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.   There are many myths in this fine game of trap shooting that has ruined many a shooter, even to the extent of quitting the sport to pursue greener pastures and this is a crying shame.  The record needs to be set straight and the road to knowledge made available to all.  To this end, here is my contribution to you.  James Russell

Author of Trap Shooting Secrets 0916367096.gif (9263 bytes) and 091636710x.jpg (2488 bytes) Precision Shooting


(a few general questions before we get into the shooting lessons)

0 - A.  Will your books help me shoot Doubles, DTL, Olympic and Sporting Clays?

  Yes, to a reasonable degree.  Those games are different regardless if the shots taken are somewhat similar or extreme.  There are principles in the books that can give you some real sharp edges to explore.  The books will instill a deeper insight into the technical aspects of the shot-gunning game.    By simply understanding the inside secrets of trap shooting and applying those strategic tactics to skeet and sporting clays - with a touch of imagination on your part to adapt the formulas and techniques - you'll see an improvement in your shooting.    Olympic / International and ABT trap shooting by nature is closely related to and similar to ATA and DTL trap shooting, so improvement can be expected.  I would suggest you have basic experience with the above sports as mentioned in the question above before trying to adapt these books to your game.  The books are not basic like other shotgun books you have read.  The techniques are true learning tools of an advanced nature.  To put it quite bluntly, anyone who learns the techniques in these books and wishes to apply them to targets of a variant nature will be way ahead of someone who has never read the books.  But I do profess these are trap shooting books, so they are not going to tell you how to shoot an incoming skeet or clays target, though you may learn a heck of a lot about setting up your shot with gun and eye hold principles, eye pre-focus, resolving flinching, managing trigger timing, etc.  And yes, if your scores do not improve we will still honor the guarantee to return the purchase price of the book.  And yes, both of our trap shooting books have in-depth double-trap shooting instructions!   

0 - B.  I have a physical disability.  Can I qualify to play this trap shooting game?

  Yes.  Unlike golf and other sports which "locks out" persons with disabilities, trap shooting is very receptive to accommodate people who are physically challenged.  Click here for an article on the subject to get you started.  You won't be placed in a "special classification" to keep you out of the real action... not with trap shooting... you will shoot against the able on equal ground, even against the pros!  You can't do that in any other sport!!!  Trap shooting is the most equitable sport for it discriminates against no one.  Remember the big hostile legal battle in 1998 between a disabled golfer, Martin v. PGA tour?  The golfer wanted to use a golf cart and the PGA fought him all the way to court.  You won't find these hostility problems in trap shooting.  Also, you're not going to get injured again in trap shooting as you would with other physical sports such as tendinitis, torn ligaments, blown spinal disks, pinched nerves, etc.  But the part of all is how you will be treated.  No special treatment, but trap shooters are a tight knit bunch of people who believe in going out of their way to just be nice and helpful.  It's a trait no other sport can come close to matching... no kidding! Physical size has absolutely no bearing on your performance, so if you are wheelchair bound, short, tall, heavy or thin you will have no trouble in this sport.  This isn't basketball, bowling or golf!

0 - C.  I have taken shooting lessons.  Do I still have to read Trap Shooting Secrets or can I progress to the Precision Shooting book?

  You still need to begin with Trap Shooting Secrets then progress to Precision Shooting - The Trapshooter's Bible book.

        OKAY... HERE WE GO...



  Keep in mind at all times we are talking handicap yardage shooting here, not singles, doubles, skeet or sporting clays.  Keep thinking handicap yardage and you'll be okay.

1. You mention aiming a shotgun is proper.   Everyone else say's it's not.  Why?

  First, you must learn to rifle-shoot a target to get a grasp on the sight picture, then you learn how to back-sight this sight picture to deliver a dead-on hit to target.  It's aiming for precision and the pros use this technique because it works.  Once you try it you'll see remarkable improvement in scores.  Believe me, you need to see those sights more than you realize.  Just ask any professional shooter who shoots for a living and they will admit... they see the sight beads or muzzle lining up to the target before they pull that trigger.  It's reality.  You can't shoot with your eyes only or with eye/hand coordination or pointing as you can get away with much of the time at the 16-yard line.  Handicap trap shooting is too much of a precision game for that form of shooting.  Handicap is a completely different game than singles.   Read on, you'll learn more about this in the following pages.

"When a professional misses a target, he turns and looks to the fault within himself.  To improve performance - improve yourself." - James Russell, Author

1 - A. What chance do I have to win if everyone buys your books?

  There is still time.  Not everyone has purchased them yet, and even if they had, not everyone will take or apply the advice.  Over time the proficiency level of competition will rise, but everyone makes mistakes.  Even the pros don't win all the events all of the time.  I wouldn't worry about that.  The shooters who don't read the books are the ones who truly need to worry!  Trap shooting is a game of knowledge and that is the true path to proficiency.  S/he who has the knowledge and the ability to execute that knowledge wins!  The first step is to know what you are doing.  You can't learn this game on your own as many shooters believe they can.  You will hear many shooters proclaim,  "I don't need lessons!"    They don't?  Go look at their handicap scores, count the number of their wins at those big shoots... and they don't need lessons?  Who's kidding who?  Every pro I've met has taken lessons from other pros and that's why they have those trap shooting secrets, those inside tricks of precision shooting to annihilate targets.    You won't find this knowledge from other shooters at the club because they don't know the secrets to precision trap shooting themselves.  This knowledge is passed down from pro-to-pro not amateur-to-amateur.  The books give you this inside knowledge with instructions on how to execute the techniques... on your next practice session!   So, the bottom line to your question is that not everyone will buy the books as many shooters still believe, at their own peril, they don't need instructions and these are the people you are going to beat.  The only thing you'll need to worry about is, "Is the guy I'm shooting off with read the books too?"  Now you've got to pour on all that knowledge to gain that edge to win.  So the books, in essence, eliminates most all of your competition so you can focus on beating the proficient shooters.  Now you've arrived where you really wanted to be all along... in the top ranks. 

1 - B. When will trap shooting become easy?

  You can make the job easier but it essentially will never be easy to break high scores or run a perfect program of 100-straight.  The pros work very hard to break the scores they do.  Winning arrives by surprise but never from ease.    But hard work does not mean confusion, chasing and fighting for targets you know you can't hit with consistency or relying on Lady Luck to give you a good day.    First, learn the inner fine points of the game, understand your target angles and your setup approach... and then the targets become easier to hit... but never truly easy in the sense you can relax and glide your way to the win.  You still need to fight for the target, but you fight by executing a plan and formula you know works when properly applied.   You won't be calling for the target and hoping for the best... you'll know how to break that target.  You'll be working harder than everyone else but your energy will be expended in the areas where it counts and that is the key to winning.   Easy is a four-letter word to a high-caliber trap shooter, for once that frame of mind activates, a target will slip your score downward... with ease!

1 - C. I thought trap shooting was purely hand and eye coordination but you say it is not.  Please explain.

  If you read your question you will see the error most every handicap yardage shooter is making not once, but twice!  First, there is very little eye/hand coordination involved in handicap shooting.  The precision required is too precise for the eye and hand to coordinate such miniature sight pictures at those distances.  It works, sort of, on the single 16-yard targets because you are so close to target but if you keep doing that on the handicap your scores will tell you it is dead wrong... that you need much more precision in your aiming scheme.  In fact, one of the prime reasons for shooters getting into serious slumps is shooting with eye/hand coordination.  Performance on that level leaves the emotions in control.   If you feel real good you may shoot well or you may not.  Emotion has nothing to do with precision shooting for it is the enemy within.  Keep using eye/hand coordination in long-distance DTL or handicap and you'll be justly rewarded with losing scores!   Second, hand/eye coordination simply does not exist, period, and to use the technique in handicap shooting is an enormous error and one of the reasons why so many shooters are "pushing" the muzzle to the target instead of swinging smoothly.  It is eye/hand coordination not hand/eye coordination!  Watch the back fence shooters then watch the pros and you'll see the pros swing and aim their shots, the others are pushing the muzzle and shooting with their eyes only.  Watch the quality of the target hits.  The pros dust-ball when the others fragment-break and chip targets and eventually miss because they are not shooting with precision.  No consistent aim can exist when you shoot with your eyes alone as the inherent mistake is always working against you.  As long as you keep reading and believing you don't aim a shotgun the pros are going to accommodate you by taking your money... they aim each shot!  And that's a secret they don't want you to know about for they make their living taking your money.  It's not stealing, it's just that they are using truthful principles while everyone else is too busy believing falsehoods.  Keep reading, you're going to learn many of these truths on these pages.  The truth will set you free... and raise your scores!  

1 - D.  I use the singles event as a warm up for handicap yet you disagree with this.  Why?

  In the general sense of things any shooting is a warm up, but a true warm up is not what most shooters believe it is, 1)  When you shoot the singles first before the handicap event, you are not warming up... you are competing,  2)  What are you warming up for?  Handicap is a totally different game from 16-yard singles so the sight pictures, swing dynamics, timing and technique used in the 16's cannot be applied in the handicap event,  3)  A warm-up, as all Olympic athletes know, is not competition but a general informal exercise to tune-in the mind, a preparation process for the coming competition event.  They don't practice here with the intent of winning anything at this point.  You are permitted to make mistakes here then try to execute the move again without excessive effort.  So as long as you are shooting for score or competing with other squad members who are also practicing you are not warming up but already deep in competition.  You've by-passed the warm up phase.    The only thing you accomplish is holding the gun and seeing a few targets and getting in a shooting mood, but it's a 16-yard mood, not a long-yardage warm up,  4) Shooters read and hear statements phrased like your question by many sources and start to believe the singles events are warm-ups when they are not, then they skip the handicap practice trap and lose.  When you use this practice trap you never shoot for score!  If you try to hit all of the targets with perfection you again by-pass the purpose of the warm-up phase and begin competing again.  This doesn't mean you don't try to hit targets... it's a mind-set you are trying to establish, an informal exercise to communicate with your subconscious mind and bring it into alignment with your conscious mind, 5)  If you don't warm-up properly, the practice trap can set you up for a fall.  That's why some shooters have discovered it is not in their best interest to shoot a practice round before the handicap event. But that too is wrong... it's due to not using the practice trap as a warm-up.  If you watch figure skaters warming up you'll see and get the feel of this laid-back preparation phase.  This is why so many shooters need a coach to teach them the proper way to do things.  Now many pros do not use the practice traps only because they only have to rehearse the moves with visualization.  Until you can get to that phase it is in your best interest to use the practice trap prior to shooting the competitive event,  6)    Try this on your next practice warm-up.  Just concentrate on the "feel" of the gun, the feel of the swing, feel everything.  Check your gun and eye hold points and see if the target is hit smoothly.  Relax!  Just go through the motions.  If you miss a target, close your eyes, see the sight bead come onto the target and explode it.  Now shoot it again just as you visualized it.    Don't overly concentrate on breaking the targets.  Don't struggle or expend mental or physical energy.  Concentrate on your setup and mind-set.   There's more to this.  You'll pick up more tips on this in the following pages and more in my books.      

1 - E.  How many years will it take for me to become professional?

  Now, right now, where you're at... it all begins now!  Pay attention here,  1)  To shoot like a pro you have to have the mind-set of a pro and you need to have the knowledge to shoot precisely, but you can't get there thinking as you think now. You must become professional at the stage you are at now.  If you are on the 20-yard line then become professional there.  Be the best you can be on that yardage,  2)  When you convince yourself you are professional now your mind is unlocked and it is here where the knowledge and opportunities open for you.  Suddenly, your thirst for knowledge becomes unquenchable and you begin to seek it out and it comes to you in various forms; magazines, books, coaching, practicing new techniques, etc., 3)    There is no day in the future that designates you as a professional.   There is no external event to proclaim, "Now that I've made it to the 27-yard line... I'm a pro!"  It all begins in the mind first.  Begin to believe you are professional and it is this belief, this faith, that propels you to into the professional ranks.  So it all begins today... right now as you read this sentence, 4)  Are you waiting to shoot pro scores before you convince yourself to be a pro?  Likely so, and as long as you believe that, your struggle to hit pro scores will be an enduring unpleasant process.  Be a pro where you're at now... and let the results happen.  Think professional, act professional, be professional,  5)  You can't keep convincing yourself by saying, "Someday I'm going to be a pro" and expect that someday to just happen, someday.  That process begins now, like a small seed planted in the soil grows into a great tree,  6)  When you look for the external event the internal event is missed.  Reverse your thinking... develop the internal and the external will materialize.  For everything you have gained in life first began with the internal desire, and from that thought, all things came into being.  So it is with trap shooting... you are professional now or never will it happen.  It's not in the future somewhere, it's right now before your very eyes!  The pros have learned that to be pro you must first think and believe it to be... and then it happens, 7)    There are shooters who act and talk like pros but don't shoot like pros.    These shooters are the "glory-seekers" but have only been dishonest with themselves for they have missed the internal event... they truly don't believe they are professional shooters, they only want you to think that they are!   This atmosphere makes shooters shy away from thinking that they could be professional, for they don't want to end up like that glory seeker.  It's not how you act, it's what you think and what you believe that makes dreams come true.  So set your dream and believe in it, and start thinking professional now, not tomorrow or next year, right now.  Keep it to yourself, don't brag, just believe and watch what happens!  Now go back and read your question one more time.  The answer is within you.

2.  So, despite what I've read and heard, seeing the sight beads is okay?

  That is correct, you want to see them, you have to see them if you want to break handicap targets with precision!  You can't go out there and rely on just pointing the gun.  That's okay for singles and double-trap to a degree, but no way are you going to break high scores, consistently, if you refuse to learn how to back-sight and shoot off the end of the gun.  Here's how you see it all; stand in front of a mirror about two arm lengths away, look into your eyes.  Now bring your upright index finger into view.  Keep staring at one eye.  Try closing one eye if this helps.  Now you'll see the finger is the sight bead or end of muzzle and your eye is on the target (in this case your own open eye).  Move the finger anywhere you want.  You'll see it clearly!  This is a sight picture and it's back-sighting.   Your eye is focused on the target but you do see the sight bead coming onto the target very clearly.  Not one professional I've met ever admitted to not using this secret technique.  Even those who say they don't, once they do this test will admit that they do back-sight but they did not realize it.

2 A.  I can't stop negative thoughts when I'm shooting.  I just know I'm going to miss.  Help!

  The solution is so simple it eludes so many shooters.  Just tell yourself, "I can do this.  I can do it."  or "I can. I will."  When fears and negative thinking arrives it is filling a vacuum.    When the positive is removed this vacuum is naturally filled with alternative emotions and it is these emotions that destroy the shooter.  That's why you read and hear so often, "Stop thinking!"  But that too is wrong.  You have to think when shooting!  Not with conflicting arguments and debates in the mind but with "trigger words" to insure conformance with procedures learned will be applied.  The books get into this trigger word mind-set with the exact words to use for each phase of the setup.  Do they work?  Very powerful, indeed they do!    Want to try one?  When you miss a target tell yourself, "I can hit this target" and you'll hit it if you believe in your statement.  Don't want to miss one in the first place? Just say, "This target is dead."   Sounds simple?  Yes, it is.  But these are simple trigger words only to give you a small mental lift of confidence.  The trigger words you'll learn in the books are much more powerful as they are linked to a series of segmented elements in the setup to get you to the point where you can execute all moves precisely with one word or two.   They are the programs, formulas that trigger repeatability and precise accuracy.   You've never read about them before in magazine articles or books, but if you talk with pros you'll see they use trigger words to keep them in top shape.   A shooter who does not use them will forever be waging a war within his/her own mind and shooting will be a crapshoot instead of a trap shoot!  Learn these techniques and you'll see amazing things happen.

2 B.  I read your books and they helped greatly, but I'm still missing a few targets.  What now?

  In the introduction pages it reminds you to read the books again.    You can't learn all of this knowledge in one pass.  All of the answers to your shooting problems are in those books, they really are!  It's all there, all you have to do is look in the table of contents, find the shooting problem, read the text and take the practice tip given to the practice trap and it's resolved.  There is no doubt you will forget some things and this is normal, we all do.  That's why you have the books in your car as I instructed, for the books will not do you any good if they're sitting home and you need them when the bottom falls out at a registered shoot!   There is collectively decades of knowledge revealed in these books, solid effective proven advice from professional shooters.  You've only had the books for a three months time... but they will be with you your entire life.  You are way ahead of the game already.   Give yourself a chance by reading the books again as a refresher and you'll see the errors.  And this time, read the book slowly.  Seems everyone who buys these books ignores my advice in the introduction then reads them too fast.  Everyone is in so much of a hurry to break those high scores on the next shoot, especially when they see immediate results in their shooting from following the advice and tips in the books.  But you must take a breather and re-read the books again.  Nobody can take in all that knowledge in just 3-months time, nobody, no matter how good of a shooter you are!  Go back and read them again, slowly, and you'll see what I'm talking about and you'll be a better shooter.  It never pays to rush anything.  Take one lesson at a time and perfect each phase of each element and it all falls into place.

2 C.  I have set my goal to shoot 100 straight this year.  Any tips you can give to help me do this?

  Yes.  Stop thinking you have to shoot 100-straight!  The more you think of that goal the more it will elude you... and believe me it will!  You shoot only one-straight, one target at a time, no more than that.   If you setup your mind for impossible tasks it will kickback on you with poor performance.   Never set goals like that.  Generally you can say, "The day is coming I will shoot a perfect score and this is my goal."  But once you step on the firing line you had better not ever remind yourself of this goal or you'll surely not obtain it.  The key to perfect scores is many, but essentially you have to learn to stop keeping score in your head, "Ten more to go!"  "If I hit this target I'll get twenty-five straight."  That's thinking the wrong way when shooting.  It's very hard to learn for some shooters, but you must train yourself to believe you are only shooting one target, the one you have to shoot next.  Break it, then go onto the next target with the same mind-set with the rock solid beat of a ticking clock.  If you shoot each target with all the energy and skill you have, you will reach your perfect score by... 1's not 100's.  It's a simple technique, every knows about this, but they don't know how to do it.  My books will show you how.

2 - D.  Flinching is from recoil but you say it's timing.  You're saying everyone is wrong!

  That is correct.  It is a myth that has circulated for tens of years without abatement.  Here's the proof.  You have experienced a flinch, right?  The trigger flinch that occurs that you surprisingly pull the trigger knowing you shouldn't have, or the freeze flinch that creates a violent muscular retraction that causes the gun to jerk wildly when you pull the trigger.  Remember them?  Now when it happens again I want you to ask yourself if you were afraid of recoil?  That you became suddenly aware the gun was going to slam you in the face and you tensed up?  That you anticipated the flinch and you pulled the trigger at the wrong time?  Of course you did not.  But I can guarantee you felt something was wrong with your timing.  The way you saw the target something didn't look right, or it didn't feel right in the swing.  There was some sort of of delay or hesitation in your shooting that became upset and you flinched!  Sound familiar now?  It's not recoil as many are led to believe that causes flinching, it's much deeper in the mind than that... it's all in the internal time clock each shooter has and the shooter is shooting out of phase with that natural timing.  If it was mental anticipation of recoil you would flinch every time you shoot a target... and that does not happen!  If it were recoil causing flinching a release trigger would have no use because you'd till anticipate recoil and not let go of the trigger.  And guess what?  

  The release trigger still doesn't cure the flinch.  It only transforms itself to another form of flinching... the trigger flinch where the trigger is released when the target was nowhere near the kill zone!  You saw a zero sight picture and still pulled the trigger and that is a flinch!  And that will put one heck of a shock into your mind.  When you realize what the flinch is you can then cure it.  There are more flinches than you think.  We'll cover some of them in these pages.  When you flinch, think of timing and you'll be surprised to discover the problem is there not in recoil at all.  It is not a coincidence that flinching affect better shooters more than the novice. It's because the better shooters are more finely tuned with their timing and when that timing is off the flinch arrives.    Anticipation of recoil plays a role, but a very minor role in this play.   Now some shooters (few indeed) actually do fear recoil that they will flinch or lift their heads from the comb.  I've helped many shooters get rid of their flinching with timing and trigger control methods.  It's a complex subject, but my books deal heavily on the subject to resolve this nasty problem.  Why?  Because shooters have quit the sport by not getting rid of the flinching.  I want that to stop.    So if you are flinching, believe me, there is a cure!        

2 - E.  I shot better with a modified choke than I do with a full.  I feel I'm going backwards.

  The modified choke is a cheat device in two ways, 1)    It cheats as it throws a wide pattern and you can hit more targets than not in short handicap ranges, 2) It cheats you out of a good score in the end as the pattern is too wide and targets will slip through and ultimately you are cheated out of learning precision shooting.  Your days of success are limited,    you may get lucky a few times to get punched a few yards, then switch to a tighter choke, get lucky again and be punched to the back fence.  What happens next?   I hope you will be satisfied with scores in the 70's and low 80's.  The time to learn precision shooting is when you are at the short yardage.  But it's never too late to learn!  Get that extra-full choke in your gun and hit the practice trap and learn to shoot with precision.  Then later step back down to a full choke or light full.   Whatever gives you that 25" hot-core pattern.  Keep reading, you'll learn about hot-core patterns verses the standard 30" pattern that will kill your scores.

2 - F.  What's the difference between East and West targets?  Scores are lower East than West in the USA.

  Targets will behave differently depending on air density.  Targets in low coastal elevations have high-density air and the target must be thrown with more energy to reach the center field stake.  This means you have a faster target and one with a faint humidity-induced halo surrounding it which makes the target difficult to see clearly.  High elevation targets operate in thinner drier air with lower aerodynamic lift, but is compensated by speed reduction and target launch elevation.  The target tends to float upward and can be seen better.  Humidity air density factors is really the extensive component to affect shooting performance along with fast targets.  The targets thrown in dense humid air are more difficult to see and are moving fast.  You can compensate for speed, but correcting for visibility is a bit more difficult.  Generally, you will shoot higher scores if you see the target better and they are slow.   Eastern/Midwestern targets will give you more trouble than Western targets.

3- A..  You mention canting a gun is okay.  I've learned it is a huge mistake.  What gives?

  Everyone cants, even the pros.  It's slight, but that's due to the arcing target.  If you're eye is truly on the target the barrel will cant, naturally.   However, applying a smidgen more cant lines up the shot for precise hits.   Watch the pros very closely and you'll see the cant is there.  It's a little secret with huge benefits of getting to the target faster, gaining more control over the gun, swing angle and sight picture and applying automatic lead.  It's a killer technique the pros use but don't often tell.  But you can see it being done by watching them shoot.  Talk about trap shooting secrets... this is one of them!

3-B.  You sure turn conventional wisdom of shooting on it's head.  How'd you learn all this?

  Easy.  I've spoken to professional trap shooters and many of whom are in the ATA and PITA Hall of Fame.  Having asked the right questions, tested the answers myself and told other shooters to see what results would occur; the inside secrets proved to be absolutely correct.  I have communicated with Olympic shooters and Top Guns in Europe to get the bigger picture.  It's incredible what you can learn by talking to professionals.  The only catch?  Most of them don't know why they shoot so well themselves, so you have to ask the right questions to dig it out of them.   I did that job well.

3-C.  Why do backgrounds cause lost targets?    How does that work?

  You know you are supposed to keep  your eye on the target, but if you do you may discover you are slipping targets by trying to ignore the background.    When you do that energy is expended in this task and the curious eye likes to take a peek now and then and that word "lost" rings in your ears.  Now, you do keep your eye on the target!  But you must be aware of the background before you shoulder the gun and before you pull the trigger.  The target will cross these backgrounds and contrast will be affected so you need to formulate your plan where you are going to break the target and when.  Here, you have to adjust your eye and gun holds and the zone to compensate for the distraction on each post.  You also need to realize the optical illusions you will receive.  A hill carpeted with bright yellow or purple flowers will create the illusion the target is traveling faster than it really is.  A gap in the hill with a sky background can give the illusion the target is traveling slower.  Knowing these little secrets will give you more targets.    My books explain all this.

3-B.  What shot sizes should I use?

  The size that breaks the highest scores consistently and reliably.  Every gun is different as every shooter.  Generally, on singles 8 or 8 1/2, 17-23 yards 8's, 24-7 8's or 7 1/2's with the latter prevailing as best choice over all weather conditions at mid and long yardage.  Cold or damp targets (or targets with low spin) the 7 1/2's are going to get the job done if you shoot a powered 3-dram shell.   The shot must be magnum (antimony/tin blend) at 5% antimony to reduce deformation of pellets for tight patterns.  That's the basic formula.

3-C.  I love 1oz loads on handicap but you don't.  Why?

  You only gain speed and speed doesn't win!  Count the pellets you are using and compare that to what your competition is shooting and you have less working for you.  Look at your effective pattern... it's smaller and thinner so again you are at a disadvantage.  Certainly the 1oz load will break the target at the back fence, but you had better be dead-on accurate because you have less working for you out there.    Now, when the rules change and everyone must shoot 1oz we will all be on equal footing.  Until then, use them at your own peril.  Shooters go to the 1oz because they do not know how to lead the targets.  The back fence shooters have forgotten how to swing to targets thinking there is no muzzle swing arc due to distance so they get a high on the 1oz load to compensate for a serious shooting technique flaw.    It works for a short period of time, or psychologically they believe they have found the solution, but they still don't win those big shoots.  I wonder why?  You apply lead with swing, not by visual alone.  The 1oz load will only embed further into your mind that swing is no longer necessary and you'll still miss way too many targets with the 1oz so why cheat yourself?  You're trying to do more with less.   Put the swing back into your game and you'll improve your aim!  Rule to remember:  Never use shortcuts to work around faulty shooting form.    It doesn't work.

3-D.  How do I find the right shell for my gun?

  Easy.  Buy a case of new shells for each brand of shells made and readily available at most shoots.  There is no other way around this. The danger is, 1.) Falling in love with a certain brand because that's all you've ever shot, but is not breaking all of your targets,  2.)  Buying a new gun and using the same old shells you always shot.  More on this later in the pages to come.    The books will clue you in on shell selections that work and how to test them out.   Not limited to the pattern board, but in the real world of exploding targets where reality supplants theory.  A fine looking pattern on the pattern plate is no assured indicator you've got it right. And, buying a box of shells and trying them in a practice round is not an indication the shells don't work... even if you are missing the targets!   You have to know what you are doing to switch shell brands and you must make some changes to your shooting to get the job done right.   

3-E.  What do you see wrong at tournament trap shoots?

  When I walk the line I see so many shooters, almost all of them, who have no proper form.  This is just some of what I see.  But don't take my word for it... take a look and you'll see the same things too!

  1. Shooters are shooting ill-fitting guns.  The guns simply do not fit them and they can't line-up the shots with repeatable precision.  It's really sad to see this for it is sinking their scores.
  2. Wearing the wrong eyeglass lens color.  Everybody's experimenting with differing colors, but they have it all wrong.  It's no small wonder they are missing targets as the target / background contrast is totally destroyed.
  3. Squad rhythm damage.  I see very few, very, few shooters playing their own game.  All except the pros!
  4. Snap and spot-shooting the targets.  They just are not aiming to explode the target, so here comes the chip-breaks and the big misses... and they do arrive, right on time!
  5. No setup control.  The shooter's are in too big of a rush to shoot next.  Big mistake!
  6. Scoreboard vultures.  Looking at scores before they shoot.   This guarantees failure... it really does as it sets up the shooter's anxiety and totally ruins the comfort zone to enable a shooter to excel beyond his/her limitations.
  7. Lame gun holds.  This also means nonexistent eye holds and focal points.  A typical formula for failure.
  8. Improper swing dynamics.  Total basket cases who also have horrific stance posture.  They miss targets, naturally.
  9. Failing to read the target angle.  Most shooters don't know how to do it.  It's shooting secret.  It really is.
  10.   Crash 'n Burn timing and zone failure.  Most shooters don't even know what a zone is or timing.
  11.   Shooter is not ready for the target, physically or mentally.   No one taught them how to do it.
  12.   Overshooting targets and shooting behind them.  All caused by flaws in the setup, not the sight picture, which makes it    difficult, if not impossible, for the shooter to identify and correct the true source of the problem.
  13.   Shooting with eyes alone.  No back-sighting is taking place.   Another trap shooting secret the pros use.
  14.   No feel, no true feel which lacks power to the shot.  The fire within is focused improperly and the shooter over        concentrates and does so improperly and struggles to run the traps.  The pros work hard, but they don't "struggle" because they know where energy must be concentrated.  Concentration can be learned, but most shooters simply have no knowledge of how to go about learning it.

  These are the most common errors.  There are many more like; not compensating for trap house misalignments and / or trap machine offsets, visual background management, trigger control, intersection shooting, not staying in the gun after firing, anticipation surprises, no visualization employed, no eye pre-focus time allotted, faulty moving gun techniques, damaging subconscious shooting, call tone changes, etc.  Why do these problems persist?  Because this sport has few coaches and shooting schools.  Everybody thinks they can just pick up a shotgun and shoot trap targets to learn by doing alone.  That's quite amazing when you think that trap shooting is one of the most unforgiving sports, yet all other sports of lesser talents employ schools, teachers and coaches.  In Europe, shooting schools are commonplace so it's no wonder the English shooters, when they do come over here stateside, can wipe the slate clean of competition.  They simply have the knowledge and the teachers to supply it.  My trap shooting books will now give you that knowledge.  

3-F.  Are there shooters so inept they can't learn?  I'm afraid I fall into this category.

  Of course you can learn.  Natural talent alone will not take very far in trap shooting.  People with natural talent tend to shoot well on the singles events as this natural pointing routine is forgiving at such close distances to the target, but they fall on their tail when they shoot the handicap events.  Why?    Because you can't just point at long-distance targets.  If you do you'll miss way too many targets, simple as that.  Even the "naturals" have to come to the shooting clinic to get instructions because they hit a wall, a plateau, a freeze point where all progress fails.  So it is with all shooters.  Eventually you will need a coach or teacher.  You can learn trap shooting.  It's not a sport where you need magical natural talent.  You're not shooting hoops with a basketball.   The gun has sights and you have eyes.  Anyone can line up the bead to the target.   What you really need it knowledge, pure and simple.  The knowledge gives you the ability to learn!  It doesn't work the other way around.    Ability does not give you the knowledge, it only gives you the ability to repeat the same mistakes over and over again with no true progress in your shooting. Sound familiar? 

4.  You say most high-gun shooters hold the gun too high.  Explain that.

  It's true.  High-gun shooting requires incredible reflex reaction and it's a lot harder to do than most high-gun shooters realize.  In fact, it requires increased accuracy and faster reaction than holding a lower gun.  Why?   Because the high-gun moves horizontally to the target and crosses the target at right angles and that's a terrible approach.  The pros shoot high gun, but they do it differently than those who do not have the inside knowledge.  If you watch closely, you'll see them drop the gun hold a smidgen so they can "ride the track" of the target's flight path.  Most shooters believe they are just moving the gun left-or-right.  Pros get on that track so quick it looks like they are crossing-over but they are not doing this at all.  Now they can properly follow-through and dustball the target.  Nine out of ten high-gun shooters are doing it all wrong and that's why they are stabbing at the targets and dropping them.   Shooting way too fast and with no precision in the shot.  Precision Shooting book explains all this in detail. 

5.  So, if I hold a slightly lower gun hold my scores will increase?

  Absolutely!  It gives your eye a chance to see the target rising up from under the barrel and allows the angle of interception to increase so your move to the target now rides a track to the target. It will smooth out all the kinks so you won't feel rushed to break the target.  If your eyes are pre-focused when you call everything goes into slow-motion.  You'll swing slower, but actually break the target faster.   That's the trick to fast shooting.  Pros shoot fast, but to their point of view it's all done in slow-motion.  Very powerful shooting technique here.  It's why pros are so refined and smooth when they shoot because it's all seen by them to be in slow-motion.  Learn this and you'll definitely see your scores skyrocket.  And, shooting becomes a lot more fun when you're not uptight about it.

6.  You claim a 25" pattern is better than a 30" pattern.  How can that be?

  Reliability is the key to success in trap shooting.  We are shooting edge-on targets where there is little face and the edge is very hard to break requiring 3 to 5 pellets and often more if the targets are hard, damp, cold, etc..  You want a pattern with a hot-core... that reliable cluster of pellets... so when you're on that target it's going to smoke.  You can't fill a 30" pattern and still retain a reliable hot core.  Sometimes you'll break the target and other times you won't. You think you missed but you really didn't!  More shooters are missing targets than they deserve due to that misconception of patterning your shotgun to fill a 30" circle.   Not in handicap shooting.  There's more to this which I explain in my books.   Once you try it, you'll see the light.  If you don't lower the pattern size you'll have to live with your scores as is.  You're 30" pattern is killing you and that's a secret all the top guns know about and rarely will speak of it.  Believe me, there are many secrets to trap shooting.

7-A.  Just how important are gun and eye holds?

  If you don't use them you can never shoot well.  The gun and eye holds control the game, control the targets, control your zone and timing. It's critical and every pro I know has mastered these hold points.  That's why they break targets with ease, because it is much easier once you understand target angle, target behavior, timing the call, swing and shot alignment, setting up the sight picture, adjusting for trap misalignments, etc.  Each phase is critical and a necessary part of the setup.    Most shooters fail to use these techniques and most shooters are posting poor scores.  That should be an indication just how important eye and gun holds truly are.    There is so much you can do with eye and gun holds to raise your odds of hitting the target.  The poor shooter who does not use them will find his scores in a pretty miserable state of affairs.

7-B.  Which targets are the hardest or easiest for you?

  All of them are difficult.  The moment you begin to believe certain targets are 'easy' that's when they become hard and you start missing them.  Each target requires that magic touch of inner fear you may miss it... to maintain the edge.   Once complacency sets in... watch out!  Suddenly, you are hitting all the targets you 'thought' were difficult and now missing the so-called 'easy' ones.   There are no easy targets!  It's an attitude shift to be aware of, "Oh, boy. I'm on post three now. I'll run them all with ease."  That's when they slip by.  You dropped vigilance... and the target laughs as it sails away unburned.   Begin to believe each target is a bearish monster to hit and you'll be acutely energized to paint the sky with their dust.

7-C.  In your Precision Shooting book you mention a two-stage swing.  I need help on this.

  This is a technique for shooting at slow-pulls in which you are, unfortunately committed and didn't want to be, and for correcting a natural swing obstruction.  In the case of the slow pull you didn't turn down and you knew better, but you're already swinging the blasted gun at the lousy thing (a case of temporary brain damage) you can employ the two-stage swing method to kill the target.  Already at this point you're timing is all messed up and you're a basket case, you're swinging normally but that target is hard to catch and you know, you just know you're going to shoot behind it (which will happen)... you suddenly give the gun a smooth push increasing the muzzle speed.  This push is performed in conjunction with Body English so it's not an improper muzzle push.   The push is only about an inch or two at the muzzle end of the gun but the speed-change is quite abrupt and ensures you will lead-out the target.  It's learning how to shoot out of the zone for a safety net. 

  So, you swing smooth then increase muzzle speed with almost a snapping jerk of the muzzle... but it's done smoothly with great accuracy.  Not so easy to learn, but sooner or later you will have to so it may as well be now.  Two-stage or two-phase swing is also used to correct a natural restriction.  A left-handed shooter on post #1 may have a tough time getting in the swing of things (winding-up in the swing) to hammer the hard left target.  Here, the two-stage swing is used to swing to the target in normal speed, then when the bead is on the tail end of the target, the muzzle is accelerated and pushed through and way ahead, trigger pulled and target explodes.  Now just practice it, but remember the trick is to not lose control of the gun by pushing with the forearm alone as the body must control the move, and not to push hard... it's a smooth yet forcefully controlled maneuver.   If you are shooting behind targets, it's time to employ the two-phase swing on those targets only.

7-D.  What is really wrong when I miss a target clean?

  A lot of things.  To miss a target clean without puffing a haze off the dome is an out-right miss on a huge scale.  That is a tough question with many answers to give so I'll narrow it down to a few most critical reasons, 1.) It is certainly a timing defect taking place where the trigger is pulled at an unsynchronized time factor relative to the visual acquisition.  What it means is; you pulled the trigger because it 'felt' like it was the proper time to do so (shooting a phantom zone).  The internal time clock in your head took over the job of pulling the trigger and you lost trigger control.  Re-program your mind's computer to get back in touch with the sight picture.  It's the sight picture that must "trigger the trigger finger" and that alone is responsible for getting that job done, 2)  If the eye pre-focus, eye and gun hold is improper the zone will collapse upon itself or expand so wide a bus could drive through it and this setup error will create "out of phase" shooting.  It means; if your zone is off center stage your timing has been destroyed and the only chance of breaking the target will be through 'chasing' it instead of 'attacking' the target intelligently.  Now you enter the hit-'n miss phase of shooting where you hit five, miss one, hit three, drop two, etc.   Everything breaks down, 3)  You were certainly not prepared for the target and it took you by surprise.  The Jack-In-The-Box Syndrome!  Yes, you called for the target, but mentally and visually you called...it came... and you missed clean.   And you were likely surprised for a split second as you anticipated a certain angle target to appear and when it didn't you crashed your setup.  That nervous jolt will force you to react quickly (if you can't turn the target down as a bad pull) and that's where micro-panic steps in and you end up 'chasing' the target and 'pushing' the muzzle along with head-lifting or eye flittering which wrecks the swing dynamics.  That was a tough question indeed and in this forum these are the best answers I can give, but there are more reasons, naturally.  Who was it who said trap shooting was easy?

7-E.  Do professional trap shooters make mistakes?  And how do they deal with them?

  They make more mistakes than you do on each trap they shoot.   An incredible number of mistakes!  But here's the difference between them and us... they still break the target!  How is that?  Pros are so finely tuned in their shooting they recognize through powerful awareness of each tiny little error.   Since they've been on this street before, they know how to correct the error and kill the target.  When you see a  pro chip a target, that was a colossal mistake, and they know it too, but just watch what happens to the next target... smoke ball!  They raise the internal fires within and turn on the heat and get back to dead-serious precision shooting.  A very serious mind-set!  So, you will always make mistakes and that is nothing to be ashamed of so don't let your emotions take hold when you are shooting.  You don't see a pro wagging his/her head in disgust because they missed a target.  They know that this tiny emotion will ruin the setup for the next shot.  Emotions are dangerous on the trap line!   Trap Shooting Secrets book goes into much detail on this subject so you can learn to manage these rogue emotions that is ruining your shots... and your day of fun in the sun.  

7-F.  What shells do you use?

  That's a secret!  I can't tell you.  What ammo do I use?   Okay, I'm pretty well sold on plastic 7 1/2 shot Federal Gold Medal 3-dram handicap shells.  I have great success using the Hornady Apex 3.0 auto-loader and it crimps them nicely.  I like the "twist-lock" crimp the Federal shell provides.  Consistent hot powder burns and shot velocity remains reliable.  But my gun also likes the shell and that's the biggest factor in selecting the proper shell for your gun... not brand name.    Ballistics and visual results rules this part of the game!  You can't fall in love with any specific brand of shell, or just use a shell because "everybody else at the club" uses it.  You have to find the fire to generate your own heat, so you'll need to experiment with various "new factory shells" to find out what's going to work.  There are many shot shell loaders on the market today.  Magazine articles usually do a good job identifying the best model you should buy.  Things keep getting better each year. 

7-G.  I tried another brand of ammo and I missed a ton of targets.  My gun doesn't like them?

  That's not a proper test.  The point of impact always shifts from shell-to-shell and that is why you missed the targets, not due to pattern failure.   You should shoot a case of shells, at least, to determine if the gun and you are compatible.  Patterning will tell you nothing at this point except to determine the point of impact and core relativity and that's all you're ever going to get out of a pattern plate whether you like it or not.   It's a fact.  The first test you want to make is a "real world" test and that is, 1)   Adjust to the point of impact drift of the new shell and alter your timing and/or sight pictures to compensate, 2)   Observe how the targets break.  Are they dust-balling?  You could have the best pattern in the universe "on paper" but if it won't ink-blot the target it's precisely useless.   Shotgun ballistics are not confirmed and it's not even in a scientific league. Where's the ballistic studies?  The multi-camera fast-motion film correlation's?   No such critters exist so it's all guesswork.  Nobody knows what is really going on out there with the shot where the target is, so actual results prevail over theory.  You've likely read and heard a lot of hype about patterns, pellet percentage counts, etc., and it's all unreliable data that can bust your scores up real good.  There is no credibility to transpose data from a static two-dimension pattern board against a fluid 4-dimension actuality.  Keep reading, we'll be talking a bit more about patterns later.   

7 - H.  I am brand new to trap shooting.    What should I perfect first at this stage at practice sessions?

  Here's a short list for you.

  1. Watch shooters shoot so you can see some of the basic principles at play.   Watch the best shooters at your club!  Then go watch the pros shoot at a tournament and examine everything they do and jot it down on a 3X5 card so you can take it home and try to apply what they are doing into your shooting.
  2. Watch as many targets as you can.  New shooters want to shoot - not watch - but watching targets fly out of the house and seeing where you would like to break them is a good learning experience to identify an elementary zone and train the eye to follow moving objects.  Pull for shooters so you can develop the basic sense of timing of the call and target exit factors and to observe more targets in motion  The eye must be trained to see fast moving targets.
  3. Set targets so you can see how the trap throws targets and its rhythm of oscillations.  You only have to do this a couple times so you have, at least, a basic idea of why you should not call for the target too quickly after the preceding shooter has shot as you will get that sloppy unstable target because you didn't allow the setter to insert the target on the arm securely.  Beware of fast squad rhythms as they damage the entire squad's score, ultimately.
  4. Don't shoot the 16-yard line!  It's a big mistake if you want to be a good handicap shooter.  If you don't know the difference at this point still shoot the 20-yard line.  This will give you the opportunity to not only see the target better you will not have to swing the gun at such extreme angles when first learning and the target won't appear as a lightening bolt exiting the trap with a huge comet tail.   Later when you get the hang of it you can shoot the 16's if that's what you want to do.  Just remember one thing.  A lot of shooters shoot 16's for practice then shoot handicap in competition and lose.  What game do you want to perfect?  Pick and specialize in that specific game as soon as you decide what you want to shoot the best.  Apply your focus where you want to go and you'll get there.
  5. Find out which eye is dominate.  Do listen to the club members but make sure the advice is accurate and you perform eye-dominance tests with a religious fervor over a period of a few weeks before determining which eye is dominate. Many shooters don't know how to perform these test and don't even know for sure themselves which of their own eye is dominate.  My books explain how to do it.
  6. Set your point of impact on the gun and make sure the gun fits you.   You will have to visit a stock fitter who is a specialist in this arena.  The local shooters at the club will not be of much use here for you to rely on for sound advice.  Most shooters are shooting guns that do not conform to their body dimensions so the stock fitter is your only hope.  The gun must fit and shoot where you look.  Make your appointment today to see a stock fitter as it's so critical.  Please, don't make this mistake of not seeing a stock fitter to get your gun fitted.  You will never be a good shooter if you skip this and it will only ruin your fun.  You can't become the best you can be if you shoot a gun that does not fit you!
  7. Stop shooting with that huge cannon-like modified choke.  It's hurting you.  Put in an extra-full choke and get to work.  Yes, even at the 16-yard line!  A huge sloppy pattern will never teach you how to shoot accurately and with precision.  Later in competition you can go to a improved modified on the 16's and short-yardage handicap and later progress to the optimal choke for your gun to get that magic 25" hot-core pattern.  Never shoot for score when practicing.   It's a terrible mistake many shooters make, each trying to beat each other.   Focus on precision shooting even when you are losing at practice sessions.   You'll rise to a higher level and beat everyone at the local club in time and do it time and time again too.  You'll end up being the best shooter in town!
  8. Exercise with your gun at home.  Practice mounting the gun and swinging to imaginary targets.  Do this with your eyes open and with your eyes closed.  This will help develop the muscles and mind, basic trigger control and important visualization skills.  Check your stance too.  My books will help you here too.
  9. When practicing don't shoot for score, shoot for solid target hits.   There is a difference.  You want to shoot targets into dust balls.  That is the goal.  No chips, no fragmented breaks otherwise consider it a lost target..   Shoot post #3 to start on and stay there for the entire 25 shots.  You'll need a dedicated trap for that so ask if it can be arranged for you.  Then do the same for each post.  It's too difficult to learn how to shoot when you're only shooting 5-shots and then have to move on to another station and be presented with an entire array of strange angled targets.  If you can't do 25 shots do at least 10 per post.
  10. Learn right away that emotions will destroy you.  So when you miss a target never get upset and never shake your head with disgust (even when you want to).  Learn now to redirect and focus your internal energy into the next target with intensity.  Anger is okay, to a degree, as long as your anger is directed mentally towards the target never at yourself or other shooters or pullers, the weather, etc.  And anger must never enter the swing of the gun lest it disrupt smoothness.   Be the coolest cat on the fence just like the pros (even when you are screaming with frustrations and anger inside) stay focused, think and act professional and you'll begin to see that you will be hitting targets like the pros.  You will learn allot about yourself and your shortcoming in this game and you must learn to be emotionally mature so start now.  Stay in control of your emotions or they will certainly lead you astray.  You miss a target? So what?  Forget it.  It's gone.   New channel your energy into that next target.  Miss again?  Emotionally do the same thing, forget it.  Miss again?  Do the same thing.  You'll finally hit that target and have learned how to focus!  This is a great tip for you to learn. This is sound advice for the beginner shooter and also to those who have shot for years!   

7 - I.  Any advice on wearing bi-focal glasses when shooting?

  Everyone is different.  Some shooters simply do not wear the lower bi-focal at all and trust the gun mount alignment to feel rather than sight.  I would suggest if you wanted to wear bi-focal lenses is to ask your Optometrist if you can bring your trap gun in for the exam phase and ask him to set the bi-focal low on the lens when you shoulder the gun, then when you look straight above the barrel axis you'll be looking far away from the lower lens so this will not cause a shifting of the eye along the two different lenses during the swing to the target.  You should use the line-bifocal so there is no hidden progression to obscure the target or cause an optical illusion.    

I have taken many shooting lessons.  Must I still read Trap Shooting Secrets book or can I skip to the Precision Shooting book? 

  You still need to begin with Trap Shooting Secrets (TSS) then progress to the Precision Shooting - The Trapshooter's Bible book.    Do not be misled believing the TSS book is entry level - for novice shooters - as it is not.  You will learn highly professional techniques and be exposed to serious technical information you likely never heard of before.  It is a fact shooters who have taken lessons from shooting coaches and instructors were never taught or exposed to the in-depth concepts and procedures you will find in TSS.  To sum it up in one phrase from an international coach, instructor, Olympic Medalist and World Champion shooter; Trap Shooting Secrets is a powerful book.  You can read the testimonials.  Yes, the Precision Shooting book is very advanced, but so is TSS.  Both books operate on a higher level than what has ever been written about trap shooting.  You need to understand these two books are not generalized information but technical books in every sense of the word.   Some concepts may be familiar to you, but many will not - regardless of how many lessons you have taken.  You could start off with the PS book but you'll miss out on all the advanced trap shooting information, and then you'll risk not being able to clearly understand the advanced phase of the PS book.   I would not skip the TSS book.   Who would I recommend to skip?  If you were a professional shooter and highly successful?  You don't need any book, just keep shooting and make money.  If you are not in this category?  You'll need to read TSS.  If you were pro and have fallen into a prolonged slump?  TSS can certainly help pull you out of it. 

8.  You say shooters are swinging the gun too fast and don't even know it?

  Definitely.  Watch the back-fence shooters and you'll see them stabbing at the targets with a hit and miss, repetition.  There is no precise consistency.  This applies to all handicap yardage shooters... slow down!   You're shooting way too fast for your abilities. You can't shoot targets fast until you've learned how to see targets in slow-motion, only then can you shoot as fast as the pros and hit the targets with precision.  It is a misnomer to think you have to shoot handicap targets faster because you're standing further away, pattern spreads, etc., and the target could escape.  It's true to a certain extent but shooting fast is a technique.   You just don't call for the target and snap at it.  Look at the shooters.   Do you see the back-fencer's swinging the muzzle using the upper body and hips as a pivot?  They forgot how to swing, make smooth moves to the target, and they miss them by stabbing, shoving the gun with the arm to the target.  Watch the pros very closely and you'll see Body English in their moves.  They never push the muzzle with their arm!  It may look like they are, but to the trained eye... they are not.  The illusion steps in because there is very little swing at the 27-yard, but there had better be a swing or you're wasting a ton of ammo and money.  By the way, if you find yourself stabbing at the target it is because the target is taking you by surprise and you are not truly ready for the target to emerge.  It also means you may feel "pressured" within yourself to maintain a squad rhythm.  And, your eye was not in proper placement over the trap house and not pre-focused before you called for that target.

8 - A.  My consistency is terrible.    All I try I can't seem to solve the problem.  What can I do?

  Two of the biggest destroyers of consistency is, 1) Shooting with the eyes alone and not pre-focusing the eye before the call and, 2) Failure to formulate correct eye and gun holds.  If you perform the above you will see magic!  When it's done properly you are not chasing the target... it just appears right before your eyes in centralized vision close to the gun so the swing is close-in and moves are made with ease to hit the target.  If you are shooting a 30" pattern you will never obtain consistency as the pattern is working against you, it is failing for lack of a reliable hot-core.  More on this later.  Keep reading.  Items mentioned here, 1 and 2, if not performed knocks eye and gun holds out of equilibrium with each other affecting timing and zone.  In essence, you'll have no repeatable setup so consistency can never be gained.  See 8-D below.

8 B.  I switched ammo and shot very well then my scores dived.  Why?

  Switching ammo can be risky business or it can reward you.  Why did you switch?  For fun or for a specific reason?  What did you want the new shell to accomplish for you?  Change point of impact?  Alter timing and sight picture?    That's what new shells do... they shoot differently from each other so be careful to switch with a narrowed purpose in mind you want to accomplish.  Your scores increased because you stimulated your brain into attention as it had become lazy and bored stiff.  With this new stimulation you became more alert and energized and shot well.   Then the brain fell back into a comfort zone with the new shell and again, became bored.  You are lucky, usually it works the other way around with scores falling upon the switchover.  Generally, whenever scores fall it is due to a bored mind (slump).   Instead of testing and tinkering with physical changes stimulate your mind to tinker with new ways to break the targets.  This keeps the mind fresh and happy.  When you experiment in this manner at practice sessions you won't fall into a lazy-brain rut and keep on practicing the same old mistakes over and over again. Practice is a fresh and new learning experience for if it is simply a rehearsal of what you did last week, last month, last year you can expect the same results as last week, month or year = no progress.  Experimentation of breaking targets with a new plan will teach you how not to fall into psychological slumps and will make you a better shooter.

8 - C.  Tell me how to practice the right way.

  It's a bit involved process that I cover in my books with well over 200 practice tips but I'll give you some ideas on the principles.  Most shooters hit the Sunday shoots and practice for the fun of shooting.  That's okay to have fun but it's not okay to not learn!  Now most shooters are not going to learn anything new because they are too busy psychologically competing for score with the other shooters on the squad and that is a deadly error.  You never shoot for score when practicing!  Let everyone beat you up out there.  Let them say, "What happened to your shooting?"  In the mean time you are seriously working on a specific new idea, stance, new gun or eye hold, eye focus, your timing, back-sighting or whatever it may be.  Now that is practice!  Don't be like the other shooters who are only rehearsing what they already know never learning anything of much value.    Many shooters, believe it or not, do not know how to practice and do not have the inner knowledge to even know where to begin.  Too many are fearful of any deviation to what they are now doing wrong to make it right, terrified to see their scores drop yet suffer the pains of losing the big (and small) competitive events.   It's crazy but that's the mentality out there.  So your first lesson here is not to get caught up in that peer pressure thing with the other shooters when you practice.  Now when you are done practicing take a box of shells, apply what you have learned and beat them shooters who are only rehearsing.  Believe me, the day comes in a few months time when even the best shooters at the club struggle and strain to beat you and they scratch their head, "That guy shoots rotten at practice shoots.  How is it I can't beat him now?"  Because you learned

8 - D.  How does visualization really work?

  A simple process, really.  The unseen materializes into the reality.   It is a form of training the subconscious mind what to do, how to do it.  If you don't visualize you can fully expect your subconscious mind to do the direct opposite of breaking the targets by missing them.  It's like a spoiled brat child that wants to do things his way.  You can will to break the targets all you want and still fail.  That's why positive attitudes on the trap line do not work!  That's also why confidence in itself will not work.  The first step is visualization.   You simply close your eyes (or keep them open) and see the target exit and explode.   You do this on each imaginary post prior to shooting.   When on station shooting you visualize breaking the three basic angles prior to shouldering the gun (right after you reload).  These mental pictures are commands to the subconscious which is a higher power within you to follow the cue.  It builds self-awareness and confidence and masterful control of the game.  It is quite amazing how powerful visualization really is.  How can something so simple be so effectively wonderful is a mystery of sorts but it certainly gives believing results.  If you are looking for consistency... use visualization to train the unconscious mind.  

8-E.  You have the best trap shooting Website in the world!

  No I don't.  There are many Web sites I envy as they look so professionally designed with fantastic graphics.  I don't compete with them, as I don't believe trap shooting content sites should be in any competition whatsoever anyway.    We are all serving a unique purpose and that is to serve our fellow trap shooter's needs. So, each Web site has their own way, means and methods of filling shooter's needs.   My pages are strictly content and information where a   trap shooter can gain knowledge on how to shoot better and have more fun, and, to promote the sport.   I suppose you can consider my Web site a free of charge on-line trap shooting school.   It is also a medium to which I can introduce my trap shooting books to further enhance the shooter's needs to shoot better scores and to rise up to a higher level of shooting... to the professional ranks.  I know I don't have the most beautiful Web site in the world.  I'm only doing what I feel is most important, and that is to teach trap shooting.  If people like that, great.   If not, thank God there are other Web sites!

8-F.  I shoot left-handed.  Will your books work for me?

  Yes.  I shoot left-handed too!  I made the switch when I discovered my left eye was dominate. In my books I have certainly not abandoned the left-hand shooter.  I give specific instructions for both right and left-handed shooters my books.  These books have left no stone unturned.  All subjects are covered.  Want to see a list of the table of contents?  Click on these. Trap Shooting Secrets book.  Precision Shooting - The Trapshooter's Bible book.  Yes, the books will work for you just fine.  The Table of Contents list really don't reveal much, that is, until you actually read the text in the books.

8-G.  Why do I need instruction?  I hold my own just fine.

  Every professional athlete/sportsman has a personal coach - a teacher that cannot perform as well as the professional athlete, but knows what s/he is doing.    The coach can see the flaws and can resolve difficulties the athlete cannot see and resolve without advice.  It's that extra set of eyes and the knowledge factor. The coaches skill is irrelevant, it's what the coach knows is what counts!   If you have no coach/teacher you'll need advice to stay tuned-up to center-hit your targets.   You may hold your own, but you'll do it all alone and that's doing it the hard way.   And, you will likely be shooting way better once you have the inside knowledge of the game and the tactics used to remain proficient.  Even the pro trap shooters consult with each other and with coaches and friends they rely on who act as coaches.   It's a leading edge to have.  Form golf pros to Olympic athletes... all have coaches.  So should you.  The problem is there are few coaches in trap shooting and only a handful for the entire USA and Canada.  That's where my books come in to fill that gap. So you can have a personal coach to tell you how to practice properly and execute the shot precisely, resolve flinching, timing errors, confusion, match pressure, fear, and keep you focused. And the books teaches you all the inside shooting secrets of the game.  Things you have never read or heard of before, this I can assure you.   But these "things" do work and that I will promise you.  You can hold your own, but you can still lose a tournament shoot!  Which is the better option?   To lose or win...?    

8 - H.  Professional shooters must be upset with you for writing those great trap shooting books?

  Some are upset, no doubt about it.  However, those top-gun pros who give shooting lessons are not upset at all as the books, and this web site, finally gets the trap shooter to realize how s/he can improve their shooting.  This opens the door wide for shooters to take lessons and everybody wins!  I have listed a few here.  Taking lessons from these trap shooters will certainly take you wherever want to go, especially if you read my books first so you can communicate on a higher level with your instructor and walk away with incredible knowledge you otherwise would never obtain.   

9.  So many shooters are shooting wrong and don't know it?

  It seems right to them.  It feels right.  But very few have ever taken lessons. In Europe taking lessons is considered mandatory and very foolish to avoid it.  Americans tend to sway to the belief of doing it "my way or no way at all."  Many have won shoots on luck and get punched to the 27-yard line and it's all over for them.  The pros will kick their butts time and time again.  They don't shoot on luck, they have learned the inside secrets to precision shooting techniques and religiously apply them to their advantage.  You can't beat them because they have that inner knowledge.  Certainly, shooting schools are far and few between and coaching is not possible for many shooters due to geographical locations, but I've written a couple books to help close the gap.  Shooting has got to be fun, and it should be profitable to at least help pay for some expenses.  Learn the secrets of accurate shooting and you will have more fun winning shoots instead of losing them.

9 - A.  How come I can shoot so well one day and terrible the next?

  Those great days where you can't seem to miss is caused by your subconscious mind suddenly doing everything right. You have essentially stepped out of the way and let the mind do its job.  But there is a danger here and it traps many shooters.  These days are rare and pros do not rely on it as it is simply luck.    This is how shooters get those yardage punches to the back fence and then end up falling to pieces once they get there... nothing has truly been learned!  If you can't repeat the process it has no value.  Shooters understand that shooting is a subconscious environment but they do not have the supplementary skills to recall and control these subconscious events.  You can not shoot subconsciously!    That's what many shooters do.  They have no plan. They shoulder the gun, call and let it rip, hoping for the best and wonder why they miss targets.  You can repeat the process if you know what you did right on those good days.  Did you write it down what it felt like?  How the eye felt when focused?  How did the gun feel in your hands?  What was your timing?  Breathing rate?  I bet you didn't -most shooters don't - and that's why they can't recall the hidden skill within, tomorrow. Professional shooters are fully aware of triggering these feelings and concentration focus so the hidden power within is awakened. But it's only half the story... there is physical technique that must be perfected before the inner techniques can be successfully applied with reliability.  If this seems to complex for you it is to a degree, but it's really simple once you do get the hang of it.  Trap shooting truly is a mind game.

9 - B.  What is considered to be too slow of a setup?  I'm not certain if I'm doing it right.

  The setup begins right after you insert the shell into the gun.    Here you use visualization, select your gun hold and eye hold point, and begin to mentally tune-in for the coming shot allowing concentration and focus to rise gently - as you take a deep breath when shouldering your gun.  You check the stacked sight beads for the figure-8 (if you don't see it you dismount and start again) apply proper cheek pressure and raise your eye up from the rib, pre-focus and call for the target.   Total time?  No more than 6-seconds.  You don't practice this on the practice trap... you rehearse and polish it there.  You have to do this practice at home to get it right and with your eyes closed!  You have to feel the moves, feel the gun, feel the shot, feel everything.  Get in touch with your feelings as it opens the door to precision.    When you feel it you'll get it right every time and you'll know better not to shoot the target when it doesn't feel right.  How?  You'll feel a slow or fast pull or a faulty setup and that gives you the edge to turn the target down or restart your setup and not miss the target.  This is how you build control into your game and stop shooting at targets you know you shouldn't be shooting.

9 - C.  I need a shooting tip I can take to the gun club tomorrow to help me hit more targets.

  Okay, here's one for you.  Stay in the gun!  Keep your cheek down and stay in the gun after you fire for a couple seconds before you dismount the gun.  This will keep your cheek glued to the stock.  It will do allot more but my books explain all that anyway.  If you watch the pros shot they are not in a big hurry to get the gun off their face.  There are reasons for this and you'll learn about these hidden techniques in Trap Shooting Secrets.  For now, just keeping your head down will do you justice. 

9 - D.  I tried back-sighting and missed targets terribly.  It won't work for me.

  Practice!  It's hard to learn and it is an advanced shooting technique described in Precision Shooting - The Trapshooter's Bible book. When you are learning you will have the tendency to look back at the sight and this freezes the swing.  That's okay, you are still learning how to control your vision so you are going to make mistakes.  Ride through this learning phase.  Don't get frustrated (I know you will anyway). It will come to you as being easy once you grasp it.    You have to learn it so it's no use giving up.  If you want those precision hits with high quality consistency get back to work!  You can and you will learn it.   It's just hard because you are not used to what is happening.   You are advancing into a professional shooter and these little hurdles and setbacks are to be expected.  Accept them, it's only temporary.  Very soon you'll be writing me saying, "Golly, this is easy and I'm smashing those targets hard!"     Trust me, it works. 

9 - E.  Many at my club are giving me advice.  Who should I listen too?  I can't focus on all the advice I'm getting.

  Welcome to trap shooting.  Every man and his money will give you advice.  Much of it is sound, some isn't and that which is good can't be explained so you'll understand it!  Don't feel bad.  Even the pros have a tough time explaining why they shoot so well... I had to dig it out of them with hook and claw over a period of many years!  Most new shooters can't afford a shooting coach or if they can can't find one near their residence.  So you'll have to rely on magazine articles and books for solid advice.  Find the "best" shooter at the club and eavesdrop whenever they talk (pretend you're a CIA spy) because that's when you pick up those true jewels of information... listen, don't talk, just listen closely.  You may have to bug this shooter a tiny bit asking questions.  Eventually s/he may give you lessons for free or a small fee of $25 or so for an hour as an incentive.  You want the best shooter... not the best for the day or month, but the best for the year or five years.    You may be unlucky and find no one so you may need to explore other gun clubs in the area.  Good advice is sound advice and bad advice is just useless advice.   

Beware your friend's advice may be well-meaning, but destructive if s/he has no teaching skills.  Get into registered shooting tournaments right away, now, today!    This will expose you to the better shooters and you'll receive exemplary advice especially if you churn the nerve and brave asking a pro some questions.  The dumb questions is the question never asked!  So don't be shy.  Ask a pro questions only at the end of the day's shooting!  Or early morning 2-hours before a shoot begins.  Later is always better.  Ask no more than three questions per day.  Don't overload them as they are very busy folks, mentally preparing for the next event.  Do subscribe to magazines and read the books.   The average shooter does not read magazines or books and they don't win events.  The average shooter has not read my books and they too don't win events.   Reliable and accurate shooting advice is available to you.            

9 - F.  I've been trap shooting for 50 years, 18-years on the 27-yard line.  Two years ago I went to a release trigger.    Now two or three times out of a hundred targets I can't let go of the trigger!

  This is not as rare as you may think.  You are not alone.  People who shoot pull triggers, can't pull the trigger.  And those who shoot release triggers, can't let go.  I know many shooters who experience this (others will not admit it).  What you are experiencing is called a "reverse flinch."   It's curable!  I'll have to cover much ground in short order here, but I can't dive into details or all causations.  Trap Shooting Secrets book explores flinching in great detail so you'll have to read the book.  Here's a few tips.  It can be caused by one or a combination of items listed below.  So here goes... for the release trigger - reverse flinch;

1.  Just how tight are you griping that release trigger?  A death grip?  If your trigger finger is holding on too tight this can cause a lock-up situation as your mind does not want to let go.  Are you holding the gun too tight?    Loosen up and relax a bit more.

2.  Most all flinching is caused by a timing error, not recoil.    Since when were you afraid of being slammed by the gun firing in the last 50-years?   Get the picture?  Recoil isn't the problem in most flinching cases, but it can play a role.  More likely, there is a discipline problem taking place where your mind will not obey the sight picture.  There is only one thing that "triggers" the trigger finger to let go, and that is the sight picture.   A) If the bead is on the target, and you can't let go of the trigger?  It is a timing problem.   B) If the bead not on the target and you release the trigger, or you hesitate not letting go of the trigger when you should be?   It is a visual problem in relation to the zone.  So which one is it, A or B?  Or is it both timing and visual?

A) Your timing is out of phase.  Too complex to explore here.  Read the books!  The answers are in the books. 

B) You are not making mid-course flight corrections to setup the visual sight picture phase and your trigger finger is freezing.  You are not shooting the zone your mind wants you to shoot in.  Target is escaping and you're freezing up.

A & B - Slow and Fast Pulls are tearing up your timing pretty bad.  Or you are not establishing a proper zone to match your inner timing.  These problems most always afflict the novice shooter then go away for many years, then return years later as the shooter becomes more sensitive and fine-tuned.   

3.  A bad habit is forming.  The more you concentrate on not reverse flinching the more it will likely persist. You'll need to retrain your subconscious mind to stop playing tricks on you with trigger words.  This is easy to do, but it's tedious.  Each time you shoulder the gun you have to tell yourself each and every time, "Go!" which stands for, "Let go of the trigger."    You can use the words, "Let Go!" if you wish.  Your conscious mind must take over from the unconscious by using simple, though monotonous, commands.    This will train the mind to maintain trigger control.

4.  Think about slap shooting a pull trigger.  The trigger is pulled with an immediate "snapping" action.  Do the same with the release trigger, "Let it go!"  Don't ride the trigger or try to feel it squeeze off.  Snap it away quickly.  If feeling the trigger is causing a problem you can place a thin leather shooting glove on the trigger hand to desensitize.

5.  If the targets are getting the jump on you you'll have a panic reaction to jump back at it.  This can cause a reverse flinch directly related to your timing.  Learn to turn down the slow or fast pull or you're asking for trouble.    It may be somewhat embarrassing to some shooter's to turn down a pull, but in trap shooting without voice activation target release, it's mandatory to turn them down or your timing is going to be blown up pretty bad and all sorts of "mistakes" and "flinching" materialize.

6.  Don't ride the target.  You have to shoot a zone, even a flexible zone so you can make corrections to get that sight bead on the target.  As age sets in reflexes slow down and many veteran shooters will slow down too and let the target escape a ways more.  The problem here is a timing adjustment is not maintained.  If you raise your eye hold you will compress the zone and maintain rapid timing.  By compress, you'll be seeing the area where the targets tend to arc, a compressed point of view. As you lower the gun hold you create a "space" and an opportunity of "time" to be used in your favor so you won't rush the target.    You see it soon and you won't be in a hurry to catch it.  You'll have to read my books to understand these techniques.

7.  Recoil anticipation can cause a flinch.  But you didn't mention recoil was a problem so we'll skip this.  If it is a problem.

8.  Shadow-dance the gun.  Install a snap-cap and pretend you are shooting targets at home.  Visualize each shot releasing the trigger "with authority!"  Place a small piece of Post-It paper on the wall and swing the gun, in slow-motion, to that target and release the trigger when the sight bead touches the edge of the target.  Then do it only when the sight bead enters the center of the target.  This will reestablish trigger control and sight pictures.  A good learning tool is to strap a small penlight flashlight on the gun's rib and swing the narrow light beam to the target.  Reestablish authority in the shot!

9.  Keep your head down on the stock.  Feel the pressure.    If the cheek rises the muzzle freezes, and so will your trigger finger!   You should stop wrapping your finger around the trigger shoe.  English shooters flinch way less than American shooters and one reason is they don't ride the trigger with the finger looped like a 90  "C" on the trigger.   The finger is also descending downward, not in a straight line.  Read my Trap Shooting Secrets book and see the "Slap Shooting" section and Fig.4-4 diagram on flinching troubleshooting trigger control methods.  You will absolutely stop flinching for sure! 

10.  Before you shoot competition events close your eyes and visualize yourself "releasing the trigger with absolute authority" when the sight picture looks right.  This works.  It's simple, but it works!

11.  Double-check your eyes.  Vision may be fading a bit.    Employ more back-sighting to establish a clearer sight picture.  Wear a light or medium purple lens color and you'll see the target better (all color targets will be enhanced).  If you can't see the sight picture clearly, trigger pulls (or releases) will be inconsistent. 

12.  Once you start working on your timing of the shot, working in the zone, and setting up your eye and gun hold points you will see that reverse flinch dissolve away.  This will instill incredible control and smoothness into your shooting.  Panic creates hesitation and that creates flinching.  When you're smooth you don't flinch!  The Trap Shooting Secrets book will help you manage timing and flinching.  Precision Shooting book will tell you how to manage the zone.   

9 - G.   I practice well at my club and then bomb in the tournament and I'm not nervous.  Why?

  If you are like most of us you may be a victim of gun club negligence.    It's a major reason why shooters fall apart at registered shoots.  Scenario #1)  Practice shooting at your club on weekends or whatever, laziness sets in where the active manager just doesn't feel it is necessary to set the traps so legal targets will be thrown.  Why bother?  This isn't a registered shoot and many of the shooter's don't shoot tournaments with any seriousness.  That's the prevailing mentality.  So, you shoot those fast, slow, high, low or shallow targets and guess what happens?  Your sight picture gets keyed in on those illegal targets and you learn to shoot them well.  Now you go to a registered shoot and you can't hit the legal targets.  Know why?  Your timing gets all messed up and that effects sight pictures and visa versa.  Scenario #2)  The reverse can happen too.  Your club is meticulous and throws legal targets.  You go to a registered shoot and the targets are not set legally and they will drive your score down the tubes.     Scenario #3)  You go to a registered shoot and run the practice trap.  Then you go shoot the event and find the targets are running faster, lower, slower or higher than the practice trap.  Your practice session in this case set you up for a fall.  Why?  Management did not equalize the playing field setting all the traps to proper legal settings.  Scenario #4) The targets you are used to shooting may be of a different color, have no black stripe to eliminate the "comet tail" and "halo effect" or worse yet, thrown at shallow planes so you are shooting razor blades (targets with little to no face showing).    None of these factors are important to the uneducated so it is very, very, important to insure that the club you practice at throw legal targets at all times.  Just hype here?  Well, just talk to the pros or watch them shoot and you'll see them refuse to shoot and demand the trap be set so legal targets will be thrown! 

  Rule #1)  Insist that your club management initiate a formal policy to set the traps before allowing any shooters to shoot... even if it just an informal shoot!  Rule #2)   Be careful of the practice traps at registered shoots... make sure they too are set identically as the tournament traps!  I have seen some clubs actually set the practice trap defective to throw off the majority of shooters so the local club members can have the advantage.  Members won't warm up on the practice traps as they know it will disrupt their timing and sight pictures. It's unfortunate, but I've seen it happen too many times.    Often, trap inconsistencies is caused by sheer ignorance and not by design.    But regardless... illegal targets will ruin your shooting!  Rule #3)  Educate everyone about the importance of proper trap settings.  Rule #4)   If you continue to practice on defective traps?  You will forever be inconsistent.  More education is needed so please do pass on this information so trap shooting can be a more enjoyable sport that is is already.  Rule #5)   A sandbagger need not shoot a gun.  A friend or relative who just happens to be running the registered shoot could easily use any of the above tactics so the homeboys can gain the edge to win!  And if you think this does not take place... you'll soon be convinced now that you are aware of the tricks of the trade cheaters can use to beat you.  Open your eyes and you'll see.  The pros will not shoot illegal targets.   Now you know why! 

  Let's take another step.  Insure you are not being assigned a specific bank of traps day-after-day.  You may discover someone doesn't want you to win and is purposely having you assigned to a specific bank that has difficult backgrounds, distracting trap house cosmetics, bad rubber on the trap throw arm that spins-down target speed to give you a very tough time breaking targets, a defective trap, illegal target settings, hard composition targets placed in the trap house, etc.  Don't let anyone keep assigning you to the same bank on a multi-day shoot.  And a word of warning... do not trust your fellow club members' friendship when it comes to registered shoots with money and trophy's at stake.  I learned the hard way.  Once you get to be a better shooter those "friends" are going to begin to take covert adverse action against you to trip you up, and they are going to do it with a friendly smile.  By the time you realize what happened... well, you get the idea, you lose and your friends win.   I've always said trap shooting is a lonely sport.  It's just you and the target.  There are no friends on the trap line.  Each shooter attending the event and every shooter on your squad is trying to beat you!  That's friendly competition.                                   

10.  So the handicap system should be changed?

  I have little opinion.  No matter if you increase the yardage from 27 to 30 yards and give the pros 1oz shells... they will beat you when you eventually get there with them.  That knowledge thing comes into play.  Everyone can learn it, just that trap shooting has always been a secret and the inside knowledge only shared between professionals, if at all.  Where there is money to be made, people don't go around blabbing what they do to make them so proficient.  They want your money, not you as competition.  It's nothing personal to them, it's the business side of the game. Trap shooting has always been a "money game."  That could change, but I bet you... money will always be available and that will drive many shooters into the pro-rankings.  Trap shooting is an elite prestigious sport.  If you make a "pros only" classifications, I know many shooters who will sign on just to be seen shooting that class.  It's an ego thing.  To compete with a pro, you must learn precision shooting and you must know the secrets.  Knowledge is a prime key to winning trap shoots.  What exactly is a trap shooting secret?  It's simply missing knowledge.  If you don't have the knowledge then the game's inner workings remains a secret indeed. 

10 - A.  Shooters keep telling me I must shoot the entire program to be a good shooter.  You still disagree?

  This question keeps coming up and I explain it here in these pages and in the books.  There are numerous myths in trap shooting and this is just another one deeply imbedded in America.  The next time someone tells you that simply ask, "Name one professional Olympic shooter who can shoot, master and win Gold medals in double-trap, DTL and Olympic trap?"  There is no one!  No shooter has ever mastered all of the games.  Professionals specialize.  Dan Orlich, ATA Hall of Fame trap shooter, was a very rare and talented shooter who could run every target on singles, handicap and double-rise, but ATA is not the Olympics.  There is nothing wrong with shooting the entire program, for fun.  To be a consistent high-overall shooter will take many years due to learning all three games simultaneously... a difficult chore and it's expensive too.  Many shooters can't afford the cost of shooting the multi-day programs.  Kim Rhodes won the gold medal in Atlanta.  She specialized and heavily practices double-trap, not singles, handicap, DTL, UT or Olympic trap.    The fastest and most economical means to success is to specialize.  If you want the handicap money then focus-in and concentrate on shooting the handicap game.    Pick your battles.  You don't have to agree, but you should look at reality.   By the way, it was Dan Orlich (ATA  Hall of Fame shooter) who recommended to me years ago to learn to specialize!  What he meant was to master each game, to treat each game as an entirely different game.  He's right too!  Each game requires a unique approach and technique.

10 - B.  I shoot trap with one eye.    Everyone at my gun club say's it is wrong.  Is it?

  They are wrong!  All trap targets are driving away from you so binocular vision is not necessary.  Every competent coach / trainer knows all too well one-eye shooting is not a detriment in the trap discipline and many shooters win big using the method.  Two-eyes is more comfortable and I would say if you can shoot with both eyes you should.  If you can't shoot well with two, then use one.  Many shooter's have severe eye-crossover problems and can be cured with competent instruction over a period of time.  Sporting clays is a different matter where two eyes are advantageous. 

10 - C.  I've been shooting for years and I don't measure up.  Will I ever?

  Yes, you can!  My books will give you the deep technical and mental insights to the game revealing many professional techniques.  Now, once you learn them you have to cross the amateur barrier in your mind.  There is a point in every pros shooting career where they make a strong self-proclamation, "I can shoot.    I do shoot well and I will shoot well."  It's 100% confidence.   You have to start believing in yourself, cut out the negative thinking and become very strong, even bull-headed to force yourself to believe you are professional - even when you are not!  As long as you keep thinking weakly with full of doubts and reservations you can't break that barrier and you'll keep missing targets.   You simply have to get to the point where you are sick and tired of shooting lousy scores and mentally apply yourself to get rid of the lies you believe, "I can't measure up.   I don't shoot well.  I'll lose like I always do."   This mindset is terribly dangerous as each thought will manifest itself exactly as you believe!   Change your thinking, change your life.  Every shooter should have a positive coach to instill these winning attitudes so you can believe... in yourself.   Trap shooters, by and large, are natural optimistic depressive thinkers.  A good coach would do you well to instill the professional mind-set to unshackle the chains of oppression which lead to constructive beliefs.  Trap shooting is a blend of mind and body, but one is left out of the equation; "Spirit!"   Blend mind, body and spirit and you will achieve things you never dreamed were possible!   And, you are not too old!!!

10 - D.  What magazines do you recommend I should read?

  All of them... all of the time!  This is money well spent.    Click here for a list of trap shooting magazines.   Most American trap shooters are only subscribing to the American magazines and this is a big mistake.  Get your hands on the English mags too;  Clay Shooting and Pull magazine.  European shooters should also read the American magazines too.   There is so much knowledge out there in the magazines and books and if you don't read them you are missing out.   They can be tax deductible if you shoot for money and declare cost and earnings on your tax forms.  TSS book explains how to do this.   And, yes, my books are tax deductible if you use them as a means of consultation or education to earn potential income. 

10 - E.  People tell me to be a good handicap shooter I have to be a good singles shooter.  You don't?

  Correct.  It's a myth like many myths in trap shooting that has circulated for decades from word of mouth, from magazines and books and grandpa and grandma.  Now some pros will tell you that you have to shoot singles to be good at handicap but if you really get a chance to talk with them about the peculiarities of the game that attitude begins to shift toward specialization.  It's like Olympic skiing.  Everyone wears skis but some are bump skiers and others are downhill.  They had to specialize because the two games are different from each other even though both skiers have to know how to ski.  Now if it were true that if singles shooters can shoot 100-straight in singles, why is it do many good singles shooters' can't shoot winning handicap scores?  After all, it's the same game, isn't it?  Do not be mislead.  If you apply the identical principles, form and techniques on singles on the handicap you will be in for a rude awakening... handicap is nothing like singles-shooting whatsoever!  The sooner you learn this you can begin to learn how to shoot handicap targets.  If you keep this myth in your head you'll continue to receive the scores you don't want because you are applying the singles game to the handicap and that can't be done.  This is why you see so many poor scores in handicap by shooters who have shot for many years.  They deserve better.  They need the knowledge that, until now, simply was not available to the average shooter.  Not everyone can afford or locate a shooting coach near their own home town.  The books I wrote fill this need.        

10 - F.  I'd like to have a product that will protect my barrel from rust right after firing.  Know of any?

  Yes.  Raikka Oy Corporation makes a shotgun shell with protective lubricants to prevent corrosion.  You insert the shell, point the muzzle a few feet toward a rag on the ground, pull the trigger and the Care Shot product fires spraying the protectant into the barrel, muzzle ports and choke.  Then you use the oiled rag to wipe the external metal surfaces of your gun.   Very quick and unique.  No primer is used in these shells.  The environmentally friendly chemical dissolves powder residue so it cleans and protects the barrel all in one shot.   It will coat the forcing cone and chamber as these shells are short in length.   Write to:  Raikka Oy, P.O. Box 30, Fin 00251, Helsinki, Finland. 

 11.  How do I know what is the best shell to use in my gun?

  Briefly; too many shooters are "hung-up" on a specific brand of shell that may not be ideal for their gun.  I've had many shooters tell me they won't shoot a certain brand because their re-loader doesn't like them.  Can you believe that?  Tradeoff making fine-tuning reloading adjustments to blow up their own scores?  Many shooters try a new shell and miss targets assuming it's the wrong shell.  They pattern the shell and it looks unevenly distributed.  It's all wrong, the entire approach.  Nobody has taught them a few of the tricks and there are many on this subject.  First, point of impact always shifts when you try a new shell and that's why you  miss targets.  The shell must be choked properly to get that 25" hot core with a decent annular ring fill, but pattern boards are useless.  The more you use them the worse your actual pattern to the target will be.   Pattern boards are two-dimensional, but the shot string is four-dimensional (height, width, length and time) and the target is too.  The pattern board is only good for checking point of impact and to determine if the hot-core exists.  I explain all this in the Trap Shooting Secrets book.  Not enough space here to get into the details.   More shoots are lost not due to errors in aim/pointing, but due to improper shells and patterning.  Another little secret you'll learn about in my books.


  Trap shooting requires inside knowledge to be perfected.  You can practice for years and never get it down right.  But once someone shows you how it is done it becomes much easier to hit the targets.

  You can learn these inside secrets and our 30-day money back guarantee insures your satisfaction!


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  Just about every trick of the trade!  The same techniques professional trap shooters use.  You will learn how to setup each shot properly; from eye and gun hold points to timing the shot, shooting the zone, managing trigger control and a whole lot more.

  There's no other book like this available... it's the first trap shooting technical book ever published!


12.  What is the biggest mistake you see shooters doing?

  There are many.  Here's a few;  they shoot a gun that does not fit them... they think it fits, but it doesn't fit at all.  No proper setup procedures and horrible gun mounting form.  Calls too loud causing the eyes to lose focus and muzzle dancing destroying any chance of getting reliable target hits.   Pushing the gun instead of swinging; they push the gun away from the eye which is the back sight bead!  Flinching; shooters flinch when you tell them they are flinching.  They deny it and so fail to correct the problem at the expense of their scores.  Flinches come in many forms, more than you realize or heard about, but they all can be cured.  Head-lifting;  Good Glory everybody is doing it... it's like a natural habit, even the guy/gals that squish their cheeks too hard onto the gun.   They don't know how to steer the gun with their cheek!  That stops head-lifting and increases precision aim and stops muzzle shoving, etc.  Shooters shooting an ill-conceived zone.  Their timing is out of synchronization with their inner time clock and they are unaware of it.  So, no real zone or timing exist and here comes the flinches!  Pulling the trigger when the sight bead is not on the target is a "timing flinch."  A very common problem that destroys trigger control.  All of these subjects are covered in my books in great detail.   Answers given by the professionals, tested and explained so you can know the truth about trap shooting and the secrets of the game.  It all make sense once you learn it.  

12 - A.  What is timing?  I hear about it but don't really understand it.

  Generally when shooters speak of timing they only relate to one form of timing and that is Shoot Timing where the shooter is timing the shot to remain in a specific zone.   There's many forms of timing;  Swing Timing, Shot Timing, Shoot Timing, Trigger Control Timing, Internal Time Clock Timing, Squad Timing, Eye Focus Timing, Setup Timing which I explain how to use each in Trap Shooting Secrets and Precision Shooting books.  Let's stay with Shoot Timing... Most shooters have got it all wrong when they shoot on this singular timing factor as they are trying to hit targets with time alone and that is not how you establish a zone.  If you try to shoot on time alone you will never be consistent of getting the bead on the target.  What happens is, the time that you think is right to pull the trigger is not in synchronization with the eyes.   It's a huge mistake most everyone is doing because they truly do not understand timing and how it is applied.  They see a pro shoot fast and they mimic the form, but you can't do that.  The pro is seeing things totally different than you are seeing and therefore can hammer the target quickly with amazing precision.   Shooter's believe shooting fast establishes the zone and timing but they have it all wrong... it's shooting slower, swinging slower and using proper eye and gun holds in conjunction with eye pre-focus techniques that begin to establish the zone and timing.   Once these little tricks are employed then speed increases naturally as everything goes into slow-motion mode.  It seems slow to you, but it's really fast and precise shooting.   It's a technique to learn.  If you don't learn it you will never be able to shoot quick with any certain reliability.  And we only covered just one of the timing factors mentioned above.  There is more to trap shooting than most trapshooters realize.

12 - B.  Why do I see so many back-fence shooters missing so many targets?

  Shooter's who have never learned the inside secrets to trap shooting are going to miss a ton of targets at any yardage and will remain inconsistent shooters - one day good, one day bad - and this can be measured on a daily basis from trap to trap; one trap good the next bad.  There are way too many shooters just putting their gun up, calling for the target and chasing it down and that's the major error... they are not attacking the target with a specified plan.  The pros don't play around with these games, they know exactly what they are doing and know how to hit the target because the way they setup for targets is really unique and unseen to the untrained eye.  The distance from the 27-yard line makes the game a tad more challenging than 20-yards, but it's not distance... it is technique and control that makes for breaking targets consistently.  So when you see the back-fence shooters missing targets it's telling you that you can earn your way back with lucky wins at small shoots and end up a basket case stuck on the fence losing way too many shoots to the shooter's who know the inside secrets of the game.   If you fall into this category, regardless of the handicap yardage you shoot, it will pay you many rewards to learn these professional shooting techniques. 

12 - C.  Why did you name your book Trap Shooting Secrets?  What's so secret about trap shooting?

  Every professional shooter has picked up his/her knowledge from other pro shooters.  That's why they shoot so well.  These inner secrets are truly secretive and they are not revealed in magazine articles or other books.  They have been passed on from pro to pro as if it were a secret society with treasured knowledge.   There is big money in this sport and those secrets of precision shooting are not going to be given away by those who are doing all the winning.   That's career suicide!  I interviewed many top gun shooters over the years and they revealed these little secrets one-by-one (after I asked the right questions) and I tested and compiled them into books.  When you read these book you will see some amazing things and learn quite a few astounding tricks of the trade... things you never heard of before! 

  But I don't just tell you about them, I show you how to do it with well over 130+ practice tips and hundreds of instructions.  Trap Shooting Secrets and Precision Shooting books are the first ever "how-to technical books" on trap shooting.  No other book even comes close to matching the effectiveness of these books.  Why?   Because we don't talk about trap shooting, we do it, like having a pro coach by your side teaching you these secret shooting techniques.  There are many secrets to every skill, trade and sport and trap shooting has its full share of secrets too.  So naturally, the book title; Trap Shooting Secrets, seemed fitting to the purpose as that what it does... reveals the hidden knowledge pros have been using for years.  If you want to shoot well you'll need the knowledge to get the job done right.   Everybody needs lessons and these books will give instructions for you to follow.   When you apply the knowledge you will see your scores increase and the targets being hit harder than ever. 

12 - D.  I've been shooting one year now.    What should I be practicing now?

  Here's a short list.

  1. Identify your gun and eye hold points for each post and determine the proper eye focus for each station.  If you are using the same holds and focus on each station you will not progress.  Targets will keep slipping by and there will be little to no way to correct this insidious problem.  Many shooters are plagued with this curse and consistency evades them intensely.
  2. Work on your timing to insure it is in total synchronization with your eye and gun hold points.
  3. Try developing the moving gun techniques into your setup.  They will break down momentum locks and enhance visual acquisition of the target and increase muzzle control.
  4. Control your breathing.  Learn how to master this and you'll get huge benefits;   lower stress levels, increase vision, energize the mind's concentration and release energy when exhaling as you call and shoot.  It creates smooth swings.
  5. Learn your zones.  If you have no idea what a zone is you definitely need help here.  The zone will make or break you.
  6. Choke to get the 25" hot-core pattern.  You need reliability in your hits to crank a solid score.
  7. Check your setup.  New shooters do.  Experienced shooters think their setup is just fine when it's likely all wrong.
  8. Talk to pros and ask questions.  You are at the stage now to pick up the finer aspects of shooting.
  9. Hire a consultant or coach to give you shooting tips, advice, instruction.
  10. Keep learning new things, new ways to break the target.  An idle mind relaxes and falls into ruts which will neutralize your scores and your ability to advance. 
  11. See question number 7-H again. It applies.

12 - E.  Can I use the Improved Modified choke on the long-yardage handicap?

  No, generally, unless your pattern indicates you are receiving a 25-inch hot-core.  You can use the choke and it will break targets.    You may even pick up a few targets that you've been having problems with but you will miss targets you shouldn't have missed too and that dreaded tit-for-tat game begins... solving one problem and creating another.  Shooter's play with chokes because they are looking for the shortcut to high scores.  Wrong!  There are only two shortcuts and they are to learn to shoot with precision and have the pattern core dense so you can break the target when you are on it.  There is no room for error in handicap shooting.  This is not golf where you can hit the ball numerous times to sink it into the hole.  In trap shooting you have to get the hole-in-one each and every time.  You can open the choke and deceive yourself and even get yourself punched to the back fence... then the trouble begins and doesn't end!  The choke is a tool not a technique so the choke always has the ridged propensity to help or hurt, and in most cases it hurts the shooter.  When you first switch to the 25" hot-core pattern with a tight choke scores drop and shooters' think it's all wrong so they open the choke to regain their average scores again.  Trouble is they stay average shooters and can never cross the bridge to excellence because the pattern is failing and they think they are missing targets when it's the choke doing the missing.  There is no possible way to correct a problem like this with technique.  You can practice forever for days-on-end and if the choke is allowing targets to escape, well... tighten up the choke and end the misery once and for all.

12 - F.  I love trap shooting but I don't shoot well to compete.  How can I learn to learn to improve?

  You have just taken the first step seeking the solution.    Your question is very broad yet requires numerous answers so I can't give details.   Read everything on this web site, subscribe to as many trap shooting magazines as you can afford and start shooting registered shoots.  This is where you really begin to learn all about trap shooting... there is no substitute!   Experiment with every little thing that comes to your mind about how to break targets a different way than the way you are breaking them now.  If you keep shooting same-o-same-o you can't learn a better way.  Don't rush yourself. Many new shooters are in too much of a hurry to get to that back fence.  Believe me, you'll get there, but when you do, you want to be able to hold your own and compete with the pros or at least earn your option money.  It serves you an injustice to get there too soon and fail.  The learning process is a slow methodical approach when performed properly.  Haste makes waste.   Learn to enjoy annihilating each target with a devotion not just enjoying pulling the trigger and playing the game for fun.   Get a bit more serious and you'll begin to open that door to knowledge.  And when you shoot better you'll have more fun too!   Keep loving the game because it's the only game that will love you back with many years of enjoyment! 

12 - G.  My thumb bangs my nose sometimes when I shoot.  Is this a  problem I should be concerned with?

  For the nose?  No. Unless it hurts allot.  For the targets?  Yes.  You are missing targets.  Not because your thumb slams your nose causing your focus to be diverted, but because your Length of Pull is too short and that is upsetting your swing dynamics, gun balance and sighting plane.  The simple fix is to extend the butt-length on your gun.  You can use a thicker recoil pad and that will push the gun forward as it is locked to your shoulder and your thumb will be clear of the nose.  The thumb and nose distance should be about 1" away from each other.  Again, a stock-fitter is your best bet for superlative advice on these matters as each body is so different and a custom fit is ultimately the ideal.    It is these "little things" that many trap shooters ignore and they will spend thousands of dollars practicing for high scores over the years and a stock-fitter could have solved the problem in seconds.  What is really sad to see is a trap shooter quit the sport due to poor scores yet the shooter is shooting a gun that never fit him or her.   If you really want to fail in trap shooting stay far away from the stock-fitter!   And don't ever deceive yourself into thinking you can setup your gun by yourself.   You can't!  Even if you had the knowledge you can't see yourself... and a mirror won't work either.  Seek professional advice and you'll receive professional results.

12 - H.  I am a veteran shooter.  I tire easily in competition.  Could you share some advice?

  1. Vitamins, take plenty of vitamins in multi-vitamin singular pill form like Centrum brand with antioxidants. Drink plenty of water throughout the day especially before shooting.
  2. Don't shoot the entire program.  Three events may be too much to handle pick one or two max.
  3. Drink Poweraid to balance fluids.  Two cups before shooting and two after.
  4. Motivate yourself.  Think young, be young.  Go out there believing you won't get tired.  Shoot one program this way.
  5. Relax more if you feel tense on line.  Stress strains the brain and will exhaust you. 
  6. Take a deep breath prior to shouldering the gun for each shot.  It will give you energy.  Shallow breathing won't.
  7. Take a Melatonin tablet to insure you get a deep restful sleep the night prior to the shoot.

  Age has inherent limitations but if you follow this seven-step plan you will be able to perform quite well.

12 - I.  The bottom fell out of my shooting.    What can I do to get it back?  It's a mystery to me.

  The solution can be simple.  Missing targets, more than usual, is a subconscious phenomena which materializes into reality.  Some people call it a habit and so it is though on a deeper level in  the mind.  The subconscious mind is always waiting in the wings to hit the target or miss it so it must be tamed and controlled.  It knows no right from wrong.  This is why visualization works so well as it instructs the subconscious what to do.  A simple method you can use right away is to get on post #3 and stay there for 25-shots.  You can lock the trap if you want so it will not oscillate.  Fairly easy targets here (if you can say any target is easy, I dare not). Pound away these targets and you will reset the subconscious mind into dust-balling targets.  This boosts your confidence again and all the sight pictures return.  The habit is broken and your back in the game.  Does it work?    Try it and you'll believe. 

12 - J.  I need a quick method I can use to keep my head down on the comb.

  There are a few methods explained in my Trap Shooting Secrets book so I'll give you a quick method you can use. Pull the gun in tighter into your shoulder.     Routine has a way of loosening things up and you need to check on this if it's happening to you.  This solid pull into the shoulder locks the cheek down far more than if your gun mount is simply placed comfortably with little pressure into the shoulder.  It also give you more control over the gun.  So just snug in the gun a bit tighter than you are doing now and maintain that pressure all the way to the target and stock vertical rebound will be reduced which is likely causing your head to lift, but a loose fit mount will always cause the cheek to rise ever so slightly when seeing the target emerge from the trap house, when swinging the muzzle, and again... it will rise a bit more at the moment you pull the trigger.  The head does not always rise in one abrupt motion... it floats ever so gently and that makes it difficult to detect for many shooters.  "I don't lift my head!"  They do!    Just that they don't feel it rising.  I have techniques that will lock you solid to the comb and you'll feel it the moment the cheek tends to rise, correct it and break the target.  It's explained in my books.  

13  I need a shooting tip I can try today.

  Drop your gun-hold a couple inches if you shoot a high-gun.  If you shoot a low gun raise the gun hold so the sight beads are just a smidgen above the trap house.  Now pre-focus your eyes up and away from the traphouse about 6" to 12" vertically in-line from your gun hold.  Perform a hard focus, not a soft one.  Pick a blade of grass, a leaf or branch on a tree. Your eye must not see the rib of the gun or the sight beads; this is so your eye will lock on to the target when the target enters your pre-focus zone.  Call, but don't move that gun until your eye has seen the target angle and locks solidly on to the target. I know this is a bunch to chew on at one time, so take each step in stride.  Practice this and see what happens.  After a few rounds you'll notice you are not only seeing the target angle sooner, the target is slowing down and is highly illuminated.  The target is slow, bright and easier to hit.  Swing smoothly.  The target may appear to escaping the zone, but in reality you have just experienced slow-motion shooting and the target is breaking faster than you were shooting before.  It's amazing, but true.  there is more to this technique, but this will get you the idea to at least feel the difference in your shooting.  Don't worry, you'll miss targets.  We are not trying to hit the target but see the target and get into that slow-motion mode the pros use all so well.  Swing smoothly.  Use the upper body to turn the gun, pivot by the hips, don't push the muzzle.  Forget about timing, just get that sight bead on the target then pull the trigger with authority. 

13 - A. I tried the above in question #13 and it didn't work.  Why?

  Because there is too much information to consume all at one time.   Break each phase down into smaller segments and practice that way.  Then you can put the whole ball of wax together and see how it blends into one precise form.   Keep raising or lowing your eye hold until you adjust the zone to where you want to break the target.  Finding that "sweet spot" for the eye and gun hold for that specific station post is the secret.  You'll find it, and when you do, write it down.  Each post has a different eye and gun hold point.  It can get complex so you'll need to read the books to get it down.  Many drawings are provided on this subject to make it easier to learn.

13 - B.  What do you mean having a sense of fear of the target?

  If you have no fear of the target you are shooting brain-dead meaning you have lost respect for the target to outwit you and you couldn't care less if you missed it.  There are two stages to fearing the target, 1)  New shooters, in the first 3-years or so of shooting are quite nervous about missing as they know how damaging it is to scoring well so they have a healthy respect for each target and strive to master it, "Take no survivors" mind-set.  Progress is made and the shooter wins events and get punched yardage.  Eventually, the shooter gets to the back-fence and the bottom falls out (loss of goal, desire, purpose, mission) and often the fear of the target is no longer eminent.  A lazy-brain shooting mode is implanted, "I'm at the back-fence now so I can relax a bit.  Plus, If I miss it's expected as everyone misses targets from here."  The intense war between the shooter and target must be reestablished to rebuild this primal fear of missing,  2)  Once the fear factor has been regenerated the Catch-22 develops where fear must be eliminated.    So why bother with generating fear when you only have to get rid of it?   It's a technique to get your mind focused again on what is important... to stop missing the targets.  The psychology behind it is deeper than explained here but to sum it up, there has to be something at stake.  Not money, not pride or glory of winning itself, but a basic fear of failure to hit the target.  This fear, though should be slight but ever present, will keep a shooter on the wire ever so alert to not slip up, prevent brain-dead shooting with no purpose.  Fear is an asset when used to motivate and to raise a shooter's level of performance.  Everyone who shoots competitively loves trap shooting.  Perhaps a tad too many shooters love the targets a bit too much and are giving them excessive respect at the opposite spectrum... you should dislike the targets for they are not your friends.  They are devious fellows on a mission to outwit and escape your efforts to ruin your scores and ultimately to embarrass you.   Be afraid, be very afraid!

13 - C.  I practice religiously every weekend and I'm not seeing progress.  Why?

  Many reasons, and the books explore all of this, but I'll focus in on one huge error shooters make.  It's not how much you practice on weekends that will allow you to penetrate the wall and progress onward.  It's what you do at home!    You will learn more at home than you actually will shooting at real targets on the weekend!  You have to shadow-dance with your gun.  If you learn anything, learn this... "The setup is more important than the physical act of swinging and pulling the trigger."  Most weekend shooters are simply rehearsing and not truly practicing.  No one has taught them the true techniques on how to practice, a hidden art of sorts in trap shooting, a great mystery no one explains, so no one learns.  This is a prevalent cause of failure and it is a disease every gun club has within its ranks... shooters rehearsing the same old mistakes over-and-over again.

  This rut must be broken and can be by two means, 1Feel.    When you practice shouldering the gun at home all typical trap shooting distractions are removed and the inner mind can focus on the "feel" of the gun mount, cheek pressure and swing.  Try this with your eyes closed and you'll feel things you've never noticed before!  Good shooting is performed through feeling, not emotion, but an intimate feel of yourself and the gun to be one.  This tones "muscle memory" and trains the subconscious mind to adhere to rules and standards you demand, 2)  The next phase is; Visualization.    When you shadow-dance you are now shooting imaginary targets, shooting each of the three basic angles on each imaginary post.  Now you will truly imbed visualization skills that will "smooth-out" the kinks in your shooting.   You are establishing a mental link of feel, visualization and the physical act of shooting that will build tremendous levels of confidence and precision shooting.  The entire game is now playing in your mind and your body is making the moves, the correct moves to the targets!  Here you will resolve flinching and poor trigger control to boot!   It's so simple of a technique few believe it has any worth, but those who do it know otherwise.  If you can't shadow-dance daily, then do so at least once prior to leaving home to practice (or to a registered shoot).  It's the best warm-up routine ever devised!  Way better than shooting singles targets to warm-up for the handicap event.  It truly works, it really does.  Try it and see how much better you will perform.  These little secrets to trap shooting pay huge benefits for those who know and apply them! 

13 - D.  I try to dustball targets persistently but I can't.  What's the secret?

  Many secrets to this.  I will give you one small tip you can apply.  It is very generalized and basic, but it will help you to unlock your mind and see a new way of breaking targets.  When you practice you don't focus on dustballing the target as many shooters do only to find it eludes them.  That broad way of thinking is simply not convergent enough to improve your hits.  Start looking at your breaks and if they are chippy, simply strive, mentally, to improve the quality of your hits.   Now the vast majority of shooters cannot control the quality of their hits because they do not really see that precise alignment of sight bead-to-target when the trigger is pulled so they can't make any progressive adjustments.  Here is how you do it.   You call for the target, swing normally and when you pull the trigger your "freeze" the muzzle.  Stop the swing abruptly.  You are snap-shooting the target, actually rifle shooting it so you can see what you did right or wrong the moment you pulled that trigger.  Where was the sight bead in relation to the target?   Did you see it? 

  Now you can begin to make those slight bead-to-target alignment adjustments to see where that sight bead has to be to dust-ball the target.   You are now opening the door to precision shooting, the exact same methods the pros use... bead to target = dust-balled target.  Now there is a fallout to this method so be careful you do not freeze the muzzle in your shooting routine or look back at the sight bead as that will freeze the swing to a dead stop.  Yes it is true you do not need to follow-through on trap targets, but most all shooters should not freeze-shoot targets until they have mastered the precision shooting techniques.  A good example, is to watch Daro Handy shoot... he uses the freeze-stop method, but he knows where to put that sight bead precisely to puff the target.  Many pros use the method.   You can learn it too.  Just trying this tip out on the practice trap will give you a new insight to shooting targets.  There is more than one way to break a target!

13 - E.  You know so much about trap shooting.    Can I learn this too to improve my shooting?

  Yes.  First, nobody knows it all and I sure don't.  Even the pros are still learning the game after shooting for a living for 40-years!  It's an intricate sport, way more complex than many shooters realize.  The learning process never ends, but for most shooters believe it or not, the learning process never began! Sure they shot their way to the back fence but it wasn't from pure precision-enabled skill but from luck.  Keep shooting and you'll get lucky too here and there and find yourself walking a mean street at the 27-yard line where everyone is beating up on you.    That can happen at the 24-yard line too.  You will learn... once you break out of the dead-set mind-frame.  That's what my books do, open the door to understanding unfolding the inner aspects of the game so you can see how the targets fly and how they are dispatched with precision hits. It breaks down those mental slumps that are holding you down like a ton of bricks.  If you feel pinned against the wall it is because you do not have the knowledge and instruction to break through the wall.   Once creativity is released through understanding you begin to see things differently and you know exactly what you are doing wrong so you can fix the problem.   That's when high-performance shooting occurs once you get the knowledge.  It solves all of the problems.   Everyone can learn this stuff.  It's not a skill thing where natural talent must be applied.  It's ideas put into action.   And many shooters are simply blinded to ideas so that wall crushes them relentlessly for years.  Knowledge is the key that opens the escape hatch.  If you can shoot 15-targets out of 25 consistently (most everyone can do better than that)... you can learn these professional shooting techniques.  No problem at all.

13 - F.  How do I set a goal in trap shooting?     I want to break 100-straight!

  The goal is too broad.  Everyone wants to shoot 100-straight and they never will do it consistently until they first learn how to take on the little goals.    Each phase of the setup is a goal.  You master each phase until the setup is down pat.  Then you set your next goal on dead-centering the target with back-sighting techniques.  Then you take on the biggest goal of all... shooting one target at a time.  There is not such thing as 100-straight, it's 1-straight one at a time!  You really have to work hard on your thinking to convince yourself of this.   You are not shooting 25-targets or 100-targets.  Just one target.  You are likely saying, "I know that!"  Sure, everyone knows it, but are they truly doing it when they are shooting?  This doesn't come easy to do, and if you think it is easy then you are certainly doing it all wrong.  That 1-target pressure is so intense it will make you sweat!  Watch the pros and you'll see the hard work and effort they expend just to get that 1-target.  It's a real intense battle out there on the line and any thought of shooting any more than 1-target will get you a lost target.   The psychological pressure is mean and unmerciful.

14.  I have a terrible time shouldering my gun for a solid mount.  It keeps slipping.  Help!

  Some people have a tough time here due to body dimensions.  If you shoot a flat recoil pad you should be shooting a convex pad if your shoulder will fit, of course.  If not, you could try the "Locator Pad" which has two extensions to assist locking the gun to the shoulder.  It's only about $6 so it won't break your bank. Individual Recoil Pad Company, P.O. Box 2004-B, Sacramento, CA.  I don't have a zip code, but the order should still arrive okay.  They also customize the pad with your name if you wish.  If this recoil pad test does not work you must go see a stock-fitter to have your gun fitted.  Don't ignore this problem as mismounting the gun is a prime prerequisite for many missed targets for it kills the setup... and when the setup fails so will your scores fail you.  It's a serious problem and you do need to follow up and get this fixed right away before you waste more money shooting a gun that won't shoot where you look.

14 - A.  You write much about the subconscious mind in shooting.  Is it really important?

  Incredibly so.  Remember seeing a squad member miss a target then and all the other shooter's on the squad miss too, one after the other?  Then when someone finally hits the target everyone begins hitting them again?  That is no coincidence!  This is only 'proof positive' the subconscious is powerfully active in the sport of trap shooting to a very high degree.  Remember pulling the trigger when you knew the sight picture was nowhere even close on to the target and you shake your head and say to yourself, "What the heck did I do that for?"  The pros have a name for this and it's called, "Brain Damage."  It's when the subconscious mind takes over your shooting for you, and when it does, it just loves to do the exact opposite of what your conscious mind wants to do.  I know this sounds strange but it's as real as the sun rising tomorrow!  You're shooting just fine and suddenly, out of nowhere, you get a violent trigger flinch and it's like, "What the #@!* happened?" 

  Here's the gist of it.  The subconscious is a secondary mind (I'll use that instead of technical terms) that silently watches and waits for instructions from your conscious mind and it knows no right from wrong.  It does not have the capability to know good or bad (it's not your moral conscious in that sense, okay?)  It's the area of the mind the entertainment hypnotist communicates with that upon some comical command will make a bloody fool of yourself quickly and you will obey.  That's how powerful it is.  It's so powerful a hypnotist could touch you with a cold spoon, yet say it is white hot, and a red burn welt will appear on your skin... a real burn!  Okay, when you are shooting, your subconscious mind is waiting to learn and you have to tell it what to do for if you don't, it will do it's own thing (which it doesn't know you want to hit the target and if it does it won't allow you to do it).  All it knows, in trap shooting, is it desires to mimic what it last saw - seeing the other guy missing his target of course, and that's what it does.  You see this in shoot-offs a lot and we tend to lose control and it's not just nervousness either.  I'm just touching the tip of the needle here for a basic explanation. 

  Now, you have to understand that the subconscious mind exists first before you can learn to master it, I should say, control it as best you can.  There is a war raging within you when shooting targets.  It's not that you don't know how to shoot the target, but "something" is making you do things to miss it.  That "something" is the subconscious mind, period. It's a diabolical problem for trap shooters to fight this internal war.  The subconscious is always at work in opposites, trying to defeat what your conscious mind is focused upon executing at the moment.  The danger is, "You can't shoot mindlessly... you must remain focused."  That's why you hear the pros say, "Stay focused."    Keep your conscious mind vigilant to the task at hand for if you defocus the subconscious steps in and will miss the target.  Sounds weird but it's reality and the better shooters know what I'm talking about.  Trap shooting is 95% or more a mind game, the ability to communicate with your subconscious and you can teach it to obey your desire with simple "Trigger Words" and other commands.  Next time you're on squad and you see the chain-reaction target misses just tell yourself, "Those targets are dead and and I'll break the chain - and this target - here and now."  You will break the chain and gain a score point and smile.  That is an "instruction" to the subconscious to obey your "command."    That's right, you talk to yourself.  That's not thinking when you're shooting... it's intelligent shooting!  You'll learn these techniques in my books.

14 - B. I try to maintain my own timing but the squad keeps speeding me up and I miss targets.  Help!

Perfect example of subconscious influences taking charge of your shooting.  You want to slow down but that "something" keeps making you "mimic" the other shooters.  Believe me, it's not your concern to disrupt the squad's rhythm causing you to speed up... it is the subconscious mind taking over.   First, do not try to block out the squad rhythm when it speeds up.   The more you try to remain focused on blocking you lose the battle.   You want to be fully aware of the speed increase or decrease and accept it!   Now you can begin to manage it.  Second, you must keep telling yourself, "The squad is machine-gunning but I'm going to execute my own timing and shoot my own game."  That is the command.  Now you are back in control.  The more you are aware of your surroundings the more power you gain and the higher the concentration level.  That's high quality concentration... that's right, the exact opposite of blocking out distractions!  Third, keep learning to stay in control by using this simple, yet highly effective, method and keep saying the trigger words to yourself as you are reloading your gun and waiting your turn to shoot.   Use a simple command such as, "maintain timing."  You will be amazed just how well this works.

14 - C. You mean I have to disrupt the squad? 

  If you are shooting with a squad of sloppy shooters, those who have no true sense of setup timing and proper squad rhythms, yes!  Trap shooting is a lonely sport.  It's just you and the target.  The squad can't help you hit the targets and win (a good squad can but that's the next question I suppose is coming?)  As you become a more finely-tuned shooter you begin to see these serious errors other shooter's are committing and you can't play their game for they are going to lose... so like the blind following the blind each falling in a pit, you can't go.  Somebody has to open their eyes and scream, "Look out!" and that somebody has got to be you!    Look at this in another light.  When trap shooters start on the first trap you'll notice they are cautious and allow the target to escape a ways before firing, then as targets begin to break they all speed up shooting the target closer-in and the next shooter quickly mounting the gun and firing.  Boy, do they have it all wrong.    They believe the rhythm is "key" and if they can stay in "any rhythm, fast or slow" they will shoot well.  Sorry, go look at their scores when the event is over.  When you get in the rhythm trap you will miss targets when the squad misses because your subconscious mind has taken over again and allowed your setup to be blown to pieces.  You can't have a 6-second setup then suddenly you have a 3-second setup because the squad now wants to shoot in fast succession. 

  You can't constantly be changing your internal time clock and hitting targets in a zone that keeps changing due to slow to fast to slow variations in shooting.  Once you begin to undulate with the squad, you're sunk!  It's all over.  You may as well pack your bags and go home because you are now shooting on luck with no technical form.  trap shooting is a precision game and you have to be precise with all you do.   So you shoot your own game in your own timing and you break the targets in your own zone, not the squads'.  Understand this now?  A little bit, at least?   Here's a tip.  Be squad leader!  You get to reset the pace each time it is your turn to shoot.  The other squad members don't seem to get so flustered when the rhythm is broken a bit here.  What they want to hear is a, "Bang!" when the gun fires and they machine gun rapidly after hearing your shot.    It keeps them happy (with a good fast rhythm and low scores) and it allows you to take home the money.   It's not cheating. It's knowledge applied shooting correctly. 

14 -D.  I tried being squad lead-off and my scores tumbled.  Never again.  It's not for me.

  Of course scores will dump at first.  You have to learn to be a squad leader it doesn't come natural to many shooters.  I shoot left-handed and I struggle with left targets but I shoot leader because the benefits are very convenient.    I can always find an open squad to shoot on as post one is usually vacant (few wants it).  My scores and averages dumped terribly when I started shooting post one.   Many reasons.  Disruptions that need to be handled, dud shell checking, etc. But the worst for me was having to get my tougher targets on my first post.   I had to retrain my thinking... all the targets are tough!  You can shoot good scores starting out on any post but #1 - and for a few #5 but #1 has the responsibilities and makes it a "concentration bust" for most shooters.  The trick is learning how to manage concentration.  You learn how to turn it on and off at will.   It's really quite easy once you get over that first 1-year hump.  A lot of shooter's won't pay that price and I don't blame them, but they will never gain the benefits of pacing the squad properly and remaining in complete control of the timing and zones.  If I shoot well on post #1 the other shooters will score better too as their subconscious minds click-on to what I'm doing.  That's how I stay in control of my game.  There is one thing I'll share here that is eye-opening in trap shooting.   Learn to think in opposite of what everyone else is doing and saying for what most do are wrong and what most say are mislead.  Just reading these pages will give you that insight what you perceived to be correct was in fact wrong or at best half-right.  Shooting post one? These tough jobs are really fun!  You can learn to love what you once despised. 

14 - E.  Tell me how a good squad can help my scores.

  Good luck, really you'll need it to find a good squad.  When you get into the pro ranks you'll then be able to get on the best squads... with shooters who know what's really going on out there.  You will hear pros say it over and over again, "A good squad will set the tone of the shoot."  What does that mean?    It's not the rhythm!  It's the timing!  Read that again.  When the subconscious mind takes over it creates rhythm and we know that is dangerous.  Think now, think in reverse.  When the timing is proper the rhythm falls into the smooth groove... not the other way around.  See reverse thinking developing the solution?   What is timing in relation to squad rhythm?    When everyone is shooting the targets in the same zone, consistently!   If you have a shooter or two breaking targets close in on some, far on others, it messes up the entire squad.  That subconscious is watching and it will make you change your zone too.  So it then becomes a difficult shoot when you have to keep managing out other's visual mistakes entering your mind.  The benefits of shooting post one is beginning to shine a bit brighter now as it gives you that time to reset you mindset and reset the squad's tone. 

  Now, once you understand the complexities of zone-shooting, you will then be afforded the opportunity to shoot with the better shooters.   They can see you coming a mile away and will invite you on their squad one day, or two, or more.  For now, you have to just knuckle under and learn to shoot your own game.  The best thing you can do is forget squad rhythm, forget about it.  Get your setup-timing and zone down and hit your targets and just let the machine-gunner's blast themselves into oblivion scores.  It's a tough fight and a nasty job, but that's what you have to bear if you want to be a good trap shooter... you must be in total control.   Nothing can influence you!  In fact, the best practice you can get is to sign up with strange squads you don't know and go to work.  That's one great learning experience like going to trap shooting college.  That's what I did and I still do!  I just love the challenge of it - though I hated it when I first became aware of timing and rhythms as my scores dropped badly - I had to learn how to fight the internal war within.  

14 - F. Interesting!  Tell me more about squads.

  Too many shooters are looking for security blankets.  They have to shoot with their "buddies" but they totally miss the mark, this is not a buddy game.  It's not a team!  It's not a party.  It's not a social event. It's strictly business.  Even if you are shooting a league it's not a team on the line.  It's you and the target and that's a lonely job out there.    That's why I keep saying not to shoot with family or members from your own gun club when in competition.  Too many emotions run like a raging river on the line and scores dive deeply to the bottom of the score sheet.  No security blankets.    Get rid of all the hang-ups.  Now you know the "real" reason why club members shoot together.  They falsely believe that by shooting with a familiar squad they will shoot well.  The score sheets will not lie.  Break up this squad and each will see their scores rise.  Some may falter due to lack of skill and blame the squad rhythm.  See the danger zone here?  It's not the rhythm that hurt their scores, it's inexperience.  They can't shoot without their buddies... and they can't shoot with their buddies.  That subconscious mind has got them in a iron-clad grip and they won't let go of that comfortable security squad-building gives them.   That's not how you build a squad anyway based on friends or handicap distance alone.  It's the quality of the shooters.  So before you lie down in the bed make sure there are no fleas in the mattress.  The squad can be helpful but it only helps when you've elevated your level of shooting to match the other high-caliber shooters who have the inner knowledge of the game.  

14 - G.  I didn't know trap shooting was so complex.  I thought it was an easy sport!

  There is allot to learn about trap shooting.  It is not an easy sport.  The better you get, the harder it becomes... tremendously hard work.    It will not get easier for you.  If shooting is getting easier you're in trouble.  It means you are shooting on luck, shooting with your eyes only, pointing the gun and not back-sighting and not maintaining your zone.  If it's easy, it's fun and if it's fun it's all over.  You'll get a string of luck and end up pinned against the back fence when the luck runs out.  Now you have more trouble of learning precision shooting trying to get rid of old habits.  Many never learn precision shooting because it is not readily taught.   Who's teaching this stuff?   Can you name five in the USA?  It's not hard to hit the targets, but it's easy to miss them and that's where the job gets tough because that potential to miss is so prevalent and will creep in and bite you if you don't remain totally focused and in control.  It's the battle within yourself that must be fought and won on each target.   That, is not easy to do 100-times in handicap shooting.   Trap shooting is hard work and it's horribly harder for those who don't have the knowledge.  There are tricks, secrets and methods in this game.  Learning them is trying upon the soul and crying upon the shoals until it finally comes together.   But the sport, with all it's difficulties is fun, fun, fun, in its own way to each individual.  The "addiction" is strong and learning can be fun too.   Now don't get me wrong here, trap shooting can get easier but it will always remain hard work to keep it easy.

15.  When can I return to a soft eye focus?

  After you learn how to acquire the target with centralized vision.  Once this procedure is learned then a soft focus can be used, but in all reality it is no longer as soft as it was prior to learning the technique.   Professionals tell you to use a soft focus but you must recall that they have been shooting hundreds of thousands of targets and what appears 'soft' to them is certainly not soft to the novice.   Problem is, most everyone has been hoodwinked on this one due to much misinformation.   You'll read in many magazine articles or hear from other shooters, "Apply a soft eye focus then call for the target."  Well, if you do this (and you likely are) you are looking at the targets all wrong and it's no wonder so many slip away.   Eye pre-focus techniques are very powerful and they control the zone and timing factors not to mention the dead-centered hits on the target.   Once you see how it's done your eyes become accustomed to the form of central vision focusing and it then becomes a natural function.  But if you've never learned the technique your scores are in for big trouble and trap shooting will become inconsistent and frustrating.   You can't just stand there on the post, look out lazily into the field and call for the target and expect to execute a precise shot.  All you'll end up doing is "react" to the target chasing it instead of "attacking" it with a precise plan of action. 

15 - A.  What do you mean by chasing the target?

  Most everybody you see trap shooting is totally unprepared for the target.  They call, target exits and they chase it down, hit some and miss some.  The pros don't chase targets, they attack them.  If you watch them shoot you see very little muzzle swing.  Everyone thinks this is because they shoot fast in a tight zone but that's not the whole story at all, in fact it all works in reverse to conventional thinking.  The pros setup is so precise the target is simply coming to them!  Example:  If your eye hold, eye focus and gun hold is setup properly the target simply arises right where you wanted to break it or very close to the planned assault zone.  It just comes to you... you don't go after it.    Neat trick of the trade nobody taught you that one before, right?  When you setup properly the zone is already established, so when you call, the target exits and your gun is just inches away from the target and shooting fast becomes natural and precise because you are already on the target when it exits the no-streak zone.  So no matter how much you practice to shoot fast it won't work if you are not setup properly.

15 - B.  I'm confused.  Exactly what is a zone anyway and why should I use it?

  There are a few zones.  When I mention a zone I generally refer to the field of view you see prior to calling for the target.  The Precision Shooting book will give you plenty of drawings on seeing the zone and how to adjust the zone for depth, height, width and vertical and horizontal movements.  Zone shooting is advanced shooting techniques in the Precision Shooting book, but the Trap Shooting Secrets book will most certainly get you started and well on your way to establishing your zone and timing, especially your timing which is so critical to discover and apply.  Everyone has a zone and an inner time clock and they must find it and finding this zone is easy with a little instruction and assistance.  The zone is like a bubble floating above the gun's sight bead where the targets enter your field of view.  This zone can be compressed, expanded, shifted to any position including a depth of field adjustment.   A bit too complex to explain here, but this zone is so important to trap shooting it's amazing more people don't even know about it!  I also find it incredible such secrets have remained secret for decades but that's another story. 

  When you use a zone to shoot in, half the battle is already won.  You know exactly where the target will be when it exits regardless of its angle and you know exactly how to break it.   Now that was an explanation of the general zone.  The other zones are; Timing Zone where your inner time clock is synchronized.   Then you have the Trigger Zone where the sight picture is established to fire at the target.  You also have Eye Focus Zone to center your vision upon the target in the general zone.  A Target Zone where you will focus in on the target and a Swing Zone to control the gun to ride the track to the target, etc.  These zones are all part and parcel to the setup.    You can see there is a lot more going on long before you pull that trigger!    Fact is, getting to the target and pulling the trigger is the easy part.    Learning the setup is where all the secrets reside and it is these secrets that allow the pros to shoot so great.       

15 - C.  Are your books credible?  Who is endorsing your trap shooting books?

  Yes. The books are credible but you don't need to take my word for it.    Many professional shooters recognize the merits and value of the books.   Click here for a few comments I've received from Olympic-class shooters and American trap shooters from the ranks of the PITA and ATA competitive groups.  They can tell you just how good the books are with more conviction than I could.   

15 - D.  Do you ever have bad day's where shooting just isn't fun and what do you do about it? 

  Sure do.  Sometimes the days are so horrid that I feel as if I never should have taken up the sport.  Feel like a failure.  Know what I mean?   But that's just the human weaknesses we need to recognize that we are not machines and will always make errors.  Bad day's are just bad day's.  What I try to do is learn from them even when I'm not in the mood to learn.  There is a fine line where the bad day can actually turn into a prolonged slump so one must be careful to not let a bad day dump the spirit too deeply into the black pit of despair.  Pull yourself out of it by remembering all your past victories!  Okay, you're having a tough time this season.   So what?  We all have them.  It's just your turn in the barrel and that's all it is.  The biggest reason why I wrote my books was to first help myself then help others.  Too often I see people come to a shoot with a smile and leave with a frown.  That's sad.  These shooter's love the sport and if I can help a few to 'hang in there and not quit' then I feel I've made a worthy contribution.  And trap shooting, often, is not fun.  It is a business to many shooters, the business of making money in the options or a personal venture to excel and win the shoot. 

  The pros are not 'having fun' they are punching the time clock.   "It may be a fun job, but the job ain't fun."  So as you progress in your shooting you'll reach many levels where frustration is triggered and in time you will better be able to manage them in a business-like fashion.  It just does one no good at all to mope and blame.  Take responsibility for your poor shooting... and do something about it.  Hit the practice trap, read, study, ask questions, think!   That's what a bad day is for... an opportunity to learn.  Be happy you are a trap shooter.  You are one of the elite!  There is no other sport so technically demanding.  Be proud you are part of this wonderful class.  No matter how poorly you are shooting there are few shooters who can beat you!  Take a pistol or rifle silhouette shooter to the traps and you'll kick butt.  Realize just how good of a shooter you really are and you'll see a way to climb out of the hole.  Sometimes you have to recognize your achievements and glory in it to stimulate the mind to produce a new outlook on things which gives you a neat boost to your self-confidence.  This mind-set will positively enhance your shooting!  "Think like a pro... be a pro!"    

15 - E.  I have never shot 50-straight.  It keeps eluding me by one or two targets.  Why?

  You likely have two major problems, 1) Improper Motive:  Most shooters set the 50-straight goal for one purpose, to collect money on the perfect-fifty options.  While this is okay to have a winning goal it can be a stumbling block if your subconscious mind is fighting you, preventing you from getting that money by dumping targets.  It's a bit deep to explain here but change your motive to wining 50-targets by only shooting 1-target at a time.  Big numbers are hard for the mind to handle.  Even the number 25 is too much.  The mind will rebel.  It does not like that sort of pressure.  It will handle the pressure of shooting 1-target, but not 50.  So get your mind off the numbers greater than number one,  2) Mental Barrier:  You have constructed a wall you do not truly believe you can penetrate.  You are basing all your future success based upon your past successes and failures and straight-jacketed any chance of exceeding these past successes.  This itsy-bitsy tiny hang-up is a belief system you have established deep within your consciousness and it will materialize into reality... as you think and believe.  The mind is extremely powerful and faith is the most powerful force in the universe next to love.  So you must begin to dare to believe you can exceed beyond your past performances.  Remember that 25-straight wall?  It was a bear to crash it, but you did!  Well, the 50-straight is simply a 25-straight two-times and the 25 is simply one target 25-times.  One target!  You break the big number scores with just 1-target.  That's how you get the 50-straight and the perfect-fifty money.  The barrier is your belief.  Change your thinking... change your life!    It's all in the mind.  Anyone who is slipping the 50-straight by only one or two targets has a psychological flaw, not a shooting problem.  And this flaw can be conquered.  Takes a bit of work and some time, but you'll get it.  And once you do you'll be getting many more 50-straight's too!  Then the next wall arrives 75-straight.    

15 - F.  What is a "crisp" trigger pull and how do I get one on my shotgun?

  Place your forefinger fingernail under your thumb fingernail and "snap" them.  Did you hear that small "click"?  That's a "crisp" trigger pull.  There was no "creeping" sound or feel, just a sharp immediate "snap."  A gunsmith can file the sear so the hammer will fall crisply and also set the trigger pull pressure while you are getting this done, and don't forget to have the "lock time" adjusted so the hammer will fall faster.  A 3 to 3 1/2 lb. pull may be fine for you or you may want more or slightly less.  2 1/2 pound pull may be too sensitive and cause flinching.  A trigger pull that is too hard to pull can do the same and may even "slow or stop the gun's swing" and / or "pull the gun off the target" too when you pull the trigger.  If you ride the trigger then trigger crispness and pull poundage becomes important.  If you slap shoot?  Less important, but still important so don't ignore it.  But don't get a mental hang-up on triggers.  Set it and forget it then check it before you shoot, but get your mind far away from the trigger especially if you miss targets.  The more you "think" about the trigger the more it won't feel right and you'll find yourself making adjustments to the trigger too often.    I've seen shooter's go through an entire season fiddling with their trigger trying to get it right and it never seems right to them at all.  Take a shooting lesson and this hang-up will be solved in the first 10-minutes or less.  Shooting lessons will solve so many of your problems very quickly!

16.  Any opinion on one-eye vs. two-eye shooting?

  Many shooters who are shooting poor scores and shoot with two-eyes could be better off shooting with one-eye, believe it or not.  One-eye shooting has benefits of tunnel-vision and pinpoint sight picture viewing.  Why live with horrible scores?  If you can't shoot two-eye due to severe crossover you should do something to correct the problem or start shooting one-eye.  This doesn't apply to all, but to the few that really suffer from low scores and can't see the targets clearly.   Two-eye shooting has advantages of less eyestrain and holding a higher gun, but the bottom line is there are many, many, one-eye shooters who are incredible shots.  To each their own.  Both methods work in the trap shooting discipline, so no need to split hairs.  The point is, do all you can to shoot the way you want to and if it fails then do all you can to shoot with a new technique.  Many times you will find that simply by trying another technique it opens up a new world of seeing things and when you return to your old way of shooting it all clicks together.  So try one-eye shooting so you can see sight pictures tightly then go back to two-eyes and incorporate what you have learned.  And then again, you just may learn to like one-eye shooting.    Whatever it takes to win!

16 A.  When I try new things my scores dump and it sets me back. Why should I continue?

  Of course your score will fall.  Don't get caught up in the average trap!  I know so many shooters who are in a constant state of competition and are trapped so tightly they have no room to breathe and grow.  Example:    A shooter has a 93% handicap average and is adamant in keeping that average at all costs and build it higher.  But the shooter is not increasing but falling or having a hard time keeping the average on a steady keel.  The shooter refuses to try new things because when s/he does, the average falls and friends at the local club apply peer pressure, "What happened to your shooting?"  If you're afraid to let your average fall then you will have a tough time getting your average up in the top ranks because "skills & techniques" must be learned to get there!  There isn't a shooter alive who wouldn't trade a temporary low reduction in score for a higher score average later. But there are many shooters who don't understand that a price must be paid to get those high scores and that price is a low score to learn professional shooting techniques.  It's a big step to enter the professional arena and it takes a big dose of courage to experiment to improve one's shooting.  Do you have what it takes?    Yes, you do.  Just do it.  Endure the pain of the low scores.  Let the friends laugh, but they won't be chuckling when you get it down and they see you winning the big shoots!  And they most certainly will be crying out loud when you whip them in a shoot-off.  Every professional shooter has gone through this tribulation and look where they are today!  Who's laughing now?   

16 B.  I would like to write a book on trap shooting.  How do I begin?

  It's a very tough job as there are so many variables to consider when writing on such a subjective and complex subject. Essentially you start with a blank page and start filling the page with words and hope you are getting the message down right.    Then you'll find out you are not, so you edit it and find again it's still not right.  It could take you three 10-hour days just to get page #1 down enough so you can progress to page #2.  This process goes on every day for three years or more!    Then you have to design your illustrations and number them and reference them inside the text.  This task is not as easy as it appears.  Then you edit everything, make changes and discover the computer is not making the changes!    Believe me, this happens all too often.  It will show the change on the computer screen and when you print out the draft the change was not made.  This is why you will always see grammar errors in every book published.  At some point you have to then find the courage to let it go, errors and all, and find a publisher.    Many publishers will not publish a trap shooting book for two major reasons, 1)    The market is too small so they can't sell enough books to make a profit, 2) They have a book already similar to what you may have written.  If you do find a publisher are you willing to only earn 10% royalty?  A $10 book will only pay you $1.    Is it worth it to you?  You could self-publish but now you have to pay all the production costs to design, print, bind and warehouse the books, marketing advertising expenses, shipping of the books, accounting, bookstore management marketing, copyright and ISBN registrations, bar codes, etc.  Is that worth it to you?  You will have to sell 1,000 books just to see your first $1 in profit!  So, my advice is this.  If you want to write a book on trap shooting (or any other subject) you had better want to do it to help other people and be willing to lose money to do that otherwise you won't survive the process.  There are many "small" books on the market and they charge $10 or less for the book, but a small book has less information to share.

   To be successful you have to write a large book and you run up against three problems, 1)  You have to have the knowledge to do that and, 2) book production costs rise to high levels and that means you can't sell the book for $10 to even pay for the printing costs! And 3) few publishers want to publish a large book.  My books are large books loaded with knowledge, the type is closely set (as you see here) in the books.  So, in reality you are getting about 400 pages per book compared to industry typesetting standards!  To sum it up, 3-years or more of writing 10-hours per day, no time for trap shooting, and when you do you are "burned out" from thinking trap shooting day-after-day-after-day!  For me it was 6-years for two books!  Little chance you can sell the book for a profit, but you can if your book is powerfully unique and valuable.  Can you handle this?    If so, then go for it!  Maybe it would be better if you write magazine articles first?  Ask Shotgun Sports Magazine and other magazines for a Writer's Guideline sheet.  You should obtain a subscription to Writer's Digest Magazine and join their book club.  They have all the information you need to get into the writing or publishing business.  If you have a book and you need a publisher, read our Submission Guidelines.

16 B.  I set my point of impact to 80/20 and I keep shooting over the top of the targets!  Help!

  You are breaking the targets too slowly, letting them reach near the crest of their flight.  It's time to speed up your shooting.  You will have to read the Trap Shooting Secrets book as the process to learn faster shooting is a bit too involved to explore here.  As of right now, today, put your gun's POI setting back where you had it and continue to shoot your targets where you normally do and go have fun shooting.  You have to know what you are doing when you set POI or it will get you some very low scores, fast.  Read the TSS book then make your adjustments.  Your timing has to remain "in phase" with the POI and there is a process you must complete to tighten up the zones to shoot as quickly as the pros do.  It is wrong to believe fast shooting will come over time, it won't, at least fast precise and accurate shooting won't!  POI is really quite a complex subject, more than most shooters realize due to the fact it must be set in-phase with the shooter's internal time clock for timing sequence reasons.  If the POI is wrong you can't get the fast shots.  If it's right and your timing and zone is wrong you can't get accuracy in shooting the tight zone.  The TSS book explains all of this and the Precision Shooting book fine-tunes it for you. 

16 C.  I shoot 27-yard handicap and I can't win anymore.  I am totally frustrated!  What should I do?

  Don't be frustrated.  The back-fence is a trap for many, many, shooters and a hellish place to be.  Everyone wants to get there but once there, they fall apart big-time.  Lack of knowledge is the reason.  Having a few good days will give you handicap punches way before you are truly ready to be punched back.  In a sense, the system is unfair that if you win just one-time you get "punched" when you should be punched based on an average, but this would open the door to Sandbaggers Heaven.  Oh, well... we have to live with what exists today.    Do you want your shooting career to end right now?  If so, stay on the 27-yard line and keep doing what you are doing.  Believe me, a vast majority of shooters discover the 27-yard line to be the demise of their careers!  It's like being hit with a freight train on the day after you win the lottery.  It's just not fair!   So this is what you have to do,  1)  Put in for a yardage reduction and try to get two-yards reduced, if you can, to the 25-yard line.    This is the sensible thing to do, but most shooter's are not going to do that.   Why?  Because they want to be seen shooting with the top-guns!   That ego thing can bring about failure in the sport of trap shooting, 2)    Read the TSS and PS books and get the technical knowledge of the game then,  3)  It's time, it really is time to start taking shooting lessons.  You have hit a wall and you won't plow through it without knowledge and instructions.  You simply need someone to tell you what you are doing wrong and show you how to do it the right way.   A good shooting coach, trainer, instructor, mentor will take you out of the pit and put you back into the winner's circle once again.  Every top athlete has a coach/trainer.  Every Olympic shooting team has a coach/trainer.   Every 27-yard line shooter doesn't!   Put 2 + 2 together and you will see the light.  There is no reason why you should be attending every shoot knowing you are going to lose, or "hoping" you will.  Get the knowledge... it's time!   Sure it's going to cost you money, but right now you are wasting way more dollars shooting on luck when you could invest in yourself by taking lessons and win shoots or option money to rebate the costs!   Now read steps 1, 2 and 3 again and act on it.  Begin the process to better shooting and you'll have a lot more fun trap shooting than you do now!     

17.  Why do we miss targets? 

  Considering most targets are missed over the top or behind, something is wrong, geometrically.  Poor stance and swing geometry is certainly a prime causation.   Poor stance permits muzzle rise on the swing.  No swing will always cause way too many shots behind the target.  Follow-through is performed not to hit targets because trap target's shallow angles need no follow-though, but only to insure you don't stop the muzzle when pulling the trigger!  That's the main reason for dropping targets along with poor swing dynamics.  Of course, head-lifts, poor gun fit, forearm grip too tight and too close-in are problems too, along with improper eye and gun holds, chokes, not recognizing target behavior... the list goes on.  We are not machines.   Even the pros miss targets, just not as many.  A simple question that requires a book to answer.  And two books now exist to answer all of your shooting difficulties and concerns!  Trap Shooting Secrets and Precision Shooting - The Trapshooter's Bible.

17 - A.  Your books are expensive.    Why is that?

  The books retail at $34.95 and all things considered are quite economical.  I've had shooters write saying we are selling the books too cheap!  Consider the knowledge you will receive that can be put to use for a lifetime of high scores and the money you will win makes the books a valuable investment indeed.  For less than the cost of shooting one tournament you gain a lot more skill and money than you would without the knowledge these books give.  Not to mention the fun and pride you will have winning tournaments... how do you put a price on that?  Yes, the books cost more than other books on the market, but no other book delivers like these books do!   The bottom line is... these books will make you money so the initial cost is trivial!  Book publishing is an outrageously expensive endeavor and that's why we see no trap shooting text books on the market until now.  I'm bearing the risks and costs to further the sport to make these books available to trap shooters who really want to excel.  In the end I believe you will see the books are not expensive when you begin to rake in the option money!  Many, many shooter's are making a bunch of money in these option pay-outs and you can too. 

Fact is, you don't even have to win the shoot to win!  If you can hammer out a couple good traps... your shooting fees for the day have been paid for you! 

  By using the techniques in the books you will pick up those lost targets to put you in the money.   It's more expensive not having the knowledge and continue shooting poorly!

17- B.  On warm days I miss more targets than usual.  Why is that?

  A few things,  1)  Heat radiation from the barrel creates heat-wave distortion that you may not see very clearly but is present just enough to mirage the target at the point of pulling the trigger.  Wipe the barrel with a damp cloth after each shot or install a ventilated high-rib on your gun.  2)  You may be low on water intake.   Thirst is never a good indicator of fluid need.   By the time you feel thirsty the adverse effects to the nervous system is already quite advanced and this too affects the eyes.  Carry water in your shoot bag and sip between traps long before you feel thirst,  3)  As your body warms up it can easily cause a shut-down of the nervous system long before a heat stroke condition.   Wear a gel collar around your neck and you will stay cool where it counts the most... the brain.  As the brain heats it slows down and when this happens your shooting falls apart.  If you cool your brain with the gel-collar it will function at great speed.  Your body may feel like it is in an oven on a hot day but your mind stays sharp and clear.  I wear them on warm days,  4)  Warm weather also has other effects such as digestion assimilation speed, so eat light and take a pinch of salt with your water.  A bag of potato chips will do the trick.  You can die of thirst in a lake of fresh water without salt!     

17- C.  What size choke should I use on handicap targets?  Everyone tells me different and I'm confused.

  Trap Shooting Secrets will solve your problem and finally nail it down for you so you won't have to worry about the choke again, once it's set.    Here's the basic rule.  Regardless of your handicap yardage, install an extra-full choke and practice with that tight pattern.  This eliminates slop in your shooting and builds precise accuracy.  There is no better way to build precision than to do this (but not the sole way as other techniques are required for precision shooting).    Then when in competition you can open up the choke a bit more (to a degree, but so much that you won't become lazy again).  This is the basic rule and there is another... the final choke setting you will shoot with will have a tight 25" hot-core pattern not a 30" pattern with a 28" fragmented core.  That is the secret to choking and maintaining precise reliable target breaks.  Loose patterns will only give you loose scores.  Once you setup your choke all your energy should be expended on concentrating on breaking targets knowing you have the pattern's reliability to get the job done.  This factor, of shooting tight-core patterns, also keeps your concentration level up as you know there is less room for error (actually you decrease room for error and enhance your odds of hitting the target, but it's too involved to explain here).  Tight chokes will get you where you want to be.  The learning phase is a bit grueling at first as scores drop, but once you get precision into your game scores skyrocket and stay there!

17- D.  Can you share some trap shooting tips I can try when I go practice next?  Easy ones!

  Okay, nothing complex. Here's a few easy ones.

  1. Practice shooting phantom targets at home before you go out to practice.   This will setup your mind to shoot with a level of precision you could never obtain otherwise.  Do not forsake the power of visualization.  Good shooters have a powerful sense of visualization and employ the tactic religiously.
  2. Hold the gun tighter than you do now.  Pull the gun firmly into the shoulder and maintain this firm pressure.  This will help to keep  your head down and maintain increases control over the gun.  Don't maintain an iron-clad grip on the forearm.  This is one reason why you should wear a shooting glove so you can apply rearward pressure to your shoulder yet not have to grip the forearm tightly to get the job done.
  3. Make sure when you swing you are following the inside track of the target.  You must follow that imaginary line.  Think of the target leaving a trail of smoke.  That's the line.  Swing the gun so the muzzle approaches the target inside the target flight line.  This usually means to keep the muzzle under the target when tracking it.  This will help you from shooting over the top of the targets.
  4. Try to miss the target by shooting too far ahead of it.  Yes, try to miss it!  This will convince your subconscious mind to not fear leading the target as it is difficult to miss a target by leading it, even with excessive lead.  You'll determine just how far you can lead a target and still hit it.  This is important to learn as shooters miss due to two major errors, shooting over the top and under.  See item #2 above as a reminder.
  5. If you are slicing targets?  Slow down your shooting.  Lower you gun hold an inch or two.  You are rushing the target and losing your natural timing.
  6. Don't practice when you are tired.  It will only train your subconscious mind to miss targets like a bad habit, for exactly what it is.  Missing will create more misses.  Rest, take long breaks.  Close your eyes and give them a chance to relax too.  Enjoy the game.  It's only a game.  It's okay to be serious but seriousness is also a mental technique that must be learned and controlled not just applied.
  7. Be patient with yourself.  Realize your progress will have peaks and valleys.   Accept this fact and you'll have more peaks than valleys.  If you beat up on yourself with fits of frustration and disappointment it only sets you back.  Learn to smile upon your failures with a laugh or two.  Stop getting into a habit of walking off the trap station at the end of a round with a frown expression.  It's time to outgrow it and move onward with a professional attitude towards the game.
  8. Practice with a shooter who is better than you are.  Many shooters avoid this for fear of being beaten time and time again but it's a fine way to instill seriousness into your game so you can beat the better shooter.  Who's the best shot at your club?   Openly challenge this shooter with a shoot-off!  It's fun and you'll learn way more than if you hadn't.  Place a side bet if you want to raise the stakes and your concentration level.  Paid dinner is a fine bet.  You may starve for awhile but soon you'll be getting the free meals!
  9. Focus on what is possible so as not to limit your thinking.  It may be impossible for you to break 25-straight but it's not impossible to break 1-target.  Do this 25 times and you have 25-straight.  Convince yourself that it is easy to break the 1-target you are going to shoot.  Let your mind begin to play a positive role in your game.
  10.   When you miss a target do not become defensive.  Maintain your aggression or even increase it but not so aggressive that it becomes an "emotion."   Caution will cause more targets to slip away.  It reverses the game.  You start chasing the target instead of attacking it and you lose control.  Stay in command at all times.
  11.   Do not think of your finishing score.  I know you will, but learn to try so you can concentrate only on that 1-target.  This will help you to practice sound thinking.
  12.   Forget about timing, zones and just do everything you possibly can to put that bead on the target and pull the trigger only when the bead looks right!  This is practice so practice this.  Be aggressively relaxed and feel confident and sure when you call for the target it is already broken.

  These are just a few easy tips.  There are dozens more but these will get you started.   

18.  Tell me another trap shooting secret I can use today. 

  When you practice, shoot with a full or extra-full choke.  You don't want a huge pattern working for you to reinforce errors in aim.  Oh, yes.   You have to aim a shotgun for two reasons, 1)  If you don't you'll miss targets, 2)  If you don't see a sight picture how will you know when to pull the trigger?  Is that why you pull the trigger when the gun is nowhere near the target?   Likely so.  Many shooters refuse to admit they must aim.  They don't understand it's a different sort of aim unlike rifle shooting, it's called back-sighting.   Here's more tips;  use visualization prior to calling for the target because it works.  Know the three basic angles on each post, prepare for the worst angle but never anticipate (expect) it, just setup for it.  Turn down bad pulls or they will get you a low score.  Shooters get seriously defective pulls and don't even realize it and wonder why they missed. 

  Beware of squad rhythms that disrupt your normal timing.  Learn eye and gun holds.  Shoot a 25" hot core pattern in competition.  You'll still have an effective 28" annular ring with high reliability.  Make sure gun fits and shoots where you look in the zone.  Adjust point of impact so you can put the bead on the target in the zone and smoke the target hard.  Buy a Kick-Eeez recoil pad to restrict comb rise on recoil rebound that will otherwise slam into your face.  Use 5% antimony shot in tournaments.  Stop counting targets.  Don't think, just use mental commands and trigger words.   Talk to the pros.  They will give you good advice if you ask, but you have to ask to get them talking.  Keep reading and studying the game.  You will never stop learning this game!

18 A.  Give me a tip that will help me shoot better on the 27-yard line I can use today.

  There would be too many to give you.  Here's a few you can use, 1)  Shoot at the 29-yard line for a practice run then go back to the 27 and see if this helps.  For some shooter's it does, and other's it simply messes up their timing.   Try it and see if it helps you or not,  2)   If not, step on the 24 or 25-yard line and run a practice.  Again, this may or not help you,  3)  Install an extra-full choke and get to work on the 27-yard line to build precision into your game then go back to your full-choke and see what happens.  Make sure the extra-full choke did not shift POI when you do this,  4.)  Try lowering your gun hold an inch or two and raise your eye hold by an inch or two and see if this new zone will help you,  5)    If not, lower your eye hold while still holding a lower gun.  This should be enough for a day's work of practice for you, and then some! 

18 B.  I shoot an Over & Under.  Which barrel should I use on the handicap game? 

  Many O&U shoot a bit high on the bottom barrel and flatter on the top barrel.  Some shooters prefer the bottom while others prefer the top.  Why the discrepancy?  It's the shooter's timing factors, where they break the target.    A shooter who shoots near the target's peak will find the top flatter barrel desirable.  A shooter who shoots very quickly will find the higher shooting bottom barrel best.  The O&U has two different point of impacts for a reason, 1) the gun is used to shoot two targets so the first shot the target is rising fast and the bottom barrel has more POI,  2) The second target is getting away a bit and not rising as fast so a slightly lower POI is required.  So, the answer to the question is use the barrel that most accurately breaks the targets for the zone and timing you normally shoot.  If you shoot a semi-auto on Olympic or  DTL trap firing two shots on one target or double targets you only get one POI setting.  This is not to say it is a disadvantage to cause a disaster (barring shell shuttling jams) as long as you adapt to it.  But the O&U is a viable advantage to have for this and other reasons.

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19.  I've read many books and articles and I still don't learn.  Why?

  There are no technical trap shooting books that act as a coach telling you what to do and how to practice.  Trap Shooting Secrets fills that gap.   Precision Shooting takes you beyond into the next stage where precision shooting targets can be mastered.  It's good to read all of the books and magazines to get a balanced view of the game, but sooner or later everyone is going to need that personal coach to help them discover mistakes and correct them.  My books get that job done.   Video tapes are fine too, but they too lack that personal instruction that is needed so the shooter can say, "All right, that's what I'm doing wrong and now I know how to solve it." 

19 - A.  Which trap gun has the best features?

  That's a tough question as no matter which gun I would recommend would certainly not be the consensus of others for guns are like cars and trucks, everyone has their favorites.  So here goes one recommendation to look at, no, make that two.    Beretta S682 X-Trap Over & Under or the Beretta Vandalia single barrel high-rib.  That's what I would be looking at right now if I were in the market for new gun.  Beretta does have an impressive record in Olympic trap shooting.  There are other guns too you should peruse that may have more adjustable features.  You won't need many adjustments if the gun is fitted, the point of impact and core-pattern is met as specified.  I've always said Browning makes a good gun for the money, I still do.   Perrazi and Ljutic are fine guns too.

19 - B.  I have a fixed choke barrel.  How can get that 25 inch hot core pattern?

  There are only two ways, 1) You can have the barrel worked so a choke can be installed.  I don't like that route of altering a barrel so drastically as it's irreversible, 2)  Purchase factory ammo and keep switching from brand to brand to try to get the best hot core you can.  You may want to consider buying a gun with removable chokes.  Certainly you can use reloads but you run into problems with "custom built" loads in competition.  That's why you only have two options, not three.

19 - C.  I am new to trap shooting only shooting three months.  What is timing anyway?

  The timing you are likely encountering is basic shoot timing, the time you allow the target to travel before you break it.  Instead of calling, "Pull" say, "One" and keep counting, "Two" as the target flies and on, "Three" pull the trigger and see how close you are to the target.    Maintain this timing until you can swing to the target and break it on the count of three.  The next timing factor is to work on your trigger control.   Don't pull the trigger until you see the bead on the target (or ahead of it, forward allowance lead).   The next phase is learning call-tone timing, swing timing, zone shooting, etc.   A bit too advanced for you at this stage.   You'll do well just to begin working on what I just gave you.  Timing is everything, but all, by no means.   Timing is very important to understand and employ but you must remain flexible too, but not too flexible.  It's a bit too deep to discuss here in this forum as there are many other elements that must be incorporated into form to blend with your timing.   The books I wrote explain all these phases.

19 - D.  Tell me something I can do at my next shoot that will give me a deeper insight to trap shooting.

  Easy.  You've never heard of this before but I guarantee you will learn some closely guarded secrets to the game if you do just this.  Bring a pair of binoculars with you and zero-in on the professional shooter.  You'll see things your eye could never before pick up on.  Examples:  Gun mounting integrity form, gun hold points, gun hold offsets to the house, cheek pressure, steering the gun with cheek, Body English moves to target, swing muscles used, muzzle alignment to target, timing, zone, and much more.  You have to know what you are looking for so start with those I've mentioned.  Also, set your stop-watch and time the pro shooter.    Examine the time of setup (from last shooter's call to the pro's call) and then 'time' the shot (call to trigger pull).  You'll begin to see the precision in the setup and the zone these shooters' are operating in.  Write down what you see.    Do not trust your memory as you'll surely forget.  Take these observation tips home and practice a few. 

  Hit the gun club and incorporate what you've learned into Sunday's practice.  You'll start getting to be a better shooter almost immediately!   What you are doing here is observing the finer aspects of the professional shooter and it is here you will see where the targets are really broken... long before they even call for the target!  The setup is more important than the act of actually swinging to the target and pulling the trigger.   Like bowling, if your ball fails to line up properly on the alley markers before it leaves your hand you're not going to have that ball strike or spare, even though your eye remains on the target pin/space.   If your eye and gun holds are nowhere in particular how are your going to break the targets consistently?  If you just retrieve your binoculars out of the dusty closet you'll be enlightened way above other shooters you haven't done this.  So simple, yet so revealing.  If you don't have binoculars or stop-watch, at least you now know what to look for when watching a pro shoot.  

19 - E.  Why should I take shooting lessons?    Won't your books solve this issue?

  There is no doubt the books can take you into the professional arena, but if you read my books then go see a professional coach/teacher for trap shooting lessons even more incredible things can happen!  Contemplate taking all the knowledge you have learned in the books and then take a lesson from Scribani Rossi, Daro Handy, Phil Kiner or Kay Ohye... imagine the deeper-level of instructions you could realize.  You would be so far ahead of any shooter in the class!  It will be to your advantage to tell the instructor you have read TSS and PS and ask for individualized lessons.   This way your coach/trainer will know your level of expertise is of a higher caliber and not fiddle around with the basic stuff to help you "polish" your shooting.  You can never learn enough in trap shooting... the more knowledge you obtain the higher the rewards you receive.  Magazines, books, videotapes and personal lessons all work together to that common goal... knowledge.

19 - D.  I took professional trap shooting lessons and still can't shoot top scores.  How come?

  When you first take lessons from a professional coach/trainer they usually start at the basics.  Perhaps you were beyond the basic stage and did not really learn much on the first lesson or two and then you decided to quit.    Professional trap shooting can not be taught in just a handful of lessons.   The books I write gives you that most important "time factor" to study and learn at your own pace, to acquire the inside knowledge so you can assimilate it without cramming it all down in a matter of hours.  You put this new knowledge into practice and finally understand what is really going on out there with the targets and with yourself.  At this point, say a few months after reading the books, you take a professional shooting lesson - you will be "ready" to ask the right questions and "absorb" the information from the coach/trainer.  It's like you have to get your Ph.D. before you obtain your Doctorate degree.  The principle applies to trap shooting.  Believe me, professional trainers love to work with shooters who are knowledgeable as it is easier on them to "tune-in" the shooter.   So the books, ultimately, gives you more bang for the dollar!  Instead of a dozen lessons, you may only need two or three lessons after reading the books!  That saves you hundreds of dollars, but it also gives you that giant push forward as you and your trainer are operating on a higher level from the start.  Then you only have to take an occasional refresher lesson to maintain your edge.  The money you earn in trap shooting pays all these costs for you.  The shooters who stubbornly refuse to read and take lessons end up paying dearly to those who have the knowledge.  It's like this in every sport and every business endeavor, it's a fact of life.  Knowledge give you power.  Get all you can! 

19 - E.  I feel overwhelmed attending registered shoots knowing my chances are slim.  Any help for me?

  We all know our limitations and our past performance trends are limitations, but we have to begin the process of reflection to see our progress.  You shoot better now than when you first started trap shooting.  What you consider a low score a novice would kill for.  The problem is you have stopped progressing.    It's called hitting the wall.  The trick is to realize, "You will experience what you perceive!"  So you are now ready to learn about establishing "conscious contact" with your thought patterns.  Imagine if life held all sorts of good things for you but you spend all your time regretting past losses!  Get the picture?  Higher consciousness simply means being more aware, and neutrally so, with as few preconceived limitations as possible.  This begins to open the door of understanding so you can see beyond past upsets.  Now you should be able to attend a registered shoot with a new belief, "I stand a good chance of breaking a higher score."  To say, "I'm going to win this shoot" is too much, too soon.  Take your beliefs in small steps, "Every shoot is getting better than the last.  I am hitting the targets with more authority and I'll certainly do so today." You may slip up on a few shoots and be setback emotionally for a spell, but if you allow yourself to believe you are progressing... you will!  Tell yourself when you feel overwhelmed, "I'm going to shoot with more precision today and pay extra attention to seeing the target" then believe what you just said.  Trap shooters need to learn how to stop punishing themselves with negative thoughts and beliefs.  As you know, emotions are very dangerous to scores.  You see shooters who miss a target react with exterior showmanship of frustration; wagging head in disgust, tossing shells to ground, facial expressions of disgust, etc.  These are reflections of the internal "thought pattern" taking hold of the shooter... in a bad way.  You'll see more lost targets!  You have to train your mind to stay in control so damaging negative emotions will not creep into the game.  It's a learned approach to keep the endorphins dorphing, maintaining pure concentration and focus.  I teach you how to do all this in the Trap Shooting Secrets book.     

20.  How do I know your trap shooting books will help me?

  It's guaranteed.  Your scores improve in 30-days or return the book (in salable condition of course) and the purchase price is refunded.  No other book makes that guarantee!  Look, if you spent years interviewing professional trap shooters don't you think you would walk away with a ton of knowledge?  Well, that's what you're getting in the books. Believe me, these tips, tricks, methods and procedures are rarely spoken about but I can assure you they work.  Once you understand them you'll watch a pro shoot and say, "Oh, right... that's exactly what they do, just like the books said they do.  How come I didn't see that before?"   The letters I get from shooters tell me the books work as they win the big shoots.   Olympic class shooters and the shooting schools who train them are buying and selling the books.  I suppose you could say the books have proven themselves to be valid.  They should be too... after all, the knowledge came from professional shooters who shoot for a living and veterans who know their stuff.  The source of the knowledge imparted holds credibility.  That's the bottom line.  And if you want to see what the books have done for other shooters click on our testimonial page.   None of these people were paid anything for their testimonial and they are not close friends of the author doing favors... they are heartfelt letters of appreciation.   They give their testimonial freely to help you!   They knew what the books did for them, and they simply want you to benefit too.   Trap shooters are absolutely fabulous people so it is no surprise they are generous with compliments and recommendations.  

20 - A.  I subscribed to Clay Shooting Magazine and they use shooting terms I don't understand.  Help!

  In Europe - the Great Kingdom of shooters - they shoot games we stateside Americans wouldn't dare.  That's another matter.  ABT is Automatic Ball Trap or known as Wobble Trap which we shoot as Continental Trap where the trap wobbles oscillating left & right and up & down.  Targets can rise sky-high or race along the ground clipping the grass.  When double targets are thrown it is called Doubles ABT.  DTL is Down the Line just like our trap shooting but the scoring system is different with 2-shots to the single target is allowed.  A first hit is scored 3.  First missed, but second fired shell hits target, you get a score of 2.  Miss both you earn the goose egg of 0.  Olympic Trap is UIT Bunker Trap known as Olympic Trench using 15 fixed position traps in a bunker to throw the targets. Universal Trench uses only 5 traps.   Double Rise is the same as our ATA doubles game.   Single Barrel is the same as our trap game.  And there's a few more terms tossed about but this should tune you in.

20 - B.  I'm a beginner shooter.  Will Trap Shooting Secrets book be too deep for me?

  It may be.  But this is the time you really need the book when you are first starting out so you can learn these hidden tricks of the trade now rather than having to relearn from imbedded mistakes later.  Some of the principles and terminology may go over your head at first, but in the following 3-months of shooting with trapshooter's you'll get the jargon down and begin to understand the book.  I've had many novice shooters buy the book and start impressing other shooter's with the quality of target hits and score rise.  That's not magic, it's just that you are now shooting right-on target!  There is nothing worse than starting out in this trap shooting game.    You have everyone giving advice.  So much, it overwhelms you; "You're stance is wrong."  "Gun mount is faulted." "You shoot too slow."  "You're too nervous."  "Try this."    "Try that."  It never ends.  These advisory shooters are well-meaning but they flood the mind of the new shooter with advice, but they can't 'communicate' the theory or technique behind the advice and create confounded confusion and frustration.    And, there are a few bad apples who will intentionally give you poor advice just so you won't get better to beat them.  These are the local Trap Kings and they are to be feared.

20 - C.  How do I deal with a loud-mouth braggart trap shooter?  Gets on my nerves badly.

  Every club has one Big Bully that struts about within his Kingdom of Fools gazing down upon his peasant subjects as he brags loudly of his abilities.    They are notorious to deal with.  They watch everyone shoot and once you begin to be a threat they focus in on you like hungry lions.  It all begins and remains with jokes and laughter but under the mask is intense psychological warfare to attack your subconscious.  The moment you slip up, "Well, what's your excuse this time, Joe?   I thought you said you finally got it all together?"   Well, you never said that but those words instill hidden internal conflict within the mind.  It's a joke - but it's not - and these Trap Kings are Masters at these mind games.  You have to mentally block their comments immediately not with anger but with a realization of the game they are playing on you.  That's the secret.  Most shooter's just think the loud-mouth is just being himself and having fun, but if you really observe them in action going from shooter to shooter you see the pattern, the internal rage of jealousy materializes in the form of friendly intimidation tactics. 

  These shooters are so jealous and protective of their own glory they prowl constantly seeking attention and worship.  They usually have a cliche' following and this snooty gang will retaliate against you if you offend in anyway their King.  Your death sentence begins on the day you beat Caesar's score and suddenly you are stalked at every move and pounced upon at every opportunity with jabs and jokes.  Suddenly, you're a celebrity and you get the Royal Treatment.  They will stand behind you when you are shooting.  Some will make strange noises, talk loud, laugh and make comments to inflict sound damaging insertions to disrupt your concentration... all in the insidious guise of fun.  It's hard to be the black sheep and many shooters crumble under the strain shooting a dumped score as they try to block out the noise.  Yes, they do it at registered shoots, not just at the club.  The danger is you can't play their game.  If you begin challenging the King or his slaves you lose and they win as they have your focus.   Put all your energy into breaking the target not beating the opponent!  Don't ever compete with the King just beat his score and that will shut him up - for a day or two.  These Lions are bad boys and the less contact you have with them the better off you will be, professionally.   How many times have you heard the gossip flying about one shooter wanting to beat another just to teach him a lesson or two?  That's an unwinable game so don't play it.  Play your own game!  Now that you are aware of the conditions you can now manage them a bit easier.         

20 - D.  What is the best lens color to use?

  I like purple when shooting orange or green targets.  That's my preference as my eyes are sensitive to strong sunlight even on cloudy days.  The West Coast the sun shines brightly forever it seems.  Purple is great for forested backgrounds but I've found that they work very well in all conditions.  The contrast of the target on a purple background is impressive even against a blue or gray sky.  Technically speaking the best lens color is the color of the target you are shooting but in the real world diverse and moving backgrounds when swinging to the target makes this infeasible.  Gold or bronze lenses are very nice indeed.  Many shooter's use Vermilion red but it doesn't work very well as the red splash is a "hot" color and causes the eye to tire and targets are frequently dropped on the last couple of traps.   Hmmm, how many shooters do you know who use red lenses pop good scores?   Yellow is out the window.  They are sold as shooting glasses but not for trap shooting, okay?  My advice is to try purple, bronze or gold.   Everyone is going to be different here so there are no fixed rules on lens color.  But it is important to find the color that works best for you, and that requires experimentation.  What do the pros use?  That's something you should take a peek at.  Each will use a different color but you may discover a common theme within the diversification such as; tint range, lens size, etc.  For trap shooting, Luca Scribani Rossi Shooting has competition grade shooting glasses.  Their International frames are to be seriously considered. 

Quote from a British Shooter's words of wisdom!

"You can't shoot if the blasted sun is in your squinting eyes and you can't see the bloody target!"

21.  I was told to concentrate when shooting.    How the heck do I concentrate?

  That's a big subject to cover here so I'll just touch on it.  My books handle this subject in good detail.  Concentration is awareness of one's surroundings with mental focus to perform the job at hand.  Both must exist.    You can't concentrate with a strain or block out noises, etc.  Think opposites of what you see other shooters doing.  Watch the pros and you'll see these opposites in motion.  A pro can stop, speak to someone and go right back and run them even in shoot-off conditions.  A distraction is not a distraction to them... it's just part of trap shooting.  You'll see shooters walking from station to station, trap to trap with zombie expressions.  Don't do this.  There is a big difference between focus and strain and tension and concentration.  Concentration must be managed, turned on and off.  Turned on when it's your turn to shoot, turned off when reloading.  You relax between shots and between traps or you'll burn out.  The mind will not tolerate extended extremes in concentration and it will shut-off from exhaustion.  That's why so many shooters fall apart on the last trap or two.

21 -A.  Give me a tip I can use in competition this week without my having to learn anything.

  Walk slow like the pros!  It's not old age doing it.  They know a secret!  By walking slow you breathe slow and when that happens you become calm and able to perform at peak levels.  So practice this when walking to your trap. You do it when changing stations.  Intentionally put yourself into a slow-motion mindset and amazing things begin to happen.  Confidence and concentration increases and a smooth swing and shot develops.  This is something you don't have to 'learn' you just 'do' it.  You asked, so there it is.  Try it and see the results for yourself.  Watch other shooters and you will see tension in their walk and in their shooting.  The nerves are on edge.  They call too loudly yelling and then they shoot too fast with snapping motions and they miss targets.  How can you be smooth if you're in a hurry?  Mellow out, breathe smoothly and you'll see a performance increase.  Your call tone and volume should compliment this smoothness.  If you yell when you call you just pumped too much adrenalin into your muscles and the smooth fluid swing is gone out the window. 

  Yes. The call should be loud enough so you don't get slow pulls but too many shooters are going too far into the extreme and demolish up their setup.  Be calm and be smooth! Watch the pros shoot. You have to see them using these techniques.  It's all there to see it's just that most trap shooters don't know how to evaluatea a shooter properly and can't see the subtle acts these pros are really doing.  Now that you are learning these things when you watch a professional shoot you'll begin to see what they are 'really' doing out there.  When you watch a pro shoot don't do what the other shooters are doing.  They keep looking at the target to see it break.  Do the opposite.  Look at the shooter!  Examine what they are doing in their setup.  Check out everything imaginable; like the shoes they wear.    Ask yourself why they wear that type of shoe... or better yet, get up the nerve and ask the pro the question. It will have something to do with stability, balance or weight shift to heel or whatever.  Then do something about it... go get yourself some shoes like that! 

21 - B.  I tried wearing shooting gloves and I didn't care for it.  Will not wearing a glove hurt my shooting?

  It will.  Perspiration and gun oils (oil & water do not mix) will create a lubricant causing the gun to slip as you swing.  It doesn't take much of a slip to lose control of the gun.  You may never feel this slippage but your heart will when you look at your score.  The glove on the forearm will give you that solid rock foundation on the gun to maintain control.  Don't play around here.  Get a shooting glove.  Thin leather is best with ventilating holes.   Some women don't like to wear gloves when shooting but there are gloves available that will accommodate wedding rings at golf pro shops.  You normally don't wear a glove on your trigger finger unless you are trying to break a nasty trigger flinch.   

21 - C.  I don't feel I have what it takes to be a good trapshooter.  Any advice?

  Olympic trap shooter:  "I've always been the one who fails but now I have the gold medal."  ATA Hall of Fame trap shooter:  "I was a basket case shooter in the beginning.  I suffered all the failures and ridicule and lost more events than I've won."  Another ATA Hall of Fame trap shooter:    "I am still learning this game."   

  As you can see here, talent can be learned.  Pure determination and persistence can take you where you want to go as long as you are willing to learn and progress.  Your first lesson is to stop thinking you are never going to make it, that you are not good enough, you are a failure.  It is these awful negative thoughts and beliefs that makes or breaks you.  Even when you are, in reality, shooting badly learn to say, "I am learning.  I will progress.  It may take time but I am seeing progress daily.  I believe I can and I will."  If you watch the Olympic athletes you'll see the grief they experience too when losing but they keep on and return again to win the gold (silver and bronze) medal.  The power of persistence with a dream is unstoppable.  Failure is the steps one climbs to reach the prize. 

  Look at your failures as steps to winning.  Nobody wants to lose, but those who win believe they can and do.  It is difficult to retrain your thoughts.  Here's how not to do it;  "I'm going to win this shoot" or "I'm going to get the back fence this year."  These thoughts are too shallow as they focus on the external.  To obtain the external while retaining the skill and quality to excel into the long-haul you work on the inner self-attitude and beliefs.  Once you believe in yourself all the external successes arrive and they remain with you.  I know many shooters who are so desperate to get to the back fence.  They want that goal so bad and so desperately they get into a hurry-up-and-do-it mindset.  They practice every weekend (practicing the wrong way, usually) and they do reach their goal by attending every small shoot they can getting punched to where the big boys are.  Then they fall apart, slide into horrific slumps and get trapped in a hellish situation of losing every shoot they go to.  They need to work on the inner aspects and start learning professional shooting methods now or forever remain in slump hell.

21 - B.  If a shooter arrives at the 27-yard line how can that be wrong?

  It is a shallow victory with no lasting results that brings forth terrific misery upon many shooters.  That back fence is a mean and terrible place to be and the pickets are sharp and always requires relentless painting to remain functional.    There are too many shooters who have no business being there... for their own good!   It's the 27-yard line where failure is the worst and most damaging to the shooter.   Realize this;  if you keep shooting competition you are going to have some good lucky days and get punched yardage especially at the small shoots where competition is less.  If you can't repeat the winning performance with any degree of consistency you just bought your ticket to doom.  You may feel happy.   You may have an ego boost.  You may enjoy the thought of shooting with the pros for that status symbol but it won't last a month to a day if precision shooting is not learned.  And the truth is, most shooters are shooting on eye/hand coordination alone and that's the "luck factor" that materialized to get those punch-wins.   It's not repeatable so the bottom falls out. 

  These shooters keep believing, and are told by some writers and other shooters to master eye/hand coordination, but fail to identify the handicap game in these instructions.  You can point a shotgun at the 16-yard but you will certainly fail at the 27-yard because it demands more than pointing to hit these targets, a lot more! So the truth of the matter is simply this;  if you are in the long-yardage area and you are not winning the major shoots or placing high scores it's time for you to abandon the simplistic error-prone pointing/eye/hand coordination methods and learn how to shoot precisely with the precision techniques the professionals use.   It's time to move up and onward.  But how do you do that?  You can take lessons from a pro or a good coach.  If you can't do that you can purchase my trap shooting books and get on track today.  It's pure common sense if you are stuck in a rut losing and scoring low it's time to learn new techniques to demolish the mistakes your are making.  Believe me, you can shoot and you have the skills already... its just that you need instruction to take you to that next level of expertise

21 - C.  I'd like to explore the possibility of shooting the Olympics.  How can I do that?

  Easy.  Just contact USA Shooting.    They will train you!  They have shooting coaches in every state so you don't have to practice in Colorado.  There are qualification trials to pass before you can be accepted.  It won't be easy! But if this is your dream USA Shooting can make it happen!   They have residency programs too.  It's like going to shooting college.   Don't wait until you become an accomplished 27-yard trap shooter as you'll have to relearn just about everything you've learned to shoot Olympic Trap.  It's a fast target game with severe target paths.  Age is not a factor.  Woman may certainly apply.  Let's support our Olympic shooters!    You can join USA Shooting or purchase logo products to help finance our USA Team.   And you can even attend and shoot the regional competitions!   Do you think you can compete?  You sure can.  Give it a try!

21 - D.  I need something quick and easy to give me a winning edge at my next tournament shoot.  Any tips?

  Quick and easy?  Okay.  When you sign up to shoot ask where some of the professional shooters are squading and shoot behind them as close as possible.  The pros know target angles and conditions so well they will have the traps readjusted when they are off kilter.  They will have sloppy target setters and pullers replaced and have faltering trap machines exchanged.  This can give you an edge.  I personally don't believe in relying on such tactics to the point of being fanatical about where you shoot but there is a reality the pros do know the proper times of day to shoot specific traps at specific gun clubs to obtain the best lighting, peculiar wind conditions, trap misalignments, etc.  It beats shooting traps that are not ideal.  Picking the time of day and specific traps to me is cheating.  Sure, having that knowledge is great but is it truly fair to everyone else?  I believe gun clubs that use the lottery system of trap assignments are doing a good thing to level the playing field for all shooters.  Too many local and pro shooters know the conditions all too well at certain clubs and they take that edge to full advantage at your expense!  I am adamant about fair play for all and let skill alone bring forth the true deserving winners.

22.  I didn't score well on the test.   How come?

  That was an easy test.  The first thing you have to unlearn is conventional wisdom.  Professionals do not use conventional wisdom for it they did they would be shooting scores like everyone else.  Start thinking that maybe what you learned is 50% or more, is wrong.  Trap shooters learn from hand-me-down gossip and we all know how it changes as it's passed from person-to-person.  Magazine articles attempt to package it, but are limited in the number of words they can use per article so it's all sort of compressed and trap shooting is a very difficult subject to write about so the writers are having a tough job trying to keep you guys and gals informed.  You should thank them for their efforts.  When you begin to question conventional wisdom enlightenment arises and truth begins to surface along with the reality of the game.   There are many theories, but results is the ruler, the king of the hill.  When you gain the knowledge and understanding you'll score high on the test and on the trapfield.

23.  Tell me how to concentrate.

  Concentration is not walking by the traps with a zombie expression... that's overkill.  Your mind will not tolerate that level of exertion and will cause you to fall apart on one of the traps.  Concentration is not shutting off the world around you, it's actually hearing everything going on, just that you are so focused on breaking targets it doesn't bother you.  So, the more you try to concentrate the more you are self-defeating yourself.  The harder you try, the harder you'll fall.   It's not about stress or strain or zombie-states of mind.  There are methods you can use to induce intense controlled concentration mind-states and shut it off at will to give your mind a rest.  Watch the pros and you'll see they have this ability.   It's a bit complex to discuss here, but the books do get you right into it.

23 - A.  I've developed a flinch pulling the trigger violently.  What can I do?

  Flinching is no simple explanation as it arrives from numerous sources other than recoil.  You are experiencing a Trigger Flinch and since you've 'developed' this 'violent' condition it can be resolved with some ease.  The problem is always a synchronization disturbance of timing and sight picture but in your case it is just likely you are 'thinking' of it too much.  The more you think about the problem it remains with you.  You need to refocus your attention away from the trigger flinch difficulty and concentrate more on seeing a solid sight picture.  The act of pulling the trigger is a subconscious act.  It will happen when the sight picture is true, naturally, without thought or effort on your part.  That is the key to trigger control but that control can't happen if your timing is off and your setup is south of the border.  That is the first step to take when managing a flinch.  There's more, much more you can do to fix this phenomena.  Trap Shooting Secrets book has a huge chapter on resolving flinches.  So hit the practice trap and forget about flinching and concentrate on the sight picture and slow down your shooting a bit as you may be over-speeding your nervous system and that will create random violent flinching.  If the problem persists you are becoming too sensitized to the trigger so wear a thin shooting glove and see if you can tame the beast.  Shooting the wrong zone will create flinches, very nasty ones at that.

23 - B.  What mind-set must I develop to shoot well?

  Relaxed is best, but who's relaxed these days?  Then again, too much relaxation you don't have the drive.  A tad of adrenaline rush is good if controlled.  A burning desire to hit the target is a great thought-line to practice until it becomes obsessive and habitual.  Everyone is different so a good coach comes in handy when dealing with competitive psychology.  Desire alone will not break targets as it is only one element in the setup and a phase in the swing.  Your mindset involves energy channeled through the eyes as if the gun were an extension of your body and your eyes are shooting the target not the gun.  It's a feel to be developed.  Once you develop the feel of shooting properly confidence automatically rises.  That's why I say to feel all your moves; stance, posture, gun mount, shouldering, cheek pressure, swing, timing, zone, hold points, etc.  You need to get on a very intimate level with your gun so much so that it no longer feels like a gun in your arms... it's you!  Once you get that down mind-set becomes a bit easier to simply focus and concentrate on the target to win the event.  Did I say, "Simply?"  It's never simple to hit targets, but always easy to miss.

23 - C.  What is the number one cause of failure in trap shooting?

  Not learning!  Shooting for the sake of shooting believing high skill levels can be achieved without formal instruction won't cut the cheese.  There comes a time where every trap shooter reaches a plateau or firewall that simply cannot be overcome with practice sessions alone.  There are many shooters who are busting lousy scores and refuse to do anything concrete about it mistakenly reasoning they need more practice.  What they really need is more knowledge!  If there is one thing trap shooters have in common - predominately so in the USA - is stubbornness to accept sound shooting advice and a great reluctance to take formal shooting instructions.    It's like, "I don't need to take lessons" then they go out and pop an embarrassing score and they really believe this vicious circle will come to an end.    It won't.  What happens is you get locked in a vice and it keeps squeezing all the willpower and energy out of you until total frustration develops and you hit the wall.  

  At this point the trap shooter is in deep trouble and fails to realize it.  A case of extreme tunnel vision develops and the game becomes progressively more and more difficult instead of easier and more fun.  Although professional trap shooters appear to be shooting like a machine they are in fact extremely creative in their shooting, always looking for that new way to break the targets and they can do this because they have the imaginative knowledge.  You can too, but you'll have to learn the secrets first and you won't find this valuable knowledge at the local gun club shooting with your friends because they don't know the inside story either. This is why I wrote the trap shooting books so you can have this knowledge.

23 - D.  When I shoot sometimes I get a headache.  What can I do?

  Most shooters get what is called the "Silent Headache" where no pain is felt but that "something is wrong" feeling exists and the cure is simple, take an aspirin of sorts.  But actually experiencing the pain is another entirely different matter.  I'm not a doctor so my advice is only information.    If symptoms persist a doctor could help you, I'm sure.  Some shooters get what the gold and tunnel miners call, "The Nitro Headache" which is the result of breathing the spent fumes of nitroglycerine explosions... exactly what is powering our shotgun shells.  These fumes can, in some people, trigger the Nitro-reaction and result in the headache.  To counter this, the best you can do is take counteractive vitamins especially the anti-oxidant formulas. Chelated magnesium has been shown to reduce migraine headaches. 

  Other shooters get headaches from other causes such as; crouching on the gun that is a direct result of firing a gun that does not fit properly. This causes muscle strains in the neck area that triggers headaches.    Here's a few things you can try.  Have a cup of coffee!  Most people think this will cause a headache but in all reality the caffeine constricts blood vessels reducing blood flow to the head.  Two cups and that's all.  Any more and then it may cause a headache.  Breathe deeply for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds and do this eight times and this will help break tension.  If ice is available apply a bag of crushed ice on your head where it hurts.  The cold shrinks the inflamed blood vessels that are causing pain.  Recoil can cause headaches in some shooters so invest in a good recoil reducer that allows the gun to move backwards like a Howitzer cannon.   These are the best devices going for just about everyone.

24.  This is my fourth trap gun and I'm still struggling to get my scores up.  What's wrong? 

  Looks like you're on that eternal vigil to blame the gun or hope you will find the gun that breaks targets.  Only you can break targets.  Changing guns will mess up your shooting seriously.  It takes thousands of rounds (ammo) to acclimate a new gun.  First, you have to find the gun that is balanced, fits and shoots where your look. You can't find that gun because no manufacturer makes it for shelf sales.  You have to custom order the gun to fit you.  The gun must conform to you, not you to the gun as most shooters are doing.  At first, buying a new gun your scores often rise due to your renewed enthusiasm and focus, but then scores fall again.   Look, you can't just pick up a shotgun and learn how to shoot it.  It will take you way too many years to learn that way.  Most shooters don't even know what point of impact their gun shoots at.  You need instructions, lessons, advice, tutoring, encouragement.  It's not the gun, it's you.  But I do admit, you have to have a gun you like, it must fit like a glove and shoot where you look in the zone, etc.  The gun doesn't break targets, you do.  See a stock fitter when you plan to buy a gun.  Make certain the gun fits you and you'll be one happy shooter.

24 - A.  Lately, I have becoming immobilized by fear.  What can I do to control this? 

  Fear is the enemy.  It all begins with a seed of doubt, then concern, then worry, then apprehension, then the torment of fear itself takes charge.    What now happens is you are shooting targets out of fear of missing instead of confident conviction in breaking the target.  The mind-set is now diverted away from shooting even though your are concentrating and "hoping hard" to hit the target.   Complex emotions and thoughts have infiltrated the mind.  The next phase of fear creates the anxiety attack where the nerves begin to shake you up, literally.   Panic sets in and once panic is established the devil has had his way with you and grins as you lose.  The key is to discover the "seed of doubt" that triggers this entire chain reaction.  It could be that you are concerned of making a good showing for the crowd?  Maybe a bit concerned of what people will think of you if you miss a target and lose?  Even placing too high a demand on yourself, "I got to get 100-straight today."  It should be, "I need to get one-straight, one at a time and that's all.  One target."  

  Everyone feels fear one time or another.  For some it is so intense a Valium must be taken to control the adverse destructive effects.  I have suffered   extreme panic attacks that have come out of nowhere with a bloody buggery anxiety attack of global proportions.  It hit me this year right out of the blue and I wasn't even nervous at all.  An extreme shaking of the legs that just would not cease and kept getting worse to the point I thought I was riding a bumpy wood rollercoaster.   It's the pits and something that just comes and I have no control over it.   Ironically, when it does happen, even with the gun shaking... I don't miss the target!  I don't know why that happens other than the fact I put more energy into shooting to overcome the torment.  In all rights, I should miss every target when I am shaking like an earthquake but it just does not happen.  

  Other shooter's have the same problem of panic attacks and fear mindsets.  For me, I have to take a Valium sometimes, usually on the first or second shoot of the beginning season after a long lay-off from shooting over the winter.  After that I don't need any more.   I can tell you this, it all starts with a basic concern or thought and it grows from there.  Discover what you are worried about and you will at least be able to prevent or reduce the anxiety.  And, the more you shoot with peaceful conviction the less stress you will encounter.  There is more to this, but this should be enough for now.  You are not alone!  

24 - B.  You say the European shooters are better than USA shooters.  How is that?

  Easy.  They have been shooting in competitions way longer than we have and shooting much more difficult games and their competitions are backed by big name sponsors.  They still give away Rolex watches to new cars and $50,000+ purses to the winner.  DTL (Down The Line) is similar to our ATA trap shooting on 5-lanes but the targets fly at 80 miles per hour in a 40 degree arc and they shoot "sparrows" which are smaller than our targets!  In ABT (Automatic Ball Trap) known as Continental trap, the targets' exit below ground level in a bunker and exit at 120 miles per hour at varied height levels!  Get the idea?  ATA trap is simply too slow and easy.  Plus, most every gun club has an assigned and certified shotgun instructor.  Just about everyone takes lessons.  And, auto-voice release is quite standard practice so pullers are not required.  They don't have the slow and fast pull problems we have.  They are way ahead of us and we are way behind them.    Now this may change as I am trying to get some of these top-gun shooter's to come to the USA to give us some shooting clinics and so far it looks pretty good.  It will be announced on this web site when it happens.  I'd also like to start DTL shooting in the USA as a new discipline for us.  This may take some time, but it is something I'm working on.  I believe if we shot some of the tough games like DTL and Olympic trap many shooters would see improvement in ATA trap shooting too. 

24 - C.  Why observe professionals?  Isn't is wise to develop your own style of shooting?

  Yes, it is wise to develop your own style, but when you consider a pro boxer they study all those great champions who came before him.  From this point he will study the professional techniques to incorporate into his own style.  You will notice all pro boxers have a personal coach to develop the technique and style.

25.  Any more advice on how I can improve my shooting?

  Tons more, we haven't even scratched the surface, though there is not enough space here.  Listen to advice, all advice, good and bad for the what you thought was bad may in fact later be right.  You will obtain jewels of knowledge even from the novice shooter who experienced something you long ago have forgotten... like swinging to the target, locking your head down to comb, reevaluating your stance and setup routines for changes, including gun fit changes that happen very slowly over time, etc.  The next time you see a pro, ask a question.  That's where you're going to learn many neat tricks of the game.  Be willing to learn and try new things.  Be open-minded and you'll begin to see a rise in your scores and the quality of target hits will impress you. 

25 - AIs skeet shooting different than trap in that a field gun can be used for this sport?

  You have to do it the right way and that is to buy a gun designed for the purpose at hand.  A good trap gun can handle Down The Line, Olympic and American trap targets (not double-trap unless the gun is automatic or a combo-gun otherwise you need an over&under trap gun for double-trap), but it will not shoot skeet or birds with any degree of success.  Same with a hunting gun will not hit clay targets.  It could on the 16 to 199 yard line in handicap, but it will miss many tons of targets beyond 20 yards.   You will need two guns to shoot; one for skeet and one for hunting.  Yes, you can use a field gun to shoot skeet targets, but don't expect perfect scores.  A field gun is just not a skeet clay target shooting gun, but it can be used to help you shoot better.  Just don't expect to shoot competitively with a field gun.  However, a good skeet gun can shoot very well when hunting live birds.  So, the skeet gun can do both.  Check out the free article selecting your first gun.

25 -BI need a low-cost gun I can shoot most games with.  Any suggestions?

  Everybody who starts shooting clay targets wants a low cost gun, but what you really need is a good medium cost gun that is professionally fitted to you.   You should take shooting lessons too.  Now you will be starting out properly.  There is no substitute for professional instruction by professional shooters!  If you can't afford the above, then look for an  over & under 12 gauge shotgun with a 30" or 31" barrel.  This gun can shoot all the clay targets, even some sporting clays games at a novice level.  You can't shoot skeet with a gun like this unless you bought a combo-gun with a short skeet barrel arrangement.  You can have a lot of fun with a sporting clays gun to shoot skeet, sporting and 16-yard line trap targets, but don't expect stellar scores, just have fun.  Another alternative is to buy a cheap gun for each sport, but this can have devastating effects perpetually altering the learning curve and is not recommended.  See this free article buying your first trap gun.

25-C.  What choke should a brand new trap shooter use?

  A new shooter at the 16 yard line shooting singles targets can benefit by using the Improved Cylinder choke then switch to the Light or Improved Modified choke on the 17, 18 and 19 yard line.  At the 20, 21, 22 yard line use a tighter choke such as the full choke.  At the 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 use the extra-full choke.  When shooting doubles we are shooting at the 16 yard line so you can use this formula; for the first target (normally the straight-away target) use the Cylinder choke and on the second target use the Improved Modified.  Of course, you can and must experiment using different size chokes depending on the shooter's timing and the gun's ballistic behavior, but this simple formula is a good place to start and grow with.  Also, a new shooter should use the maximum shot quantity and powder charge available under the established rules to enhance breaking of the targets.  As of this writing it is 1 1/8 oz of shot and 3 drams of powder.   

25-D.  What shot size should a brand new trap shooter use?

  A new shooter at the 16 yard line shooting singles targets can benefit by using #9 shot on the 16 yard line.  Use #8 shot on the 17, 18, 19 20, 21, 22 yard line.  Use #7 1/2 size shot at the 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27.  When shooting doubles we are shooting at the 16 yard line so you can use #9 shot for the first target (normally the straight-away target) and use #8 shot on the second target.  As the new doubles-shooter gets better scrores with experience they can switch to #8 on both targets and then switch to 7 1/2's to absolutely improve the odds of breaking the target with this larger more energetic shot. 

25-E.  What is mental rehearsal?

  Just close your eyes and imagine yourself shooting targets with great success and precision.  This is a very powerful form of mental rehearsal that leads to precise shooting, increased confidence and success.  I explain these techniques in my trap shooting books.




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by James Russell  All Rights Reserved

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