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Fundamentals


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I started trap shooting two years ago and love the mental aspect of "not missing" something that I still have to work on in IPSC, A,C...whatever as long as it is on the paper....What I have had to learn in trap is that to be "up there" - you can't miss, but not to stress about it. One bird at a time and that is it. Translating that back to IPSC, my scores have gone up and I drop way fewer points. Two A's at a time one target at a time. Its been great, still though try and "shoot the dot" with my shotgun sometimes, but get over that pretty fast now.

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  • 10 months later...
On Monday, November 22, 2010 at 10:09 PM, pjb45 said:

Shot my second round of sporting clays the other day. It was pretty windy so the birds were flying fast, dipping and rising as the wind changed. What FUN! I will try and make the monthly match.

I need to do some dry fire practice with the info supplied from above. Thanks for the post.

BTW: The nice thing; start at 9, finish by 11. No setup and take down to speak of!

Be careful of sporting clays.  I was strictly pistol, now more shotgun than anything.

love to hit the clays

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  • 3 months later...
On December 31, 2016 at 6:59 PM, mfs said:

Be careful of sporting clays.  I was strictly pistol, now more shotgun than anything.

love to hit the clays

 

Agreed.  Shooting stationary targets is boring once you get into action sports.  The great thing is that clays are cheap and you don't have to wait around all the time.  Also since you know your own score, you have something to work toward each time.  

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  • 6 months later...
On 12/30/2001 at 1:22 PM, EricW said:

OK All,

Here's what I learned at my lesson yesterday.  What it boiled down to is that everything you learned to be a good rifle or pistol shooter translates over to shotgun: keeping the eyes open during the shot, relaxed stance, leading the gun with the eyes, etc.  My  biggest impediment turned out to be accepting that I can shoot clays instinctively.  All the stuff I had read about leads and sight pictures, blah, blah, blah, all turned out to be total crap.  It was great to meet an instructor who told me in essence: "It's OK to let go of all that."  I've spent 15 years thinking that instinctive shotgun shooting was a crutch and tried to suppress it with 3rd party dogma.  I'll be glad when I can finally dispense with all of it.  DEVIL BEGONE!!!  

Fundamentals:

1.  Gun fit.  Get your gun fitted by a competent *professional*, not just any yahoo at a gun store or off the trap line.  The key is having unobstructed vision over the rib.  If your eye is even partially blocked, the eye opposite your gun mount takes over and...you miss.

2.  Eyes.  Try to use both eyes for shooting.  (Don't ask me what to do if you're cross-dominant - I can find out though.   Brian?)  

3.  Foot position (I had this TOTALLY wrong)  -  Your feet need to be placed in a position where you will visually start to *pick up* the bird - this is the start of your gun mount.  The point is for your body to be relaxed and uncontorted for a proper gun mount.  Make no mistake, the mount is EVERYTHING.  If you're in a pretzel during the mount, your mount will be a mess.  

Note:  I had previously been instructed to be in the position where I was going to shoot the bird, then rotate back to see the bird.  While for extended trajectories, you need to adjust for *shooting* position, the *seeing/mounting* position is dominant.  Think 80/20 Rule.  Starting from the shooting position and coiling back to see the bird is just wrong, wrong, wrong.  Demonstrably wrong.  

4.  Gun mount - you need to feel the stock hit your cheek every time - in the same place.  It's the same as getting good stockweld to shoot a rifle.

Principle: The "mount" is really only a pivot of the gun.  Just like pistol shooting your goal is economy of motion.  The point of starting with the gun low is unobstructed vision.  It's just one more way of moving your focus totally onto the clay.  

Physics: Orient yourself to naturally pick up the clay visually - on the skeet range the visual pickup point is about 15' from the opening on the house.  Mount your gun.  The barrel should be pointing along the flight path of the bird.  (If it's not, your muzzle will porpoise as you try to pick up the bird.)  Your cheek is firmly on the stock.  The butt is firmly on your shoulder.  Now, push the gun forward and release the tension on your shoulder - maybe an inch, max.  Keeping the front hand fixed, pivot the butt of the gun down so that the top of the buttplate is at your armpit.  To mount, rotate the stock into your cheek and pull back.  That's it!  Simple.  Pivot, Pull, Fire.

5.  Look at the birdie!  100% of your attention has to be on the bird and nothing else.  Even shooting pairs, ALL of your attention is on the first bird - no peeking. (This is tougher than it sounds.)  Just like the "double-tap," pairs are two INDIVIDUAL shots.  I go so far as to mount the gun twice.  Do what makes you happy, but take TWO shots.

6.  Tracking - Your eyes lead the gun.  When you call pull, your eyes will be looking in the port of the house for the bird.  The gun will naturally follow your eyes.  Never, ever look at the gun.  Not before the shot, not during, not after.  The bird is the functional equivalent to the front sight on your pistol.  If it's not in focus - you're cooked.  This visual discipline is key to calling the shot.  I think the top guys can even follow the wad.

7.  Straightway Technique:  Look at the bird and shoot it.  No tricks.

8.  Crosser Technique:  Look slightly ahead of the bird and shoot it.  What this *looks* like is up to you.  Nobody can tell you what this looks like.  We're all different.  To get started, try focusing on the very leading edge of the bird:  it's a good starting point.

Regarding 7 and 8:  When you have troubles, a good coach will tell you to deliberately miss the bird or just shoot off parts of it.  "Shoot the bottom of the bird.  Shoot the top.  Shoot ahead.  Shoot behind.  Now shoot it dead center."  In 45 minutes, my instructor had me literally shooting *sections* of the bird away.  (We used a tight choke.)  It was SO cool.

So, there you go.  Lesson #1.  

All this is courtesy of Dan Mitchell, Claysmoker Extraordinaire, of Mitchell's Clay Target Sports in Banks, OR.  I highly, highly recommend his instruction.  He is super talented, very casual, and a very nice guy.  It's the best $50 I've ever spent.  

(Edited by EricW at 5:37 pm on Dec. 30, 2001)

 

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On 12/30/2001 at 1:22 PM, EricW said:

 

2.  Eyes.  Try to use both eyes for shooting.  (Don't ask me what to do if you're cross-dominant - I can find out though.   Brian?)  

 

 

If your eyes are "cross dominant" take a small piece of semi transparent tape and place it across the top of your shooting glasses on the cross dominant side so that when you mount the gun the tape partially obstructs that eye. (if you mount the gun right handed you will put the tape on the left lens of your shooting glasses. 

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On 2/1/2002 at 5:13 PM, Chris said:

BE, someone mentioned this tip to me to help with the move, mount, shoot.

If you drop a minimag flashlight in your barrel, you can see exactly where the gun is pointing while you practice your mount technique.

 

There are good, inexpensive lasers built like shotgun shells for this specific purpose.

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i look at trap this way, and it mostly applies to the other shotgun sports too. trap is mostly only a few fundamentals. #1 the gun must fit you or it will not hit where your looking. #2 consistant gun mount, without it you will not consistantly hit where your looking. #3 trap is 95% mental or better. "see the bird, shoot the bird", have to learn to tune out everything else but the target once you call for it. stray thoughts or allowing distractions to get to you will cost you targets. of course there are a number of smaller things that also make a difference, but if you can handle the main 3 you can shoot next to anyone no matter how good they are without shame.

Edited by lefty o
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i look at trap this way, and it mostly applies to the other shotgun sports too. trap is mostly only a few fundamentals. #1 the gun must fit you or it will not hit where your looking. #2 consistant gun mount, without it you will not consistantly hit where your looking. #3 trap is 95% mental or better. "see the bird, shoot the bird", have to learn to tune out everything else but the target once you call for it. stray thoughts or allowing distractions to get to you will cost you targets. of course there are a number of smaller things that also make a difference, but if you can handle the main 3 you can shoot next to anyone no matter how good they are without shame.
Very well said
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  • 7 months later...

Eric,

 

thank you for sharing what you learned. I’m looking at getting into skeet and trap and this helped a lot. I’m completely new to shotguns and anything I can learn is great information. 

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  • 6 months later...

 These are great tips. I am just starting to shoot clays. I have taken one lesson and just had my first fitting appointment. Luckily the gun (A400) fits pretty well right out of the box. The smith said maybe a little cast off if anything but wants me to practice my mount and shoot at least 500 clays before he adjust it.

I bought a Wheelybird 2.0 trap and finally got to go out yesterday and do some shooting with it. It's awesome. Never thought I would hear myself say this but I am going to the skeet field on Sunday instead of the USPSA match.

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  • 3 months later...

I would add to the above that, if you are right handed and right eyed, you point the shotgun with your left hand.  The first coach I worked with had me point the index finger of my left hand down the barrels, just to try to strengthen the hand-eye coordination.  Also, he had me focus on the bird, but be looking ahead of the bird by the lead I needed, and the shotgun would follow my eye.  

 

Visualizing the lead you need in Skeet is important.  It goes from 6 to 9 inches at station 1, to 1-and-a-half feet at station 2, 3 feet at station 3, and 4 feet at station 4, then back down to 6 to 9 inches on the incoming bird at station 7.  At the distance you will shoot at a bird, 1 foot distance will be occluded by about the width of a finger on an outstretched hand.  My first coach would have me hold up a hand with the appropriate number of fingers to visualize the lead I needed, before calling for a bird.  The only station this does not work on for me is the outgoing bird at stations 2 and 6, where the change in angle is so fast I don't have time to set up a steady lead, all I can do is swing through and be pulling the trigger as I do.  

 

The last station on the field is the hardest and the easiest, at the same time.  Pure muscle memory.  I blot out the bird and be pulling the trigger as I do, keeping the gun moving.  

 

I came to Skeet after a lot of Service Rifle, so I tend to crawl the stock, and need a 'pull' on the stock that is ridiculous.  My most serious problem was stopping my swing, because my rifle targets held still for me.  The thing that helped me most to not stop my swing was to have my weight on the balls of my feet, in very much a Boxing-type stance.  

 

The help of a fitter is critical, and going back to them for another, later, session, is a good idea.  I went from breaking 12 to 15 birds, to breaking 21 or 22 birds, sometimes to breaking 25.  For just shooting Skeet targets, I would suggest a heavier gun, and lighter shot charges.  For Skeet, I don't think I lose any birds with just a 3/4 oz. shot charge in 12 gauge, and I don't feel sore the next day if I shoot 4 rounds of Skeet.  I don't feel I need the full payload of a 12 gauge for anything but waterfowl.  

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  • 8 months later...

I bought myself a ShotKam for Christmas. It is an awesome learning tool. I was shooting some skeet (which I really suck at) and the guys I was shooting with kept telling me I was missing behind the clay. I was using my ShotKam for the first time and when I got home and looked at the videos of the shots there wasn't one of my misses that was behind the clay. They were all way under. I was running out of swing and the barrel was dipping. I went out a couple day's later with my Wheely Bird and shot crossers from both directions and focused on foot position and moving only my upper body, like a turret. I hit 24 out of 29 (that's all I could shoot as it was 30* and I was standing in a foot and a half of snow). When I checked the ShotKam after that round the misses were from stopping the gun. I also noticed that even on some of my hits that I was slowing my swing. I need to focus on follow through and keeping the gun moving. I guess my point to all of this is that the ShotKam is an awesome tool and I think it will shorten the learning curve. Just my experience. Thanks

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  • 5 months later...

I used to shoot with a guy that had the form of a cross between a crab and ninja warrior, cramped, feet splayed out but that dude shot REALLY well.

 

When I first started skeet, I failed miserably at "sustained lead" dropping the muzzle, and stopping the swing. A fellow squad member  suggested I try the swing through method and I almost instantly shot so much better never I looked back. This also helped a lot on International skeet (now my preferred game) where I had no problem chasing, timing and passing those quick little buggers. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, gnappi said:

 

 

When I first started skeet, I failed miserably at "sustained lead" dropping the muzzle, and stopping the swing. A fellow squad member  suggested I try the swing through method and I almost instantly shot so much better never I looked back. This also helped a lot on International skeet (now my preferred game) where I had no problem chasing, timing and passing those quick little buggers. 

 

 

The downfall of sustained lead... it prompts you to "look for the lead," or "measure the shot." Both of which subtly stop the gun. Swing through eliminates that.

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Sustained lead, done right, is almost zen like.  No measuring, no thinking, just look at the target, move with it, insert the gun into the lead and immediately break the shot all in one fluid motion.  Not easy but very effective.

 

Pull away (inserting immediately in front of the target and extending in front) is IMO the most versatile technique.

 

To do well at sporting clays (I only got to A class) you have to know all three basic methods and be able to choose when and how to use each one.

Edited by SGT_Schultz
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