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No, weíre not talking about the Oscarís, Emmyís or Grammyís. Itís the target presentations you see at sporting clay events. Every presentation entails different problems, be they visual or mechanical. The problem is, if you donít set up properly, youíll make the shooting of the presentation harder for yourself than it has to be. The knowledge of how you are to set up for each presentation to make it easier is whatís important to remember.
Often, Iíve been out at a course seeing people shooting at a station knowing not what to do or how to set up for that particular presentation, or any other station for that matter. Iíve shown, demonstrated and talked to people about what they were doing wrong and how to do it properly, and seen them make the change and start hitting targets hard. Two weeks later, at the next shoot, Iíd see them making the same old mistakes again by not setting up properly and feeling frustrated again. It appears that people donít seem to retain information for a long period of time, especially if they are out on a course supposedly having fun. In reality, they arenít having fun. They are flustered, frustrated and not happy with what they are doing. Why these casual tips donít seem to be retained I think stems from the fact that the shooting environment is not part of a classroom session where certain information is reinforced with other information, which helps the student retain the information given. In other words, classes and coaching really make a difference in the learning process rather than casual tips in the field which never seem to be retained
Iíve seen many a shooter go out to the local trap and skeet range and blow hundreds of dollars on targets and shells and rarely ever hit a target. They would never think of taking a lesson. They are either too macho, proud or think people would think them pretty stupid or incapable if they had to take a lesson. But thatís life.
Setting up properly includes how and where you place your feet, how you stand, the direction you face with your body, the direction you face with your head and the location of your eye focus, and the hold point of the gun along with the elevation and angle of the gun. Every station and/or presentation requires something a little different from the last. Knowing this and making the necessary changes will determine how well you will shoot the course.
Two of the most typical mistakes I see made most often is where the person faces, looks, and holds the gun. Most people make the bad mistake of facing the direction of where the target is coming from with their body their face and gun hold point. That always puts them behind the target; they never seem to catch up with it, and they also will run out of lateral gun movement before they have a chance to shoot the target. Most of the other shooters face and look approximately where they expect to break the target. Either one of two things happen. Either they bring the gun up when they see the target coming into their visual area and shoot at the target without any or little lateral gun movement (they poke at it), or when they first see the target coming into their visual area (lets say on a right to left crossing target), they swing the gun and their head to the right, passing the target, moving in the wrong direction, then play heck in trying to catch up to the target, after they realize they did something wrong. In some cases they never realize they did something wrong, because they keep doing the same thing again and again. In both cases, they almost always shoot behind the target, never getting in front of the target in order to smoke it. And they almost always set up the same way for just about every station.
There are some very basic rules for shooting sporting clays, and if you remember them and apply them well youíll be a much better and happier shooter. Since we canít cover all the different presentations and all the subtle differences, weíll concentrate on some of the more common presentations your likely to see at a sporting clays course.
Always make sure the barrel of the gun is below a point of where youíll first see the target. The gun should come up into and in front of the target on its flight path. The length of the gun should be somewhat level, never hold the gun at too steep an angle, as this may cause you to overreact/overpower the gun with the right hand.
If you are looking at an area that is closer to you (the rib or bead) than where the target will appear, the human eye will have a more difficult time seeing or picking up the fast moving target. When your eyes are soft focused beyond where they will first see the target, the human eye only has to make one movement coming in to the target. When the human eye is soft focused at an area that is closer than where the target will first appear, it has to make two movements to get to the target. That is why many people say they never saw the target, because they had their eyes focused on something or an area, which was much closer to them than on an area that is beyond where the target will appear.
If you donít soft focus your eyes properly, youíll never hit the targets properly. A good thing to practice anytime youíre shooting, be it skeet, trap or sporting, is to soft focus in the proper area when other people are shooting, and catch and track the target with your eyes until itís hopefully smoked by the shooter. Itís the cheapest and best training you can give yourself. When you do that all the time, youíll find your eyes will stay focused on the target more readily, and not jump back and forth between the rib/bead and the target. You have to train the eyes just like the rest of your body. Everything has to become an instinctive natural reaction without any thought involved to become a good shooter. Thatís what makes Instinctive Target Interception really work.
Your exact hold point for the gun to the right of your eye hold point will depend on you. From experience, youíll find your sweet spot for the gun hold point. Every shooter has different muscle strength, toning, reaction times, moment of inertia, etc. So each shooter will have to modify the hold point for their ability. So you will have to try different hold points and see what works best for you. A good place to experiment with hold points is on a skeet field.
The Fast, Close In Crosser
The Overhead, Going Away
If you learn how to set up properly for each presentation, your going to have much more fun, and smoke more targets and be a happier person on top of it. Remember; think of what youíre going to do and how youíre going to set up before you ever step into the shooters box. And once your in the shooters box, make sure you do set up properly, and if after the first shots you find you miscalculated, change your set up so you can be successful on the next pair.