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Bad Advice Usually Just Makes Problems Worse

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Photo: National Skeet Shooting Association
Rick Stockstill says that trying to "ambush" targets is a mistake made by many skeet shooters who don't have sufficient confidence in their abilities.

(Editor's note: This tip is from Rick Stockstill, the director of the National Skeet Shooting Association and an NSSA-certified Level 2 shooting instructor.)

One of the most frustrating things about shooting skeet, or any other clay-target sport for that matter, is being given bad advice – especially when it’s unsolicited.

Let’s say you are a skeet enthusiast. You love to shoot, but there’s something about the high-house target on station 2 that makes it elusive much of the time. You go and practice at a local range and are given unsolicited advice ranging from “You shot behind it” to “You need more lead." You might even try some of these nuggets of guidance, only to find out that they make no difference whatsoever. Very frustrating, indeed.

So what’s the solution? A very easy remedy for most of these kinds of problems is to take a lesson (more if needed) from a certified skeet instructor.

An instructor who has been certified by a major governing body for a sport, such as the National Skeet Shooting Association, has been trained to diagnose through observation problems that shooters have with all facets of the game. From proper mounting of the shotgun, to ensuring proper gun fit (not all guns fit all people), to proper hold and look points, to making the right kind of move at the correct time. Any one of these variables can contribute to the success or failure to hit any given target on a skeet field.

Let’s focus on the high-2 target as an example. Most shooters who are lacking in confidence with this target are so concerned that the it will emerge at Mach-5 or some other ridiculous speed (it really emerges going at only about 48 miles per hour) that they will move before the target emerges from the house. We refer to this as “leaving early” or “leaving on your call."

The shooter is trying to anticipate and "ambush" the target. The problem is that the shooter ends up way in front of the target, and one of two things usually happens as a result. One, the shooter goes ahead and pulls the trigger and misses the target way out in front, or two, sees what has happened and tries to remedy the problem by slowing down or stopping the gun movement.

Just about 99-plus percent of the time this approach will fail, with the net result being that the shooter will end up shooting behind the target. At this point, the unknowing but well-intentioned “helper” will intone that you “shot behind the target” and “you need to lead the target a bit more." What this person does not realize is that excessive lead was a major cause of the problem to begin with.

So to sum things up, your time and frustration can both be reduced considerably if you have a lesson with a properly certified instructor who can diagnose and correct problems ranging from trouble with a particular target to problems with your mount, foot position or any number of other issues. A professional instructor can determine the actual cause(s) by direct observation within a few shots and communicate this to you along with one or more solutions to the problem.

Time very well spent, indeed.


> For more about the National Skeet Shooting Association, click here.

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