I have a good friend who shoots sporting clays with me regularly. He tends to push the gun away from the target at a very fast speed. I have been trying to get him to stop this, but I think it is now a bad habit. Why does he do this?
Experience tells me that, at some point during your friend’s shooting career, he had a problem with visual follow-through and has now overcompensated for it. As a shooter softens focus on a target in an attempt to aim, the gun stops or slows down and the shooter misses behind. I’m also speculating that, at some point, someone noticed that your friend was shooting behind and subsequently instructed your friend to “keep swinging the gun!” Your friend tries it. The target breaks. A habit is formed!
Your friend is now convinced that, in order to prevent the gun from stopping, he must add lead by pushing the gun at the end of the stroke. Now he has a different problem. When he encounters a transitioning target, this “technique” fails, as he repeatedly misses high and in front.
When a shooter’s shotgun stops or slows, it is the result of a lack of visual focus on the target, not lack of gun speed. To maintain proper gun speed, the shooter must maintain sharp visual focus on the target through shot execution. Otherwise, the gun will lose its pace with the target. If the eyes stay on the target, so will the gun!
One thing you can suggest to help your friend fix this is the “two-shot drill” on a slow-moving, high-angle target that transitions at the break point at about 30 yards in front of the shooter. If you have an over-and-under, use a cylinder or skeet choke in the first barrel and a modified choke in the second. With the first shot, break the target. With the second, quickly shoot a piece of the broken target. Concentrate on ending the first shot at the planned break point, watching the target break and resisting the temptation to push the gun after the shot.
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.