximize their return on investment. It takes time for a shooter to implement their training into their shooting routine.
“Only trust what you can see.”
First, the small print at the bottom of the page. The vast majority of us do have reasonably good hand-eye coordination, commonly referred to as our instincts. This instinctive move with our shotgun works splendidly on flushing game such as quail, chukar and early season pheasants. In the game fields, point and shoot is typically dependable. On the clay target course? Not so much.
Unfortunately, clay targets can be broken using our instinctive, point and shoot method. Why unfortunately? Time has shown it only works sometimes. On clay target presentations at mixed difficulty levels, it is not dependable, nor can it be consistent. Those who disagree point to the X’s. What they dismiss are the 0’s, claiming insufficient trust. Said respectfully and based on decades of successful teaching experiences, trust is not the problem nor the solution.
When it comes to the X, words I often hear are, “don’t think – just react.” Sounds good. And it will work if you are hunting quail in Georgia or grouse in the Maine woodlands. On Field 3 with a diving, curling true pair at 40 yards? Point and shoot will need luck and then some.
Here, I’m using the word react to mean a more instinctive move to the target relying on trust alone. I believe a much more effective word describing how to approach a target would be to “respond.”
Here’s why, in the beginning, reacting doesn’t work. Have a seat, put your fingers on the keys of the piano. Now, please play Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude. Trust your instincts. OK, let’s say you’re about to build a fancy dining room table and 6 chairs. Here’s all the wood you’ll need. Trust your instincts. Go!
Obviously, something’s missing here. It’s the “how.” The basics. The structure. The tools and methods. They’re not just important, they’re indispensable.
When entering any skill development, there are 2 critically important stages. A) The first is learning – what goes where and why - specifically. These are the individual steps – the basics – the required structure and foundation under all skill development. B) The second is assembling these steps in the right order. For us, that would be our set-up and swing “process.”
The question is – how can we do B) – without knowing A)?
Assuming we’re standing on a clay course (Trap, Skeet or Sporting), generally speaking, the first 80% to 90% of our shooting skill development should be about responding to each target presentation – patiently, tenaciously developing our form, the skill. Here’s why. Reacting would mean trusting that each shot will go off as we hope it will, mostly subconsciously, i.e., a much more reactive, instinctive swing. A reactive swing that is trusting – counting on – an error-free movement that will break the target. The condition, however, is that this instinctive movement will, in fact, be error-free and result in an X. Was it? Will it be? Consistently?
The Big Dawg shooter uses a more instinctive/reactive swing because this individual has – over time and learning what works for him/her – built the familiarity (muscle memory) that is necessary in order to trust a more reactive, more consistent move to the target. Which is fine and worthy of admiration. However, if the correct assembly of the swing basics do NOT take place – this reactive movement can only be inconsistent, time after time producing the same inconsistent results – a simple, logical truth.
At Paragon, in the right order, we follow the 2 skill development steps, A) & B), listed above. Students are taught to respond to targets using the set-up and swing structure that WILL deliver consistency – in the swing – and on the score card. Trust me, there’s no mystery in any of this. When learned, assembled and executed correctly, those basics will deliver X’s, over and over again, 100% dependably and consistently. That’s a fact and why I always say, the fundamentals are simply non-negotiable. When a basic is compromised, the target will be missed. The only variable in the guaranteed X formula is the shooter and why responding – using the basics – is so much more dependable and consistent than reacting.
In the clay target disciplines, trusting instinct without the basics is a recipe for unknown results. Save that reactive swing for the game fields. If consistency is important to you – and it is – respond using the right methods and basics to break targets – because they will. You can absolutely count on that. It is here where the slower swing will allow us to see and control what we are doing. XXXXXXXX. That’s a swing we can trust!!!