Friends of mine, all novice shots, have invited me to shoot sporting clays for the first time. The last time I had a firearm in my hands was when I was in the army in 1959. I don’t want to look like an idiot. In 30 seconds or less, how do I keep my buddies from beating me?
That’s easy: Focus – Movement – Faith. Most shooters come to the sport assuming that shotgunning is identical to rifle shooting. They assume that our job, as shooters, is to visually and consciously line up the sights of the gun with the target and when everything looks aligned, execute the shot. If you apply these same fundamentals to shotgunning, you will have very limited success.
So, what do you need to do? Engaging a moving target with a shotgun is more akin to returning a tennis serve or hitting a baseball with a bat than it is like shooting a rifle at a stationary target. Your job as a shotgun shooter engaging a moving target is:
1) FOCUS — apply acute visual focus to the target and hold that acute focus through your trigger pull. Your job is to feed the brain information about the target through shot execution. This gives your subconscious mind the necessary information to intercept the target, similar to catching a ball or hitting a baseball with a bat. The key is to focus on the target.
2) MOVEMENT — Feel the point of the shotgun with the index finger of your front hand, just like pointing at a bird in the sky. Maintain focus on the moving object yet feel the point with your index finger. At no point during your movement should you soften or remove your focus from the object as you execute the point and pull the trigger.
3) FAITH — As you maintain acute visual focus on the target and execute the shot, have absolute faith that your subconscious will point the gun in the right place to break the target, the same way the tennis racket or baseball bat intercepts its 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.