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Anxiety Usually The Biggest Problem On Straightaways

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Photo: Rick Camuglia
New Mexico's Rick Camuglia, the 2007 National FITASC champion, says a smooth gun mount is critical on trap-style targets.

If you've shot a considerable amount of trap, then encountering a straightaway target on a sporting clays course might not give you much cause for consternation. But for whatever reason, that presentation is a bugaboo for a lot of shooters even some of the very best.

Sporting clays All-American and 2007 National FITASC champion Rick Camuglia of New Mexico is among them.

"I shoot everything with a low (unmounted) gun, and I seem to have a real problem with low-trajectory targets that are going straight away," he said. "It has to do with bringing the gun to my face I have a tendency to shoot over the top of them.

"Probably the biggest problem people have with that target, though, is the anxiety that it's getting away from them and that they have to shoot it quickly, and that's where they really get into trouble. If you rush to shoot it, you're not seeing it clearly you're trying to shoot a blur. To get rid of that, you need to really go back to basics."

Just Don't Panic

It might be easier said than done, but according to Camuglia, one of the best things you can do to boost your proficiency on low-trajectory straightaways is force yourself to slow down.

"Don't even start moving until you can see the target clearly, and then make a very deliberate gun mount," he said. "If people can get away from the idea that they have to shoot it so fast, they'd see their success rate increase."

He recommends a choke of modified or tighter for such presentations. Because of the physics involved with the angle at which the shot column intersects with a straightaway target, that clay might be harder to break that one that's crossing or quartering.

"I practice with nothing but full choke, so I'm confident shooting very tight patterns. Modified will usually be enough, but for me to have full confidence, I like to put all I've got out there."

One More Trick

Camuglia said there's a common practice that many shooters use on straightaway or slightly quartering targets that helps bring the clay into focus quicker. He doesn't swear by it, but other top competitors do.

Instead of concentrating on the actual point along the target line at which the clay comes into full focus, try locking onto something on that same plane, but at a farther distance. It could be a tree, a building, a dark spot on a hill or something all the way out on the horizon.

The theory is that your brain responds faster when you bring your focus in closer than it does when you extend it out.

"It's a visual trick that's worth a try," he said. "It works for some people and doesn't work for others.

"Still, the main thing to stress is to not let anxiety make you do something that leads to a poor gun mount. Just let it all go, make a smooth mount, look at the target and pull the trigger."

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