“I am very new to this sport. What is the etiquette for offering unsolicited advice? I’m also a former golfer, so is the shooting stage like a putting green where silence should be the rule?”
Here’s the entire question, for context: “I am very new to this sport. I recently shot at my first registered sporting clays event. I was placed in a squad with total strangers (nice guys). In the middle of shooting, I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard, ‘You’re not following through.’ A few stations later I feel another tap and hear, ‘You need to get in front of that bird two more feet.’ Later, while I was standing in the box shooting, I was surprised to hear a lot of chatter and conversations from other squads waiting to shoot. What is the etiquette for offering unsolicited advice? I’m also a former golfer, so is the shooting stage like a putting green where silence should be the rule?”
There’s nothing more annoying than unsolicited advice while in the shooting stand. Coaching someone while in the stand is not specifically prohibited by NSCA rules, but interrupting the harmony and flow of the shooting process is.
More often than not, the advice from these well-meaning squadmates is incorrect, anyway. Within your question lies a classic example. It is a common misconception that the cure for inadequate follow-through is to keep swinging the gun. That is patently false. The primary cause of a shooter’s shotgun slowing down or stopping during execution is lack of visual follow-through, not physical follow-through. In other words, the gun will continue to move to and through the break point as long as the shooter’s acute focus remains on the target.
The best advice to give a shooter while in the stand is no advice at all unless the shooter asks for it. And even then, advice should be rendered only in subtle ways so as to maintain the natural flow of the event. In FITASC, a judge may actually call the “helpful coach” for interference. Bottom line: save the advice for the clubhouse, not the shooting stand. And while everyone around the shooting stand should be mindful of creating a distraction, not everyone is, unfortunately.
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.