Outdoor Articles

The Most Dangerous Things To Ruin Scores

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Competition Shooting

Here’s some inside tricks you should know about:

  • Do not be conscious of the scores of other shooters on your squad. This is a great way to divert your full attention to the job you have to do and often will cause you emotional grief when you miss a target and the other shooter(s) did not miss on that trap. Don’t worry, they will likely miss on the other traps!
  • Stay away from the scoreboard before you shoot. You don’t want to know the score you have to beat as it will divert your attention in a bad way. The moment you drop a target you’ll begin the countdown in your head and you know your score will only drop further. Check scores only after you shoot.
  • Stop thinking about what you are doing wrong or may do wrong. Instead, think of what you are doing right…even when things go wrong! This will enable you to remain focused.
  • Dropping out of the game. Once you perform badly on a trap you lose hope and then use the shoot as a practice session. This is a bad habit. No matter how many targets you drop you need to learn to mitigate the damage. If you don’t put your all into it, all of the time, you’ll always fall apart when targets drop. Do not let emotions control your game. Get serious in competitive shooting and it will reward you. Be a fighter. The first thing that goes before a disappointing score is the relentless desire to break the target.
  • Never count the targets you have left to shoot. You must learn to not devote any special attention to these last few targets. They are no different than any other. It’s tough to learn, but you’ll need to learn it or you’ll drop the targets and ruin a perfect score.
  • Failing to play the options is a mistake. Play at least one option to ‘up the ante’ so you can get deeper into the competitive groove and set a powerful internal drive to win back you shooting fees.
  • Never think of option money when shooting. Think of winning if you will, but not of losing or winning money. Money has nothing to do with the act of shooting the target so it is detrimental to contemplate money. The mind is as fragile as it is strong. Control your thoughts when shooting.
  • Shoot your own game. Do not get swept away in a fast-pace or slow-cautious squad rhythm. These timing factors are very powerful influences on the subconscious mind and the squad’s timing will control your shooting (in a bad way) if you are not aware of your own perfected timing.
  • Wear blinders and a long-billed hat to give you that tunnel vision effect, reduce side-motion distractions and prevent image reflections from hazing your sight on the target. If you don’t you’ll miss allot due to distorting optical illusions affecting the eye’s retina.
  • Take a deep breath before you call for the target (breathe in as you shoulder the gun). This charges the eyes with oxygen and you’ll see the target a lot better than if you don’t. It also triggers enhanced concentration. Control your breathing rate.
  • If you get nervous? Yawn! You can’t be nervous and yawn at the same time. Try it, it works! It slows and resets your breathing pace. You control nervousness by how you breathe. Believe it or not, it’s true.
  • Be very ready when you line up to shoot your first trap. Get everything in order. If one thing is out of place in the routine it will show up in your shooting. So don’t rush to the trap bank. Also, make sure you are truly ready for the target when you call for it. How many times did you call just because you felt it was ready due to squad rhythm influence knowing it was wrong? Be ready for the target.
  • Do not anticipate which angle of target you may receive. You prepare for the worst angle and setup for that shot, but you are not surprised when that angle does not appear. Anticipation will hurt you.
  • Failing to visualize the three basic target angles you will receive on each post prior to shouldering the gun is devastating to scores. You’ll always remain unsure of how to hit the target if you neglect visualization. It also trains the subconscious mind to get it right!
  • If you shoot a high gun, drop you gun hold an inch or two. You’ll see the target faster and you’ll not be so tempted to cross-shoot the target by moving the gun left or right only. You must ride the track to the target.
  • Do upset the squads timing when you see those repetitious losses…when one shooter misses and everyone else then misses their target too. You’ve seen this happen before. The subconscious mind has taken over these shooters and has just been told to repeat what it saw and that’s why they all missed. You simply let that lost target hit the ground and tell yourself it is dead. That breaks the cycle.
  • Do not shoot a slow or fast pull. You may be strongly tempted to shoot at it and you may hit some of them but you will also miss a tad too many to keep you out of the money. That’s how it works against you.
  • Remind yourself not to listen to any negative comments you hear from other shooters; “Boy, that trap sure was a tough one.” “Did you see the background on that trap?” “That puller was horrible.” These comments if not immediately flushed out of your mind will remain and remarkably fulfills itself into reality.
  • Shoot to win. Start now, no matter how bad you are shooting, to begin to learn how to develop a winning attitude. Believe you are a professional shooter! That’s right, believe it now! There is no future point in time where you become professional and begin shooting like a pro. It all has to start in the mind today! Be a pro on the yardage you shoot and you will see better results in your performance and scores.
  • Do not arrive to the shoot expecting to lose or expecting to shoot poorly as usual. Mentally you must pull yourself up from the bootstraps and expect the best for you today. Too many shooters believe themselves to be in slumps and guess what? Their own thoughts manifest the outcome!
  • Do not flood your mind with positive statements, “I’m going to break them all today” or “I’m going to win this shoot!” This only sets you up for a fall as it is an impossible goal and the mind will rebel receiving such overwhelming demanding tasks. Say, “I’m going to break one target at a time. Just one at a time.” This will get the job done. Anyway, you paid good money to break the targets so break them, one at a time.
  • Do remind yourself to use proper eye and gun holds on each post and on each trap. Know where to put those holds and you won’t let a un-squared or improperly set trap or diverse background ruin your score.
  • Keep emotions out of your game. Anger, disgust, sense of failure, disappointment are just a few emotions that will creep into your game. When you miss a target forget about it. It did not exist. The moment you reflect emotions the subconciou will pick up on it and duplicate the same errors and you’ll suddenly find yourself struggling with any target that appears to have the same angle as that lost target. Now you can’t hit any of them it seems.
  • Be aggressive mentally to kill the target, but stay under physical control. This aggressiveness must not be allowed to flow into your body moves to the target. Your swing to the target is still smooth but has a feel of authority in the move, smooth authority!
  • Failing to use trigger words will keep your scores down. There is an internal battle taking place between your will (conscious mind’s desire to break the target) verses the unconscious mind (to do the exact opposite to miss the target). It ‘s true this battle exists and it’s gets hot and furious the more of a fine-tuned shooter you become! Learn the trigger words and you learn the inner power within you…that same inner presence of mind the professional shooters have to master the psychological aspects of the game to remain focused.
  • Failing to watch target breaks. Watch the small chips fly, focus on one and follow it to the earth. This helps the eye(s) to flow smoothly and focus on smaller objects so your target appears larger and easier to acquire and hit.
  • Becoming too cock-sure the target you see is easy. Usually the straight-trending targets. Take a second look to determine its true flight angle. Do not rush these targets. Do not chase any target. Setup properly and the target will come to you. Remember, all targets are difficult and require you utmost attention. Don’t become brain-dead with laziness.
  • Thinking too much will get you into trouble. If you use trigger words you will not be thinking errant thoughts and it keeps the mind focused. Think of putting that sight bead where it belongs! Do not shoot on timing alone (target distance from traphouse). It’s okay to have a zone but the trigger can only be pulled when the sight picture is correct.
  • Do not shoot behind or over the targets. You have to remind yourself of this otherwise you will resort to doing actually it. Try this trigger word, “Low bead forward.” This way you’ll put the sight bead on the bottom of the target or under, and ahead of the target. Say it the moment you insert the shell into the chamber. Keep saying it on each target if you must.
  • Failing to dismount gun when stacked-beads do not look right or gun does not feel proper. You’ll end up with a mismounted gun. You may as well count your lost targets now by deducting 5% from your final score. You’ll easily loose 5-target out of 100 or more.
  • There is much, much more. These tips should get you on the right track. Print out this page and bring it with you on your next shoot. Read it 1-hour prior to shooting. Some of these tips will be burned into your subconscious mind and you’ll begin to see better results and faster identification and recovery from errors.

As you can see there are many tricks to this game of trap shooting, inside secrets to lift your shooting performance to high levels of achievement. Those who do not use the tactics are doomed to fail. Trap shooting is much more than just mounting a gun and chasing the targets hoping for the best. The time to learn is now.

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