I have a good friend who shoots sporting clays with me regularly. He started out shooting skeet but I have converted him to shoot more sporting clays. We try to help each other, but there’s something that he does that I can’t quite figure out. He tends to push the gun away from the target at a very fast speed. I have been trying to get him to stop this but I think it is now a bad habit. Why does he do this?
Experience tells me that, at some point during your friend’s shooting career, he had a problem with visual follow-through and has now overcompensated for it.
As a shooter softens focus on a target in an attempt to aim, the gun stops or slows down and the shooter misses behind. I’m also speculating that, at some point, an ill-informed instructor or well-meaning squad mate noticed that your friend was shooting behind targets and subsequently instructed your friend to “keep swinging the gun!” Your friend tries it. The target breaks. A habit is formed! Your friend is now convinced that, in order to prevent the gun from stopping, he must add lead by pushing the gun at the end of the stroke. Now he has a different problem. When he encounters a transitioning target, this “technique” fails him as he repeatedly misses high and in front.
The reality is that, when a shooter’s shotgun stops or slows, it is the result of a lack of visual focus on the target, not lack of gun speed. To maintain proper gun speed, the shooter must maintain sharp visual focus on the target through shot execution. Otherwise, the gun will lose its pace with the target. If the eyes stay on the target, so will the gun! One drill you can suggest to help your friend fix this problem is the “two-shot drill” on a target that is a slow-moving high-angle target that transitions at the breakpoint at about 30 yards in front of the shooter.
If you have an O/U, use a Cylinder or Skeet choke in the first barrel and a Mod choke in the second. With the first shot, break the target. With the second, quickly shoot a piece of the broken target. Concentrate on ending the first shot at the planned breakpoint, watching the target break and resisting the temptation to push the gun after the shot. You can actually turn this into a fun and challenging game.
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