Finding form for the National Carnival
New rules are in effect, giving competitors even more to think about as they get ready for the 2018 National Carnival at Bairnsdale. We asked a range of competitors how they prepare and the impact of the new rules on their approach. Brian Mortensen Brent
I don’t need to shoot all the time. Some people have to shoot consistently every weekend but I find if I do that I shoot myself out of form.
I hate the cold weather, so as soon as the good weather arrives I get out. I also try and go to a ground I know is similar to the National Carnival ground.
I’m not one for tinkering; once your firearm, ammunition and choking combo is set you don’t blame the tools, you just had an off day. The worst thing you can do is start tinkering.
In the lead-up to the nationals, in those few months of competing, you do try to find a bit of a groove.
Gun up or gun down?
“I’m not an advocate of gun up; you wouldn’t do it in a quail paddock, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. There is an advantage depending on the pair presented or a going away target, in having your gun on your shoulder but it could also produce some gimme sort of targets.
The course setters will play a big role in testing the shooter with angles and trajectories, but even gun up there are still plenty of ways you can miss a target.
In my case I can do either or, I will probably start in a half or three quarter mount, that way I can get the line of the target.
Clay targets are not on rails, you can get a gust of wind that pushes it up.
A lot of the advantage of gun up will be for women because it eliminates the movement of coming out and in to avoid the breast.
It will also be good with kids, although I would recommend they still learn gun up and gun down. In the early instructional with a novice you want to make sure the gun is in the shoulder, but if a person shoots clay targets or hunts it should be a natural progression to gun down.
One pair per stand
I have always been proponent, it means particularly for novice shooters you can have three singles and then a pair, but you have actually shot at the target before you shoot it as part of the pair. It helps the C- or B-grade shooters; you do not disadvantage the shooters you want to encourage.
Aa-grade winner 2017
I don’t really do anything specific leading up to the major shoot. At least a month before the event I want to get plenty of shooting in and make sure I am exercising regularly, so I’m fit as well as having plenty of clays under my belt.
I back off the week before and keep the days immediately before the event free so I can turn up focused and ready to go. I don’t play with my system; I know what I need to do and I stick to it, it works and if it isn’t working it is because I’m not applying it properly.
There’s only so many ways a target can fly so I’m not too concerned about (shooting similar) ground conditions; if I’m comfortable with how I’m shooting it doesn’t matter whether there’s trees or an open background.
Gun up or gun down?
The line? I think it Is a good move because the line wasn’t being policed. I like the >>
>> rule so it is a shame to see it go but it also adds to the game, you have a whole heap of new positions.
In America they shoot English Sporting which is all free gun position, and when I competed in that I never got as low as the line. It certainly makes it easier with some targets but you still need to know how to shoot gun up. Potentially, it also allows different targets to be thrown that force you to shoot gun up; it can make things more interesting.
Shooting gun up is just a matter of knowing where to hold but it won’t happen overnight, you just need to work at it.
Roger Kerslake Veterans champion 2017
I shoot regularly somewhere every Sunday. I don’t practice; I think that is a bit of a waste of time, you just overheat your gun and start missing targets.
I have my chokes set and a couple of types of ammunition I like to use. I keep it pretty simple.
At the National Carnival I like to have a couple of rounds of the practice shoot before competition but that is all. I do think about the ground, but most grounds that hold Nationals I’ve shot at before anyway, so it is just a matter of trying to read each target on its merit.
I’ve been shooting clay targets for more than 20 years, you learn how you need to shoot targets.
Personally, because I shoot a fair bit of Sporting Clays I will continue to shoot gun down.
The only target I might consider shooting gun up is a springing teal or a going away target. The rest of the time, you need to be able to focus on the target before you bring the gun up.
Brooke Tangey Ladies Champion 2017
I just make sure I keep shooting on a regular basis and work out in my own head what I need to do if I’m not hitting targets.
Form is a really important element, once you get your technique down you need to keep hitting targets to maintain that form and confidence.
You should try to shoot similar grounds if you can’t make it to the branch hosting the National Carnival.
Bairnsdale has wooded areas but also open ground so I will try and shoot there a couple of times before the National Carnival, but what they throw at their normal shoots will be different to what is thrown at the event.
In the lead-up it is important to get practice on a whole heap of different targets wherever you shoot.
The majority of my technique is based on things I have done for many years, for that reason, it is different to many other competitors, but it works for me.
My gun set up stays the same. I don’t change it because it caters to my shooting style, so the only thing I can change is how I shoot, making sure my stance, gun mount are right and I am getting onto targets properly.
I’m one of the luckier ones because my stance removes that whole out-up-in motion that a lot of female competitors have to do. Shooting gun up will save movement but the flipside is that if your gun is mounted waiting for targets that can also cause muscle fatigue; there are disadvantages above and below the line.
I won’t know until the day. There will be targets I will feel I need to shoot gun up but I’m also a creature of habit, so I will probably stick to my line, it depends on the targets or on the day.