Spoiling the Line
At a registered shoot last weekend, I really had trouble with a 40-yard crossing target that was descending a little bit just before my break point. I tried to stay under the link of the target but I was still very inconsistent. Any thoughts?
It sounds like this crossing target was losing its line just before the break point. When a shooter struggles with this presentation, they are typically “spoiling the line.” This means that the gun is occluding the target just prior to the break point. In other words, the gun got between the eye and the target. For some shooters, this can cause a flinch.
As with any target, establish your break point and commit to it. Pay very close attention to what the target is doing at your chosen break point. On the target you describe, you noticed that the target was falling off the line at the break point. I refer to this as a transitioning target. When a target is transitioning at the break point, you need a different hold point than you would normally use if the target had a consistent trajectory through the break point. For transitioning targets, your hold point needs to be closer to, and lower than, the break point.
So, if this crossing target had a flat trajectory and was not transitioning at your break point, you would normally hold about two-thirds of the way back to the trap from the break point. For this target, however, move your hold point to half of that distance and lower your muzzle angle such that you will move your gun a shorter distance to the break point and you will approach the break point at a slight upward angle instead of following the line of the target.
This is an intercept technique that I refer to as a “cut-off and collapse.” The “cut-off” means that you are moving at a line that is different from the target. You are essentially intercepting the target from below the line rather than moving along the target line. The “collapse” element of this move is equally important and requires that you get an early start from your hold point so as to arrive at your break point just prior to the target, allowing the target to collapse on the break point. Give it a try!