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Article 3 – 2016

person aiming shotgun at target range

Question: I have just started shooting clay targets and have a pretty good sporting shotgun with an adjustable stock. I want to shoot some competitions in trap and I was wondering if there are five main basic fundamental skills to becoming a better shooter?

Anthony Blackburn, Richmond NSW


Answer: Anthony it’s a question I get asked often so I would be happy to answer it.

1. Determine what your dominant eye is. Twenty eight percent of right-handed people have their left eye as their master eye. If you cannot genuinely shoot from your left shoulder then you will have to close or cover your left eye to consistently shoot clay targets. If you are lucky enough to have the same eye dominance matching your handedness then learn to shoot with two eyes open as quickly as possible.

2. Find a pattern board. It is amazing the amount of shotgun shooters that have absolutely no idea where their shotgun is actually shooting in relation to their target. Go to a range that has a pattern board and spend some time and maybe a box of ammunition fine-tuning your shotgun to make it imprint at a point that is relevant to the discipline you are shooting. Do this at twenty metres and fire three shots at the board before checking the pattern percentage above or below, left or right, of the aiming point on the board. As a general rule a trap gun should imprint higher than a sporting or field gun.

3. Learn the correct stance. For trap it is easy. Assuming you are right handed, to find the starting stance on the middle station (station 3) you should pretend there is a clock superimposed on the concrete below. Place your left foot facing at 1 o’clock and your right foot facing at 2 o’clock. As you move from station 3 to the two stations on your right you add half and hour to each foot. On the two stations to the left of station 3 you subtract half an hour for each foot. So starting on Station 1 your left foot will be at 12 o’clock and your right foot at 1 o’clock and by Station 5 your left foot should be pointed at 2 o’clock and your right at 3 o’clock. This will position your body at the optimum position for each station. If you are left handed your starting position on Station 1 will be 10 o’clock for your right foot and 9 o’clock for your left and by station 5 your stance should have shifted to 12 o’clock for your right foot and 11 o’clock for your left.

4. Mount the gun keeping your eyes parallel to the horizon. One of the most common faults for beginners is to drop their heads across the stock and look along the barrel with their eyes crocked. Practice dry firing the gun at home in front of a mirror to make sure your eyes are straight. You would not drive to work with your head tilted on the side so shooting clay targets with the same head position is certainly not going to help your target acquisition either.

5. Practice quality not quantity and record your results. Two great rounds of training at the range where you have set specific goals to achieve will be better than eight rounds of practice just for the sake of shooting. Make every practice shot count by putting in the maximum amount of mental effort required. Record your training and competition scores and any technical changes you make a tried in a in a diary for future reference.

This list could have another twenty headings added to it, but these five should get you started and hold you well in your quest to break more clays.

Good luck with it.

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