There is nothing short of improving your vision or your stamina that can help maintain or improve your skill level as well as practice. How you practice is also an important facet of the maintenance and/or improvement of your skill. Incorrect practice can be detrimental and may hurt your skill.
Normally we can get practice at the range during the spring, summer, and maybe during autumn, but for some of us, winter is a little too cold or wet to go to the range for practice. Then, we have to do things a little differently in order to keep or improve our skill level. When you live in areas where it gets too cold or too wet to be outside practicing, you have to devise methods that can at least maintain your skill.
One of the practice methods that I have given to the SCTP kids in the past is also good for some of you. Stand back about 10 feet from the wall, then practice swinging your shotgun back and forth from one corner to the other while keeping your shotgun level with the line created by the junction of the wall and
ceiling. After a while, place a piece of blue masking tape in the middle of the line, and as you pass the tape say, “Bang” or have snap caps in your chamber so you can actually pull the trigger as you pass the tape, while keeping your shotgun moving level on the line. This is a great way to train yourself to follow through.
PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE LIVE SHELLS IN YOUR SHOTGUN BEFORE USING THIS PRACTICE METHOD. DOUBLE CHECK!
Another method that you’ll often read about is mental imaging. This is where you picture in your mind the actions you take to shoot a particular target and in your mind see it turning to dust. I use this method frequently when I either can’t get to the range due to “honey-dos” or because of inclement weather. I’ll go through my pre-shot routine:
I picture myself stepping onto the station, placing my feet in their correct position, mounting my shotgun at my hold point, looking at look point, and then tell myself three things. First, “one target at a time.” Second, “It’ss like me to hit this target.” Third, “Look at the target.” I then imagine seeing the target released, being hit and turning to dust. I’ll do this mental practice on all the stations and repeat it on those stations where I feel I need extra help.
While mental imaging is not shooting, it can and will give you a method of maintaining, and maybe improving, your skill level.
Barry Hartmann is an NSSA Master Level and NRA Certified shotgun instructor who teaches American skeet and wingshooting. You can contact Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-803-2393.