Is the recommended hold point for crossing targets of two-thirds back from the break point towards the visual pick-up point equally suitable for both maintained lead and pull-away styles, or is an adjustment needed?
The short answer is, it depends. For planning purposes, a hold point that is two-thirds of the way back from the break point toward the trap is a good start for a flat-trajectory crossing target, regardless of your engagement technique. The speed, distance and engagement window of a target and pair may, however, require that you adjust your hold point closer to the breakpoint. Use your outstretched front hand to test your plan and see if a hold point adjustment is necessary.
With that said, and very generally speaking, you will need a bit less “runway” to execute a sustained-lead move on a crossing target, and thus can usually move your hold point closer to the break point. When using pull-away on a crossing target, the two-thirds rule is still applicable; however, you may find that a hold point that is halfway back from the break point is adequate when using sustained lead. With sustained lead, you are inserting to the lead and executing the shot ó whereas with pull-away, you must first insert to the target then separate from the target prior to executing the shot. Shooters tend to ignore a target’s transition point when selecting the break point and engagement technique. Almost all targets will transition, or change speed and direction, at some point along the flight path as the target succumbs to gravity. If the target is transitioning at the chosen break point, it is much more likely that you will occlude the target with the barrel and miss high and in front ó particularly if using pull-away. This is why I advocate that a shooter possess a handful of techniques to draw from and select the technique and hold point that is appropriate for each target.
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.