Practicing for Nationals
“I’m going to Nationals in October and would like to know how I should be preparing for it. Should I practice differently?”
Most shooters think practice means shooting a round of sporting clays. I take a wee bit of exception to that notion. Shooting one last round at your local club before heading off to the National Shooting Complex is unlikely to improve or tighten up a specific part of your game. Practice, on the other hand, works on a specific part of your game in preparation for competition.
There are several practice areas I typically assign to my students as I encourage them to focus on one or two specific aspects of their game between lessons. A detailed explanation of all the various types of practice is best left for a magazine series, but examples include pre-shot routine, gun mount and movement, visual focus, commitment to break points, and pre-shot planning.
Additionally, you might want to focus on about a dozen different types of target presentations from time to time, based on your confidence level when engaging each: rabbits, teals, descending / transitioning targets, trap targets, crossing targets, quartering targets, rising targets, incoming targets, tower shots, below-the-chest, plunging targets, and more. The target presentation that you should prioritize in practice is the shot in which you have the least amount of confidence.
Ray Floyd, World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, former Ryder Cup Captain, and winner of multiple PGA Championships, is one of my students. During one of our lessons, I asked him, “What’s your favorite club, Ray?” He answered abruptly, “I don’t have one.” He went on to explain that if he ever had a favorite club, that would mean that some other aspect of his game had a weakness. Ray’s goal was to never have a favorite club or a weak shot.
Generally, shooting a round of sporting clays will not help you improve your game at the rate most of us desire. Dissect your game, identify the biggest areas of opportunity, and dedicate some practice time to each one. In an ideal world, we should be equally confident in all types of target presentations and in all aspects of our game. While few of us may ever fully realize this utopian level of preparedness, the confidence we need to win must be built through practice.
Don Currie is the NSCA Chief Instructor, Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at www.doncurrie.com.