Question: Do you believe shooting a round of 50 or 100 is the best type of training there is to increase your scores in sporting clays, or do you believe there are other routes to achieve percentage growth in this game?
Answer: Practice is most beneficial if you adhere to three basic rules: 1) Practice to address a specific aspect of your game; 2) Practice toward a specific goal; 3) Remember game play is critical. Let’s cover one at a time.
When you initiate a practice session, you should be focused on one or two specific aspects of your game. Mastering a technique needed to break a specific target presentation is one example. Other examples could be “smoothing out” your gun mount on crossing targets, committing to your break point or perfecting your pre-shot routine. Once you know what you are going to focus on during a practice session (#1), apply a specific goal or metric for your practice (#2). Establish a minimum percentage of broken targets that you want to achieve on a given target or practice station: 10 singles in a row or five pairs in a row.
Lastly, the most successful competitors practice like they compete and compete like they practice. There is no substitute for the pressures of competition, however, strive to mimic the pressure of competition in practice. Holding yourself to a certain performance standard (aka, game play) — like breaking five consecutive pairs before moving on the next station — is a great way to increase performance pressure to simulate tournament conditions.
With that said, the majority of shooters practice by simply shooting a round of clays. Let’s face it: For most shooters, shooting clays is fun. It is recreation, not work. There is nothing wrong with that. But at a certain point in the progression of competitive shooters, participation isn’t enough. Winning, or “punching up,” becomes the goal. At this juncture, a round of 50 or 100 clays a week will not get you to where you want to be — unless of course you are competing against three of your shooting buddies!
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.