Deanwill be adding more tips as time goes on. So keep checking back for more.
Dry fire practice
Practicing at home is a great way to strengthen the muscles that you use while shooting and at the same time you will also improve your shooting. Before I start on how to practice at home I need to go over some safety rules. First double check to make sure that the gun is empty. You can make gains without dry firing. Caution: Do not fire the gun without a snap cap in the gun. Dry firing without a snap cap may break a firing pin because the firing pin does not have anything to strike. If you do use a snap cap, double check that you are indeed putting a snap cap in the gun. I have heard of someone accidently firing a live round. I would highly recommend that you mark the snap cap so that you can easily tell the difference between a live round and a dummy round. Always point the gun in a safe direction just in case.
The flashlight drill is a great drill to do at home. What you do is put a mag light flash light in the end of the gun. You will want to add tape to it so it does not fall out of the gun or scratch the barrel. Once you have done this you will turn the light to the smallest beam possible. Then you will swing the gun from right to left and left to right while looking at the light. For this to work you need to focus the light and not the gun. This is also a great time to work on mounting the gun while swinging the gun along the ceiling. What you want is a smooth mount without the end of the barrel see-sawing.
Where to look and how to look for targets
One common mistake that I see with shooters is that they don’t know where to look for the target. With shotgun shooting you have a window of opportunity. The sooner that you see a target the more time you have to shoot the target. So you would want to pick a spot in front of the trap that you can see the target as it launches off the trap. This takes practice to find out how close you can look along the target line to first see the target.
Once you have a good idea on where to look you now need to learn how to look. One of the best ways to see the bird is to look beyond the target line with a soft focus. You can focus on an object that is closer faster if you are looking further out. Try this look at a distance object then look a close object. Then look at something close then something far out. The time difference is not much until you factor in that skeet and trap targets fly about 45mph. That small time difference could mean the difference between a hit and a miss.
The Quiet Eye Phenomenon
Dr. Joan Vickers, professor and director in kinesiology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, has been a pioneer in the identification, study and measurement of the Quiet Eye phenomenon in sports performance.
The following material is a combination of direct excerpts from Dr. Vickers’ excellent article, “A Quiet Eye” [Golf Digest, January 2004] and additional text inserted by me to illustrate how her findings while studying golfers’ putting techniques can be applied to trapshooting.—Les Greevy
Why it is that shooting consistently high scores is so difficult for so many shooters? Almost anyone can learn to mount the gun and determine the lead in an acceptable manner. The difficulty lies in using your eyes to detect the right information about distance, speed and direction at the right time, then using your mind to relay that information to consistently make the shot string and target collide.
By recording data under laboratory conditions (using sophisticated eye-movement tracker technology, which allows us to monitor precisely what the eye focuses on and for how long) the mystery of what separates really good competitors from the rest is beginning to be figured out. We call it the Quiet Eye; here’s what it is and how you develop it.
The Quiet Eye occurs when your gaze remains absolutely still at the target pick-up point just before and as the target is called for and the gun move is initiated. There are two important aspects of this basic yet essential skill: location and duration.
Concerning location, the shooter must determine his target pick-up point (look point) with precision. It must be on the line of the target, and the look point must be identified with a very small feature in the background of the scene. Quiet Eye duration is also important. The expert shooters have a Quiet Eye duration of 2+ seconds on average, while less skilled shooters hold the gaze for less than one second.
The same results have been found in a number of other sports, including rifle shooting, darts, billiards and basketball free throws. In all of the self-initiated target sports, the Quiet Eye is emerging as the primary indicator of optimal focus and concentration.
This QE period is essential because your hands are controlled by your brain. The brain gets valuable information from your eyes. As you shoot, your brain needs to organize more than 100 billion neuron networks that are informed by your gaze and then control your hands, arms and body as the shot is performed. These networks will stay organized for only a short period of time; a window of opportunity opens that must be used when it is at its most optimal. This is the QE period.
The notion of being in The Zone or of “flow” in sport has been around for a long time. Until now, there has been only unscientific evidence that The Zone exists, let alone has measurable characteristics. Perhaps the Quiet Eye will emerge as one of the objective measures.
The Quiet Eye is the glue that keeps neurons from being scrambled when under stress. It supplies the right information at the right time. Overall, the Quiet Eye has the essence of simplicity alluded to when the shooter is in The Zone. More research will tell. In the meantime, QE is something you can learn and add to your game today.
Importance of Clean Chokes
With screw in chokes you will get a buildup of carbon and plastic. This build up will greatly affect your patter. It will decrease in size and become less uniform. Not to worry. By simply cleaning them after a day of shooting will help keep the residue from building up. Using Slip2000 choke tube cleaner works great to clean up buildup. Just let them soak for 5 min. (longer if really bad) pull them out and run a bore brush through the choke. Then a clean rag then a rag with some gun oil. Apply some choke tub grease to the threads before reinstalling. Do not use just any grease. Using the wrong grease could cause the chokes to get stuck in the gun.
Staying in the gun through the shot
Staying in the gun through the shot can get confused with follow through. However they are different. You can have a good follow through and not stay in the gun. Basically you keep your head on the gun as the shot is fired. You do this by leaning into a properly fitted gun with your cheek pressing snugly on the stock. You are also not allowing your head to rise from the recoil of the gun. Staying the gun through the shot is helpful for shooting single targets. It helps with staying with the target until the shot is delivered. This is important so that you will not develop the habit of lifting your head before the shot.
When shooting pairs of targets it is imperative to keep your head on the gun through the shot. If you lift your head every time you shoot you will then have to put your head back on the gun before attempting the next target or run the risk of missing it because you were not looking down the gun.
Fixing this problem takes someone who knows what they are looking for. As always quality instruction will help you shoot better faster.
Difference between shooting rifles and shotguns
There are many differences between shooting rifles, pistols and shotguns. One of the main differences is that rifle and pistol targets are stationary. Shotgun targets are flying through the air. When shooting a rifle or a pistol you have one projectile and shotguns shoot hundreds of pellets. Depending of the shotgun game that you are shooting the distance and speed of the target can change. Even the way you stand while shooting these different guns is different.
Because of these differences the way you shoot changes also. When shooting rifles and pistols many people close one eye. You would also have the front sight in focus and the target is a blur. There is a company that puts this point in their name called “Front Sight”. The point of shooting well is to put all the bullets as close together as possible. Even going so far as to have bullets go through bullet holes. It is all about trigger squeeze and breathing. Having a steady hand goes a long way.
When shooting shotguns you want to keep both eyes open. This way you can tell speed and distance. Then you want the target in focus and the gun is now a blur. Also you are pointing at the target not aiming. Generally you slap the trigger or even pull hard. The point is shotgun shooting is all about just hitting the target. The score is kept by X’s and O’s. X is a hit and O is a miss. A hit is any visible piece that breaks off the target. When shooting some shotgun games you can have an infinite possibility of target presentations. Some of the better shooters have very good hand eye coordination. As you have guessed that when shooting a shotgun you have to swing the gun with the target. While you are swinging the gun you also want to lean forward so that you can have an even swing.
Knowing some of the differences will go a long way in helping you be more successful. Rifle shooters have a tendency to look at the gun while they are swinging it. When this is done you will have a tendency to stop the gun and not even know it. Having a qualified shooting instructor behind you while you are shooting will make your progress much faster than trying to learn all this on your own.
Swinging the gun by rotating the shoulders
A proper swing is fundamental to any shotgun game whether it is trap, skeet, sporting, or 5-stand. It will be difficult to consistently repeat hitting targets without a proper swing.
A shooter should not swing the gun with the forward arm. Swing with the forward arm could cause the gun to be pushed in or away from the face. This could cause the gun to be pointing somewhere else then where the shooter is looking which will cause a miss to the left or right of the target. Some people will often confuse this with lifting the head.
When shooting at targets you need to swing the gun with the lower part of your body. So basically you want to rotate the shoulders to swing the gun. To do this you will be using your core muscles (the ones around your waist and hips) and some of your legs. To shoot rising and dropping targets all you have to do is rotate your shoulders up or down.
This is also where having a qualified instructor to help you will make a big difference.
Stance is the foundation of proper shooting. It helps allow you to swing the gun properly. It also helps in absorbing recoil. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Legs should be slightly bent. About 80% of your weight should be on the ball of the forward foot. You should lean forward with your shoulders not your hips. By standing like this you will be better able to absorb the recoil of the gun. You will also be able to swing the gun on a flatter plane with the target. If your hips are too far forward with your shoulders back you could end up arcing the gun as you swing. If you find yourself leaning forward with your hips then you need to work on your upper body strength.