Hit­ting dust­bin lids and tur­keys

David Turner high­lights some of the pit­falls in the life of a shooter and what can be done to rec­tify them

Sporting Gun - - Instruction Advice - Jan­uary 2019

Have you ever felt you were in­vin­ci­ble and couldn’t miss when out shoot­ing? The clays ap­peared the size of dust­bin lids and the pheas­ants as big as tur­keys, ev­ery tar­get fall­ing out of the sky. All your Christ­mases seemed to have come at once, shoot­ing like a “god” and your dreams of be­com­ing a great Shot re­alised.

The op­po­site can hap­pen, of course, and no mat­ter how hard you try, noth­ing seems to work. You could say the wheels have fallen off and you can’t get it to­gether no mat­ter what you do. Ev­ery­thing goes wrong and you don’t know why. You could also say that you didn’t re­ally know why you shot so well on the pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion. It’s a dispir­it­ing feel­ing of all for those of us that care and usu­ally shoot to a stan­dard that most would call a “good Shot”.

Some might say “it hap­pens to all of us now and again” — which is true, of course — and “don’t worry, you’ll get back to your old self and re­cover your old form”. That doesn’t cut it for me. I want to know why.

So what next? What are you go­ing to do about it? At this stage you’ll need to ask your­self a few ques­tions: • What tech­nique do I use mostly? • Am I aware of spe­cific tech­niques and do I use them? • Is there any par­tic­u­lar type of tar­get that catches me out? • Has my eye dom­i­nance changed? • Is my gun still a rea­son­able fit, and so on?

Let’s look at a hy­po­thet­i­cal ex­am­ple. The game shooter who sud­denly finds things get­ting worse. I’m go­ing to use this in par­tic­u­lar as I’ve met a lot of game shoot­ers who have no idea what tech­nique they use. The first thing many say is “I’ll have a les­son, that’ll sort me out”.

Some lessons will help you but one iso­lated les­son is not enough and by a long chalk. Most sports­men, what­ever their sport, have a les­son ev­ery week or so and are al­ways look­ing to im­prove their per­for­mance; to win.

We must em­brace the need for some help and tu­ition in an on­go­ing regime with an in­struc­tor who knows his stuff and can help you, in the class­room, the shoot­ing ground and out in the field. It’s also im­por­tant to feel good about your­self; you should en­joy mak­ing progress and your in­struc­tor’s com­pany.

“Lessons will help you but one iso­lated les­son is not enough and by a long chalk”

Prac­tice is, in­deed, im­por­tant — but make sure that you are not prac­tis­ing bad habits

Prac­tice is vi­tal

Lessons are great, but we need lots of prac­tice too. There’s a big but here: the adage “prac­tice makes per­fect” is er­ro­neous. Only per­fect prac­tice makes per­fect. To put it another way: “prac­tice makes per­ma­nent”. We don’t want to prac­tise the wrong thing, as that could be­come per­ma­nent and be more dif­fi­cult to shake off in the long run. Learned bad habits can be very dif­fi­cult to get rid of. It’s good to prac­tise Skeet shoot­ing as it of­fers var­i­ous an­gles and crossers

Golf is an ex­am­ple of a sport that en­cour­ages bet­ter­ment, as there are driv­ing ranges that al­low golfers to prac­tise their swing, while they’re not play­ing in a game. We don’t have that lux­ury.

Do’s and don’ts

• The first “don’t” is “don’t do noth­ing”. If you keep do­ing what you’ve al­ways done, you’ll keep get­ting the same re­sults. You’ll have good days and bad days and you’ll never

Two com­mon prob­lems

One com­mon prob­lem is a switch or change in eye dom­i­nance with the shooter who’s “get­ting on a bit”. I’ve met sev­eral who have all said “I’ve al­ways been right-eye dom­i­nant, why should it sud­denly change?”. Well, it does. In some cases, it varies from time to time and seem­ingly with­out any rea­son. It can par­tially al­ter, just enough for the shooter to start miss­ing in­ex­pli­ca­bly, even from one oc­ca­sion to another.

Weight gain or loss can also af­fect gun fit, re­quir­ing nec­es­sary stock al­ter­ations; if, in­deed, it fit­ted to start with.

When the wheels fall off and you lose your mojo

At the end of the day it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand your sport com­pletely — recog­nis­ing the var­i­ous tech­niques, how to use them and what to do when it all seems to be go­ing to pot.

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