Practice with a Purpose
Keep It Simple Series
For the average shooter, hunter or sportsman
By Johnny Dury
Practice With A Purpose: Know Your Limits
There is a message for all shotgun shooters that can be gleaned from the Clint Eastwood character Dirty Harry in "Magnum Force."
By slightly altering one of his trademark phrases, it is a Dury's fact that a good shooter should know his limitations when setting up practice sessions for bird season.
Too much shoulder shock can be just as detrimental as too little time spent on the range honing wing shooting skills.
Finding the proper balance between developing good muscle and mental memory and simply wearing yourself out is not complicated. Some shooters require more practice than others, while a few probably need to spend as much time soaking in good shooting instruction and banging away at targets as they can afford.
During a typical session of sporting clays shooting instruction, most instructors will limit a student to no more than 250 shells -- that is exactly one flat. Less is probably better for beginners or slightly built shooters such as youngsters and petite ladies.
A good rule of thumb is for a shooter to achieve three or four "dead-a-pair" performances at each target presentation before moving on to another station. If a shooter is having particular problems with a target, it is often a good idea to come back to it with a fresh plan of attack.
The buddy system is also encouraged during sessions with an instructor. By shooting with one or two compadres (instructors often offer discounted package deals for two or more shooters), a shooter can save money and also learn from watching the instructor tweak the shooting skills of a buddy.
Working out different approaches to develop a shooter's successful encounter with each individual presentation is what good instructors are all about.
After a practice session with a qualified instructor, shooters on the path to improved clay busting or wing-shooting success should set up a schedule to hone their newly learned techniques.
The number of targets attempted during the scheduled sessions depends upon the desired goal. Competition shooters seeking time on the championship platform should shoot about 400 to 500 targets per week for at least a month; everyday shooters and bird hunters probably should stick to about 100 targets per week for a month.
Shooters, no matter what skill level, should make note of any particularly troublesome targets so that they can be addressed during the next training session.
Another good way to improve muscle memory is to practice mounting a shotgun -- make sure it is empty -- about 20 to 50 times a day in the comfort of your home. This simple procedure will help make sure the shotgun fits right will help make a shooter more at ease in the field.
In most cases, a shooter who moves through and shoots a target the same way at least 20 times in a row will imprint that image into the subconscious mind.
When the shooter's subconscious mind has that target locked in, all the shooter has to do is rely on this ingrained skill to handle the presentation and the result will be effective and continuing target trauma.
While there are many qualified instructors plying their trade in this area, Dury's Gun Shop recommends the services of David LaVelle of Escondido Creek Sporting Clays. Call (210) 365-0671 for details.