Crossing Targets Show The Way To A Solid Move
Friday, December 05, 2008
Crossing targets are the biggest bugaboo for a lot of sporting clays shooters. But according to two-time U.S. Open champion Wendell Cherry, they're also the key to developing a consistently solid move that can be used on all target presentations.
Photo: Wendell Cherry
Wendell Cherry says that when it comes to developing a solid move, timing is everything.
For crossers, it's more important that a shooter's fundamentals be correct than it is for quartering or incoming targets. Because more movement is required, it's critical to have a strong set-up and the proper hold point before calling "pull."
To achieve a good set-up, it's best to start at the beginning.
The easiest place to break a crossing target will be at approximately the point where it begins the final third of its flight (approximately 45 yards off the trap arm for a clay that travels a total distance of 70 yards, etc.). The stance should be aligned to that juncture.
Then, for the hold point, go back two-thirds of the way from there to the trap. And when you call for the bird, be looking at the trap arm.
"It's true that no shooter has focus on the target coming off the trap arm," Cherry said. "You're not seeking focus, but motion. It's critical for the shooter to see motion, because that's when you start the move.
"When the target leaves the trap arm, that's when the gun starts moving."
Muzzle goes first
When the target comes off the arm, the shooter's first move should be lateral. It's an inch-and-a-half shift of the muzzle along the target line.
From there, the right hand should bring the stock to the face and shoulder at the same speed that the target and muzzle are traveling. There's no precise way to measure this, of course, but Cherry says that through practice, you'll know when you've got it right.
The muzzle should remain in front of the target the entire time and the trigger should be pulled immediately after the heel of the gun makes contact with the face.
"The back of the gun is critical – it's the big key to having a truly competitive stroke," he said. "Keeping the muzzle and heel speed the same at all times is what gives you rhythm.
"All strokes are not equal – some are superior to others. And if your stroke has holes in it, you could practice for 20 hours a day and never become competitive."
When you do it right for the first time, the difference will be obvious.
"It feels like you're not doing anything when you get it right," he said. "Your anxiety will be much lower and when that drops, your eyes become much quicker and you gain focus much faster.
"A martial artist will tell you that the only way a muscle can be fast is for it to be at rest before it moves. You have to take the tension out."
> For more about Cherry, click here to visit his website.