Optimum Shotgun Performance Shooting School: Good to Know

 




























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P=ACT...Increasing your Level of Performance is a Result of Awareness, Choice and Trust

Awareness of exactly what you are doing is the First thing that must be understood by you in order for you to improve. In this phase of learning an experienced teacher becomes a mirror by Asking questions to make you aware of what he/she sees is causing inconsistencies in your performance.

Questions like.....
Were you aware that your hands were not moving the same speed in your gun mount?
Were you more aware of the target, the gun, or the lead?
Were you aware that your balance point shifted as you shot the bird? - etc.

The goal is to make you more aware of the reality of what you are doing so you can begin to correct the problem yourself. The most important part of this phase is that you feel the problem.

The next step is choice. In this phase the coach feeds you information like a gas pump putting gas in a car. The information has to do with ways to change your approach. It then becomes your choice to change. It is most important that you understand the risk in not changing and the common sense benefits of making the change. Then you can accept the change and implement it with 100% confidence.

The last step, and for most people the most difficult, is trust. You must practice what you have changed so that your new move becomes subconscious. It is important that you have an increased awareness of how it feels when it is right. Then and only then can you trust it. Bottom line, you can't trust what you can't feel.

Shooting is a subconscious function. The more subconscious trust you have in your move the better you will perform. There is a common misconception that in order to improve the student must have trust in the instructor. This statement is True! However, in order for the student to reach their potential....the student must learn to trust themselves more.


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70/28 Rule

Whenever our students say they have trouble with long crossing targets, we ask them to show us their move on a 25 yard crosser. They typically hit 6 or 7 out of 10. How can one expect to break any kind of long target consistently if one cannot shoot a close simple one every time?

In Golf there is the 60/60 rule. That is: 60% of the shots happen within 60 yards of the hole. The Professionals work on their short game while amateurs practice the long shots. In Sporting there is the 70/28 rule. 70% of the targets are presented within 28 yards of the shooter. Shooting a 10 out of 10 on the close ones goes a long way to helping one become more consistent on the longer targets. The game is won or lost on the short targets not the long ones. If you kill All of the targets within 28 yards and 1/2 of the rest--your score is an 85! After all, its our experience, that most "40 yard crossers" are actually broken at 28 yards.

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Etiquette...How do I handle having a lot of "help" from others in my squad when I'm in a shooting stand?

What do I do when I'm in a shooting stand and am having problems with a target, and get a lot of "free advice" on where I am missing. How do I handle this?

We get this question a lot in our travels around the country. Everyone who shoots a shotgun wants the person shooting to do well. What they don't realize with this advice is that they may not be helping. We tell our students, especially the ladies, to politely ask that the person watch your birds, but not offer any thoughts unless asked as you are trying to self coach yourself and self correct. If you are lost on a target and don't have any idea as how to correct it, then ask the person to make a suggestion.

It is better, however, for you to stay forward and focussed on how to hit the target and not to be so concerned with where you missed it. Stay within yourself to make the decision on how to correct what you are doing. Once you turn around, your mind comes away from your objective and you lose focus on what you are doing. It is too hard to get back to the present. It also starts to create doubt in your mind that you don't know how to hit the target. Once that doubt enters your mind, you might as well throw your shells in the bushes because you are probably not going to hit that target. Have confidence and trust in your ability to hit the targets. Don't let other people make your decisions for you.

Stay forward and focused on hitting the targets. That is your job, not someone else's. Spectators sometimes get a little overzealous and forget any kind of etiquette on the course. They can get your mind off of what you are doing in that stand, by interrupting your thoughts. It is hard enough to become focused on the target without a lot of outside interruptions. Please remember when you are on a clays course, that everyone has their own reason for being there whether for practice on specific birds or just for fun, so don't offer any advice unless it is asked for.


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Eye Dominance

Student Question: About ten years ago, as I was closing in on 50 years of age, I "discovered" (through self-diagnosis), that I had what I call intermittent cross dominance. This condition manifested itself when I was trying to shoot crossing targets at Skeet - 3, 4 and 5 using a high gun/sustained lead method. When I began shooting sporting clays, the problem seemed to get worse, especially on long crossers. I tried to correct the problem by squinting my left eye in order to establish the proper lead. What should I do? (Si Bloom, Miami, FLA.)

Si Bloom is not alone. Almost everyone who shoots at one point in their career, has this problem, and it manifests itself on targets that they are the most uncomfortable with i.e. long crossers, curling targets, dropping targets, window shots and the 2nd bird on pairs. Although we are sure this problem does exist it is our experience that the number of people who actually have it is much less than those who "think" they have it.

When someone tells us that they are afflicted with intermittent cross dominance our 1st question to them is how do you know when it happens? The response usually goes like this...I'm shooting targets great and all of a sudden I see the gun! My question to them is how do you know where to put the gun if you are not looking at the target? Then comes the "Deer in the headlights" look because of the realization that the last thing they saw before they pulled the trigger was the gun.

We teach our students that the more precise you are with lead the less visual concentration you have on the target and the worse you will shoot. A high percentage, if not all, "intermittent dominance" problems can be cured by understanding the differences between shooting the "target" and shooting " the lead".

When one shoots the lead they are more conscious of the bird/barrel relationship, which means they are less conscious of exactly where the bird really is. The eyes go back and forth between the gun and barrel like a ping pong ball, to make sure the lead is precise and the trigger is pulled when the exact lead is seen. When this happens the last thing that is seen is the gun and the gun stops as the trigger is pulled, but the target keeps going and going and going, like the Energizer Bunny.

When one shoots the target they are consciously Focused on only the target and they are aware that the gun is moving with the target and is ahead of the target when they pull the trigger. The conscious mind is Focused on the target and the subconscious mind puts the gun in the correct place to break the target.

Let's look at one example that I'm sure you all have experienced--at some point in your shooting career you have all shot at a single target with 2 cartridges in the gun. The target comes out, you swing with it, you are sure the lead is correct, you pull the trigger and the target doesn't break. Then out of anger, haste or for some unknown reason you just shoot right at the 2nd shot and it breaks!

  • We all know the gun had to be ahead of the bird to hit it!
  • Would it be fair to say that on the first shot you were more aware of the gun than on the 2nd shot?
  • Would it be fair to say that you were sure of the lead on the 1st shot--the one you missed?
  • Would it be fair to say that you shot at the target on the second shot--the one you hit?

We have all had this happen to us more than once, but because we didn't understand what happened on either shot we passed it off as cosmic alignment of the stars or Luck! However, in reality, you just experienced the difference in conscious and subconscious shooting. Perhaps the easiest way to understand this is to compare shooting to how a computer works. We input data into the Central Processing Unit (CPU), it is processed and then output via the screen or printer.

When you shoot, the eyes are the input side of the computer and the gun is the output side. The brain is the CPU. The CPU converts visual information to a physical Reaction. It is imperative that target input occurs through the shot. If the eyes come off the target and go to the gun or the lead, the input stops and therefore the output must stop. If the input to your computer stopped, would you expect the output to continue?

We tell our students to be precise with focus and sloppy with lead. In our experiences, the more subconscious the lead the more targets you will hit. We also tell our students the more precise the Focus on the target and the more the gun moves the same direction and speed of the target the larger or more forgiving the window of opportunity becomes for lead to occur.

The next time you miss a target don't worry about where you were, deal with why! Ask yourself what did I see- target, gun or lead? If the answer isn't target that is why you missed. If you saw only the target ask yourself did the gun feel like it was moving the same direction and speed as the target? When this occurs everything should feel like it is moving in slow motion. If not- gun speed is the culprit.

I realize that this sounds way too simple, but in our experience, it is Fact. More targets are missed due to lack of target Focus and improper gun speed than all the other reasons combined. After all, if the correct lead is not applied at the correct place and your gun speed is not the same as the targets speed then the right lead becomes the wrong lead.


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Gil and Vicki Ash of the OSP Shooting School provide shooting videos, shooting books, sporting clays, shooting instruction, skeet shooting, trap shooting, shooting dvds, gun fitting, bird hunting, and shooting lessons. Learn to shoot today!
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