I was just looking at pictures of some of the young shooters I’ve had the privilege of helping learn the shotgun sports. I have a “Rogues’ Gallery” in my shop where I have these pictures, so I see them often.
During the time I worked with them and others, we developed methods that have helped most of my students learn more about shotgun sports. One of these methods is simple and obvious if you just think about it.
I explain to students that the shot pattern as it comes out of the muzzle is the diameter of the inner barrel and the further it moves away from the barrel, the larger the pattern becomes. I use the analogy of a funnel to describe it.
I use this example when students are waiting until the target is next to or past them to shoot it. Shoot the target too far away and you can have holes in your pattern, too close and your pattern may be too small, but if you put it in the “Goldilocks zone,” the pattern is just right.
This description lets me explain why it’s better to shoot the target in front of you rather than next to you at most skeet stations. Your pattern is bigger, and it gives the shooter a small, but still greater opportunity to hit the target since they’re shooting it at an intersecting angle rather than at 90 degrees.
A visual aid I use to further explain this is a small piece of dowel, where one end is cut at 90 degrees and the other is cut on an angle. This aid allows them to physically see what I’m trying to get across to them.
I like to see my students play the percentages and hit the target in or near the break zone. Several of the young people I’ve taught have learned to play the percentages and have become superior skeet shooters.
Playing the percentages may help your skeet shooting, too.
Shoot often, shoot well, and stay safe,
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.