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Ask The Instructor: Hold Point

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Question: I’ve always been told to keep my eyes centered in my head to follow the bird (ocular center) and turn my head toward the visual hold point. I see in your video that you say to cut your eyes back to the visual hold point, and if needed, turn your head slightly. Can you clarify?

Answer: Proper shot execution requires acute visual focus and a head and muzzle that are synchronized with the target through the break point. Movement to a target must include an acute visual “fix” on the target together with a brief period, prior to shot execution, when the head is quiet and synchronized relative to the target. There is plenty of science behind this statement, chief among them being Joan Vickers’ text “Perception Cognition -The Quiet Eye in Action”. In this text, Vickers chronicles how the eyes of elite athletes operate during sports activities in which they must “intercept” a moving object. A summary can be found on my website at this link:

So, what does this mean for the clay target shooter? If possible, use only the eye muscles to move the eyes to the visual pick-up point. Your peripheral vision is exponentially more effective at initially acquiring targets than your direct vision. Turn the head only to the extent necessary to settle your eyes on your chosen visual pick-up point. If you have to move the head to position the eyes on the visual pickup point, keep your head as synchronized as possible with the body and target throughout the move and execution of the shot. One of the most destructive errors I see committed by shooters is a move of the head down to the gun at the end of the “stroke.” This upsets and interrupts the flow of high-definition information about the target to the brain. Acute focus, a quiet head and a quiet muzzle will “feed the brain” the high-definition imagery it needs to break the target. I always say, “If the camera is quiet, the brain is seeing a clear image.” Minimize the move of the head. If the head and gun are synchronized with the target at the break point, the quality of the image will be sufficient to break the target.

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

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