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Article 1 – 2024 (February)

Australian Shooter Magazine

Question and Answers

Article 1 – 2024 (February)

Question:  I love all forms of shooting whether it be rifle, pistol or shotgun. I guess I would have what would be described as a reasonable level of ability at each, but I really am not a master of any. Shotgun intrigues me as I just seem to miss for no reason at all. I shoot either Sporting Clays or Trap and I can hit ten targets in a row and then miss the next ten. I have no clue why, but I am told my concentration level needs a lot of work. To be honest I have the same issues when I hunt. I have seen videos that you have made regarding a “pre-shot routine”. Is that something that can be applied at all levels of shotgun shooting?

Rohan Douglas, Eaglehawk VIC 

Answer:  In all forms of shooting and I would assume in all sporting events, what you think about in the few seconds before you perform the required task regardless if that involves pulling a trigger, kicking a ball, pushing an oar through the water or whatever, will largely determine the outcome of the action. Your brain needs to be set in motion prior to that required action so your eyes, muscles and reflexes can automatically carry out their designated function.

On a shotgun shooting range a pre-shot routine is a relatively simple task to perform and many of the great competitors perform this without even knowing they are doing it. In an event like sporting clays where each stand requires different physical movements of the shotgun to break the target the same pre-shot routine should be applied each time. Before your shotgun is closed you would want to have visualized the point in the sky where you will identify your target, how far you will track it with your barrel and finally the sight picture you wish to see as you pull the trigger. Hopefully the pre-shot routine will be the same every single time no matter the difficulty of the target or the stage of the competition you are in. Many competitors fail under pressure because they simply rush their pre-shot routine and the mechanics of their technique fall apart from that point onwards. How many times do you see a competitor miss their last target in a round because they are more focused on the score rather than going through the same process as the previous twenty-four shots to get their desired score out of twenty-five?

In a strictly regimented shooting event like Trap where six competitors are taking turns to shoot every thirty to forty seconds, a very strict and tightly controlled pre-shot routine is easy to develop. As a general rule your routine would start when the person on your left is getting ready to shoot. The difference in Trap is that you can’t actually visualize where you intend on breaking the target as you won’t know exactly what direction your target is going. This is where too much visualization can be dangerous as you never want to pre-empt the flight path of an unknown target, but the gun mount and time taken before calling for the target to be released should never change. Many great trap shooters call for their target to be released so consistently in time from when the previous competitor has shot at their target, you could set your stop watch by it. If you watch the best tennis players or golfers you will see them religiously bouncing the ball the same number of times before they serve or taking the same amount of practice swings before they hit their golf ball every single time. This is not a coincidence. This is their pre-shot routine.

Obviously if you are walking through a quail paddock or standing in the middle of a swamp covered in camouflage waiting for a duck to fly over your head you won’t have the opportunity to apply the same highly orchestrated pre-shot routine. The mechanics required to actually bring down your game won’t be any different than those required to shoot a clay target and this is where some dry firing training at home in your garage or living room will become tremendously beneficial. You can still visualize your duck or quail; you just won’t have the same time to prepare. In essence your dry firing at home is preparing you not to have any time to prepare!

I hope this helps. Good luck with it.

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