Question: You saw me shoot practice at Nationals, and when I asked you why I missed one of the targets you said, “you hesitated at the break point.” I recognize that I do this, but how do I stop?
Answer: Committing to your break points will require a bit of a mindset change but will contribute immeasurably to your consistency. Ready? Commitment to your break points must be very strong for all targets you engage. Most shooters end their shots when it looks right from behind the gun instead of at a specific point along the target’s flight path. If you correctly chose your break point during pre-shot planning – based on where you could best see detail on the target or where the target looked most vulnerable – why would you second-guess your break point decision while behind the shotgun?
Deviation from your pre-planned break points breeds inconsistency. More importantly, however, by executing your shot in a spot other than your planned break point, you have, by definition, executed the shot in a place that is less conducive to a strong visual connection. Additionally, since all targets lose speed and eventually start to transition once expelled from the trap, delaying execution of the shot may result in the target descending to a point below your barrel, breaking the visual connection between your dominant eye and the target. As I recall, the target you missed was descending at the break point, a particularly unforgiving presentation if you lack commitment at the break point.
During pre-shot planning, landmark your break point: a tree, rock, branch, etc. Visualize executing your shot at that specific spot while exerting strong visual focus on the target just prior to and through your break point. Watch the target break. To incorporate this into your game, practice on a crossing target such as Station #4 on the skeet field. Identify your break point (the center stake), then commit to and break the target at the break point. Repeat 10 times, then move to another location or another target.
By committing to your break point, you will end the shot in the same place every time, contributing to your consistency in execution and increasing your chances of running the station. Good shooting!
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at www.doncurrie.com.