Q: You see the pros all in a row following the clay with their finger/hand. Does this help them determine lead or what?
A: Using the front hand to observe the targets prior to engaging a target pair is an important element of pre-shot planning and rehearsal. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on The OPTIMAL Process in which I described a pre-shot planning and pre-shot routine sequence for competitors. Observe, Plan, Test, or the O, P, T in OPTIMAL, is the pre-shot planning phase that most all top shooters use in some form. Essentially, a shooter is observing the targets, developing a plan for engaging the targets and testing that plan by “imaging” or visualizing the engagement of the target pair. Once the shooter carefully observes the targets in flight, a plan starts to develop. The shooter identifies and landmarks the target line, break point, hold point and visual pick-up point. He then uses the lead hand to simulate the movement of the shotgun and engagement of the target pair (the lead hand is the left hand for a right-handed shooter and the right hand for a left-handed shooter). Some shooters describe this as initiating an “out of body experience” as they simulate and actually feel themselves visually fix on the targets, point at the targets with the lead hand and execute the shot pair. This “testing” phase serves as a rehearsal or mental programming of the subconscious mind. Like a gladiator preparing to enter the coliseum. By rehearsing prior to execution, the shooter is “loading the program” that he will activate when he calls “PULL”. By the time he executes the shot pair, the shooter has essentially rehearsed the pair in his mind half a dozen times. Each time the shooter rehearses, he further solidifies “the feel” of the shot. When he finally executes the shot pair, he is simply running the program and letting the eyes, brain and nervous system kill the target according to plan.