Hitting that elusive 100 straight…The desire of most shooters is to get them all, 100%.
This desire leads to a lot of shooting, especially practice sessions where we try to perfect the techniques we’ve learned, ingrain them and develop new ones that work for us as individuals.
Becoming a proficient shooter takes time, practice and attention to detail. A journal of your shooting will help with the details. In a journal you can track which targets you hit with some consistency and which ones you may be having trouble hitting or maybe another way to hit a specific shot that you’d like to try. The journal is your ‘back-up hard drive’ for your memory.
Many less experienced shooters that are trying to perfect their game think about the score, that this next shot is the one they always have trouble hitting, or some other thought that detracts them from concentrating on the one target they’re about to shoot. This takes their mind off their shooting. Their shooting suffers, and they wonder why they can’t get that perfect score.
It’s been a long time since I put a perfect skeet or trap score on the scoreboard, but I still remember my first ones in both trap and skeet. In skeet, I was on Don Ziegle’s squad in fourth position with Ralph Kavorkian in the fifth position. As I shot, the targets looked as big as garbage can lids, and they seemed slower than normal. I was in the ‘zone.’ I didn’t think more than was necessary, and I paid attention to the basics and shooting that ‘one target at a time.’ In trap, I was on Ted Tanaka’s squad, and while I was aware that I was straight during each of the rounds, I focused only on the shot I was shooting at that time. These targets also seemed to slow down. Again, I was in the zone.
I refer to the ‘zone’ as that state of mind you attain when you are setting up for and executing each shot as you should; proper look and hold points, good moves and thinking only about the one thing you’re doing at that specific time. You may not remember each shot because you are only aware of the shot you’re about to take. Good shot execution makes the targets appear to slow down.
Good shooters are aware that they’re straight without counting targets. They don’t think about how many more they have to hit to ‘run’ them; they don’t count shells; and they don’t think about any shot other than the one they’re taking at that time. This is the mental part of shotgun shooting—staying focused on what you’re doing and only what you’re doing at that moment.
There are numerous publications that help guide athletes toward perfecting their mental game; read them, and they will, over time, help your game.
Your practice routine should always include the mental part of your game. If you can perfect the mental part, you are a lot closer to the elusive perfect score. Remember the shooting sports are mostly mental.
Execute each shot properly, and they will add up to that elusive 100%.
Barry Hartmann is an NSSA Master Level and NRA Certified shotgun instructor who can help you improve your skills at American Skeet and wingshooting. To contact Barry, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at (918)803-2393.