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Speaking and working with shooters/competitors who are shooting from B/C class and club shooters, several points reoccur.
"Don’t think about shooting too much, just do it..."
While I partially agree, when you have a very sound technique and understand the methods of shooting, it does become very natural. However, usually this is when you have worked very hard, practiced, pulled you’re technique apart several times and competed for many seasons.
Personally speaking, I may have been guilty of 'over-thinking', I practiced each shooting method to see which suited me or the target I couldn’t hit, until I was confident. This was over a 15 year period with lots of constructive practice and competitions.
I can't settle on one method for every target, some can. if I struggled on a certain target, I wasn’t happy unless I could work out why I was missing. I still think and study each and every target I shoot at, from shooting and speaking to other AA shooters it’s a similar story..
"I’m struggling to hit 50 %..."
If you’ve been shooting a while you should be hitting at least 60% to 70% on average targets (clays).
Its amazing the amount of clients I teach with eye-sight issues, and this could be the reason you might be struggling.
I always start my lessons with simple eyesight tests. You must understand what you’re eyes are doing, have you got central vision? Are you shutting one eye? (hopefully not! it’s a hand, eye co-ordination activity, and both eyes hould be open).
You can shoot to a very good standard with a gun that’s not a correct fit. Don’t get to 'bogged' down with gun fit until you’re more experienced then you can fine tune it. Buy from a good gun shop and they will advise you.
However, you will not shoot well with eyesight problems.
if you’re eye dominance is out with you’re in-line shoulder, you will struggle. It’s like diving a car from the passenger seat, you can do it, but you’re not in-line, and will struggle!
"I’ve been shooting around 70% on clays for years and can't seem to improve..."
if you’re shooting to this level you have all the basics in place but to move onto the next level you need to make changes!
Shoot at different grounds, going to only a couple of grounds will restrict development.
Think hard about your technique and try different methods of shooting on certain targets it may work.
Don’t let a target beat you! We all miss, but when you do go away and think about it and come back with a new plan if you can shoot the same target , if not it will come up again.
Be competitive , take all practice seriously and try to beat your shooting friends.
If you are a steady deliberate shot, try speeding up and if fast, slow down....experiment!
Is you’re gun right for you? it can make a difference. From 18 years old to 21 years old I worked in a gun shop and swapped guns several times. I experimented with barrel lengths, makes, chokes, stock shapes and weights. At 21 years old I found what I considered to be my ideal gun, which is now very unfashionable in the era of very expensive guns. It’s a 32” browning 325 with a trap stock, ported; back bored barrels and rhino chokes. I still have it and use it for everything and won’t change.
My best tip may not be viable, but if you can, try and tag along or make friends with a AA graded competitor(s) and shoot with them. You will learn so much from them as they will have ironed out all their mistakes and will be using excellent technique. Just watch them and see what they are doing.
Finally think about having lessons. It must be with someone you trust and with pedigree. Many qualified coaches are retired professionals (Police, Members of the Armed Forces etc.) with no depth or experience and are looking for a second career. I only ever had one lesson outside my family and this is when I was shooting to a high standard in AA class. I was very inconsistent on very long crossing targets. I wanted to go to someone who had experience, pedigree and not just tell me where I'm missing but why I'm missing. I went to Stuart Clarke, an excellent shot, great coach and a wealth of experience. We shot some 45 yard crossers which I hit now and again. He soon spotted what I was doing: checking the lead with the sight on the gun. I concentrated hard on the target and started to hit it consistently. I thanked him and will always remember the very worthwhile lesson.
Until the next time: good shooting!
Contact Steven Edwards, Tel: +44 (7706) 479 965