Question: Where should my eye be during the pre-shot planning, and where should the barrel be in relation to my peripheral vision? How far out from the trap should I set the visual pick-up point? Should I look at the trap or not?
Answer: The “visual pick-up point” is the location of your eyes at the moment you call for the target. The ideal visual pick-up point will largely depend on the given target presentation; however, there are some general principles one should follow. Your visual pick-up point:
1) …should be farther away from the trap than the spot at which the target is first visible. Normally, when the target first emerges from the trap, it appears as a blur to the eyes. If your visual pick-up point is on “the blur,” the target will likely outrun the eyes and prompt an abrupt move to the target.
2) …should be somewhere between the trap and the barrel and rarely ever in the same place as the muzzle. Assuming you have chosen your hold point wisely, if your visual pick-up point is in the same place as the muzzle, the target will likely outrun the barrel, causing an abrupt move to the break point.
3) …should be appropriate for the angle of the target. The tighter the target angle, the closer the eyes should be to the barrel. For a quick trap shot your eyes should be slightly above the muzzle to acquire the target. For a fast quartering target, your eyes should be about 4 inches to the side of the barrel toward the trap. For crossing targets, put the eyes halfway between the barrel and the trap.
4) …should facilitate a smooth “hand-off” from the peripheral vision to the direct vision. The peripheral vision should initially acquire the target, but the direct vision feeds the brain the high-resolution information it needs. The visual pickup point should allow the peripheral vision to acquire the target and facilitate acute focus with the direct vision just prior to and through the break point.
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.