What are your thoughts about an amateur shooter who shoots every other weekend as far as his ability to develop and improve through the various ability levels? How long does it normally take for an athletic 55-year-old man to develop to AA or Master levels?
I coach shooters with a wide variety of personalities and personal situations. My observation is that there are five factors that affect the rate at which a shooter progresses, assuming gun fit and eye dominance have been properly addressed. These five factors are: 1) commitment level, 2) resources (time, money equipment), 3) frequency, 4) aptitude and 5) coaching.
There’s no substitute for time behind the shotgun, shooting and competing. Our sport is one of kinesthetic learning, of feeling and doing. The more you shoot, the better you get. Each shooter has a different commitment level. Your expectations for your proficiency must be consistent with your commitment level. Additionally, shooters differ in their aptitude. The hockey goalie and the baseball player will progress a bit faster than the couch potato.
Lastly, the quality and consistency of coaching will have a big impact. I have a 65-year-old student who is a duck hunter and decided to take up sporting clays. He is retired, took monthly lessons and made it to Master Class in 23 months. Then there is the 38-year-old executive who shot a great deal recreationally, but never competitively. After only a year of shooting registered targets, with a lesson every couple of months, he has progressed to AA Class and is well on his way to Master.
On the other end of the spectrum are shooters whose goals are unreasonably high given the resources and time they have, or the shooter who has the time and resources but is not driven to compete.
Your goal should be to have fun and keep expectations in line with your commitment level. If you expect to reach AA or Master Class while shooting one round of clays every other week, you probably need to adjust either your expectations or your commitment level.
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an 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.