TECHNIQUE: Want a great summer on the clays? Start preparing now!
Improve your hit rate on the clays in 2018 with Don Brunt’s pre-season tips, which include updating kit, booking competitions and planning practice sessions early to give you the edge
As the excesses of Christmas become a fading memory and the game season draws to a close, it’s time to look forward to the clay season. If you want to improve your shooting during those glorious days of summer, act now – this is the time to consider some of the key aspects of the way you approach your sport.
If you have been considering a new gun, this is a great time to make a switch. By changing now you have the whole of the spring to get used to it before the summer arrives. Changing guns in the middle of the season is rarely a good move if you are trying to build consistency into your game.
When choosing your new steed, try to look past the quality of the wood and the intricacy of the engraving; make it your number one priority to make sure that it fits you. One of the key indicators will be the height of the comb on the top of the stock. If, when your cheekbone is locked down onto the top of the stock, you can see little more than the back of the action, then discard the gun from your shortlist and move on. Such ‘low’ guns invariably cause head lifting in order to see the target properly, and that, in turn, invariably leads to missing over the top. The rib should always be clearly visible when looking down the gun – if it looks like a steep ski jump stretching away in front of you it might be too high, but that’s a far less likely problem than the ‘low’ gun which is responsible for a high percentage of ill-fitting guns.
Also, bear in mind that when it comes to depreciation, a good second-hand gun is often a better bet than a new gun at a bargain low price, and if you want to resell a used Beretta, Browning or Miroku then chances are that you won’t lose a great deal of money on it.
When trying a new gun in the colder months, always make sure that your initial testing for fit is carried out wearing lightweight clothing. There is no point being stood in a gun shop trying guns while wearing thick jumpers and coats, when much of your shooting is going to take place in the summer. It’s easy to buy a gun during the winter that’s actually too short for you, an issue that doesn’t rear its head until the layers start coming off in the warmer weather.
It is also a good time of year to plan any big events that you want to attend. The more popular events sell out very quickly now, sometimes in hours, so it’s worth identifying those majors you
‘Investing in a lesson or two allows your practice to be far more productive than just blazing away at targets you already know you can hit’
want to attend and coming up with a plan to make sure you can get booked in as soon as the dates are released. Booking in early also means that if you need to get a room for the night it can work out cheaper than if you try and book just before you travel.
If you weren’t happy with how you performed last year, then perhaps it’s time to come up with a way to get more ‘kills’ on your scorecard. Sensible targeted practice can be very productive, so long as you have precise goals in the sense of which issues you want to address and are able to accurately diagnose what your problems are.
If you aren’t sure what’s causing you to miss, perhaps it’s worth investing in a lesson or two to give your training some direction. Ask around for recommendations as that’s usually a good way to find a coach who has a good track record. It can be very easy for a coach to identify simple things that you can change which may drastically improve your hit rate. If you do go to a coach, make sure to go with an open mind – he knows what he is doing so try to soak up as much information as you can.
Don’t be afraid to make notes at the end of each session, especially if he gives you some things to go away and work on. This allows your practice to be far more productive than just blazing away at targets you know you can hit, rather than attempting to conquer those that cause you a problem or two.
The clay season may still be a few months away, but by acting now and starting to get your equipment and your skills in order, you can have a smashing time this summer.
Using the next few months to practise will give you the opportunity to concentrate on your shooting without the distraction of competitions or scorecards.
Don’t be distracted by pretty woodwork and fancy engraving – make sure your new gun fits you!
If you are thinking of shooting a major, you need to book in early as spaces fill up quickly