I keep fighting the temptation to look in front of a slow-moving crosser rather than looking at the target. Most times, I check the lead and miss. What can I do to reprogram my mind?
There are a couple of possible answers. You might simply need more practice to develop the confidence required to maintain focus and visual follow-through on crossing targets. It could also be that the technique you are using (sustained lead) is not the best fit for you on this particular presentation. While there is nothing wrong with sustained lead as a technique (I use it often), some shooters are more comfortable and proficient with pull-away on flat-trajectory crossing targets. The technique appropriate for you will largely depend on how your eyes, optic nerve, brain and nervous system receive, process and react to visual imagery.
Based on what you’ve shared, I’d like you to try the pull-away technique. For many shooters who have a tendency to measure on crossers, the pull-away method tends to work better than sustained lead. Establish your hold point about two-thirds of the way back from your break point toward the trap. Your eyes should be soft-focused, out to distance, about halfway between your muzzle and the trap machine. As the target emerges from the trap, insert your muzzle to the front edge of the target momentarily, then smoothly separate from the target (accelerating away from the target along the target line) as you execute the shot decisively.
A few cautionary notes. 1) Get a good start from your ready position and avoid letting the target get in front of your barrel at any point during your move. 2) As you touch the leading edge of the target with your muzzle, your gun speed should very briefly match the speed of the target, before accelerating though shot execution. 3) Your eyes must remain on the leading edge of the target from the time it emerges from the trap all the way through your separation from the target and shot execution. 4) Because some crossing targets have a long flight time, ensure that you preserve your acute focus for the final second prior to shot execution.