For a true pair, how should I decide which target to shoot first? Is there a formula to help figure it out if the choice isn’t obvious?
You need to consider a variety of scenarios as you visualize the pair during pre-shot planning. These are four questions I encourage my students to ask when they encounter a puzzling pair.
1) Which target do I see first?
2) What target is visible the latest (after the other target disappears from view)?
3) Which order of engagement would enable me to move my gun up to the break point of the second target?
4) Which target gets ugly earliest?
As with planning any pair, look first for the ideal break point for both targets, then adjust your break points based on the timing of the pair. With a true pair, your objective is to comfortably break both targets without inadvertently placing the barrel between the eye and the target, otherwise known as occluding the target. In most cases, occlusion can be avoided by breaking the target with the lower break point first. Your eyes can then shift directly from the break point of the first target to the pick-up point of the second target without the need to dismount or move the gun out of the way. If you fear running out of time on one target or the other, consider engaging the target that is visible first as your first target or the target that remains visible the longest as the second target. Carefully observe the behavior of both targets at their respective break points for each scenario. Engaging one of the targets earlier or later in the window may be a good option unless the target has a particularly ugly trajectory at a given break point. At this juncture, you have armed yourself with best information possible. Make the call and have confidence in your plan.
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. Watch for his monthly “Ask the Instructor” column in Clay Target Nation magazine. 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.