Clay Shooting

Ramp­ing it up

Jonathan Mcgee is back for his next train­ing ses­sion with Ben Husthwaite, who is up­ping the ante with the aid of a bucket!

- Austria · Kibworth · Belarus · Iceland · Belgium · Youtube · Turkey

Ben Husthwaite’s new­est train­ing ses­sion for Jonathan Mcgee in­volves buck­ets...?

It’s hard to de­scribe the ex­cite­ment I now get from shoot­ing clays. I’m sure many read­ers have been through the same jour­ney, but for me, preshoot­ing ner­vous en­ergy was some­thing I ex­pe­ri­enced on game shoot days. When my train­ing started with Ben and my new team I never thought I’d feel the same pas­sion for clay shoot­ing

For our next train­ing ses­sion with Ben, we con­vene as usual at Kib­worth Shoot­ing Ground for a prompt 9am start. Af­ter pleas­antries and the cus­tom­ary full English break­fast, Ben talks us through the morn­ing’s train­ing sched­ule. He starts by say­ing he’s go­ing to chal­lenge us this week by putting our mental and phys­i­cal ca­pac­i­ties to the test with com­bi­na­tion train­ing. This comes as a shock – it’s not like we’ve been tak­ing it easy over the last few months!

My mind is rac­ing. How can we com­bine what we have learnt in pre­vi­ous lessons? There’s a lot to put to­gether – hold point tech­niques, bar­rel aware­ness, pre-planned rou­tines and ac­cu­rate shot place­ment. Guns are as­sem­bled in the car park and bags are packed for a hot day of train­ing. The group of six stu­dents, my­self in­cluded, head to the first Com­pak lay­out to view Ben’s lat­est se­ries of chal­lenges. At the range we no­tice there are two sta­tion­ary tar­gets, about 30 yards away and 15 yards apart. There is one orange and one green, each set on a post at around head height. I can only imag­ine what they might be for.

We warm up, do­ing our best to ig­nore the hor­ror that is no doubt to fol­low. To be­gin with, each stu­dent is asked to shoot two rel­a­tively sim­ple tar­gets, an on-re­port pair of right-to-left crossers. Twelve shots from six shoot­ers, and each time it’s boom, dust. It’s a great re­lief which re­moves the per­for­mance pres­sure al­most in­stantly. Once we have all shot the first tar­get suc­cess­fully, we get a dizzy­ing glimpse of the sec­ond. This forth­com­ing one couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent; it’s a very fast right-to-left crosser, much lower than the first.

Eyes right

Ben ex­plains our first train­ing ex­er­cise, us­ing the two sta­tion­ary tar­gets on posts. The green tar­get on the right is our vis­ual pick-up point for the sec­ond, fast right-toleft crosser. The orange tar­get rep­re­sents our hold point for that tar­get. Ben’s plan is that, by en­sur­ing our gun is di­rected in ex­actly the right spot, it helps us vi­su­alise and kill the two tar­gets more ef­fi­ciently.

Af­ter numer­ous group lessons I still some­how man­age to stand in a po­si­tion where I am al­ways shoot­ing first! To be­gin with, Ben wants us to shoot tar­get 1 only, then move the gun to the orange tar­get (hold point) and eyes to the green tar­get (vis­ual pick-up point) – as if the sec­ond tar­get was about to ap­pear. Of course most of us for­get at first, but af­ter a few shots the drill be­comes flu­ent and we’re ready to move on to the next step.

Now we go through the same pro­ce­dure again, but this time the sec­ond tar­get will ap­pear on re­port. I prac­tise by draw­ing a se­ries of lines in the sky with my gun, ac­cu­rately plac­ing the bar­rels on my in­tended hold and kill points. The re­sults are un­be­liev­able. Each stu­dent misses the sec­ond tar­get, not due to bad shots but be­cause we now have so much more time that we’re miss­ing in front! Ben is un­sur­prised. He ex­plains that this method will al­low us to shoot and kill quicker with less core move­ment. Most of us are over-lead­ing the sec­ond tar­get as we see it clearly that much sooner.

Core move­ment

We move on to our sec­ond set-up, an­other crack­ing Com­pak lay­out set out by Ben and the Kib­worth team. Be­fore we start, Ben asks us what is the dif­fer­ence be­tween shoot­ing sit­ting down and stand­ing? Blank faces. I vol­un­teer to be guinea pig for this next chal­lenge, slightly be­mused by the seat placed in our blue shoot­ing hoop.

We take turns to shoot a sim­ple goin­g­away tar­get from sit­ting, then stand­ing po­si­tions. The dif­fer­ence is ap­par­ent to all of us: move­ment. To me, it feels like my arms are guid­ing the shot rather than be­ing guided by my lower back and stom­ach. Ben ex­plains that by low­er­ing our cen­tre of grav­ity into a sit­ting po­si­tion, we are forced to turn from the waist and use our cores.

Stand­ing again, Ben asks each of us in turn to place our right leg on a bucket. Re­sist­ing the urge to swing from our feet low­ers our cen­tre of grav­ity even fur­ther,

“We all miss the sec­ond tar­get be­cause we now have so much more time that we’re miss­ing in front!”

and move­ment can be felt through the cen­tre of our backs. You can feel the ef­fects of core move­ment in­stantly when the bucket is re­moved and your clothes start drag­ging.

James Wil­son, fa­mous for his ap­pear­ances on Ben’s Smokin’ Tar­gets Youtube se­ries, is sin­gled out to demon­strate this tech­nique per­fectly. When shoot­ing the tech­nique on a fast right-to-left crosser, there is al­most no back move­ment.

Af­ter shoot­ing with the aid of the bucket, we all move to shoot one right-to-left crosser with a slight drop. We con­cen­trate on our core and use our vest zip­pers as the cen­tre of the move­ment. It’s amaz­ing how lit­tle core move­ment you need to fol­low a tar­get at 30 yards. Us­ing our phones as a guide to mea­sure the core move­ment, I’d es­ti­mate my body moved as lit­tle as two inches, but cre­ated a gun swing cov­er­ing more than 30 yards.

Three hours in we re­treat to the cafe for a re­fresh­ment break. I’m start­ing to re­alise just how im­por­tant it is to stay well fed and hy­drated whilst com­pet­i­tive shoot­ing. Af­ter a quick re­fresh­ment and sand­wich, we re­turn to the range in search of tar­gets to test our new three-point sys­tem and im­proved core move­ment.

“The best tar­gets to ap­ply what I have just taught you to would be those closer to the shooter. These re­quire the most move­ment,” ex­plains Ben. “Tar­gets at dis­tance may re­quire more lead, but they don’t re­quire the same speed of move­ment from the shooter.”

Ben shows us the next pair of tar­gets on the Com­pak lay­out. A and B are both fast left-to-right go­ing-away tar­gets. We are to shoot both whilst main­tain­ing our hold, vis­ual and kill points. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously we ad­dress our core speed and hand move­ments. Ro­tat­ing with the speed of the bird, less than an inch al­lows me to shoot it very quickly and much more ef­fi­ciently. Most im­por­tantly this tech­nique re­quires much less ex­er­tion on be­half of the shooter, which given our long com­pe­ti­tions must be a huge ben­e­fit.

We move to the tower and a very dif­fer­ent tar­get to con­cen­trate on. This is a left-to-right go­ing-away tower tar­get, which is shot drop­ping in front of the cage over your left shoul­der. It’s a stan­dard clay, and is around 35 yards away, but mov­ing fast. Us­ing the pull away tech­nique I lock on to the tar­get and find I need only ro­tate about an inch – re­mark­able!

Com­pe­ti­tion time

For the last chal­lenge of the day, Ben brings us back down to earth with a com­pe­ti­tion. Nor­mally this would in­volve a shoot off, but to­day the com­pe­ti­tion takes a dif­fer­ent route. As we head to the first Com­pak lay­out again, Ben ex­plains we will be shoot­ing as a team. There are six tar­gets, A-F. Each of us is as­signed a tar­get to shoot. If you miss your tar­get then the next com­peti­tor must shoot it. It’s a chal­lenge at the best of times to shoot all the tar­gets Ben sets, but now we have the com­pet­i­tive pres­sure of not want­ing to let our team mates down.

The first shooter steps up. The A tar­get is a fast left-to-right go­ing-away bird. Boom – a miss! This first round takes 18 shots for us to shoot the six tar­gets. We keep try­ing. The next round takes eight shots. Fi­nally, no-one misses and we clear the course with six shots for six tar­gets. Think­ing that must be the end I start to pack away. Oh no!

The next com­pe­ti­tion fol­lows a sim­i­lar plan, but this time if you miss a tar­get you per­son­ally shoot all the tar­gets again.

I step up first and miss. Luck­ily, it’s the start of this round, so I merely have to re­peat the A tar­get. Some were less for­tu­nate, re­peat­ing all the tar­gets af­ter miss­ing E and F.

Com­pet­i­tive shoot­ing is very new to me, but with this team I am very ex­cited about the prospects of shoot­ing a num­ber of larger events next year. Roll on 2020 and the con­tin­u­a­tion of our tu­ition with Ben! As ever, I must say a mas­sive thanks to this in­cred­i­ble team of guys and our coach Ben for his con­tin­ued pas­sion and guid­ance.

 ??  ?? Shoot­ing with one foot on a bucket forced the stu­dents to en­gage the core mus­cles
Shoot­ing with one foot on a bucket forced the stu­dents to en­gage the core mus­cles
 ??  ?? Jonathan Mcgee is a renowned shoot­ing pho­tog­ra­pher and keen game shot who earned a place on Ben Husthwaite’s gold squad
Jonathan Mcgee is a renowned shoot­ing pho­tog­ra­pher and keen game shot who earned a place on Ben Husthwaite’s gold squad
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Shoot­ing from a sit­ting po­si­tion means that you have to turn from the waist
Shoot­ing from a sit­ting po­si­tion means that you have to turn from the waist
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Jonathan found only a small ro­ta­tion was needed for a fast tower tar­get Jonathan putting what he’s learned into prac­tice
Jonathan found only a small ro­ta­tion was needed for a fast tower tar­get Jonathan putting what he’s learned into prac­tice
 ??  ?? There’s no mis­tak­ing Ben’s non-reg­u­la­tion footwear!
There’s no mis­tak­ing Ben’s non-reg­u­la­tion footwear!
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Ben rounds off the day with a team com­pe­ti­tion set on the Com­pak lay­out
Ben rounds off the day with a team com­pe­ti­tion set on the Com­pak lay­out

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK