I seem to have trouble with long crossing targets. I’ve mastered most other target presentations, but the long crossers give me fits. Why are they so difficult, and what can I do about it?
There are typically two factors that cause long targets to be problematic for some shooters:
1) Insufficient database. In the absence of experience engaging targets outside of 40 yards, the typical shooter lacks the library of subconscious site pictures required to break targets at this range.
2) Measuring. Also known as shooting to a lead or shooting to a gap; a shooter will often relax the intensity of focus on a long crosser in order to see both the muzzle and the target. This causes the gun to fall behind the target. For longer targets, the temptation to relax focus and check the lead at the end of the “stroke” is significant. This lack of trust in the ability of the subconscious mind to establish the lead causes a miss behind.
While I am neither a one-method shooter nor a one-method coach, it is my experience that pull-away is a more successful method on flat trajectory crossing targets in excess of 35 yards, particularly for shooters unaccustomed to shooting longer-range targets. Establish your hold point about half to two-thirds of the way back from the break point toward the trap. You need plenty of “runway” as you initiate movement of the gun in order to match speed with the target. Do not allow the target to beat your gun or your eyes. As you match the speed of the target with your gun speed, briefly insert the muzzle to the target. While maintaining sharp visual focus on the leading edge of target, increase gun speed, separate from the target and execute the shot decisively. Employing this method for long crossing targets tends to prevent the conscious mind from measuring and allows the subconscious to establish the proper lead. It also increases gun speed at the end of the stroke, addressing the problem of insufficient lead.
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.