“I’ve been shooting in the mid 60s and low 70s. In studying my scorecard, I miss the first or second bird more frequently than the other six. I realize it must be my shot plan, but I’ve been unable to adjust. Can you help?”
I strongly urge shooters to take a picture of your scorecard after each and every tournament. After the competition, you can study your scorecard and identify areas of weakness in your game. I discuss this at length in “Revelations of the Scorecard” available at www.doncurrie.com/revelations-of-the-scorecard.
Repeatedly missing the first one or two targets at a sporting clays station likely indicates a weakness in your pre-shot planning process. After the first pair, you are consciously or subconsciously modifying your shot plan in response to a missed target or pair. I would encourage you to read up on pre-shot planning. Make sure you are properly identifying and landmarking the hold point and break point of your first and second targets of a pair on every station. By landmarking, I mean using terrain features and/or vegetation as reference points for your hold points and break points.
The shot plan you develop during pre-shot planning should, in most cases, remain the same throughout each pair you engage at a given station. If you plan carefully and correctly, you shouldn’t need to adjust your shot plan after the first pair. I’m not saying that you should never change your plan after missing a bird, however, changing your shot plan mid-station should be rare and is an indication of flawed planning.
In my experience, the top four flaws I see in shooters’ pre-shot planning processes are: 1) failing to plan carefully, 2) failing to landmark, 3) failing to carefully observe each target’s behavior at the break point, and 4) failing to commit to your break points and hold points.
So, plan carefully. Pay attention to what the target is doing at the planned break point. Landmark your hold points, break points and visual pick-up points. Most importantly, commit to your plan.
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.