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

Field and Game - - READY FOR COMPETITION -


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.

Brian Mortensen

Brenton Irons

Brooke Tangey

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