In a recent edition of “Ask the Instructor,” you talked about the mental process and the three elements of a pre-shot routine: (1) deep breathing, (2) visualization, and (3) a trigger thought. Can you describe visualization in greater detail?
You have hit upon an important point. When we talk about “visualization” as part of a shooter’s pre-shot routine, we immediately think of “picturing” the pair you are about to break – visually imagining the targets launching and seeing the targets break at the break points. But there is an important distinction between simply visualizing the engagement of a target pair and seeing and feeling the execution of the target pair you are about to engage.
As mentioned previously, it is important that you conduct pre-shot planning prior to stepping into the shooting stand. Equally important, however, is the need to mentally separate the pre-shot planning process from the pre-shot routine. You should certainly use visualization in your pre-shot planning as you observe the targets during the show pair, construct your target engagement plan and test your plan. Once your plan is finalized, however, you should take your plan beyond simply visualization. In addition to “seeing” the targets emerge from the trap, traverse the target line and break at the break points, you should “feel” how your body will move and what it will feel like to engage and break both targets of the pair. I refer to this as an “out-of-body rehearsal.”
Imagine moving your gun, hands, arms, shoulders, mid-section and lower body to and through the break points of the pair. In so doing, you are rehearsing and reinforcing how you will move to break the target pair. This out-of-body rehearsal should be conducted at least twice during pre-shot planning as well as twice each time you are about to engage a target pair. For a sporting clays station with 4 pairs, for example, you would execute your out-of-body rehearsal at least twice during pre-shot planning and twice prior to each pair for a total of 10 times. Rehearsal is the most powerful form of preparation, and “feeling” the plan is more powerful than simply visualizing it.
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.