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TRAP SHOOTING ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

... DID YOU KNOW ...

YOU CAN'T KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN

IF YOU DON'T ALTER

YOUR GUN MOUNT?

HAVE YOU CHANGED YOURS?

26.  I have a problem hitting the hard right angles on post five.  Any advice?

  Right-hand shooter I suppose?  You have to setup for the hard angle without anticipating it.  This requires a gun and eye hold shift and even a slight foot position adjustment.  Once you discover the ideal position you then have to work on your swing dynamics and geometry to insure as you smoothly move to the target the muzzle is not rising.  Try aim/pointing at the bottom of the target and follow-through way ahead of the target before pulling trigger. It's hard to miss shooting in front of the target.  Try it sometime.  You can miss, but you have to work hard to do it.  Make certain you are truly following the track of the target's flight path.  Gun hold point will get you on the track.  Your eye on the target should be, in this case, at the bottom leading edge because you tend to shoot over and behind.   Two reasons; 1.) Hard angle targets are dropping, yes, falling even though it appears the target is rising it is not.  Remember the arc flight path?  Targets travel in definitive arcs, 2.) Most shooters when they swing tend to lift the muzzle.   So, you must keep the muzzle below the target.  This will solve the problem.   For left-hand shooters on extreme left targets on post 1, do the same.  And, for both shooters, don't rush the target, ride it a bit until you can work out the swing kinks and re-photograph the new sight picture into your mind. 

26 - A.  I just discovered that my master eye is left.  Should I switch shoulders and shoot left-handed?

  Yes.  You can certainly buy offset sights and learn to shoot with the non-dominate eye but those are last-resort alternatives not primary methods to resolve shooting problems.  But first you must be very certain your left eye is really the dominate one.  You won't determine this on the same day or same week when performing eye-dominance tests so don't make this mistake, okay?  You need to take these tests over a period of a three weeks to a couple months.  Keep testing and testing and testing to make certain.  Why?  Because there is no sure-fire immediate and absolute method devised that will tell you which eye is dominate on the first try or two.    My books will give you a series of tests to take over a period of time.   The eye on any given day will tend to shift wildly when performing eye-dominance tests, so take it slow and be sure. 

  Now, switching shoulders is not as difficult as you may believe it to be.  It will be difficult if you keep thinking it will be grueling.  It's all a matter of attitude and wanting to switch and make it work.   I know, I had to do it myself.  I am right-handed in all things but I shoot left-handed and I'm glad I did make the switch.  Now I'm pointing the gun (swing & aiming) with my right hand!  That is much more natural for a right-handed person anyway.  Your scores are going to fall to amateur levels at first, but that's the price to pay to rise to a higher level of precision shooting and the switch is well worth it in the end.   Painful, yes.  It's weirdly strange to make the switch and it's very tough to see your scores dump hitting 10 out of 25 when you make the switch.  But you will be very surprised just how fast you can adapt and see your scores rise right up and beyond where you were shooting before.  It took me 3-months.  It may take you 6-months or maybe only 3-weeks.  Just believe you can and you will.  Practice shouldering and swinging the gun at home daily and you'll see how easy it is to learn.  It's certainly not an impossible task.

A TESTIMONIAL

James,

 I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much your books have helped me. It is with great pride to tell you that I finally ran my first 25 straight at the 27 yard line today. This was a big goal for me. Thank you, thank you!

 I actually bought the same gun as you and absolutely love it. I have a question that nobody seems to be able to answer for me. (even browning) Some people tell me (including the historian at browning) that if I change the POI, it changes both barrels. Others tell me it only changes the top barrel, whos right? Im frustrated because I definitely notice a difference when I change POI and alternate between barrels but I prefer and shoot better with the lower barrel. (Which doesnt make sense and they do not detail this in the owners manual) Can you please clarify? (I hope)

 One more thing I think you will appreciate. I have changed to XF at the 16 yard line and wow does that help fine tune my shooting. When you shoot 16 yard competition, what choke do you use?  I believe it was IM but I want to make sure.

 Thanking you in advance for everything.

 Best regards,

 Phil VW

Our Reply: 

  The engineering of the gun raises the lower barrel a bit higher than the top by intentional design.  Adjusting POI is tricky because each gun is a bit different.  When you raise POI by raising your gun sight/rib plane it will raise POI for both barrels equally as they are mechanically fixed/welded together.  When you raise the gun sight, everything rises; the barrel and the POI.  Lower it and the barrels will drop down and the POI is also lowered.

  Now, the top barrel shoots flatter then the bottom barrel all of the time, or it should, as that is how the gun is designed.  Why?  For doubles targets Bottom barrel for the first shot requires a higher POI to catch a fast rising target.  The top barrel for the more distant and slower second target requires a lower POI.  Make sense now?

  I am very happy for you.  I love getting mail from winners who have used my books to help them get there.  I will post your kind comments on my Website if that's okay with you.  Also, if you go to Amazon.com you could also give my books a nice plug and I would really appreciate that too. 

  I gave up shooting 16 yard long ago, even when I wrote the books.  I found it unchallenging and boring being too close to the targets.  Improved-Modified choke is really good to use.  Most pros I know don't bother, they just use the full choke.  Why?  They know how to get that bead on the target and they don't want no chance of a small hole in the pattern that just might let one target slip by.  You should use the full, but if the IM works for you, then by all means go for it.  There is no solid rule here.   

  Keep those books, because there is a lifetime of valuable knowledge and you will keep on learning year after year.  What you read now will only be more valuable when you come back and read it next year.  Amazing books!

26 - B.  How do you pre-focus the eyes on a trap sitting on a cliff when there is no reference background?

   You  don't.  You can't focus on air. Although you can use an imaginary focal point to trigger a centralized vision mode.  I've used that method with good results.  Thankfully, there are not too many clubs with traps sitting on cliffs with zero backgrounds and no center field stake visible.  With no background there is no contrast so the eye will lock onto the only object it sees and that is the target.  Pre-focus is important when there is high contrast conditions so the target enters central vision receptors blocking out distracting backgrounds and blurs the eye and mind sees.

26 - C.  I run out of steam when shooting.    Any product to give me a lift?

  Yes, try "Boost."  It's a nutrition drink sold at most all pharmacies, and at K-Mart.  It's a vitamin mix that does seem to work.  You hardly know that it is working (unlike caffeine) until the shooting event is over and you realize you still have energy to spare.  It's also the best tasting product of its type on the market.  The cans are small so you can slip them into your range bag.   

26 - D  What type of targets you find most difficult?

  Hard targets, literally.  There are two factors to consider,  1.)  Target spin speed - The targets must spin fast in order for them to break.  You can place a stationary target at 40-yards and shoot at it and it will not break... it's the spin that breaks the targets.  The shot only creates 'stress migration cracks' and centrifugal force rips the target to pieces.  So if a club is throwing targets with low spin it's like shooting a rubber target.  You can actually hit the target and move it off its flight path without breaking it.  I ran into this situation at a Oregon registered shoot and believe me, everyone's scores took a mean dive.    I hit eight targets that were deflected off the flight path and were knocked hard to the ground, but were scored "lost" because a chip did not fly off the target.   Very unhappy shooters, including myself.  The pros were outraged and rightfully so,  2.)  Target composition - Some brands of targets have a harder composition and will not break as easily.  A common error occurs when a gun club switches from soft to hard targets and they do not compensate by increasing spin speed... it feels like shooting 8-1/2 size shot at handicap targets.  You hit them but they don't dust-ball.  What is worse yet, is, you can't read the breaks very well on hard targets so you begin to believe it is your sight picture in error causing you to miss them.  Then when you try to compensate you really miss because it's not your sight picture or timing factors... it's just that the target is not breaking.  Now you get confused and don't know what the heck is going on out there.     

26 - E  What do you find strange about trap shooting?

  The fact knowledge is not shared from pros to the novice shooter as readily as in other sports such as golf.  Look how many golf magazines there are!    It's good we have some magazines in our sport.  But the same problems exist in golf as it does in trap shooting as there are very few effective books authored by the pro.  Check the book racks at any major bookstore and you'll see what I mean.   Another strange thing is that trap shooting is not a spectator sport... you are the athlete competing against the pro.  More strange is the fact most shooters believe they don't need advice or instructions and most are always saying things like, "I know I'm not going to win anyway" or "I'm shooting as bad as usual."   It's about as bad as saying, "I was going to buy a book on positive thinking, but I thought... what the hell good would that do?"  (Joke by Steven Wright)  I find it strange club managers know they are throwing poorly set, improper color targets, illegal or hard targets, fail to train pullers, and do nothing about it and wonder why shooter's don't want to shoot at their club.   

26 - F.  I become so upset losing or shooting poorly for days after a shoot.  Any advice?

  It's not the end of the world.  Everyone has embarrassing days, everyone!  Read 26-D above.  I shot poorly in the handicap on that event.    I felt bad for two-days about it until I reassured myself that it was the targets, not me, and it is only a temporary setback.  Sometimes you just forget how to shoot.   You lose touch with the "feel" of your timing, zone, sight pictures and the bottom just falls out of your shooting.  Our confidence is easily shaken up and that can spill over to the next event so we must constantly strive to control our emotions and start each new event with a bright attitude, even if we miss the first target out of the house.  Sometimes trap shooting is not fun.  It comes with the territory.   Cheer up... better days are ahead... no doubt about it!

26 - G.  I was shooting just fine and then I couldn't hit a darn thing it seemed.  What went wrong?

  Assuming you didn't change to another trap, a likely event that takes place is a jump on your swing timing.  It's when you call for the target you begin to move your gun at the moment the target exits the house.  You have to learn how to keep the gun dead still so it will not move vertically at all until the eye has locked onto the target... not just when the eye sees the target leaving the house.  This slight time delay makes all the difference in the world between a dead or lost target and it keeps you on time.  Of course, your eye must be focused into the zone.  If you don't shoot a zone you can never focus on the zone and you can never track the target quickly to break it in the zone.  Zone shooting is an advanced shooting technique.  It's not too easy to learn, but it is fine-tuned shooting and a small error is as good as a miss.  It's fast shooting, but it's not breakneck spot shooting.    Practice identifying your swing timing and then "feel" it so it can be imbedded into memory. 

  Another common error is failing to remind yourself when you shoulder the gun to, "Stay under the target."  If you are shooting over, start the Pall Parrot routine on each gun mount.  Here's a good trigger word to use, "Stay under, stay tuned."  This will keep your muzzle under the target and will remind you to tune into the zone.  If this still fails you?  You're getting too tense, too aggressive and worried.  Breathe smoothly and deeply and force yourself to relax so you can instill confidence back into the game.  Fear erases confidence.  Still missing?  Close your eyes and visualize the three basic target angles on the post you are on and see them explode.  Where did you put the sight bead to do it?  Now you should be back on track.  Still missing?    There is an error that has crept into your setup.  If you can't find it right away and correct it more targets will slip away.  I find most shooters, if they simply snug up to the gun a bit more than usual, will feel the error and be able to correct it. 

  Still missing?  It's all over.  Your emotions by this time are so wrapped up you're a complete basket case for this event   Go to the practice trap and see if you can break out of this emotional straight jacket.  Forget about it and get ready for the next event, tomorrow, with a fresh new attitude.  Do not carry fear with you.  Forget the past you just experienced, forget it!  It didn't happen, okay?  It's a new day, a new event and you'll shoot just fine if you believe you will.  Trap shooting is hard to do.  It requires a lot of work and energy to shoot high scores.  That's what makes the game challenging and if I can use the word, fun.  You learn from losing just as you'll learn from wining too.  We all do.    It's okay to lose.  It's not doomsday forever.  Be easy on yourself as you are only human.  Not every pro wins every shoot all of the time!  We lose some, win some.  Keep learning and you'll certainly get better and better and better.        

27.  I'm running trap one and two then I fall apart on trap three or four.  Why?

  Trap misalignment and target flight paths usually cause the anomaly.   Often it's a case of having no setup for each post and  you were lucky on the first trap or so.  Squad progression is a huge problem as squad gains guts and glory blowing caution to the wind and begin to machinegun.  Stay with your own setup and shoot timing, play your own game.  Excessive concentration (doing it wrong) will create a crash & burn mental breakdown and you fall to pieces.  Confusion can set in where you actually forget how to shoot targets.  These are just a few tips. A bigger problem is trap to house and trap to station misalignments.  These subtle offsets if not corrected will wreck havoc on scores.  Example:    If trap is set too high in the house you'll be shooting rockets.  If trap is too low target arcs becomes very severe and you'll pick up the target too late (too deep, distant) in the zone. Optical illusions then come into play and scores just tumbles downward and you have a 'bad trap.'  Visual acquisition and timing is thrown off and with the optical illusions you pull the trigger and the target just keeps on sailing unscathed.  Of course there are many other reasons why shooters fall apart.   Precision Shooting book resolves these problems. 

27-A.  I keep reading articles that you should never use the sighted with trap shooting.  It's confusing.

This Web site primarily deals with "handicap" trap shooting.    We are not talking singles where you can simply point the gun and get away with a high score, and even then, you should be aiming that gun to a degree.  First, if you simply point the gun at handicap targets you will most certainly keep missing the targets.  The targets are too small and too distant for such "eyes-alone" shooting.  You have to shoot handicap targets with precision aim.  It's called back-sighting not rifle sighting.  It's an advanced technique the best shooters are using and have the scorers and Olympic wins to prove it.    Secrets?  Yes, absolutely for the vast majority of shooters.  There are many secrets to the game and most are not obvious at all to the casual shooter who has never been exposed to highly professional-class shooters.  Point all you want in singles and other games, but don't try to get away with it in handicap or you'll lose.   

  Secondly, if you don't see the sight bead on the target or ahead of it how in the heck are you going to know when to pull the trigger?  If you're missing targets you are pulling that trigger at the wrong time and that is the classic symptom of shooting with the eyes alone using the widely acclaimed pointing routine.  I know it's confusing but it's all in the trap shooting books I have written to dissolve the myths and teach you how to shoot with precision aim so you can stop missing and start hitting the targets.  These books are heavily dedicated to "handicap" trap shooting, any distance beyond the 16-yard (15 meter) line.  You have to be careful when you read magazine or books about the pointing routine as they may be describing 16-yard singles targets or even sporting clays and certain skeet posts with crossing targets, etc.    Learn right away that if you shoot ATA trap, DTL or Olympic trap you are shooting a precision game and that means you better learn fast how to aim a shotgun if you wish to progress to the wins.  Keep pointing and you'll end up nowhere fast for years to come.

27-B.  What is the center sight bead for and should I use this bead when shooting?

  The center sight bead serves three purposes, 1)    To insure you have a perfect eye alignment down the rib when the gun is static (not moving) and, 2) to maintains this alignment when the gun is in motion.  Not when shooting!  When dry-firing at practice during the swing to see if any deflective deviations are taking place (side-to-side misalignment) and to insure you are not vertically lifting your head from the comb (un-stacking the beads).  If the beads do not stack up to the figure-8 (center bead on bottom of muzzle bead) the gun does not fit you or you need to rework your mounting process.  You'll see some shooters with no center bead on their gun (mostly the losers) and others with the center bead and don't know how to use the bead (again mostly the losers) and, 3)  The center sight bead measures cheek pressure applied.  Too much pressure and the eye sinks below the rib and the target begins to fade out as much as 50% of vision lost!   Think about that one!  It also leaves no cushion between the muscle and bone and recoil face slap starts more head-lifting, eye shock blurring focus, etc. 

  With the rib too close to the eye you'll always see the target too late and that will destroy timing and certainly the target break zone too.  Too little pressure and you're going to shoot over the top of the target or start dusting the domes or chipping which will lead to a clean miss if not corrected.  You have to, you must, practice shouldering the gun to insure your mount is perfect.  It only takes a itsy-bitsy amount of deviation - often too small to be recognized by many shooters - to create a eye / rib misalignment and that means a missed target.  Not all the time though!  That's what is so sinister about the mounting process and the swing dynamic... you can do it wrong and hit many targets, but those missed targets will always be present to sink your scores.   It is so important that most shooters have come to believe it is not so important and most shooters who think this way have scores that are pretty bad in the handicap game.   

  You can still have some lucky days and pop a good score but I doubt you'll be dead-centering the targets and this means you're shooting on luck alone.  Chippy target breaks are dangerous and must be avoided at all costs as they lead directly to a lost target... it's the highway of failure with toll booths soaking up your money along the way.  You have to keep in mind that your eye centered along the rib is the gun's rear sight and if this rear sight is cocked out of alignment to the rib and muzzle sight bead, no matter how well and precise you see the target, the gun is not going to send its shot to break it.  This is just another example how dangerous it can be to shoot with your eyes only, especially if the eye is not in alignment with the muzzle.  Look at the target all you want and wave it goodbye as the scorekeeper yells, "Lost."    You have to use the sight beads on a shotgun in handicap shooting.   Believe it!     

27-C.  I play head games with myself when shooting targets and keep dropping targets.  How can I stop?

  You can't stop thoughts.  Nature abhors a vacuum and so a blank mind will create a thought.  What you can do is not be victimized by the thought process.  Many shooters will tell you, "I don't think of anything when shooting."  This is not true.  Very few shooters can not think and shoot otherwise you are shooting "brain dead mode" and that itself is dangerous to scores.  It works for a few traps then the bottom falls out and down goes the score.    Now, once the gun is shouldered no thoughts should enter your mind, but prior to shouldering the gun you have to convert negative thoughts to positive commands.    Simply stating positive statements forces the subconscious mind to obey.    "I will break this target" is all that is required for some shooters.   Trap Shooting Secrets book explains how to setup your routine with "trigger words" to insure the complex series of procedures are followed like a computer macro.   Don't confuse thoughts with emotions.  They are two separate identities.   Thoughts are mental commands whereas emotions will lead you astray and seriously destroy concentration. 

  Change your thoughts to command-mode and you won't be thinking when you're shooting!  The only way to fight a bad thought is with a positive thought and you do this with trigger word commands.  Don't try to obliterate thoughts.  The more you try to ignore thoughts the more thoughts will arrive to challenge you.  By creating command thoughts... bad thoughts can't creep in for there is no vacuum existing for it to fill.  It's like concentration.  If you try to block out distractions concentration tumbles.  You want to be aware of all things but you manage it with a plan.  Trigger words help you to control the mind game and stay in control.  There is a mental mode of thought I use when shooting and swinging to the target, "Get that sight bead on the target."  It works quite well.

27-D.  Any advice of the rules of being a squad leader?

  Yes.  Click here for shooting articles on the subject.  The rule book is limited but the actual job is more than the rules.   There are benefits to being a squad leader you may not be aware of.   To be a good squad leader read the article and follow the plan.

27-E.  I shoulder the gun and It doesn't feel right and I don't feel ready to call and I miss.  Help!

  Typical problem and is easily cured.  You have become over sensitized to the gun mount process and this is creating self-doubt distractions setting you up to miss the target long before you even call.  If your gun does not fit this will always be in your game so let's assume the gun fits you just fine.    Practice shouldering your gun at home with your eyes closed so you can embed the proper "feel" of how a good solid repeatable gun mount should feel like.    This will now override the eyes which is making you think something is wrong with your setup routine.  If the beads stack and are not off center... it's right!    If the gun is slipping on you then obtain a concave recoil pad so the butt of the gun will fit into in your shoulder.  Once you know the feel of the gun mount you can now forget about "gun mount doubt" and concentrate on visually acquiring the target.  There is certainly more to this, but this brief tip will get you started on the right track quite quickly.  Trap Shooting Secrets book will explain all this to you.

27-F.  I read your books and I can't absorb it all!   Every time I read them I keep learning.  Does it ever stop?

  There is more knowledge in these books than you bargained for!    That's why I advise readers to read slow, take it easy, and read the book again once you hit the last page.  You get your money's worth... that's for sure!    There are concepts and techniques in the books you may not understand at first, then later you will read the chapter again and say, "Oh, now I get it!"    These little surprises of knowledge will continue on for years so the books will not be outdated for many years, if ever, that I can assure you.  Trap shooting is a highly subjective subject and there is way more than what meets the eye as you already have learned from the books.  To answer your question, every time you open the books the learning process continues.  You can read it 8-times and still keep learning.    Sorry about that.  At least you can say one thing... you didn't get shortchanged and ended up buying the books then walking away without learning anything.    The Olympic Medalist shooters are calling the books, "The best trap shooting books in the world."  For once I suppose I did something right. The books are having a positive result on the lives of many clay target shooters and if the learning process never dies then the books have performed as I wanted them to.  Keep reading them and you'll see more and more insights you never found on the first or second pass.   It never ends!  

27-G.  I shoot well on trap 3 and 4, but not on traps 1 and 2.  Why?

  There are many reasons, 1) You are not warmed up, so shoot a couple practice traps before the event and,  2) not being warmed up means your set up is out of balance.  Your eyes and swing are not in sync.  Pros shoot so many targets they have no need to warm up with practice traps, but most all other shooters do need to hit those traps.

28.  Those straight-away targets are slipping me by again.  What causes this?

  First, there is no such thing as a straight-away in handicap shooting.   It never happens.  You always have to shoot to the left or right of the target.  Sooner you learn this the better.  Do not spot-shoot the target.   Let the target rise up and reach the backend of the zone.  Rushing these targets will get you into trouble.  Relax and be precise.  Put the sight bead on the bottom of the target or under it.  Practice this and you'll see it can't escape.   If the target peaks you can get into trouble as pattern holes are insidious on a stalled target.  Make sure you lower your zone on post three by dropping your gun hold and lower your eye hold to expand the zone.  Shooting a tight zone on the center post will make you shoot quicker than you should and this will create a snapping action, sort of like spot shooting.  Don't ever rush these targets.  Break them deeper into the zone.  You'll be more relaxed, less spontaneous and this will give you time to get that "second look" at the target.  The first look is too deceptive as the target is traveling too fast and by the time you think the sight picture is "right on" the target has moved elsewhere.  You will shoot over the top or below the target and that tells you accuracy and timing is obliterated. 

29.  I swear I was on the target and it gets away unburned.  What is going on here?

  Pattern is too weak.  Go to the 25" hot-core to give you the 28" annular fill.  This is the big secret in trap shooting.  Stop using soft or #8 shot.  Use 5% antimony or new shells with 7 1/2 shot because targets composition may be hard, damp, cold, or have low spin speed.  Watch for the diving target tilted on one side in flight as it will change flight path.  Shoot where the target is, not where you think it is.  Pay attention of what you are doing and what you are seeing.  Be vigilant at all times.  Don't rush these targets as that's when you'll miss them.  There is no need to slam-bang these shallow critters out of the house.  You'll simply have to learn how to relax with them, flow to them smoothly in a unhurried state of mind.  There's a ton more of advice but no way can I delve into it here.  You'll have to read the books. 

29 - A.  Some shooters use the practice traps and others do not at tournaments.  Why is this?

  Some shooters use the practice traps for the wrong reasons and get into trouble and that's why some shooters won't use the practice traps.  First, the better shooter's don't need to use the practice traps because they don't need to practice - they shoot way too many targets each year on the circuit and they can correct any mistakes with the mind alone and the body will obey.  However, there are shooters who don't use the practice traps and should be.  Second, the shooters who don't use the practice traps have discovered when they miss a target they tend to imbed the problem and it repeats itself in the tournament so the stay far away from those practice sessions, but they are practicing wrong and that's the real problem.  They should be using the practice trap!  Third, to properly use the practice trap you don't shoot for score and you don't try to hit them all.  Say what? That's right.  It's okay to hit them all, but that is not the desired goal.  It is a warm-up session and that is all.  The moment you try to run the trap you are making a fatal mistake... expending intense energy as if you were in competition... not only will this tire your mind when you miss a target it becomes a 'problem' to be resolved and you begin to focus on the miss to correct the problem and it only gets worse because you are using the practice trap as a cram session.  The right way to practice?  Relax, focus on your setup, swing moves and timing and seeing the target's and background relationships.  Not much more than this.  These traps should be labeled, 'warm-up traps' not practice traps.  Practice is resolving problems and learning new things.  If you miss a target don't focus too much on it, focus more on your setup, swing and back-sighting then move on to the next station.    Don't let the missed target hang you. Fourth, when practicing you will miss targets (most shooters will) and in competition awareness and focus increases ten-fold and you'll hit targets you would normally miss at practice and you'll miss targets in competition you normally will hit in practice.  Two different animals here. 

  So you see, you can't think of practice as competition because it isn't so you shouldn't be practicing with a competition mind-set.  If you watch the Olympic figure skaters practicing before the big event you see them lazily skating about (warming up) jumping here and there with no structured formal program.  That's what you should be doing when practicing; shoot informally to just warm up.  The practice trap will do you more good than harm this way.  Believe me, you'll know what to do when the event begins.

29 - B.  I keep missing all the left targets and it came from nowhere and it drive me nuts.  Why is this?

  The subconscious mind is out of control, has taken over, and you have completely forgot how to shoot.  The mind simply goes blank and the more you try to hit the target it keeps escaping you.  I've suffered from this big-time.  Some shooter's never experience it and I wish I was one of them but I'm not.  What happens is there is a predetermined mind-set within ever warning you to watch out for 'that left target' and it steals focus from your mind.  Then when that perceived difficult target exits it sort of scares you and you can't catch or hit the target.  Then you try harder to hit it and it still escapes and the situation compounds upon itself and suddenly everything going left can't be hit.  It's a tough problem.  The only technique I've found that works is to stop the worrying and simply say to yourself, "I've hit them before so just relax and put that sight bead where it belongs."    This sounds simplistic but it is a mental command to stop putting mental fixation on these missed targets to dissolve the apprehension that is allowing the subconscious mind to take control from you.  Fear is the killer.  Stop fearing the target.   Treat each target as equals.  The left target is no more difficult than the right (even if it is you don't want to believe it to be true).   Now that you have equalized the targets each will be hard to hit and that places you in the proper set of mind to kill each one, one-by-one, with no fear.

29 - C.  Talking about fear.  I get scared in registered shooting and in shootoff's.  What can I do?

  Fear is good.  No fear of turning a low score you'll likely get one.  For an extreme example; I suffer from panic attacks, real bad ones at that.    They just come from nowhere even when no fear exist, but it happens on the trap-line.  Everything shakes but I've learned to concentrate with enough intensity to the job at hand that I won't miss the target due to nerves.  For those who suffer the same fate the good news is you can manage fear, it may not go away, but it can be controlled to score target hits.  Then when the targets do get hit the fear (and the shakes) vanish.  Every shooter I know gets a bit scared in a shoot off and the higher the stakes the more the wire gets tweaked.  Fear will produce adrenaline (happiness doesn't in trap shooting) so a bit of fear is good.  Think of it as a positive aspect to your shooting.  Fear creates drive.  If you have no drive you have no fear.  Having that burning desire to win is an element of fear too... the fear of losing.  So the more you try to make fear go away you are doing a disservice to yourself - use fear to your advantage.  It's okay to be afraid.    Shooters who turn in low scores have no fear of the targets, no fear of the game and no fear of embarrassment.  That's okay for them but is it okay with you?  Think of trap shooting as going to a scary movie.  You go because you know it's safe but you want to get scared.  So get your gun and go have a terrifying experience at the next registered shoot... because it's fun!

29 - D.  Trap shooters keep telling me shooting is all eye/hand coordination, but you don't.  Explain this.

  Trap shooting has an element of eye/hand coordination which is called "pointing" the gun at the target.  Similar to shooting hoops with a basketball - eye on target and the body will make the moves to get the ball into the loop.    This will work for shooting singles targets but not in handicap events.   Due to the fact the target is in motion (hoop or as in golf the hole is stationary), the distance to the target is longer than the 16-yard line and the target appears smaller in size - the element of precision is required.  Precision shooting is not eye/hand coordination of itself.  Eye/hand coordination is too sloppy for handicap shooting.  You can't shoot these targets with your eyes alone and hope your hand will glide the gun to the target at these distances and speeds involved... the sight picture required is simply too tight to hit the targets consistently.   You'll hit targets but you'll still miss too many if you shoot with your eyes alone.  Eye/hand coordination is a small element in handicap shooting, it exists to get you close to the target but not "on" the target.  To get a precise shot you'll have to learn the secondary element of aligning the sight bead to the target to tighten the sight picture to a micron.  You don't see pros chipping and breaking targets weakly... they explode into balls of smoke because they just don't point the gun and pull the trigger.  The sight picture they use is so snug you couldn't slip a business card between the target and the sight bead.  It's an advanced shooting method many, many, many, shooters do not comprehend is required to shoot handicap targets.  My books explain how to do it.

29 - E.  Can your books help me in my singles and doubles shooting too?

  Yes.  The double-trap book I was going to write is now incorporated in both Trap Shooting Secrets and Precision Shooting - The Trapshooter's Bible.  the books are designed for the handicap shooter who wants to master this most difficult game and earn money as part and parcel to their shooting.  With that said, the books are not formulated for singles shooting as singles targets are too easy to hit - and if they are not easy for you - then applying the eye and gun holds and other techniques in the books will certainly boost your singles scores to high levels of achievement.  It's easier to apply advanced techniques of handicap shooting downward than to apply singles shooting technique upwards to handicap shooting.  For this reason I felt little need to write a book on singles shooting as precision methods of shooting are easily applied toward single targets.  Now doubles resides in a universe of its own - and though some principles apply - double trap (also known as; Double Rise in Europe) require specialized techniques such as; Spot Shooting, Duel Timing Control, Trigger Reflex Repetition Management, Eye Focal Shifts, Duel Gun Transition Moves, etc.  All of these are not applied to singles or handicap targets.  Each game here is unique and they may appear similar to the untrained eye they are in fact not even distant relatives, but total strangers to each other.  Once you learn this basic truth your mind will open up and allow new knowledge to enter to be applied to the specific game played.  Too many trap shooters playing all the events have no inkling just how different these three games are to each other and they scramble-shoot these events to failure.  That's why a shooter will do well in singles and dive-bomb in handicap then crash and burn again in doubles.  You can't apply the same shooting techniques you use in singles with handicap and double-trap.    Of course, you can, if you want to see low scores.  Trap Shooting Secrets and Precision Shooting will certainly give you detailed instructions on shooting double-trap and will help you raise your scores, no doubt about it!

29 - F.  I am new to trap shooting. Which phase of shooting should I perfect first?

  Most novice shooters concentrate on swinging the gun to the target and discovering when to pull the trigger.  That's okay for the first month or two because most beginners are just playing around, testing out the sport, having fun.  Beyond this period, focus should be switched to the setup.  Making certain you are shouldering the gun properly, standing and swinging to the target with proper dynamics, discovering eye and gun holds, eye pre-focus, trigger control timing, zone shooting, etc.  The sooner the better.  Some shooters never learned the established form and after some years pass continue to shoot poor scores then lose interest and quit the sport.   Bad habits are hard to break, but it's never too late.  My method of teaching makes it as easy as can be to learn how to shoot with precision using simple steps and practicing at your own pace.  The methods teaching are in my books.   Many shooters are benefiting from them and that's good for our sport in the long haul and good for the shooter too!   

29 - G.  Trap shooting is for amateurs and pros should not compete with us.  Isn't that what ATA stands for?

  The Olympic-class are professional.  ATA = Amateur Trap Shooter's Association.  However, professionals reside within the ATA.  I've always thought ATA should change the name to American Trap Shooter's Association.    Regardless, as long as you are competing against professional shooters you may as well live up to the fact competition is going to remain tough as nails.  I know many shooters just wish registered shoots were simply larger 'fun shoots' but it is not reality.  Shooters complain of pros turning down targets to pick angles to cheat, sandbagging and all sorts of things.  Complaints will continue on forever and ever.    Your best strategy is to learn to shoot better.  Only then will you stand a chance to win more shoots and have more fun.  Some of the biggest complainers shoot poorly, refuse to learn and take shooting lessons, shoot guns that clearly do not fit them and will do nothing to better themselves.  These shooters do not play the options so they stand less of a chance of winning.  If you play the 25/50 options, or just the 50's alone you don't have to win 1st place to win money.  Just shoot a couple good traps and you are in the winners circle.  Regardless of what you may have read that playing the options is simply a donation to the professional it is not true in the total sense of how this added pressure can improve your shooting.  Accept conditions as they are and improve your shooting and let the complainers complain as they always will.   This is not to say the complainers are unjustified as those who complain can get rules changed and this is good, but learn to accept the current conditions no matter what they are and begin to focus in on yourself as to what you can do to be a better competitor.

29 - F.  My friend shoots bad then pulls out of the shoot leaving us hanging.  How can I help him?

  First, have a heart-to-heart talk about how he must learn to control emotions when shooting as emotions will lead him astray in trap shooting and trigger a succession of lost targets.  Then explain when he is shooting poorly this is the time to "learn" how to make adjustments to dig oneself out of the hole and recover a sinking score.  Also, embarrassment is not to be a concern.  Everyone has "very bad days" shooting, even the pros will sometimes miss 6 to 8 targets and to them that's like missing 20!  Next you must tell him to stay in the game, at least for that event.  A shooter should never abandon his/her squad and leave them short!    This is a slap in the face insult and it sets up everyone else for a fall too.   There is only two reasons to leave an event 1) Gun malfunction, 2) Illness.  If the shooter does not cooperate you will have to ban the shooter from your squad or he will ruin your scores and your fun everywhere you go.  I've always said it is not a good idea at all to shoot with friends. Acquaintances?  Yes.   Friends?  No.  There are emotional ties shooting with friends and family and if one shoots a poor score, you will feel his/her sorrow and that will drive your scores down too.  I explain the pitfalls of squading and squad rhythms in the TSS book.  Trap shooting is not a team sport... it's just you and the target.  Nobody else can help you hit the target... even if you are on a state team or league.  But a bad squad member can surely take your targets and fun away.  Also, be aware some shooters can not be helped because they do not want to be helped.  I know shooters who enjoy being the underdog and are proud to be the town crier seeking attention and sympathy with the boys.  That may be their game, but it certainly is not trap shooting.  And there are shooters (friends) who will intentionally foul things up just so you won't win!  Remember, the pros pre-squad with associates but they are not "friends" as each is out to beat the other to the win!  Competition and friends is oil and water.  A bad mixture.  If you want higher scores?  Get away from your friends.  They won't be with you in a shoot-off so that "comfort factor" will be missing and you will pay the price.   You may think this takes the fun out of trap shooting?  Wrong!  It enhances the fun.  You will meet way more friends shooting strange squads than just shooting with the same old friends over and over again... and you'll learn more too!       

29 - G.  I still say you must point a shotgun and I keep reading about this too in magazines and books.

  You will have to read the books, my friend; Trap Shooting Secrets and Precision Shooting - The Trapshooter's Bible.  I can't explain it all here in this medium and you will need illustrations to see how to aim and backsight a shotgun.  First, be aware when a writer say's to "point" a shotgun he may be referring to the 16-yard line in single or doubles, or skeet or sporting clays or whatever.  We are focused on handicap shooting here!  We are not catching a baseball or tossing a ball in a hoop in handicap trap shooting so throw out the eye/hand coordination theories because it does not exist. Example:  If you follow the instructions of simply pointing your gun at the target what deadly sin are you going to perform?  Think! Answer:   You will "push" the gun to the target with your forearm hand!  What is the golden rule in shot gunning?  To swing to the target!   How do you swing?  With the body.  Now tell me how you are going to point your body to the target?  You can't, so you will end up pointing with your arm and that will push the gun to the target with a shove and cause you a ton of grief.   However, there is a technique that allows you to use your body to move to the target, but you have to "aim" the gun at the target with your eyes and with the sight bead or muzzle.   Look, your eyes must have a reference to destroy a target, 1.)  The eye must see the target,  2)  The eye must see the sight picture (sight bead and target arrangement) so you will know when to pull the trigger.  That means an element of aiming must take place especially with small and distant edge-on handicap targets.  If you keep pointing like you may be doing on the 16-yard line there is too much room for error and you will certainly play the hit 'n miss game.  The shotgun is accurate.  If you put the bead on the target it will burn.   If you don't, you miss.  So, learn to see the bead coming onto your target and you will aim your shot for a direct hit.  The technique is called back-sighting and pros use it.  It's been a secret for a long time and perpetuated by writers who mislead readers that all shot-gunning is all pointing routines.  Not in handicap shooting, you have to aim your shot!  Once you learn back-sighting you will have learned one of the secrets to the game.

29 - H.  I read there are "no secrets" to trap shooting.  That secrets are all a myth.  What do you say?

  A secret is simply knowledge hidden from your eyes.  Professionals use shooting techniques of proven winning combinations.  If you were to take personal lessons from these pros you would learn a few tricks of the trade, secrets revealed!  The missing knowledge is given to help you hit the targets.  What if you wanted to be a drag racer?  You could build a car and go out and compete and learn on your own.  But what if you decided to take a driving lesson from John Force or Joe Amato or Kenny Bernstein?  Imagine the "secrets" you would learn that took them a lifetime to learn!  Same with trap shooting.  The pros know what works and what does not work.  Knowing what works is the secret.  Some won't tell what they know, others will.  Knowing those tips on how to see a target with intense eye focus to slow the target down, gun hold points to get the advantage on the target, timing the shot in the zone to diminish errors in aim and reduce sight pictures,  back-sighting to shoot off the end of the gun to get the dead-on hit, target angulation factors, optical illusions, trigger control, gun fit, point of impact synchronization, concentration management to preserve energy, reduce fatigue and enhance your performance, swing dynamics to smoothly get to the target quickly, etc., etc. 

  There are secrets to trap shooting.   Not one secret, but many secrets!  My book, Trap Shooting Secrets, reveals these techniques and shows you how to apply them with actual practice session instructions.  When you finish reading the book you will understand just how many secrets were revealed to you.   And, it continues on in the Precision Shooting book.  Just reading the pages on this web site should give you an idea of just how many secrets there really is in trap shooting.  In fact, they are so many secrets that is why you never read much of the things you see here in magazines and other books.   I intentionally interviewed and studied pro shooters over a period of years to get this "hidden knowledge" tested the techniques and put them in the books.   If you want to step into the world where professionals reside read the TSS and PS books.  Advice from top-gun shooters are right in the pages.  The secrets are revealed.            

30.  I'm in a bad slump.  I can't figure out what to do to get out of it.  Help!

Fear not.  Slumps and flinches are all curable.  99% of the time the problem is all in the setup, long before you pull that trigger!  The setup makes or breaks the target.  The books go into great detail on these subjects.   I can't cover it all here.  Quick tip:  Stop believing you are in a slump as it fulfills the prophesy.  Slow down your shooting.  Go back and examine every phase of the setup.  Something has changed, it really has.  It's often so simple you'll cry when you discover it, "How could I be so dumb?"  I lost out bad at a State shoot because I installed my sight rib in the wrong hole.  My POI was too high and it drove me nuts thinking it was my setup, but it was the gun.  I felt like a fool and ashamed to this day.  Check your shoes.  If they are worn out it blows the setup by altering swing geometry and balance.  Don't blink when calling for target or lose eye pre-focus.  And stop thinking about slumps. Erase that word from your memory for as your think you will be!  If you believe you have a slump you now have one.  If you believe you've lost your edge and can't shoot you won't shoot well.   So one very powerful technique is to simply reverse your thinking and your belief system and you'll discover once again you can shoot well. 

  Slumps can be physical, but most all are created in the mind, especially the prolonged ones that last for years.  It's called, "Depression Shooting."   Your spirit has been crushed somewhere along the line and has never risen out of that hell.  You actually become clinically depressed!  You'll mope about after shooting a poor score, head and eyes pointed toward the ground as you stroll to put up your gun for lunch.   That is psychological damage showing through and this too must be managed or the dreaded slump will become horrific.  I know shooters who were right up there shooting scores competing with the pros and they've slid downward into Trap Hell never to escape!   You can come out of it, you must and you will.  But you're not going to find the best answers in trap shooting books... you are going to have to start reading books on sports psychology.  The top Olympic athletes read them and so should you!

30 - A.  One friend say's I'm shooting under the target.  Another say's I'm shooting over.  Help!

  Friends will confuse you and they don't really know themselves as they are guessing.  Try to look for the wad in flight and this will give you a good idea, or at least a starting point.  In most cases, with most shooters, missing over the target is the prime cause.  On windy days when the targets are rising like skyrockets you are likely missing under the target so get ahead of the target.    You may know your point of impact setting, but only you can decide if you are shooting under or over.  If you are back-sighting you should be able to figure this out quite quickly.  Try using a florescent glow-sight.    Those small white or gold sight beads don't do much to help the shooter who is in trouble trying to figure out his/her timing and trigger pull point.  Watch the target breaks too.  Usually when you are missing over, the target will be push-breaked downward.  Shooting under, the target will be pushed or bumped skyward.   It's not too hard to figure out.  Always assume you are shooting over first, then make your correction from there.  When you start missing?  Apply more cheek pressure to the gun to make sure you are not lifting your head in small increments.   You may never know you are lifting your head as it happens in small imperceptible stages you will never feel or recognize.     

30 - B.  I've been frustrated of late trap shooting and less enthused.  Any suggestions to revive the fire?

  Yes, stop beating up on yourself and accept the game and your shooting abilities as they are today and let tomorrow be your  goal towards improvement in small increments.  Walk, don't run, but do walk.  Too much, too fast, spells burnout.  Also, accept the rules of the game as they are written until the day arrives the rules are changed.  Many shooters become disillusioned with the apparent loop-holes and unfairness of the game.  Once you keep focusing on the negatives the positives fade into memory and inner frustration develops and takes out the fun in life.    One of the best things you can do is get out of the shooting slump you are likely in that is causing low scores and creating a focus on the bleak side of things.    Cheer up, it may never happen!  Everybody gets the slump and experiences the fear and frustration of stagnation and failure.  Remember what it was like when you first started trap shooting?  Well, take back that innocent child-like adventure experience and go have some fun with the gun breaking (or missing) targets.  Shoot a game of sporting or skeet or ABT just for the fun of it and to relieve tension.  Try relaxing more and maybe shoot some trap practice with a carefree fun attitude.  Take a small vacation from shooting, maybe a couple weeks.  I know many shooters who are "addicted" to shooting every weekend and go shoot as part of a ritual.    Give it up for a few weeks and you'll catch your breath and you may be surprised to see the enthusiasm once again return.  Too much shooting just for the sake of shooting can equal = boredom!  If the weather at shoots are bugging you and wearing you down along with your scores?  Consider choosing a few fair-weather shoots to lift your spirits. 

  Also, when you attend a registered shoot you should have a back up plan.  Plan A:  Shoot to win.  Plan B:  Have fun if you don't win!   When I lose I get frustrated too, but I sort of think, "It's a real privilege to even be here shooting and being out of town on vacation."  Fact is, you could be in worse places and like one old timer said, "It's a good day when you wake up and discover you're alive and breathing."  Keep thinking of the good things and less and less of the negative things and good things begin to happen.   Some people have to take anti-depressant drugs.  A proven herb is to take St. John's Wort (the name sounds horrible doesn't it?).  They say (magazines and newspapers) the herb lifts the spirits as well as the prescription medicine but with way less side-effects.  Let's face it, trap shooting is hard and it can generate depression.  Any trapshooter who say's he/she has never felt the sting of depression hasn't been trap shooting very long.   Be happy because sadness just isn't any fun.

31.  What the heck is a zone anyway?

  The zone is like a large bubble floating around the end of your gun's muzzle.  It's adjustable; up, down, left, and right AND the zone can be compressed or expanded.  It's in an area where you will break the target in synchronization with your present timing (internal time clock).  Zone size and location is controlled with your eye hold point, focus point and gun hold.  Deep stuff here for the novice shooter, but it's something you have to learn to hit targets consistently like the pros do. It's not too hard to learn once you understand zone shooting.  Zone shooting is highly flexible despite what others tell you.  You can let targets escape the zone and still hit them. 

32.  When I put the sight bead on the target I miss clean.  How is it done?

  I can't tell you; that's a secret! (only kidding)  You have to adjust point of impact to match your timing of the shot within the planned zone you will shoot in.  It's not easy to learn this method of shooting so be forewarned, but it can be learned.  And, even if you only learn 30% of the technique without mastering it, your scores will definitely improve.  As time progresses, you'll eventually get into the groove and find it all makes sense and is relatively easy to do.  The goal is to setup so snugly that call, swing, and shoot timing is perfected to dispatch the target in a tight zone, so tight you no longer have to lead the targets... you put the bead on the target, pull trigger and POOF!  This is an advanced precision shooting method.  You may not be ready for it at this time.  It will most always require a degree of muzzle cant, high POI of at least 80/20, extreme focus and smooth slow-motion mode shooting.  It is not snap or spot shooting as you may be mislead to believe.   You will see the target normally and track it a bit.  No flash or target intersection shooting involved.  It's all in the books if you want to learn how to shoot like the pros.  Sooner or later you will need to learn it.  May as well begin the process now.  A year from now you may wish you had started today. 

TRAP SHOOTING SECRETS... THE BOOK THAT
TEACHES LIKE HAVING A COACH BY YOUR SIDE !

33.  I keep missing straight-away targets.   Help!

  It's not straight in handicap so you must identify the angle and shoot left or right as I already explained.  Depending on your point of impact setting you may have to cover the target with the muzzle or leave an air gap under the target.   Next; don't snap at the target.  Resist the temptation.  Let the target rise and slow down a bit.  Take that extra micro-second to get a good look at the target, line up the sight picture you know works for you and you'll break them.   Still missing?  That 30" pattern is killing you with holes.   Straight-trending targets can slip through a pattern with increased ease.   Assuming your gun fit and mount is fine, and you are not lifting your head to see the target, just slow down.  Push your cheek down to steer the gun upward so your head will not rise.  You'll see the target better in relation to muzzle alignment.  There's more, but this should do for now.

33 - A.  Do your trap shooting books have more information than in this web site?

  Oh, yes.  Much more!  Way better! The two books Trap Shooting Secrets and Precision Shooting combined have over 323 large format pages which equivalent to well over 600 pages of a standard paperback size book.  There are over 120 illustrations and more than 230 answers to tough shooting situations with specific instructions and over 180 practice tips you can take right to the practice trap and registered shoots with you!  These are trap shooting how-to technical textbooks.  You will refer to these books over your lifetime shooting career to resolve problems that arise in your shooting.  Just reach for it and you'll find the answer to the problem.  When things fall apart at a registered shoot you can grab the books and find the solution.  There are charts and graphs included even a handy wind-chart to remind you how to shoot targets in various wind directions.  If you think this web site is content rich, just wait until you read the books!  And yes, you can order both books... just make certain you read Trap Shooting Secrets first before advancing to the Precision Shooting book.  Most everyone is ordering both books simultaneously.  It seems there are allot of shooters who want to do some serious shooting this year. 

33 - B.  I was told I should buy a gun with a 34" barrel.  What's your opinion on this?

  Who told you?  A pro or a friend that is not shooting professionally?  It doesn't matter who did and for this reason;  An experience stock-fitter and a coach could find out for you.  Not everyone can shoot a 34" barrel as the gun balance is affected and it may not fit your body dimensions so what good is it if the gun won't swing right for you?  When in doubt?  Get a 32" barrel and you'll have a happy medium.  I shoot a 30 + 1 barrel (+1 is the extended choke).  I like a touch more lively swing and a shorter sight plane (personal preference).  A 32" barrel for some people can be a dog to swing and too heavy even when properly balanced.  See the article I wrote on selecting your first gun for some ideas.  If you are looking for power with a longer barrel forget it. A few inches will not add power.  If you think you can have a tighter pattern you can forget that too because even though the pattern is a tad tighter a few inches from the barrel it's not that way at the target 40-yards or so out. Don't get me wrong, a 34" barrel is neat, but in reality is not necessary for all shooters.   A 30" barrel will break the targets at 60-yards out with ease and you'll never shoot a handicap target that far away, ever.  So it comes down to sight plane preference and body fit.   Try a few gun on vendor's row and see what you like better.

33 - C.  The club I shoot at only shoots 16-yard targets.  I want to shoot handicap.  What should I tell them?

  Wake up and smell the money!  Handicap is where the money is and it is also where all the fun is (barring double-trap as this is the "fun" game for most shooters).  Shooting 16's is not very skillful shooting.  Handicap builds skill and demonstrates true shooting ability.  If nobody wants to shoot 16's ask club management to set aside some time for you to shoot it.  When I first came to a club on the West Coast nobody shot handicap.  I started doing it, others followed and the handicap waiting lines are longer than the 16's.  It also stirred these weekend shooters to get into competitive shooting.  At first only a few did, now a heavy percentage of shooters have become die-hard tournament shooters traveling every which way.    One just became an All Star shooter with the PITA.  All this in three short years.  Glory be!  It takes someone to lead the others.  Just start doing it and others will naturally follow you.  Nobody wants to be left behind.  

33 - D.  I tried an Extra-Full choke and I can't hit anything now.  I don't like it.  Help, please!

  That's good news, congratulations!  In fact, it's absolutely fabulous you did this!  Believe me, you are saving yourself many years of grief by making this transition now.  Of course you can't hit the targets with the extra-full choke as the pattern is too snug for sloppy hits.  Now you have to learn how to aim that gun a lot better than you have been doing.  With that big open choke you were using you could point and hit, but not anymore.  Now you have to get right on the target or you are going to miss.  That's the true secret of building precision shooting, but it's only a step in the staircase as more will need to be learned also like back-sighting and various eye and gun holds.  In any case, stay with this choke in your practice sessions and learn to shoot targets with it.  Who cares about score?  Forget about score... just find out how to hit the targets.  Now, make sure the choke did not seriously upset your point of impact.  High is okay, to a degree, say 3" high. Over that and you may run into timing problems or shooting over the top of the targets.  But if your core pattern is below point of aim, or left or right, then the choke is defective.  If it's a new choke, return it for another under warrantee.  Most choke manufacturers will accommodate you here.  When you switch from choke to choke always perform a POI check. If the choke is fine... it's time to get down on some serious practice.  Once you've got it down and switch to your normal light-full or full choke in competition just watch your scores rise like rockets.    This is sure-fire solid advice here.

33 - E.  I never shot registered targets.    When should I try?  Also, I'm timid thinking of it.

  Now, right now!  Don't put this off any longer.  You can never, never, never, be a good shooter until you enter competition.  And you will never experience the fun before, during or after these shoots.  So much fun you are missing out on, so many friends you will never know you have until you go. If you are frightened of the thought of entering competition your fears are justified to a degree because it is scary for everyone at first.  We are fearful of the unknown and making a fool of ourselves.  But in the real world once you do it the first time all of these emotional fears dissolve.  Then suddenly you're on top of the world so happy you got into this phase of shooting.  You find your true joy with the shotgun and that is tournament shooting!  Life is short and that clock is ticking.  Go out and have some real fun.  Now you may have to force yourself to go.  Is still do!  I mark my calendar and when the day nears I start thinking of excuses, other things I should be doing and I have to force myself to say, "No. I'm going.  I deserve this and I know when I get there I feel so good and glad I went."  So you need to kick yourself in the pants to get the gears in gear and go.  Step #1 -  Click here for the ATA link and find a shoot you want to attend.  Step #2 - mark your wall calendar for the shoot date. Step #3 - whip yourself into submission to go!  Step #4 - punish yourself with the fun you will have once you arrive. Step #5 - don't sue me!  I'm warning you ahead of time tournament shooting can be a very joyful experience and you may become addicted to having fun.  So you go at your own risk!

33 - F.  I don't have a shotgun yet but I want to get into this sport.  Where can I get a gun?

  See question #33 - E and contact the ATA.  See the article; What is Trap Shooting?  You can attend a registered shoot just to watch and get the idea of what is going on.  Then take a stroll to vendor's row and look at all the trap shotguns.  Read my article buying your first trap gun print it out and  bring it with you when you shop for a new gun.  A good starter gun is the Browning Citori brand trap guns with adjustable features or the Browning BT-Max.   Fact is, it may even be the last gun you buy too.  My experience tells me you can't go wrong with Browning trap guns as the price is so down to earth economically and they perform so well and last so long that repairs are nil to nothing. Later you may want to upgrade to more expensive guns, maybe not.  It's up to you.   If you have a ton of money to burn and cost is not an option you'll find a special factory ordered gun your better bet designed for your shooting method and body fit.   Now, you can try out the various guns at vendor row too!  You can't do that with a gun dealer in a store, but you can at vendor's row.  Take the gun(s) to the practice trap and test them out.   If you never shot a shotgun before as the vendor if s/he can find someone to give you your first lesson on the practice trap.   Many trap shooters will help you if just ask them.  You will find a lot of assistance at these registered shoots.  I'm glad you want to join in with us trap shooters.  Welcome!  Check out the article section for good reading on what to expect when attending registered shoots, etc. 

34.  I shoot and shoot and shoot and still don't get better.  Why?

  1)  You may be practicing the same old mistakes over and over again.  Are you learning anything new when you practice?  What is the purpose of your practice session?  It's not to break targets!  It's to learn something, apply it to see if it works, then use it if it does work.  You can't shoot brain dead by habit.  You have to shoot on purpose.  Did you bring your shotgun sports magazine to put the practice tips into play?  Maybe you should, 2)  Burn-out will tear you up pretty bad.  You can't keep shooting tons of shells and retain peak performance.  Shooting more is not smart practice, its just spending money and having fun (or punishing yourself).  Try stopping shooting for a couple weeks to rest,  3)  The brain can shut down if overworked.  Learn slowly, one step at a time.  Practice with intelligence.  Ask yourself, "How do I break that target?  Why does it chip or dust-ball?  What am I doing right?"   It's good to know what you did wrong, but it's better to focus on what you do right, 4)  Do you study trap shooting?  Do you really know the game based on the mechanics involved to attack targets?  5)  Do you watch professionals shoot?   Do you watch the target break when pros shoot or do you watch how they setup for the shot?  Do you try to incorporate what you learned - from watching the pros shoot - into your style to see if it can enhance your precision?  6)  Do you wager shoot at practice to stimulate a competitive mind-set? 7)  Do you read trap shooting books?  Watch videos?  Take lessons?  If not, how do you plan to learn how to shoot trap if you don't have the inner knowledge?

34 - A.  I keep missing extreme angle targets like a plague.  I need help.

  Those targets are difficult for everyone at one time or another.    You'll find some answers here in these questions and answers but most will be found in Trap Shooting Secrets book.  I'll give you something to evaluate.  Have you legs measured.  Most everyone has one leg shorter or longer than the other.    This can cause a defective square stance foundation, and an unstabilizing swing dynamic not due to wobble, but from angulation offset.  If you are standing crooked from the start you will swing and the muzzle will rise upwards over the top of the targets.  Insert some insole cushions in you shooting shoes to level the playing field here.  This is often overlooked by many trap shooters and is often a real cause of missing angle targets.  The problem is so hidden from the shooter's eyes that they can never figure out the problem.  Now you know!  And now you know how important it is to have a coach or book to help you resolve shooting difficulties!  

34 - B.  I get so nervous I can't shoot.

  I'm going to tell you something few has the nerve to say, "Take a Valium."  Nobody wants to take drugs/medicine but some people have to and that's just reality, folks.  My books do delve into fear management and shoot-off pressures, panic attacks, etc.  But ultimately if you have to take a pill to knock down the jitters then do it.  It's not illegal or against the rules (except Olympic shooting, of course).  You will find that you will not need them after a couple years or so, just having them in your vest or shoot-bag is comfort enough.    I've heard pro shooters "whisper" this among each other about taking a pill to remove the edge.  Hmmm, seems some of them have a nervousness problem too? Of course they do.  They are human too.  I've had to do it. Where did I get my advice from?  A Hall of Fame shooter! "Sometimes you just have to."   Now I'm not advocating taking drugs to shoot.  A pill here and there to cut the edge off is not abusive or cheating.  It's a medical problem some people have and that's all it is.  Some people get headaches and take aspirin.   Others need calming medicine.   

34 - C.  My trigger doesn't feel right but the pull gage say's it's okay and I'm missing targets.  Advice needed!

  Get your mind off the trigger and back onto focusing on the target.  You are becoming obsessed and over-sensitized to trigger pull/feel.  It's a common growing pain for many shooters.  This is not silhouette shooting... it's trap shooting.  Pull the trigger with a brisk authoritative move.  Don't squeeze it off.  You keep playing around with this and you'll develop a severe trigger flinch and a terrible mental hang-up centered on the trigger. It will never feel right, never, if you keep focusing on it as all the important aspects of trap shooting get ignored and you lose targets.  Too many shooters are "thinking trigger" when they should be "seeing target."  It is the sight picture that controls when you pull that trigger.  You work on that first so it becomes an automatic subconscious-like act, then pulling the trigger any which way you can gets you the score!  There are pros who "slap" the trigger with a brisk flick of the finger just like those who use the release trigger - just that those with a release slap the finger outward in a flash move (quick release motion of the trigger finger away from the trigger).  No thought or feel should be involved unless you want to miss targets, that is.

34 - D.  I quit shooting because of flinching.    Will your books help me?

  Trap Shooting Secrets book is the one for you!  I have an extensive chapter on flinch management.  In fact, it's so good I'll make a one-time offer with you on this one.  If your flinching doesn't stop in 30-days return the book to me and I'll refund the purchase price of the book, fair enough?  And you won't even have to go out and buy a release trigger or spend a dime on your gun to get rid of the flinches.    I'll show you how to do it. I've helped many shooters resolve complex flinch problems and it's easy to do because it's not recoil that's causing it... your timing is out of phase and we'll fix that problem right quick!  You'll be back in the game in no time at all.

34 - E.  I can't get good pulls and it's driving me nuts.  How do pros deal with it?

  Some can't.  You should hear them cuss and fuss, "It was a #*%!#* fight on every call!"  Check the release button to see if it's working properly.  If so, ask to replace the puller, but first you must know how to manage slow and fast pulls.  If you are afraid to turn them down then you are not playing the game properly. If you are turning down too many then you have become too sensitive to pull timing.  There are methods you can use when when getting slow pulls like extending your call tone duration as a time tracker to desensitize the slight target delay without ruining your setup.  Neat tricks all explained in the books.  No stone has been left unturned in these text books.  All subjects are covered.  Things you have never heard of before but are very effective target killing techniques!     

34 - F.  I read your book TSS but I still want to get a new gun.  What do you think?

  A new gun can be helpful, no doubt about it if you know what you want in the gun and it fits better, balance and sighting plane is enhanced, or technological advanced design makes the gun superior.  Or, if you simply fall out of love with your old gun and can never make up and kiss... a new gun may be just part of the answer for you.  I'd advise you to consult with a coach or top-gun pro before buying a new gun.  Way too many shooters "blame the gun" when the true root to their problem is they really don't know how to shoot or have simply fallen into a deep slump and can't escape.  If you still want a new gun custom order the gun to your specifications; point of impact, pattern core density specifications required, adjustable high-post flat step-rib, recoil cushion, adjustable comb, trigger set or lock time, etc.    There's a lot to making a switch and many shooters simply just buy a gun off the shelf, put it up and fire it and it's all wrong, all so wrong!  You can't adapt to the gun, the gun must adapt to you.  Move with caution especially when buying those expensive guns.  Do your research, know what your really want and need in a gun, consult a shooting coach and a stock-fitter.  Don't walk into this blindly.    Be smart when you buy and you'll shoot better scores... no doubt about that.     

35.  When should I attend my first competition shooting event?

  Today.  Now.  Immediately.  Mark your calendar!   Don't say, "Oh, I'm not good enough for that yet...  I'm not going to make a fool of myself shooting a 60 in handicap or 79 in singles.  Not me!"   Wrong attitude.  Practice all you want, years if that's what you want, but you will not be a good tournament shooter when you do finally think you're ready.   Practice can never supplant competition.  There is an energy that arises within that you can't bring out in practice, ask any pro to verify this.  The moment you learn the proper etiquette and safety rules - usually in the first month of shooting - it's now time to sign up for tournament shooting.  You jump into this sport and shoot poor scores just like everyone else did when starting out.  Then you look at the scoreboard and say, "Hey, I didn't do too bad considering this is my first time!"  It's all fun thereafter (can I say that?).  I know shooters who swore they would never shoot registered shoots.  After trying it just once, well, some have won events at the big State shoots in a year or two.  It's true.  I kid them about it every time I see them, "And you said you would never leave town to shoot competition?"

35 - A.  Why is it some clubs I shoot well and others I can't?

Quite a few reasons,  1)  They may throwing faster targets, 2) Targets could have little face on them and appear as razor blades,  3)  Targets may have no black rim to reduce halos and comet tails, 4) Background scene may interfere, 5)  Trap house cosmetics affecting your gun and eye hold setup angles and your swing dynamics, 6)  Humidity and wind direction can upset your scores, 7) Trap machine's tired employing little spin to target or throwing targets offset from trap stations, 8) Poor lighting conditions, 9)  Eddy currents in the trap field causing target jinking, 10)  A psychological hang-up. If you don't like the club you usually will shoot poorly, 11)  The club could be throwing illegal targets or targets that are hard in composition which makes them tougher to break.   These are just a few reasons.  You'll find the solutions to these problems in my trap shooting books.

35 - B.  Why do pros shoot so well?  It's incredible how precise they are.

  They have the knowledge of the game down pat.  They know what they are doing and they have years of experience, plus they are dead-serious about their shooting.  The main difference is the knowledge factor.  The shooter who knows the game best usually wins if they can apply the knowledge.  The pro is always shooting to stay in good shape and this is where the weekend shooters' have a tougher time trying to beat the pros, but it's still knowledge that wins out over everything.    There are weekend shooters who have the inner knowledge and do beat the pros.    I see it all the time.  The pros don't win every shoot.  So the key is to learn what the pros know. 

  Not having that knowledge is the prime reason for failure.   You'll just keep on missing too many targets and consistency remains out of reach. Pros do not shoot like the majority of shooters.  They use totally different techniques.  On the surface it may appear they are using techniques that appear to be traditional in nature, but to the trained eye, you'll see they have completely different setups than other shooters.  It's as if everyone has gone to the wrong shooting school except them.  That's how contrary it is.  They use methods you wouldn't believe to be true... methods you have been told are wrong, yet the pros use them.   Many shooters have been mislead to believe in certain trap shooting rules and fall by the wayside stuck in miserable eternal slumps and eventually stop competing or quit the sport.  That's why I wrote the books so you can learn these inner secrets to the game.  Believe me, there are secrets to this game you must learn if you wish to play well.

35 - C.  I like orange dome targets and I can't stand green. What can I do to shoot green targets better?

  You simply have developed an adverse mental block on the green target.    It's a mind thing, primarily.  Start telling yourself you can hit the green, you like the green, you can see the green and you'll see a positive change.   As long as you have this favored preference imbedded in you mind one color target is better than another you can expect to shoot poorly on green targets.  Now it is not an illusion that you may dislike green targets simply due to the fact you have a tougher time seeing green against diverse and strange backgrounds.  Once you remove that mental block favoring certain targets or certain gun clubs that's when you will learn the techniques to adapt to these targets.  But first you must change your thought pattern.  Change comes from within first, then you'll see a change for the better in your scores.  Don't get hung-up on trivial things even if they appear major stumbling blocks to you.  Face the problem head-on with no personal preference and you'll open your mind up to new knowledge.  You'll see the answer to shooting green targets was in your mind all along. 

  Now, you can't just say to yourself, "A target is just a target no matter what color it is."  That would not be true.   There are differences in shooting orange to green to black targets!   The point is, you'll never discover these differences until you get rid of the adverse thoughts.  Make it a goal this year to purposely shoot some green targets in competition and go with the attitude that you want to learn to shoot these targets and you are going because you want to learn to like them.  Sounds simple, but watch what happens.  You may be pleasantly surprised!  Here's a quick tip for you.   Don't try harder to hit these green targets. The harder you try the more will escape.  You'll get all frozen up internally and externally.  Look for the zone where the green fuzzy halo vaporizes and the target becomes clean to see.  Set your zone and eye pre-focus to that transition area and you'll be two-steps ahead of the other shooters.  Shoot that zone even if your timing feels just a tad bit off the mark.   You may have to re-learn your timing when shooting these green targets a little bit just to compensate.  Don't fight it.  Like it!  You'll like it when you start dustballing them.  

35 - D.  Is it true people cheat in the sport?

  Lies, lies, all lies.  Of course some do, but guess what?   They usually don't win.  Now the sandbagger is a different animal.  S/he shoots sloppy until the aroma of big money is sensed.  They appear looking like sad puppies, innocent beginners with a frightened look in their eyes.  Then they turn it on and break them all.  That, is a professional shooter... they all have that unsure look... but what are you going to do?  Quit the sport?  No.  Get good and beat the sandbagger at his own game.  Don't get me wrong, sandbaggers have rights too!  Isn't it time we support them in their quest for equality?  Shouldn't we give our brother/sister sandbagger the respect they truly deserve?  They give shooters that driving force to excel in hopes of whipping the tar out of the poor sandbagger and end up being great shooters.  All and all, the sport has rules.   Cheating is rare.  There are no leprechauns.  There are no sandbaggers... they are figments of the imagination.  Everyone who wins is a sandbagger!  The losers are always suspicious. 

  As for outright cheating?  There are shooters who will dram-up powder charges to boost shot velocity exacting less lead on the the target.   They will use plated shot (copper or nickel) to draft a tighter pattern and use more shot weight than is permitted.  Rules may forbid this but these "cheats" are only cheating themselves for they never win the shoots and by playing around with these toys they lose consistency in their own shooting.  These guys are always looking for the easy way out of fixing a problem with their own poor shooting form.  Shooters who do not have the inner knowledge of the game are constantly searching for an easy way solution, some gimmick or device.  It's a shell one week, a new choke another week, a new this or that or what have you.  They are wasting precious time when they could be learning the precision shooting methods that will get the job done.  Now if an accomplished shooter were to load-up illegal shells it would be much more dangerous, but these shooters are watched more closely by fans out of curiosity and joy of seeing them shoot so well and that prevents them from attempting to cheat for discovery is eminent... not to say they would cheat knowing they would get caught.  The better shooters have cheating far from their thoughts.   Good shooters don't need these silly edges.  If you want to learn how to cheat, go to our comedy trap shooting page The Lighter Side.  We have interviews with professional sandbaggers, advertisements of special products for cheating trap shooter's, etc.  Laughter is good medicine! 

35 - E.  I see shooters turning down targets to get a better target and that's cheating.

  Some do, but in the real world few do.  There are some shooters who will turn down a target by trying to read a non-interupter trap and they miscalculated, or just to get a better target.  Most shooters are legitimately  turning down targets.    Some shooters turn down quite a few targets and people will say, "There was nothing wrong with that pull!"  But they are not intimately behind the gun as the shooter is.  Only the shooter know if the pull was fine or not.  Some shooters are very finely-tuned that when the target does not appear in a predetermined beat, the target is late.  Assume you are using the moving gun technique (forward thrust).  When you call for the target the gun's muzzle has moved forward beyond 1/2" and the target has not appeared, it's a slow bugger pull.  But to the casual observer?  "Nothing was wrong with that pull!"  If the target appeared before the gun even moved, it's a fast pull and again the uniformed will say, "He's turning down targets to get straight-aways!"  The manual pull system is outdated and should be replaced with voice call box.  Europe has been using them for years.  It's bad enough for the shooter to deal with his/her own imperfections but to have to rely on another human, the puller, it adds a layer of complexity.    Fine-tuned shooters have learned years ago that to shoot the targets one must learn to be consistent and those pulls must be on the mark.  Slow and fast pulls are devious to the well trained shooter and they know better not to shoot at them because that's how you'll drop targets.  Why?  Because they blow the setup, disrupt timing and allow the target to escape the zone.    

35 - F.  Why is it I keep getting fast pulls?

  Beware of puller timing!  The puller is anticipating you.    He/she is listening to the other shooters and is getting into a timing groove... Pull-bang!  Pull-bang!  Pull-bang!  That squad rhythm is catchy and it can be helpful as well as harmful.  Your setup may be just a tad slower than the other squad members and the puller lets the target rip out of the house even before you call for the target.  It's really the puller's fault, not yours, unless your setup is taking over 6-seconds then you need to polish up on that.  Other times the puller hears an adjacent shooter's call and you get a target you didn't call for.   Amazingly, many shooters will still shoot at it because they had the gun shouldered and were just about to call anyway.  Big mistake!  You have to be totally setup and mentally and visually ready for the target.  If you shoot at surprises it's no surprise you didn't win the shoot!  Learn now to turn down targets.  It may disrupt the squad, but it's in the rule book you can do so!  It's part of the game!   Note: with voice call systems, you won't need to turn down targets because you will get a good pull every time, if the sensitivity is set properly.  

  I'll give you a tip.  If you are always shooting a squad the relies on rhythm and never turns down targets you are definitely shooting on the wrong squad!  Your friends are not helping you one bit, in fact, they are destroying your scores.  It's called a brain-dead squad.  Nobody has the knowledge of proper timing-off of the shot and they will machine-gun your scores downward.  That peer pressure of not wanting to be, "That Billy always disrupts our rhythm so we don't want him on our squad" will hurt you more than Billy!  When Billy gets his act together (setup, timing and zones) and starts winning those big shoots, Billy ain't gonna want you to shoot on his squad... you can bet on it.  What is the biggest sign of an amateur?  The shooter who shoots every target that comes out of the house without turning down a target or two or four in a 100-bird event.  Watch the pros and you'll see some turndowns.   There are big reasons for it.  If a pro turns down 4-targets and you don't, maybe that's likely why you got a 96 and the pro got all 100-straight.  See, it all comes back to that knowledge thing again.  You have to know what you are doing and the reasons why things are done the way they are. 

36.  So that's why you say not to shoot with friends?

  Yes, it's part of the reasons as given in question 35-F.    Trap shooting is so much more than a comfort zone.  I hate to burst bubbles, but registered trap shooting is not a fun-shoot.  It's not an Annie-O or Buddy-shoot.   It's all business.  You are not shooting on a team!   Each shooter is trying to beat you so there is no true teamwork.  Shooter's who know how to establish proper rhythms - and few do know how to do that properly - can be of great assistance.  However, most shooters have got the purpose of squad rhythm all wrong.   They think it's timing-up each shooter to a comfortable ticking clock-like rhythm, but in all reality, it is timing-off the shots where the targets break...it's shooting the zone!  Watch the pros squad and you'll see plenty of interruptions in the traditional rhythm.  They stop to set targets, instruct pullers, turn down pulls, etc.  But when they start shooting you'll notice something you never saw before... they are all blowing up the targets in the same zone! 

  I can tell you this.  You will learn a lot about the inside workings and reasons for trap shooting in my books.  They were written to dissolve myths and to give you the inside knowledge that simply has not been available unless you were lucky enough to be personally "social" with the professional shooters.  That's how they pass along their knowledge, from friend to friend, father to son or daughter.  Giving lessons is also another method, but often the inner secrets are not revealed until you have taken many refresher courses.  It's no mistake my books are hot sellers worldwide and readers are winning shoots.   Enlightenment is the power that gets results.  If you want results... get the knowledge.  Once you see the wisdom you'll see how the friends you are shooting with are ruining your scores.  You don't have to stop shooting with them... educate them.   If they won't listen to reason, then start shooting with another squad who will apply sound professional trap shooting techniques.  Practicing with your buddies on weekends is one thing, shooting competitively in big money shoots is another.   Winners know the difference.     

36 - A.  I shoot high 90's and even 100's in practice but low 80's in competition.  Why?

  Comfort Zone!  You are extremely comfortable and confident when practicing at your club and you know the backgrounds and target behavior all too well.    Then when you leave this comfort zone to attend another shoot this comfort zone is no longer with you.  This happens even if the tournament occurs at your own home club's grounds.  This is a certain indication of a shooter who is shooting with his/her eyes alone and purely on a subconscious level.  Also, tournament pressure is a problem for you as it will be for the eye's alone shooter.  I would tend to believe, without seeing you shoot, you are tightening up due to a strong emotional desire to shoot well that is channeled in the wrong direction which is defeating your talent.    This inner strength must be directed to the target but it is being rebounded between the conscious and subconscious mind and is destroying your setup and timing of the shot.  Too much pressure and internal conflict is taking place!  A "habit" has been formed to shoot well at practice and bomb on the tournament.   

  This bad habit cycle is broken with the use of strong affirmations and an understanding of how the subconscious mind influences shooting performance.    Essentially, there is a hidden "fear element" in the mind that must be dealt with;  a fear of missing the targets, a fear of repeating a past performance cycle or a belief in repeating a poor performance as an expected outcome, a fear of the fear, etc. You may feel calm yet still be terrified internally on the subconscious level.  Too bad there are so few sports psychologists for trap shooters.  My books will put you in touch with  the subconscious management phase of shooting and give you those inside secrets to build a more controlled precise plan to hit the targets.    Implement the plan and the comfort zone returns so you can shoot those high 90's at tournaments.  You are a prime candidate to have a one-on-one chat with a professional trap shooter and take a few coaching lessons. 

  The pros have experienced what you are suffering from and they too can give you valuable advice.  Find a pro who knows how to explain psychological barriers (not all can) and if you can't, you may want to read some books on sports psychology.  But ultimately, you are going to have to resort to affirmations to maintain high performance shooting as it is a proven fact it is the communication link to the subconscious mind.  Every shooter has a subconscious shooting problem.  Why?  Because they do not know the power of the mind and nobody is teaching trap shooters these management techniques.  Every shooter wants to break high scores but they can't, yet they do know how to shoot but they still can't break those scores.  That's the power of the subconscious defeating the shooter.  It's mind game!  A very powerful mind game.  Master the mental aspect and you'll be shooting-off with the pros.

36 - B.  Could I learn to shoot at the professional level and what does it take?

  Big question!  I'll break it down into simple steps, 1)  To shoot at the pro level will take an extra measure of commitment to attend many shoots on the circuit to maintain the polished state of form.  Most people cannot financially afford it and most work for a living so time is not available to tour so that's out the window, 2)  You can obtain a high degree of professional scores simply by learning the tricks and methods of the trade, 3) The greatest barrier most shooters experience is the "Genius Factor."  See the article I have written, The Genius Factor In Trap Shooting.   

  You can learn, but before you can, you must believe you can learn and then be bold enough to proclaim to your inner-self that you are professional.  There is no bright line drawn in the sand of time where the amateur and the professional step across somewhere in the future... it is right now!  Professionalism starts in the mind long before professional scores are achieved.  It's the only way to receive professional scores!  You have to be a pro to shoot like a pro.  There is no someday.  The learning process begins, now.  A professional is trained to be a professional.  It comes either from coaching or pure hard years of experience and often both.  Regardless, it is earned through a learning process.  The question to ask yourself is, "When do I become professional?  Is it now or is it never?"

36 - C.  After buying your books I should still obtain shooting lessons from a coach?

  Yes, if you wish to obtain maximum shooting performance.  The books give you all the inside knowledge you need to become a very proficient trap shooter and will take you right into the professional arena.  But when you are shooting against professionals the edge is very sharp and you must be "polished" to compete with them on this professional level.  A shooting coach or teacher will give you that smooth polish and shave a few years off the polishing phase of the high-end learning curve.  Once you read the books and apply the principles and sessions it's really amazing what can happen when you then go see a shooting instructor.  Some people go to a shooting clinic with very little knowledge and get overwhelmed or don't know what questions to ask or whatever.  The books and the instructor work hand-in-hand complimenting each other.   Read the books first and you'll get more bang for your buck when you eventually do take a shooting lesson.  They will push you ahead of the class.

36 - D.  Why do professional shooters seem aloof and hard to approach?

  If they appear distant it is likely they are, and for good reason.    Just standby and listen to how trap shooters talk to each other and you'll find out why.  Autosuggestion is the same power a hypnotist can use to make people perform strange and funny things just by using simple commands.  The subconscious mind is a powerful instrument.  It can and will mimic what it receives as a command.    "Well, ain't no way I'm going to win this shoot!"  "I'll shoot as bad as I did yesterday."  These are just examples of the negative comments heard constantly at trap shoots.  Pessimism reigns supreme.  The more you hear these comments, as innocent as they may appear, your subconscious will accept those commands unless you "consciously" reject them.  The subconscious does not honor a joke... it will obey.  The pro knows the psychology of trap shooting and how difficult it is to maintain a positive mind-set.  Now you know why so many will not associate.  It's not that they don't like you, or they are mean people, it's self-preservation to them!  Eventually, you will discover this for yourself and you'll have to choose your friends and conversations closely if you wish to shoot well.

36 - E.  I keep shooting over the targets.

  Point of impact needs adjusting.  Lower it.  But this may not help if your timing is out of phase.  Assuming it's okay, try telling yourself each time you shoulder the gun, "Stay under the target."  Do this for the entire event and you'll stay under the target.  It's simple, but it works fine.  Try stepping up your timing and swinging a bit smoother and slower.  Fast shooting does not mean a fast swing!  The books explain this strange phenomena.  If you shoot an O&U you may want to try shooting the top barrel as most O&U's top barrels shoot a bit flatter than the lower barrel.  O&U are designed for double-trap targets, Double ABT, Olympic and DTL targets.  The first shot is always attacking a fast or fast-rising target and requires a higher POI so the bottom barrel is used.  It's okay to use the bottom barrel on handicap targets too.  But if you are shooting over the top?  Try the top barrel.  You may find your problem solved.  If not?    You're shooting out of synchronization for the zone you are shooting and your trigging timing is all wrong and will need a major rebuild to get back into proper phase.

36 - F.  I'm having a tough time setting my point of impact.   How do you fine-tune it?

  Shoot at a pattern board to get close where you want it, say, 80/20.    Is the gun shooting straight at the pattern board?  Or is the pattern shooting to the left or right?  It has to be shooting straight.  If not, get the gun fixed right away!  Most shooters stop there at the pattern board and run into trouble.  You are right that POI needs fine-tuning,  1) Go to a practice trap and make sure the trap is set for legal targets on a calm day.  We don't wind to upset or improper trap settings to confuse us here,  2) Install your normal choke or extra-full choke.  Step on your handicap yardage and stay on post #3, shoot the shallow angle targets and shoot within the timing you plan to shoot, inside the zone.  You have to dust-ball the targets, chips don't count.    If targets don't explode into dust adjust POI a tiny bit... it doesn't take much of an adjustment to make wide extremes so a 1/2 turn on an adjustable rib, or a paper thin rise or fall on the comb ( or stock) will do.  Keep testing until you get solid hard hits, very hard hits,  3) Left hand shooter's go to post #1 and stay there (right-handers go to post 5).  Now dust-ball the hard angles in the same timing and zone you plan to use.  Do not adjust your timing or zone so the target's will burn... make the gun shoot where you want it to, right where you are looking!   You should already know your basic timing and zone before setting POI.  Read TSS and PS books to learn about timing and zones.  Make a very small adjustment, which will likely be necessary, 4)  Now go to post #3 and see how the target's break then back to post #1.  You should be very near perfect now, or close to it,  5) Take a rest break (very important to clear out the mind) then shoot a normal round of trap.  You should now be hammering every shallow and hard angle on posts 1, 3 and 5.  You may find you are missing on post 2 and 4 - don't worry about this as it is only a minor visual disturbance on the sight picture which you will correct on your own.  By changing the POI the sight pictures and timing has changed a smidgen.  You'll be back on track again in no time at all.   Just don't adjust POI on each post, always go back to post 1 and 3 to do it or you will go nuts with confusion.  This is the method I use and it's fast and very precise,  6) Now recheck with your normal choke.  You have to have reliable hot-core patterns to dust-ball all of the targets.  Use a tighter choke to get this reliability.  You can use lasers to set POI and a pattern board but these are only tools to get you in the ballpark.  The only sure way to match POI with your timing and zone is to make adjustments while you are actually breaking targets.   You know you have it right when the target literally explodes violently when hit, hardly any target left and a cloud of smoke forms.  If you are still chipping targets the choke is not tight enough and/or the POI is not set properly.  You can not set POI at the singles 16-yard line.  It must be performed at the handicap so you can see if the target's are dust-balling at distance with precise hits.  Singles is way too close and will give you false readings on the target breaks,  7)  Setting POI is not fun whatsoever but it is something you have to do, so start the pain today so you can smile later.  Nine out of ten shooters do not know how to set timing, zones never mind adjusting POI so you should read the TSS and PS books to get it right the first time!   

37.  Tell me something I can do at my next practice session.

  Practice mounting the gun and swinging it at imaginary targets before you step on line.  Do this by the pattern board area in a safe manner, gun unloaded.   This will loosen up the muscles and setup a positive visualization link in the mind that you will hit the targets.  Start on post 3.  Don't shoot fast.  Relax, knowing the targets will not escape, so don't push the muzzle to the target, swing to it with body English.  Swing smooth.  When target exits don't go after it.   Let target leave the streak zone.  Just freeze that gun until your eye can see the target.  Identify the zone where you normally break the target.  On your next shot, try to break target in that zone.  This alone will increase your visual skills and help you establish a recognition of a zone.  Now you're paying attention to details and not just shooting like you likely have been at practice.  Now you will begin to learn things.  Don't shoot to break targets, shoot to learn something new.  Experiment with different ways to break targets.  There is more than one way to break a target.  The best way for you may be found doing something much different than what you did in the past.  That's progress!  My Trap Shooting Secrets book has over 120 such practice tips in much greater detail.  It's like having a coach by your side telling you what to try and do.  You can't learn or break out of slumps doing the same old things over and over again especially when such things are not increasing your scores.  Open your mind to experimentation.  

37 - A.  In your TSS book you mention #8 shot impact energy is a mere .2 ft-lb but shouldn't you consider that 7 1/2 size shot has a huge 22% increase in power?

  This is true, but one must also consider all variables.  It requires 3 to 5 pellets to break a target and #8 shot has more pellets, so you have more working for you as an advantage in fair weather and dry targets.  Most shooters are not precision shots. so they need the edge with more pellets.  In foul weather 7 1/2 is King of the Hill.  I also gave a handicap break point of 24-yards to switch to 7 1/2 shot.  Many shooters have used #8's to get to the back fence with success.    Impact energy of #8 is .2 and 7 1/2 is 1.1 ft-lbs.  When you consider the added number of pellets #8 has in a 1 1/8 shot load the total force on the target to break can actually be higher than 7 1/2's if the shooter shoots with a hot-core pattern (25 to 28 inch pattern).  Yes, you are right that having 22% more energy at the 27-yard line can be a considerable help, but you also have less pellets to work with so accuracy must increase to make up for the loss, and 71/2's will naturally group tighter.   It's really a catch-22.  Bottom line?  Use 7 1/2's beyond the 24-yard line if they pattern properly with a hot-core.  There is another line of thought too:   The more pellets (with sufficient energy #8's do have) you throw at a target the higher the odds of breaking it.  Each 1 1/8 oz shell of #8 throws 461 pellets.   The 7 1/2 only throws 394.  A difference of 64 pellets per shot.  That too can mean you have 64 more chances of striking the target.  In the course of a handicap event of 100 targets?  You would, using #8's, throw 64x100 = 6,400 more pellets than shooting with 7 1/2 shot!  That alone increases your odds hitting more targets by a large margin.  Yes, less energy than 7 1/2 on a per pellet basis but highly effective when using a hot core pattern to accumulate the impact energy per pellet.   There is no easy answer.  Best advice?  Try #8's at 3 drams and if your scores go up you'll have what you need to get the job done.  If not?  Go back to 7 1/2's.  Each gun and shooter will get different results.

"IF YOU WANT TO SHOOT WELL... YOU NEED GUIDANCE"

38.  I am still missing targets.   Now what?

  Check your stance.  The vast majority of shooters have horrid shooting stances.  Basket case situations.  It's not their fault, they just haven't had the opportunity to be properly coached.  The way you stand determines the geometry of the swing and repeatability ability.  This is hard to explain without drawings and even then daunting at that.  Stance is only half of the equation; foot position is also critical and they change from post to post and trap to trap.  I recommend you watch professionals and see how they stand and see the minute foot position changes they make from station to station.  Get some video tapes on trap shooting.  They are listed in  Shotgun Sports Magazine and Trap & Field Magazine.  Get a coach.  If an instructor could only see you shoot just once you would walk away with a ton of knowledge.  You can't see what you are doing wrong.   The coach looks from the outside-in.  If you videotape yourself you can see your errors, that is, if you know how to recognize a error when you see one.   Usually, it takes a skilled eye to see the errors and a video tape just won't close-in on the details.

38 - A.  I am sick and tired of shooting lousy and losing.  What can I do?

  Exactly.  Read what you said!  You have totally convinced yourself you expect to lose based on past performance and experience.  I know it is very hard to break this formidable barrier but you must begin to treat yourself better and ignore reality if you wish to escape from this self-fulfilling prophesy.  There comes a turning point in each persons' life where the past must make way for the present/future.  Rule #1  Never believe what you see in yourself in regards to shooting performance as truth.  Meaning; take a chance and believe in yourself by changing your mind-set today to, "I am a winner.  I may need some instructions and a little practice, but I'm going to win this year."  Rule #2  Do something to make it happen.    Get some instructions, lessons, hire a shooting coach, anything to get your mind to the positive arena where miracles can begin.  Rule #3  Never be in a hurry, for the more you slow down the higher frame of mind you will ascend to where insight and imaginative creativity can be received.   So don't cram your new knowledge.  Just absorb it one step, one day, at a time.  Relax!  Rule #4  Do not even mention anything that is negative sounding.  Pay very close attention to your thought patterns.  Cast out every negative thought the moment it enters your mind it will sprout and flourish.   We must very close vigilance to our thoughts for they have the power to materialize.  Whether you wish to believe this or not it will happen with or without your permission.  It's like a universal law.  You either conform and be rewarded or disobey and pay.  You don't have a choice here, okay? Rule #5.  Just believe.   Believe in your dream.   As you believe so it shall be done.  Now go back and read every word you can in this web site about shooting.  Read it slowly and let it sink into your mind.   Print it out if you must and take a page with you when you go practice and work on what you have learned.  Then next week do the same with another page.  If you do this for even 6-months that is shooting 26-lessons you didn't have last year. Consider it trap shooting school!  I believe you are going to see your win in this 6-month period or less.  It will happen!   Learn precision shooting methods and watch what happens. 

38 - B.  I tried shooting on a new squad in competition and it was a total disaster.  I didn't like it one bit.

  Good for you!  You're not supposed to like it. It's intended to be disruptive.  And if you drop targets and embarrass yourself you have done yourself a big favor.  Okay, you lost some money on this shoot and the ego was burned, but just remember one thing... when you are in a shoot-off you will be with a strange squad... and if you can't handle that squad they will dance on your mind and you'll lose the shoot-off.  The fact you felt the experience was a disaster, based on your score ranking, indicates you have not learned how to control your timing and your game, yet.  Your subconscious mind is joining forces with the squad and that's where you lose your edge and all your skill... gone up in smoke.  Once your comfort zone (shooting buddies) were taken away you fell apart.  All sorts of "blame factors" came into play finding fault with some other squad member or members.  And it is true the squad could be a basket case, but you must learn to rise above such calamities.  The only way you can is to continue shooting with those strange unknown squads and start thinking of it as a POSITIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE.   Be the squad leader and start LEADING.  If they don't follow then leave them behind, but don't let them ruin your concentration, inner focus control, upset your timing factors and your scores.  Go back and do it again, and again, and again... it's really fun to learn and you will be laughing later once you master the squad... all the way to the bank!   There can be no mental hang-ups in trap shooting and no one can be given the power to influence your shooting routine, unless you allow it.

 38 - C.   Any tips for shooting in the rain?

  Yes, a few.  Use RainX brand on your shooting glasses as this helps stop fogging and rain from adhering.  Also, the targets will be suppressed, generally, and damp so you'll need to keep your muzzle under the targets and use 7 1/2 shot to get solid breaks.  If the throw arm rubber is also damp or wet the target spin speed will be lower and it's the spin that breaks the targets not the pellets.    The pellets only puncture a target and make fragmentation cracks.   Centrifugal force is what causes the target to fly apart when hit.  Wear blinders and a hat with a large bill. 

38 - D.  I tried blinders but they fog up my glasses even with anti-fog chemicals applied.  Any suggestions?

  Yes, your blinders should be made of leather, rough unpolished leather facing the inside near your skin.  Leather breathes and will wick condensation vapors so fogging is greatly diminished. 

38 - E.  When I shoot bad I don't feel well and end up shooting the next event as poorly.

  This is normal.  We all feel bad when we pop a low score.  It's a personal defeat, but you must develop the heart of a champion by pulling yourself out of it.  Mope, shed tears, seek sympathy from the other losers too, but just don't do that all day.  Get it out of your system and start anew.    Never let your emotions get into this game.  It's just another thing you have to learn.  I know it's hard to do, terribly hard, but there are no alternatives available.

38 - F.  How many trap guns should I have?  I know many shooters who own a dozen shotguns.

  One, no more than two.  You can own as many as you wish, but you can only shoot one or two reliably.  Every time you switch guns you have another 5,000 to 10,000 shell-to-fire learning curve... and that's not very productive thing to do.  It may be fun shooting different guns but fun and high scores often do not mix very well in tournament shooting.  You could buy an Over & Under so you can shoot all the games.  A single-barrel trap gun for singles and handicap and have another gun for doubles such as an O&U or semi-auto.  A combo gun is a good bet too.  This way you are always shooting the same stock dimensions for proper gun fit, balance remains stable, sight planes, etc.  See my article, "Buying Your First Trap Shotgun" for ideas.

39.  How come some shooters wear eyeglass blinders?

  Tunnel-vision increases eye focus on target, reduces reflective glare from lens refraction's you can't see, but your subconscious can, causing ghost images.  Really!  They also help upsetting concentration by reducing peripheral vision so eye and mind will not be distracted by other shooters on line. And, to reduce glare from sun angle.  If you don't wear blinders and a hat with a extended bill, you should.  You will surprise yourself just how focused you can be.   Certainly, it feels strange at first.  Some shooter's scores drop when trying blinders and say, "Not for me."  But that is the wrong approach.  You don't measure new shooting technique for instant results.  It doesn't work that way.

39 - A.  How can I stop making mistakes?

  You can't.  You're not a machine.  Watch the Olympics and you'll see plenty of mistakes due to human factors.  Pros make mistakes too, but they have an edge... the mistakes are often minor enough that they can still rip a piece of the target and get the score.  They miss targets too just like you, me, and everyone else.  Best you can do is eliminate most of the mistakes so only a few remain.  Then reduce that  so less remain.  By this time you're fairly flawless but still vulnerable to err.

39 - B.  I hit 23 and 24's on traps but that 25 eludes me so much.  Why?

  You lose faith and expect to miss the target as if it's a dream too good to be true.  This can occur on the conscious or subconscious level or both.  You have to find this demon and boot it out of your head.  It's all in your mind.  Place no emphasis on the last targets.  They are not special, it's just a target.  Stop counting, "Only two more left to go and I've run this trap."  That will set you up for a tumble (but you likely will anyway).    You have to work on your mind-thoughts to a powerful degree to break out of this rut.  You can do it!  Concentrate very hard on these targets just as you did with all the others, no more, no less.  Nothing special about them.  If you're making your misses on your first post or so, then you need to learn how to tune up your visualization skills to stop these missed targets.  Because it means your mind and swing dynamics and eye focus is disorderly until you shoot a few targets to warm up.    If this problem persists you have another problem that is common, the need to get the misses out of your system (mind) prior to the event.  That will call for you to visit the practice trap, shoot and if you miss, you will be satisfied and psychologically ready for the main event. 

39 - C.  I use the singles event for my warm-up.  Why do other shooters use the practice traps for handicap events?

  The two games are different.  Yes, you can use the singles to warm up your body moves and eye motion muscles but it all essentially stops there.  You can do the same by simply hitting the practice trap for a round or two.    If your scores are not pleasing to you in the handicap events then you should buy your ticket and get in line to that handicap practice trap.  It's the best warm up for that game.  If you shoot doubles you shot the double practice trap?  Yes, you do.  Now do the same with handicap.  Don't try to intermingle these three games as being related to each other as they are not even remotely related.

39 - D.  Much of this is confusing to me.  How can I absorb this?

  It's really not that complicated once you begin to apply the concepts.  But it is complicated if you try to absorb too much at one time.    Just take a few tips from this web page, maybe two or three, and then apply them at your next practice session.  What doesn't work for you this Sunday may very well work for you a year from now when your shooting matures, so don't write off anything that does not work today for tomorrow, okay?  I admit these pages are written for those that are not really beginning in the sport as for those who have quite a bit of in-depth knowledge of the game, but you'll pick up on it over time.  You should read Trap Shooting Secrets book and that will get you going too.  It's a bit advanced of a book too, but I've broken it all down into sub-chapters and I tell you what to do so that makes the job much easier. Sooner or later you'll have to learn these things so why not start learning them right now?

40.  You're saying a new technique that fails to break targets is proper?

  That is correct.  The first time you try anything new your scores will always drop.  You have to realize this will happen.  Ask any coach or any shooter who has been coached.  A new form always doesn't feel right.   Most shooters try something to see if it breaks targets.  If they don't see instant results the abandon the technique.  If it doesn't feel right they abandon the form and return to their old ways.  When you're doing something wrong it always feels right!  Many top shooters will tell you that they must constantly strive and struggle to retain proper form.  When their scores drop they are reverting to something the subconscious mind wants them to do, but is opposite to what they know is the right thing to do.  It creeps up on you.  It's a constant battle.  So, new techniques require a long testing phase to incorporate it into your form.  If you're searching for instant results find another sport, but I know of no sport that doesn't require the same mental battleground scenarios.  When you find a method that makes perfect sense, you make the technique work.  You work at it until it does work.   I can't go into all the details here.  It's covered in Trap Shooting Secrets book quite thoroughly.

41.  You say shooters should not buy Precision Shooting book.  Explain that.

  I don't want a shooter to buy Precision Shooting if s/he has not read Trap Shooting SecretsPrecision Shooting is highly advanced training.  It will do you little good to read a book you can't understand.  It's like reading the last chapter in a book first.  Trap Shooting Secrets is no push over either.  It too has very powerful techniques and the shooter must know them before s/he can advance to the next step.  You can't graduate from any course until you've taken and passed all the classes.  However, trap shooters have a habit of disobeying advice.  It seems most everyone buys both books at the same time.  That's okay, just make sure if you do... read Trap Shooting Secrets first.

42.  Should I hold my gun off the sides of the house?

  Generally, no.  But nothing is general about trap shooting.  If the trap house is horizontally short or target's driving fast you may have to, to maintain your dynamics.  Some shooters have slower reflexes and could benefit from horizontal off-house gun holds so they can catch hard lefts and right on post 1 or 5.  It can be done as long as you are fully aware of the angulation required to track the semi-angle targets.  It takes a bit of practice, but the off-house holds do work.  Holding right at the far edge of the house is generally a good extreme in most all conditions.  The danger rises if you do hold off the house, say on post 5, hold the gun lower than normal otherwise when you swing left you won't get your vertical rise to track the target.  You can't move the muzzle just left or right as you lose too many targets from loss of pattern arc / intersection angle.  That's the secret of holding off the house, but eye hold is just as important, if not more.  But there is another secret... adjust your foot stance position to a more side-on position on post #1 and #5.  This will cure the attack problem and you can keep the gun over the house where it really should be.  Daro Handy absolutely adjusts his feet position a smidgen wider and more sideways to the trap house on these posts.  Left-hand shooter?    Adjust feet and body stance to the left.  Right:  to the right.   There is more to this. 

  A left-hand shooter finds it hard to swing to the left.  The right-handed shooter: right.  Why?  Because the body muscles "wind-up" almost immediately when swinging the gun due to the stance angle.    Go ahead and try it!  The cure is to offset your stance more.  Try shooting a round of trap while standing at a full 100% right angle to the trap.    Example:  If trap is facing north your toes will point due West.   You will feel tight, but you will "feel" your body moves and how the muscles tend to wind up, but you will now also see how offsetting your stance by just an inch or two more than normal will allow you to attack the hard angles with incredible flexibility and speed!  It's a very enlightening experience once you try this.   You will also discover the secret why you may be shooting over the top and/or behind the hard angles.   As the muscles wind up so does your swing angle to a gloriously missed target!   

43.  How much lead is required on trap targets?

  Don't ask, only you know the answer to that question. It's a personal sight picture thing and that depends on your gun's point of impact, your swing timing and the zone you shoot.  The best answer is to make sure you do swing to the target and follow-through then pull the trigger.  This way if targets are driven fast or slow there is no mental sight picture adjustments to make.  Lead is all in the swing.  Swing to the target and you'll have your lead.  But of course your eye must be on the target's leading edge on extreme angles, and, it won't hurt to experiment passing your eye onto then through the target and your muzzle will naturally follow that path too.  It's extremely difficult to miss shooting ahead of a target.  Try it sometime.  Now, just get that muzzle ahead and pull that trigger.  Lead is no big deal on trap targets running at 40 m.p.h. - but  70 m.p.h. targets you have to swing-through at a fast clip, but you won't see that high speed in North American trap shooting (yet).  The most important factor is to get your gun sights to lock on and follow the target's true flight path.  Why?  Too many shooters apply the proper lead but they are mistakenly leading over over the top of targets.  If your eye "flickers" or gently "slides off" the target the sight picture when pulling the trigger will appear perfect, but you will shoot behind.  A wonderful optical illusion the pro shooters know all so well and so are very aware of increasing eye concentrated focus at the moment of pulling the trigger.  

COMPLEX QUESTIONS

The question is typed in Orange, answer in Black.

43. A- I have been trap shooting for over 30 years. I am struggling with Doubles ( my average is around 90% ) and would appreciate your advice on a particular school of thought on technique for the second target. Some of the good Doubles shooters in our province deliberately dip the barrels down in an arc when going after the second target in order to come from below the target. This is for getting on the track of the target's flight path so you can follow through the target. Other top shooters claim that they come straight across after shooting the 1st target. Yes, you can do this too. It's called crossing the line or shooting the intersection. I shoot singles and handicap by tracking the target along its flight path ( Kay Ohye calls it line shooting ). Same as follow through. Your gun tracks the target's flight path.  On the 2nd shot in doubles my most common miss is when I try to come straight across and end up sort of spot shooting. This is like trying to intersect the target instead of following the flight path. I shoot a release/pull trigger and find that if I chase the 1st target vertically too far Here is your problem... you have to shoot the "flash" on the 1st target not track it at all. You spot shoot target #1. the barrels keep climbing and I end up too high to make a good move to the 2nd target. If I were to develop the technique of deliberately dipping the barrels down after the 1st shot this would take a real commitment in practice and I don't know if this is a sound technique in the first place. It is a sound technique, but so is yours! Just don't track the 1st target. I try to take the 1st bird as fast as I can with a high gun Drop your gun hold down 1/2 inch increments.. it's likely too high! but the 2nd bird sometimes is in hurry up mode and I stop the gun and poke at the target. I sure appreciate your web page.   If your gun is stopping you have taken your eyes off the target, looked back at your gun sight, or you have developed an eye flinch where the eye freezes when you pull the trigger or about to.  Keep your eyes moving fluidly and smoothly to the second target.

  Doubles - Double Trouble - Twice the Fun!   There is much to the game and more than most people think there is! The problem you are facing is typical. You have to set up your attack on the 1st target and shoot it then get your gun to the next target with controlled speed and precision.

Here's a few secrets:
1) Drop your gun hold point down. If gun is held too high? The second target is escaping while you wait for the target to rise to your barrel,  2) Lower your eye hold so your eye remains tight to the rib so the moment you see the "flash" of the target you pull the trigger and spot shoot it. Set your gun hold so when you see the flash you can break the target with little gun movement.  This will take a lot of practice to know where to hold your gun horizontally in relation to the house on each post and to time off the shot with the proper gun height over the house.    Once you get this down half the battle is won,  3) The moment you pull the trigger get your eyes away from target #1. You don't want to see it break! If you miss you can't do nothing anyway staring at it, right? So get your eyes to target #2 right now! No delay whatsoever, 4) Doubles is a pure timing game. The faster you shoot #1 the quicker you can catch #2 and the easier it will be do do so. The key is to setup for the fast #1 shot. You can always take a smidgen of time to kill #2, but any delay on #1 will cause you to miss #2, 5) Use an improved modified choke on lower barrel as the lower barrel shoots a higher point of impact and can catch the fast rising target. Don't use a modified choke as you will end up with holes in the pattern and straight targets are the ones that slip through holes, not angled targets!   Use upper barrel to catch #2 target with a IM or light full choke, 6) You can use different shot sizes too... #81/2 on first shot and #8 on second shot.   Now, #4 above reveals the "real problem" in doubles as in handicap shooting... targets do not travel in straight lines, they bend in an arc!  When you try to hit target #2 late, it is bending away from a straight flight path at a very severe angle.  You think you are on the target but you are not!  My Trap Shooting Secrets book explains about this phenomenon in good detail,  7)   Do not think the doubles game is fast action.  It is not.  The pros make it look like they shoot fast, but they really are not shooting fast at all... they are shooting in slow-motion mode!  Believe me, they can shoot even faster but not with as maintained accuracy.  It's all in the eye focus.  They focus deeper than the average shooter and the targets appear to slow down so they can hit them quickly and easily.  To the outsider it all looks incredibly fast, but for the pro shooter it is not fast at all.  These are techniques you will need to learn and they are in my TSS & PS books. 

  You don't have to dip the barrel. You can cross-over, but you have to be dead fast like Dan Bonillas! He breaks both targets on a fairly straight horizontal line. His gun hardly moves vertically. Now if you don't want to dip and you can't shoot fast? Drop your gun hold point on target #1 so you can hit it as fast as you reliably can then cross over to #2, but don't pull the trigger on #2 until you have that micro second - second look at the target bead relationship.  A bit of caution is okay in this situation.     Another technique you can use is to cant the barrel on #2 and that will get you to the target very fast and create a rising and shaped shot string pattern to catch #2 square on dead to dust-ball.  There is much more to doubles than I can explain here.

43 - B  Thank you for your quick response to Question 43A on doubles technique. I'm working on your suggestions and I think the main reason for stopping the gun on 2nd bird is because I'm swinging the gun too fast. Stopping the gun is caused by eye-crossover (crossfiring) or looking back at the sight bead or muzzle of the gun before pulling the trigger, eye slipping off the target or a trigger freeze flinch that stops the swing. I seem to be in a hurry up mindset on doubles.  It is a fast game!  You do need to hurry up, but maintain accuracy at the same time. It's okay to slow down a bit to work out some sight picture bugs, but when you do the timing and zone is blown away.  The pros shoot fast.  It's a technique to be learned and the only way to learn it is by shooting quickly.  I'm going to try to slow down a tad on 2nd shot and dip the barrels down a bit.  I have ordered your book by snail mail.  My book is not a double-rise shooting book.  You will pick up some shooting tips you can apply to doubles but there are no illustrations on how to shoot DT.    Another question that has been bugging me for many years is "occasional crossfiring."  I shoot right handed with both eyes open.  I always pass the simple Bob Brister test of looking at distant object with both eyes and bringing a piece of paper with hole in it to the right eye.    However this proves nothing about relative strength of eye dominance.  Shooter's can be fooled very easily as multiple tests over a period of a few days are required and an outside coach is often required to nail down dominance.    The PS book has the tests!  Fact is, most right-handed shooter's are left-eye dominant!  Yes, it means there should be more left-handed shooter's out there.   Improper or lack of coaching when first starting shooting dooms many shooters to a lifetime of persistent failure!  I shoot from 27 yards with a high rib Perazzi TMX with a small but bright orange bead.   POI is about 7" high at 40 yd's.  I think I backsight because I am conscious of bird/bead relationship just under the bird when I am doing it right.  I don't think I have ever crossfired in the traditional sense of horizontally referencing the bead with the wrong eye.  The problem is that I can shoot over the top of a target without realizing it because the target looks just as good to my left eye as it does with both eyes.  The Point of Impact is set too high for your timing!   The barrel/bead image with both eyes open is very weak and almost semi-transparent.  With both eyes open the sight picture is vague.   The target never blots out for me and I don't know when to release the trigger when I'm closing the gap.  Your eyes are fighting each other for control and fail to converge focus at distance.  It sounds like you may even have no dominate eye.  I have to be extremely careful to stay under the bird.   Occasionally it is like fighting an optical illusion.  Is this normal or is this a form of "VERTICAL CROSSFIRING?" No.    I believe there are many shooters who use one eye even though they do not crossfire.  True. The dominant eye must be on the rib of the gun or all sorts of optical illusions take place along with horrific confusion of sight pictures changing from day to day.  Many shooters are shooting with the wrong eye on the rib!  If I use something like a small Magic Dot on the left lens the sight picture is definitely more positive.  However this whole technique is the same as a one-eyed shooter and requires gun point on the trap house and takes real commitment to change to and I don't know if the cure is worse than the disease.  It always is... but I have some cures...

  You have two prominent problems, 1) the POI on your gun is set way too high forcing you to keep the gun down under the target.  This is like swimming against a fast current and you will keep missing targets trying to maintain that air gap between the muzzle bead and the target floating above.   Lower the POI or shoot very fast so you can "put the bead on the target" and smoke it.  Best?  Lower the POI,  2)   You have all the symptoms of being a no-eye dominant or one-eye left-dominant shooter who is shooting right-handed with both eyes open.  You are fighting with Mother Nature here.   There are two cures;  You can shoot on the left shoulder or shoot one-eye on the right shoulder.  You can wear an eye patch like the Magic Dot, close the left eye or "wink" just before you pull the trigger to line up the sight picture clearly.  The two latter methods allows you to hold high over the house.  Yes, the cure is worse than the disease but the disease is cured!   I would work on #1 first, then proceed to step #2, if needed.  You should seriously consider contacting Daro Handy or Phil Kiner as they will absolutely put this problem behind you in one hour's time!  The money spent will be well worth every penny (and more) to get rid of the infliction's and increase precise shooting.  Since your problem is specific I would request an "individual" coaching session.   Both travel a lot and may even be in your State soon.   If you want to go to Australia on vacation and shooting Luca Scribani Rossi would be my recommendation as he's an Olympic Champion sponsored by Beretta and coaches a proven winning Olympic team.  So much misery can be eliminated by taking lessons from professionals.  One tip:  Read my books first and you will get way more out of taking a shooting lesson as it will bring you up to a professional's mind-set and you'll know what to ask the instructor and you'll know how to communicate on a higher level.    You will jump-start and leap way ahead of others who simply take a lesson without having the inside knowledge of the game. 

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44.  You said in Trap Shooting Secrets lead is not required?  What gives?

  It isn't required, if you shoot a tight zone and have a gun that shoots a high point of impact of 80/20 or higher.  If  you know how to properly cant a shotgun you can wallop those targets with no lead because the muzzle has very little traditional horizontal swing at the muzzle end.  The muzzle / sight bead arrives to the target with incredible controlled speed and the shot string is shaped along an identical arc as the target.  A very advanced shooting method that works so well it's almost cheating!  The goal is to setup your gun and your form so you can put the bead on the target and smoke it without having to see that visible air gap (perceived lead) between muzzle and target.  The lead still exists but you don't see it.  It's all built into the gun, timing and the zone.  It's great, all you have to do is put the bead on the target and pull the trigger.  The trick is doing it time after time and maintain all phases and elements of the setup to perfection.  That requires you shoot a lot of targets so you can maintain this new form and style. If you only shoot on weekends here and there, you should shoot an expanded zone and focus more on your swing to the target and not timing, but you can still use a rolling gun to get the job done with little to no lead.

44 - A.  Here I sit on the 25-yard line and I can't get off of it.  I'm stuck here.  Please advise.

  It's time to learn precision shooting so you can.  If you don't, you'll get a couple lucky punches to the 27 and end up unlucky again... for a very long time.  You are living proof handicap shooting requires a "different" approach and method of skill than shooting 16's and double-trap.  You can't be doing the same things you do on the singles and expect proficient shooting on the handicap.    Luck will get you their but once there you are competing with the pros.   Now what real chance do you have beating them if you don't have the inner knowledge of the game?  And when you consider just how many people are buying my trap shooting books this skill level will rise over time, so in essence... your competition is increasing their knowledge and you'll have to get onto this train or get run over.   Knowledge is power in trap shooting.  The sooner you get this knowledge the better shooter you will be and the sooner it will happen.

44 - B.  I've been shooting for 20 years.    What can I learn from your books I don't already know? 

  Depends on your inner knowledge level you acquired during these years.    I know many shooters who have shot lifetimes and still can't go out and win those big shoots or earn the option money to pay costs.  I suppose the answer to your question resides on three questions;  1.)  How many events are you winning?  2.)  How many targets are you dropping keeping you out of the money?  3.)  Do you wish to improve your shooting skills and knowledge of the game?  There are few shooters who can pick up my books and proclaim they have not learned something new... very few.  I've even had pro shooters who shoot for a living comment they have learned from my books.    That's why I give a 30-day money-back guarantee.  If the books can't help you improve your scores I refund the purchase price of the books.  I think that is more than fair as no other author or publisher offers such a guarantee.  I do, with complete confidence, because the books work!

44 - C.  Not everyone who reads your books can be successful.  Or can they?  Even me? 

  Yes.  You had to learn how to walk, learn how to read, learn how to drive, learn how to do your job.  You can learn how to shoot trap, too!    The biggest danger in reading my books is to read them slowly as the knowledge within is very powerful stuff and many secrets of the trade revealed are subtle.   If you read too fast much of the relevance will escape you.  In the first chapter you will learn how to read these books, how to apply the knowledge and what to do when you run into trouble during competition.  Imagine taking the intricate knowledge of ten top gun shooters and putting their knowledge into your head and you'll get an idea just what is inside these books.  Trap shooting is not an impossible task to learn it's just tricky to learn.  To shoot with precision you need to be instructed.   You can't learn it on your own.  There is too much involved and by the time you do figure it all out you'll be too old to shoot well.  Here we are taking decades of knowledge and making it all available to you now... right now!  Yes, you can be successful.

44 - D.  I call for the target and I tend to leap at it.  They surprise me and I don't like it as I struggle to hit them.

  Surprise, surprise, surprise!  You are experiencing the Jack-in-the-Box syndrome.  The problems is easy to cure, 1) You are not truly mentally prepared to see the target when you call.  Your sense off call timing to target exit is not tuned up so when the target exits it surprises your nervous system.  This shocks the eye and smoothness is lost and it becomes a fight/chase to hit the target,  2) you may likely be anticipating the targets or not setting up for the severe angle.  You have to learn how to setup and prepare for the severe angle first before you can tackle the three angle variations. When you do, you won't be surprised or shocked and smooth precise moves will occur.  If your eye is not pre-focused every target is a horrific fight as the eye focus and movement fluctuates along the flight and visual optical illusions begin to take a nasty toll,  3)    If your gun hold is out of synchronization with your timing (improper placement) imprecise course adjustments will be made that delay the approach to the target and often on the wrong line of flight to compound more missed targets, 4) You have an internal conviction you must shoot fast or the target will escape you.   If you do some testing you will prove to yourself you do have plenty of time to hit the target.   Then you can relax and just break the target without pushing the muzzle or acting rashly.  You can readjust the zone to fit your timing and that makes it a lot easier to get to the target,  5)  You may need to apply a moving gun technique to break off that dead gun's momentum and to energize your mind for the target as you call,  6)  You may be shooting slow pulls and not even realize it.  There are borderline pulls that many shooters shoot at not knowing it was in fact a terrible pull and all synchronization in the setup has been blown, 7) You may have "lazy eye syndrome" where the eye can't capture the target.   You cure this with a few basic exercises to smooth things out and regain eye control,  8) You may be seeing target comet tails.  These visible streaks are deadly and you should not be seeing them.   When performed properly the target will appear clean, bright and in slow-motion.   You'll learn all about these tricks in the books.  

44 - E.  Tell me more benefits I could receive from your books.

  Trap Shooting Secrets book will help you shoot with precision pinpoint accuracy.  Many shooters rely on equipment to improve their shooting but equipment is not the problem, it's a lack of knowledge.  Certainly, if the gun does not fit that is a problem, but even then... there is so much more to learn about trap shooting than having a properly fitted gun!  Once you have a good gun fit it's time to learn the game, those inside formulas that brings the target to you with greater ease instead of chasing the target wildly, hoping to hit it.  This form of shooting guarantees too many missed targets and always enough to keep you out of the money wins.  TSS will take your game up to pro levels, no doubt about it!   The book will help any shooter at any level. It's all about the new skills you are going to learn with special tricks, shortcuts and training exercises you don't just read about... but take them right to the practice trap!    No endless talk here and boring advice... we're going to do it!   You'll learn all about the principles and how pros can shoot with such mind-boggling consistency.   You'll be doing it too.  Even the psychology of the game is explained on the interior and exterior levels.  I even assist you to "get over" the stress and frustration you sometimes feel and get psyched up for your next event.  Good sports psychology for you to help you settle down, control your game and remain focused.   There is too much in this book to explain here, way too much. 

  Precision Shooting - The Trap Shooter's Bible is going to take you to that finely polished level where you see sight pictures as tight as a micron.   Your setup will be totally enhanced beyond what you could ever possibly dream, so tight you'll be exploding the targets like laser-guided bomb detonations... exactly as the pros do.  Now most every handicap shooter is suffering from the most common illusion that you can just watch a pro shooter play and mimic the form.  You can't.  You need specific instructions because most all of what you are seeing is irrelevant... it's what you don't see that is critical.  The power is inside the shooter, what the shooter sees, feels and observes long before pulling the trigger.  You can't figure it out just by watching pros shoot.  You'll learn how to deal with optical illusions causing missed targets, correct alignment to the target, and more than I could ever explain to you here.  TSS and PS books combined will teach you all the inside tricks to trap shooting, with over 340 printed pages of text, more than 120 illustrations and more than 150 practice tips so you can get it right.  And, the books are guaranteed to increase your scores in 30-days or the purchase price is refunded.  I put my reputation on the line here.  I know the books are good from all the letters I receive from shooters, so I'm not worried you'll be returning them... simply because the books work!  Your friends may hate you for reading the books, but that's the price you're going to have to pay for being a precision shooter.  You may even enjoy seeing their faces droop as you dust-ball each target and surpass their scores by a wide margin.    Never in the history of trap shooting has "professional technical trap shooting books" ever been written... until now!   Take advantage of it.  

45.  I tried shooting fast like the pros and I miss too many targets.

  It's not shooting fast, it just looks like it's fast.  If you don't understand the setup process and the zone, gun and eye holds, internal timing, trigger control, and point of impact adjustments, it's not going to work.  You'll just be shooting beyond your abilities and no professional shooter does that.  Fast shooting is a technique, a process, a formula applied.  If you don't have the formula you won't have the ability.  Best advice?  Never think fast, think slow and smooth.   S-L-O-W and  very, very  S-M-O-O-T-H.  That's how the pros shoot.   They are fast because they shoot in slow-motion mode, where the concept of time slows down like a near death experience.  I touched on this before.  The only time you shoot fast is to discover the internal time clock that controls trigger timing, zone and eye focus points.  It is too complex to answer here.  You'll learn this in the Trap Shooting Secrets book then you'll really refine it as you apply the formulas in the Precision Shooting book. 

45 - A.  When gun fails to fire I flinch terribly.  I need to get rid of this.  How do I do it?  

  That is not a flinch and don't you ever believe otherwise.  It's an expected unexpectation... a total surprise.  The gun is supposed to fire when the trigger is pulled.  When it doesn't fire your body reacts to the surprise with shock.  This situation has nothing to do with flinching.  Since when does pulling the trigger on a target cause such an extreme violent reaction as a misfire does?  How many times did you experience this severe reaction last week, last month?   You may flinch, but nothing like a dud shell creates.  There is no relevancy here, no comparison and no concern to be placed on a fail-to-fire flinch.   Now if you play that Russian Roulette game of putting dud rounds in a box of shells to try to get rid of this so called flinch you will develop a flinch and a nasty head-lifting habit!   This induces fear of the misfire-flinch and it will then creep into your game.   Don't play roulette.  If you flinch when the gun fails to fire you are acting normally, in truth, the more you flinch here the higher-tuned shooter you are!  It should be a surprise.  If it's not a surprise, you are shooting a dead game with a low concentration attention level.  For more myths on trap shooting see the article I wrote to set the record straight.  There is a lot of misinformation in this trap shooting game passed down through time and its time it stops for all it is accomplishing is misleading shooters and preventing them from shooting well.  

45 - B.  I can't hit anything on the last trap.    I fall apart pretty bad.  Any suggestions? 

  There are many reasons for this.  Here's a few to start with; 1)  You may be experiencing a point of impact shift.   A hot barrel can do this and cause you to miss just about every target you want to take out, especially angle targets.  Wipe the barrel with a damp rag after each firing,  2)   If you didn't clean your choke from the last event a baked plastic residue can foul the choke and change the POI,  3)   Stamina may be a likely problem.  You may tend to drop off concentration.   This caused by staying focused too long throughout the event instead of learning to use the sine-wave method where the mind can relax and reset between shots,  4)   The trap may be offset, too high or small in size and you are not compensating with your hold points.  There is a lot more about this in my books.      

44 - C.  I am terrified of the hard left angle targets.  How can I break this fear?  

  Everybody has a personal fear of a specific target angle or station post.  Sometimes this difficulty rotates from one to another.  When one troubling target has been conquered another problem target arises to take its place on some other post.  Sound familiar?  Let's focus on the hard-left target.    Your fear is really not justified so there is no need to tense up or fight with the target.  Let's rationalize it with a worst case scenario.  Assume you are at a registered shoot and every target on post one was your worst nightmare, a hard-left, and you miss every one of them.  Your score would be an 80 (five lost targets on each of four traps on post #1). That's not good but it's not too embarrassing as you didn't drop into the 70's!   Let's assume you miss half of these twenty hard-left targets (drop 10 targets from the possible 20) your score would be a 90.   Now, in reality you know no matter how difficult a time a target is giving you, you are not going to miss all ten of them! Your own personal experience will verify that fact.    Now if you hit half of those 10 targets to only drop 5 your score is a 95   A lot of shooters would kill for that score!  If you reason this out you will find there is no reason to place undue fear upon the target that is giving you trouble.   Yes, it will drag your score down until you find the solution of what plaques you, but you can see that your fear can be managed.  

  The odds of probabilities is working for you here that you will not get twenty nightmare hard-left targets and you will not miss as many as you fear you will.   Now all you have to do is forget about the fear (this too has to be learned) and go to work.  If you drop a hard-left forget about it - you knew it was going to happen anyway even though; that is a bad mind-set to have - just isolate your mind away from the fear and think of the odds of probability working in your favor.  The trick to resolve difficult targets is to abolish the fear of the target, fear of missing it.   Once you convince yourself the target really is easy to hit you'll begin hitting them again.  Apply this belief to all your targets.  Now that does not mean to say all targets are easy to hit.  They are all hard to hit.  You just have to convince yourself that your "problem target" is really no more difficult than all the others.  What is important here is to get rid of that strangling fear so you can maintain a level-headed concentration on all your targets.  Don't let a difficult target upset your ability, focus and concentration to shoot the others.  Level the playing field.  Fear of one target will create an emotional shock when that target is missed that then spills over to the other targets. Don't drag your emotions from post to post.  It's truly a mind game.

44 - D.  What is your opinion of Winchester ammo and other brands? 

  I'll keep this brief.  I like the 3-dram 1/18 oz Silver Handicap AA shells.  I currently shoot Federal Gold Medal plastic hull with the same specifications #8 or 71/2 shot.  I was really impressed with White Rhino.    Remington's STS series get the job done.  It's all personal preference and how well the gun shoots the shell in relation to your timing.  When you change shells you'll need to readjust your sight pictures and/or timing as the POI shifts from one brand of shell to another.  Some shells in specific gun barrels just won't perform properly due to the scattergun smoothbore inherent features, but more and more with technological advances you will find the greatest discrepancy is with the shooter.   You can learn to shoot any shell in your gun and that is a fact.  Do you think pros turn down a ammo manufacturer's offer for free shells simply because the shell doesn't pattern properly?  Few do. They learn to make the corrections so they can shoot the shell.  

  Often the manufacturer will work with the pro to develop feedback and make changes. This process has been going on for so long now they just about have it figured out pretty close.  This is not to say perfection has been met.   Shells of various brands do perform differently.  Some you may like and some you may not.  To find the right shell for you is to simply try them all.  Buy at least a case at a time.  You won't learn nothing just buying one or two boxes.   The pattern board is too deceptive to trust to make a final decision.  It's not quick process to determine shell feasibility.  You, the gun and the shell must all get tuned in together. A lot of shooters fail to do this and end up shooting a shell that is really not the right one to be using and they pay for it with missed targets.

44 - E.  How do I compress the zone so I can shoot the targets faster?

  Easy.  Simply raise your eye hold.  Do this in small 1/2 to 1" increments until you find the hot spot.  You would think if you lowered your eye hold you would acquire the target sooner and be able to shoot it quicker, but in handicap shooting (unlike spot shooting the double-trap straight target) it works in the direct opposite.

44 - F.  Should I keep my eye close down looking along the rib?

  I assume you are meaning to ask, "Should my eye be seeing the rib?"  Yes, when you shoulder the gun to check your figure-8 sight bead stacking.  No, when you call for the target.  As a general rule, your eye should be raised up away from the rib so you will only see the target.  There are various techniques here so there are no hard fast rules.  Some shooters like to see the rib and sight beads in centralized vision and other want only peripheral vision and other don't want to see it at all.  It's very difficult to say one is wrong and the other is right.  What is important is to try all three of the techniques over a period of time and see if you can pick up extra target hits.  You may find that on post #1 and #5 seeing the rib gets on those severe angles quicker and on a true track-line to the target.  Post #2 and #4 you may want to see the rib in peripheral vision and on post #3 no rib at all... or some other combination to this example.  These precision shooting techniques are very subtle and invisible to the untrained eye and that is why you can't learn them from just watching a pro shoot.  You either have the knowledge or you don't.  You either do them or you don't.  If you don't experiment with the various inner secrets you'll never find that magic formula that will work for you.      

46.  You mean I should slow way down.   How slow?

  Just a little bit more.  You don't want the target reaching its arc because that's too slow.  Just slow down and you'll see that you will shoot faster.   Practice this and you'll see it happen.  It works because as you keep telling yourself to be slow and smooth you become more relaxed, your swing becomes easier and your eyes get real strong seeing the target better than you ever had in the past.  Then with proper eye pre-focus and hold points (including gun hold) the target begins to slow down and you start entering this slow-motion shooting mode.  Getting to the target becomes such a untimely thing that you clobber the target out of the house, but it all felt slow to you, slow and effortless, in a sense.  Handicap shooters think; speed, fast, hurry up.  It's a speed trap you don't want to be caught in.  It blows accuracy to pieces.  For many shooters accuracy doesn't exist at all, it's all pointing to them.  It's not all pointing.  It's not all eye/hand coordination.  Pointing is a small process of precision shooting, it's the first step when learning how to shoot a shotgun, but pointing is not the final word or the final phase... it's only the beginning phase for beginners... especially when shooting handicap yardage.  

46 - A.  You were right.  I never knew such shooting tricks even existed.  Why is this?

  I did my homework over the years and interviewed professional shooters with very intricate in-depth questions.  A lot of research and testing and filtering of myths to reality checks has brought forth surprising developments.  Nobody has ever done this before on such a wide scale.  As time evolved I felt it was time to write the books and get the knowledge out there into the shooter's hands where it can be put to good use.  I believe this knowledge will save our sport, keep shooters from quitting and put the fun back into shooting by giving shooter's the edge those professionals already have so they can compete.  This is the only sport where the unprofessional weekend shooter has to shoot-off with the circuit-polished professional.    The knowledge is badly needed.

46 - B.  I found my timing from reading your book Trap Shooting Secrets but I can't maintain it.  What do I do now?

  You are shooting the targets in too tight of a zone too close to the house.  Simply raise your eye hold to compress the zone and your timing will remain the same but you'll break the target a tad further from the house where you can see it better.  Your trigger finger is getting the jump on you from shooting on time alone.    You have to blend the elements so the eye sends the signal to the trigger regardless of the time clock ticking within.  Trigger control!  You're very close now.  Just start putting more "smooth" into your approach to the target now.  If you still run into trouble then drop your gun hold and maintain or raise eye hold.  Are you shooting a zone that is too tight for your current ability?   If so, drop your eye hold and expand the zone to give yourself some breathing room.    Remember, the zone is only a reference, a starting point in the setup... so don't shoot the zone, shoot the target!  Every club you shoot will be different so learn know how to shoot a flexible zone.  You don't want to be too mechanically ridged to the point you can't shoot out of the zone either.  Loosen up!

46 - C.  I'd like to save some money on expenses.   Any hints you can share.

  Nothing much beyond the obvious, but here's a few to ponder, 1)    Use reloads that match factory specs for new shells and that includes OEM factory wads.  Aftermarket wads are not the same.  You pay more but you gain the engineered performance, 2)  You can join Travelers Advantage as they give you 1/2 off motel rooms nationwide.  Call 1-800-548-1116 or write:    Travelers Advantage, P.O. Box 1042, Trumbull, CT 06611.  They start you off with a free motel stay so you save money right away.  You also get air and car rental discounts, etc. You can try another hotel discount firm on the internet Hotel.com, or Expedia.com,  3)  Don't practice so much.  I know this is contrary to what pros will tell you, "Practice, Practice, Practice!"  But there are inherent benefits of getting off the gun for a month or two.  It allows the mind to refreshes itself.  And when you do get back to shooting, a new "enthusiasm" and "apprehension" forms that makes you try to shoot a little bit better.   It usually works too!  Practice is usually not very effective for most shooters anyway as they only rehearse the same old mistakes over and over again (and pros will tell you not to do that).  Even the pros have to take a break from shooting!  One quality practice round per month is better than four poor Sunday sessions.  There are techniques to practice properly and my books will tell you how to do it... properly,  4)  Some shooters bring tents to camp out in the summer months to save on motel costs.  Some clubs are setup for it and others simply don't have the grass space.  Check with the club and they will likely find a spot for you.  Most shooters eventually buy an RV,   5)  If you reload with IMR Hi-Skor 700-X powder you could get and extra 25 shells made for each pound of powder.  It may be a small savings, but it adds up over time.  8-lbs. of powder will give you 8-more boxes of reloads to shoot two events.  Of course, you have to check to see if the powder works well, pattern-wise, in your gun otherwise the savings is really no savings at all if you lose events due to pattern failure.  Check around with other powder manufactures too to find a good combination to save you some money on reloading.  6.) You can write off your expenses on taxes by selecting trap shooting as a side-job or primary job if you are not working.  You have to declare your winnings, but writing down the expenses can give you some big rebate checks from your normal income.   Actually, it pays you more to do it legal this way than try to hide any income by not declaring it.  Trap Shooting Secrets books gives basic instruction on how to do this.

46 - D.  When should I begin to play the options?

  As soon as possible.  When your scores on at least two traps average 23 per trap or 23/24 then start playing.  I started with option when my scores were further down at 20/23.  It was playing the options that helped me get serious with my shooting as my money was at stake.  That motivation is powerful and allows you to shoot on a higher level.  The options to start with is the 25 and 50 options.  They have the best pay out as most shooters play these.  There are other options like the perfect 50 but you have to hit fifty-straight to collect that big money.  Don't play perfect until your skills rise to that level.  You could get lucky though, but it's best to play the perfect money when you can increase your odds to a more favorable position.  

46 - E.  What gunpowder do you use in your reloads?

  I don't use as many reloads as I used to but I still use them for the practice trap prior to shooting.  Sometimes I'll use reloads at competition shoots on the weekdays and I switch to new shells for the weekend.  The powder I use is standard Clays.  I still think it's the best... and I've tried them all.  But that doesn't mean nothing to you.  What I use has no bearing on you and your gun and the quality of target hits you will receive.  It's all personal preference, real or imaginary.  Whichever gunpowder breaks the most targets wins!  What is really important is to make sure you get the same performance with your reloads as you would with buying the equivalent new factory shell you normally shoot.  You don't timing and speed variations.  That will get you into deep trouble very fast when you run out of shells and have to shoot-off with new shells.  I've seen too many people lose shoot-off's just for this reason alone and its a shame.  All this is explained in Trap Shooting Secrets.

47.  You said singles and handicap are two separate games.  How much so?

  More than you may want to believe.  Everything changes.  Gun and eye holds, zone to maintain timing factors, etc.  Many shooters shoot singles and get high scores, even win.  Then they shoot the handicap and sulk away.  They have not, unlike the professionals, have realized singles and handicap games are two different animals and require differing setups for the targets. As much different as handicap is to double trap.  Very little in common with each other.  Now, most shooters believe handicap is harder due to the distance factor but this is not an entire absolute, in fact, you need to shoot a tad more slowly in handicap.  Speed, shooting fast, is the wrong approach to compensate for distance.  The setup is the key in shooting any target in any game whether it be sporting clays or trap.  So, if you don't understand the setup process for handicap; and you are using the same techniques as you use in singles, just shooting a bit faster, it's a dead-end.  Be honest with yourself. Do you really have a differing technique when shooting handicap targets?  

  Does it work?  If you watch the pros shoot singles and then handicap you may not notice any changes, "They just shoot fast. It's how they shoot."   That's what I hear from shooters.  It's an excuse because they don't know the inner secrets of the game.  When you do, you'll see the changes being made.  It will stare at you and bite you on the nose it's so obvious... once you know them, of course.  There is more to shooting than most people realize there is.  It is a highly complex sport.  It seems easy, it seems simple, but its highly involved and full of secrets.  Why?  Because it is extremely difficult to write or talk about good shooting techniques.  I've done a pretty good job of it, but I struggle very hard on each word.  That's why there are no technical trap shooting books on the market... I had to write them because there were none.  Sure, there are books about trap shooting, but there are none that tell you what to do, expose the secrets, explain technique so you can understand and apply them right away, today.  I'm not fond of the word "secrets" but it is a fact.  The pros know the secrets and that's why they shoot so swell.  They have studied the game inside and out and found the formulas.     

48. Sometimes I get too cautious and lose targets. Is aggression the key?

  No, not physical aggression, mental aggression, but we must always remember emotions will always lead us astray; fear, anger, meanness is not the key as they are emotions. Yes, you must have a form of aggressiveness to attack the target, not chase it down. Too many shooters are chasing targets, letting the target play a "catch me if you can" game. That’s the wrong approach as too many will always slip by. Now, being cautious is good, but that too can be taken to the wrong extreme. You want to be precisely cautious and that’s different than being unsure or extra careful. When you are cautious you’ll freeze up too many times, muzzle will stop in its swing, eyes will defocus, etc. If you become too aggressive the same thing happens, only faster. So, emotions must be controlled and that is a technique in itself. Having the attitude of a fighter pilot is a good description.

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 49. All this stuff seems so deep. Is it really going overboard?

  Just ask any professional shooter who shoots for a living. Ask them if all these things you’re reading here make sense and are important. I believe you’ll get an honest answer that they too not only apply many of these techniques... they are still learning how to shoot targets. Imagine that! Now, it all depends on your point of view. If you are happy with your scores, then you don’t need a book or a coach. If you want to be a precision shooter you need to go to school, just like learning any other trade... somebody needs to teach you the fundamentals and a few trick of the trade. That’s what my books will do, put you in trap shooting school where you’ll learn things you have never even imagined was possible to learn. So the answer to your question relies on the answer to this; "How good of a shooter you want to be?"

 49 - A.  Years ago I should have taken shooting lessons as I'm older now.  Is it too late for me?

  Today's poor choices are a down payment on tomorrow's problems.  What is your choice today?  It is never too late to learn.  Your eyes and reaction time may be weaker but know this to be true from Daro Handy, "The target is lost long before the gun is fired.  If the setup is wrong the target escapes."  So, if you learned these "setup" techniques you can adjust your shooting timing, zone, gun and eye hold points to complement the slower reaction time to reach the target.  If you tailgate when driving on the freeway your reaction time must be quick.  If you allow distance you'll still get home.  Learning how to shoot zones and adjust your timing can put you back into the game in a big way.  You can teach an old dog new tricks, but the dog must want to learn.  Most veteran shooters "believe" they are too old, but there are "things" they can learn to win.  People would rather spend $300 on entry fees and shells and lose competition shoots.  Spend $300 on a solid shooting lesson and you'll have way more fun shooting higher scores and get back into winning again!  Trap shooting is a money game.   You pay out money or you rake in money.  Good shooting lessons will bring in the money... so your shooting lessons are actually free!  Invest in yourself with knowledge.

 49 - B.  How can I break out of a slump? 

  Welcome to Slump Hell!  Everybody gets it like a common cold and each is worse than the last.  The TSS book handles this subject if great detail.  Here's just a few facts;  The slump is generated by a physical or mental error or both.  Usually, it's a timing and eye lock-on problem... eye flickering or eye flinch!  The eye simply "searches" for the target upon release or "unlocks" ceasing to follow the target when you pull the trigger and a big miss occurs.  The sight picture seemed to look good, but the eye stopped tracking that target or did not truly lock-on.  Pros know these tricks and secrets and now so do you.  Of course, poor swing dynamics can cause you to overshoot or shoot behind too.  Improper choke, gun fit, point of impact and timing, etc., all play a role.  Now, when the physical problem causes missed targets the shooter's mental state of mind is scrambled into high-energy-mode and timing is changed causing more missed targets.  The shooter shoots out of phase with the eye, shooting  too soon or too late.  Eye, swing, trigger timing is totally out of synchronization!   

  Now, the shooter loses confidence and begins to fear missing, expects to lose and becomes a basket case.  The slump is a combination of a technical error or change in one's method and a confidence crash which all create tension and insecurity and doubt.    This is simplified, but you can see the truth in all of this.  I have found the harder you try to escape a slump with aggressive shooting or too cautious shooting... the worse the slump becomes.  You have to "relax" your way out of it with knowledge.  Start from scratch, examine the errors, relax and shoot with intelligence and the slump lifts.  But you will get another slump one day again!   But this time you'll know how to fix  it with knowledge and understanding.       

50. I’m not certain I can learn all this, or I want to.  Can I learn it?  Should I?

  Yes, it’s very easy stuff to learn. Yes it will be trying to apply, but you will see an immediate improvement in your scores within the first 30-days, that’s my guarantee or return the book for a refund of the purchase price. Bold promise, but I back it up. Nobody makes such a guarantee with any trap shooting book. I do because I know the books work, so that’s why I offer the guarantee, and I know you’ll never send the book back because your scores will be rising!  See the testimonials and you'll know why professional top-guns endorse the books! Yes, you can learn the techniques. You already are doing many of the things, like swinging the gun, looking for the target, etc. I’m just going to expose the things you are doing wrong, give you some practice tips (over 120 of them in the TSS book and dozens more in the PS book) so you can test the form and fine-tune your shooting skills. You may be a veteran shooter and feel you can’t learn because your eyes are failing, etc. Not true. You can always improve when you apply techniques that make the job easier and more fun to do. If you are young, buy the books quick and get moving.

  Middle age? Those poor souls. The only one who can help them is to visit the Wizard of Oz and ask for a new... well, it’s not that bad. There appears to be a period in their lives that they feel they are too old to learn, or change, or be enthused. I don’t blame them one bit. I’ve read trap shooting books, bought expensive videos and didn’t learn a thing. So why bother? Well, that has changed. My books is like having an instructor telling you what to do. It’s that simple of an approach. No mumbo-jumbo, no theoretical jargon... just do what I ask you to do and you’ll start seeing what you’ve overlooked all those years. Then suddenly, everything starts to gel and scores rise. Believe me, it is fun learning this stuff. And it’s sure is fun breaking higher scores and everyone saying, "How in the heck did he get so good all of a sudden?" That’s the fun part. Earning the option money keeps a income flow to help pay for your shooting expenses. There are benefits for those who shoot high scores.

51. Give me a shooting tip I can try this weekend.

  Okay, try this tip.  Pull the gun into your shoulder extra tight, more than you normally ever would. Extend your forearm grip all the way out to the end of the gun’s forearm. Now place your cheek down on the comb and stop right there, close your eyes and feel what this feels like. Yes, it’s a tad too snug for comfort, but this is going to prevent you from being too malleable with the gun. It will force you to turn your body to swing to the target and not push the gun with your forearm. It will stop you from head-lifting or allowing the cheek to rise or shift laterally ever so slightly. Now, the first few practice targets you will likely miss. Don’t worry about that. Later you will relax this stiff gun mount so it is comfortable, but you will always feel the gun. You must feel the gun as you are one unitary piece. When you finally get the gist of this oneness with the gun, the target then too becomes an integral part of the gun. The muzzle naturally goes for it and boom! Dust-ball. This one tip alone will weed out numerous errors in your shooting, like getting lazy and sloppy with the gun in your hands, pushing it around, etc., etc. But there is so much more to discover. I think these questions and answers should give you an idea of just what my books are going to do for you... but we haven't yet begun. There is so much more to learn. 

Keep reading as there are more Questions & Answers below.

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52. I miss the targets on the last trap and in prolonged shoot-offs and I'm not tired.  Why?

  Sounds like you could be experiencing a couple problems.    As the barrel heats up from extended firing heat waves generate and distort the view to the target.  An optical illusion forms causing you to miss clean.    Install a high-rib which minimizes these damaging heat waves or wipe the barrel between each shot with a damp towel.  Secondly, as the barrel heats the metal will creep shifting the point of impact up, left, right, down... who knows on your gun, but it will shift.

52-A. How do you shoot in cold gusting wind? I tried different things but it only worked for a few targets.

  Wind shooting is challenging.  Many shooters claim they do nothing different while others pay attention and setup to adjust.  My Trap Shooting Secrets book has information and charts to use for adjusting to wind variables and explains the details.  Here's just a few basics.  Head-winds cause targets to rise so shooting quicker or raising the zone on the target (sight picture bead / target relationship) will compensate to raise point of impact to catch the fast rising target.    On tail-winds targets are suppressed so a lower gun hold is a must and taking that second look at the target is critical before pulling the trigger.  Cross-winds suppress one side-angles of the trap targets and elevate the opposite side-angles.    You'll have to read the book to get all the information.  Basically speaking, shooting trap targets in the wind is no longer trap shooting... it's sporting clays.   Get that mindset going and you'll be more aware of the target's actually behaving so you can follow it.  You'll miss targets in the wind, no doubt about it.  You can't outsmart a jinking target.  All too often the sight picture looks "right on" then the target dips after you pull the trigger.  Fun isn't it? 

  The trick is to hold a lower gun, shoot a compressed zone by raising your eye hold and focus.   This increases timing speed so you can shoot the target faster before the wind can influence or bounce the target.  You want to shoot the target in the zone where the target's speed is at maximum... just out of the house, but not snap shooting it.   Just a bit more caution on your part with a lower gun hold, raise the eye hold, apply serious back-sighting and this will give you the highest possible score.  One more tip... shoot where the target is, not where you think it should be.  If you shoot your normal zone you'll get into trouble because the target will not be there due to the wind.  Your timing stays the same, but the zone must change.  You also have to counter your stance and forearm gun grip in the wind with more pressure or you'll end up with a wobbling moving gun when you call for the target.   Yes, this stiffens the swing, but it's a trade off.  If you learn how to shoot a moving gun (forward stab and or roll cant) the momentum is already broken and wind will have less effect on the gun's move to the target.  Little secrets to the game.

53.  You recommend shooters to install those bright florescent sight beads.  Why?

  Most shooters are not mounting their guns properly getting the sight beads to stack up into the figure-8, barrel end bead on top of the mid-rib bead.  Also, shooters need to see that target passing very close to the sight bead so they can get on the target's true flight path.  Also, it's good training to see a bright sight bead floating toward the target so you can tune in on those sight pictures.  Shooters who try these super bright florescent beads find it viciously distracting and that's good.  Too many shooters are stopping the muzzle at the wrong point in time anyway missing targets due to a faulty swing.  By trying these sight beads the muzzle stoppage problem is amplified so it can be recognized and fixed!    It's a learning curve like everything else.  Once you get a season or two in with these beads you should be able to remove them and shoot fine.  You may want to keep the bead on, too.  A nice bright bead coming on a orange target is really neat to see.  You can clearly see the target's angle coming out the house passing by that bright sight bead on a low gun, passing the barrel on a high gun. 

  It makes good sense to use one, so you can learn how to catch the target angle right away, see the sight pictures cleanly, and mount the gun properly.  Of course, your scores will drop when you convert over, but that's the way it is when you need to work out the bugs in your shooting.  In the end, the experience will make you a better shooter.  Yes, it's all new technology (can I say that?) to help you improve contrast visibility of the targets.   How many times have you missed knowing the sight bead was lost out there?  This shotgun sight will glow brightly even under cloudy skies.  Try it.  Work with the sight for a spell and you will learn a few things, that I can assure you.   Beretta competition trap shotguns come with a florescent muzzle bead and they certainly do know what they are doing!  Olympic trap shooters use them for good reason, they work! 

54.  I don't have the money to shoot targets every day or twice a week.  What can I do to keep in shape?

  Save your money, ten or twenty dollars (Pounds or whatever) and order the Beamerline target thrower.  Requires no ammunition so you can shoot indoors in the winter or outdoors in your back yard.  The laser mounted on the gun tells you when you hit the target.    It's the closest thing to practice without actually shooting.  You swing your gun not some toy gun as in some big-screen video games.  It is advertised in Shotgun Sports Magazine and the ATA's Trap & Field Magazine.  And talking about video games... play a few here and there.  It's eye / hand coordination and it's shooting.   Sounds funny, huh?  Well, in Europe some of the top guns play the video games as part of their practice sessions... and they laugh all the way to the trophy and to the bank.  I tried a few video games and found it's astoundingly good practice for trigger control and reflex management.  And you wonder why the kids trap-shoot so well?  They have fast reflex action and no fear.  

55.  My cheek takes a pounding when shooting.    What can I do for a quick fix?

  Check your gun fit because that is causing the problem.    If you can't afford to have the stock fitted (you can't afford not to) for a temporary, and for many a permanent fix, contact D&E Cheekeeze.  They sell cushions for the stock and they advertise their product in the major USA trap shooting magazines.  But it's not just a cushion for the top comb you need.  Purchase a palm swell as this will give you a better grip on the gun and that will reduce recoil impact to the shoulder and the resulting rebound that causes the gun to rise up and wallop your face.  

56.  I keep getting weird targets on my squad and others don't.  How come?

  You may be shooting too soon, not allowing the trap setter to fix the target on the throwing arm.  The setter likely had his fingers smacked and s/he knows to "slap the target" on the machine when it's your turn to shoot.  It may even be the shooter ahead of you shooting too fast creating the problem so you end up with a misplaced target.  Change post assignment or squads.  This shooter may even be doing it on purpose attempting to read the trap prior to an oscillation, or just trying to ruin your scores.  I've seen it happen before.  That's only one reason why I don't recommend shooters' to keep shooting with the same squad all of the time.  A good squad can set a fine rhythm and a zone groove, but this particular squad, or squad member, may be doing you an injustice.  There are many reasons why a shooter must not get trapped into shooting trap with the same buddies over and over again, you'll never grow as a shooter. It begins to affect the emotions.  If the squad is shooting poorly so will you.  It may be fun shooting with friends from the same or neighboring gun club but that emotional factor exists and more often than not it's going to cost you wins.  For you, in this case, these friends (or one particular shooter) is setting you up for poor scores.  Trap shooting is a lonely sport, just you and the target.  If you permit anything to emotionally intersect this relationship you'll get more than weird targets, you'll get weird scores too.  Be very aware of squad timing. 

57.  The squad starts out okay then we all fall apart.  Why does this happen?

  When the squad shoots the first trap everyone is cautious, then suddenly speed up the rhythm and the zone tightens as they try to break the target sooner.  This is when targets begin to slip away.  Or on the second or third trap some difficulty is encountered and the rhythm slows, the zone elongates and more targets slip into the horizon unbroken.  This chain-reaction phenomena is as powerful as when someone misses a target and everyone else misses too.  You've seen this happen hundreds of times.  The subconscious mind is repeating the error like a duplicating machine.  You have to learn to play your own game.  A lot of shooter's preach and proclaim to play their own game, but they too fall into the squad rhythm trap.  If you watch the pros shoot, you will see a smooth rhythm, but they also know how to mentally adjust to interruptions and other mishaps when the rhythm is broken. 

  The squad has a powerful emotional link and this link must be broken when appropriate when you see the squad misbehaving following each other too closely.  This is when you have to shift into your own timing mode - which feels uncomfortable but keeps your scores high. This is a complex intangible subject, but this will give you an awareness of what squad rhythm really is.  It's not just a smooth succession of uninterrupted flow as many shooters believe, it's subconscious control of self shooting within your timing mode and zone.  When each shooter understands these principles the natural end result, or effect, is a smooth running squad.  Watch a professional shoot when the other squad members are dropping targets.  Watch very closely and you will this self-control in action.  To play your own game is to be keenly aware of the negative and positive influences of the squad and not allowing the adverse conditions to destroy your game.

58. Okay.  Tell me how I can avoid these squad influences without disrupting the squad rhythm.

  The first step is to go out and practice and "feel" these influences.  When you try to shoot within your own setup timing and shoot the zone (where you normally break the target) both factors become altered by the squad rhythm.  You know it's affecting you the moment the thought enters your mind, "Am I affecting the other shooters?"  Now, be prepared to recognize when the squad begins to act like a machine, speeding up or slowing down all in unison.  This is when things get dangerous as the shooters are now "shooting in one presence of mind."  There is a communication link, subconsciously, taking place as if telepathy is occurring.  Force yourself to not join in on this and intentionally maintain your setup speed and your timing of the shot.  You will feel out of phase.  You may even be disrupting the squad and that's just tough luck for them.  Why?  Because the only way you are going to disrupt the squad is when you maintain your proper timing and everyone else is "machine-gunning" shooting faster and faster.  Get the picture?  If you still don't, I suggest you watch a squad shoot from beginning trap #1 to end trap #4.  Pay attention to how each shooter is influenced by the other shooters beside them.  Look for who is missing and who is hitting.  Watch to see when the squad speeds up or slows down.  Is machine-gunning taking place?  Is this when everyone is on a roll hitting the targets then once someone misses everyone, or a few shooters, miss too?  Is the zone shifting?  When does it shift?  Why is it shifting? Who is creating this squad acceleration?  It's likely the shooter who is not doing very well and the shoot has become a practice session for him or her in a desperate attempt to find the zone and timing.  The other shooters are subconsciously following along and falling into the same trap. 

  Learn how these rhythms operate for the good and the bad.  The key is to recognize these influences so you can "work" on not permitting them to influence your game.  I remember shooting in Reno's handicap event and I had a hellish rapid-fire squad.  It was a monstrous bear to hold back this Wild West squad and the influence on me was tough as nails to maintain my own game.  I lost one target on the last trap in the event because it did finally get to me.  The other shooters dropped into embarrassing scores.  I would have too if I had not controlled myself.  It's a battle out their and it requires hard work to break high scores.    Once you fall into a squad rhythm trap that is improper it's going to cost you dearly.  There is more to this game of trap shooting than the average shooter realizes and to break good scores you have to know the inside secrets of the game and how to play them.    

59. What about those days I just can't hit anything?  Can something be done about that?

  Yeah, go out on the town and have some fun.  There will always be days that you swear you've forgotten how to shoot.  That old silent headache may be causing the problem... an ill feeling that you can't put your finger on.    Take an aspirin.  It works!  If it still hangs on, you have an off day.   The sooner you recognize that it is your mood and not your skills the better off you will be.  If you go to the practice trap and try to pound the targets into submission to your brute force will you run the risk of introducing frustration, confusion, depression and enter a mini-slump, one that can take hold and feed on itself and compound into a serious prolonged slump that can last for weeks or even years.    You don't want that, so be easy on yourself.  Realize you are not a machine.   You will make mistakes, you will miss targets, you will have sour days.  We all have them!  Go with the flow. 

  Even the pros have bad days, day's they wish they never picked up a shotgun.  Day's when they slink away from the trap with eyes aimed low to the ground with fluttering lips grumbling unintelligible prayers.  So, why shouldn't you have an off day too?  Enjoy the day (I know you won't but try anyway).  Now that is assuming nothing mechanical is wrong.  It's a good idea to check your gun to see if a sight bead is missing or chipped, rib is okay and set properly, comb shifted position, butt cant or pitch changed, trigger hangs, choke is fouled... you know, the obvious stuff.  You also want to check to see what you did before this ill day began.  Did you change shooting vests?  Chokes?   Shot shells?   Sometimes it's just the food you ate, low on water intake or vitamin deficient.   And other times there is nothing that can be done but take a nap or change agendas for the day.

60. What are the benefits of a moving gun?

  Not all moving gun forms are efficient.  Some shooters develop a moving gun out of a learned bad habit like; vertical or horizontal muzzle movement when calling for the target.  These sort of moves destroy the setup to the target.  There are only three solid moving gun techniques.  They are not born out of habit, but are intentional and intelligent moves to enhance the setup and execution of the shot.  They are:

1. Rolling Gun here the gun is slowly and slightly rolled on its side a few degrees from the vertical, yes canted, as the call is made to release the target.  There are important technical reasons for making such a cant approach to trap targets.  For instance;  A slow pull can be seen much quicker (progressive cant + no target = slow pull), target angle is acquired faster, the shot-string is shaped and applies automatic lead (with high point of impact guns) for dead-on hits, dramatically less muzzle and body movement to the target so target is shot very quickly, less momentum to overcome, superior muzzle control allows for adjustments to zero-in the sight picture, energizes the eyes to see the target reducing lazy-eye syndrome, etc.  Using this form requires the application of using the bow technique of Body English.  It is not an easy method to learn, but it is deadly accurate and fast shooting.  And yes, there are past and present All-American pros who have and still do use the technique.  It is a technique used often in sporting clays that does works really nice on trap targets.  Also, it is impossible to lift your head from the comb as this technique requires the gun be steered to the target with your cheek.   

2. Forward Stab;  This is the most common form of moving gun in trap shooting and it's purpose is to break loose momentum resistance and to apply Body English into the swing to insure a smooth and rapid approach to the target is made.  The gun is moved slowly in a linear move straight forward as the call is made to release the target.  By the time the target emerges the gun and body is already in motion (energized, ready to go) and the muzzle moves to the target faster than could be possible from a dead-stop position.  A slow pull can also be easily recognized if the target does not appear during a certain limit of muzzle forward movement... you'll know not to shoot that target! 

3.  Roll and Stab - Combined Moving Gun;    Here both the Rolling Gun and Forward Stab are employed... a highly advanced shooting method and terribly difficult to learn, but you can learn it if you really want to with lots of practice and patience.  Why do this?  All benefits are employed from both techniques (#1 and #2 above) but what develops is an intricate physical and emotional link with the gun.  Your gun is no longer static and a device you are holding in your hands, but becomes a part of your body.  When you and the gun become one, a monstrous target-crushing machine is born.  Both of these these moving gun methods when incorporated into your shooting style can only increase your scores as you begin to see things differently than what you saw before.  Moves to the target come with less effort so pushing the muzzle in no longer a temptation or habit to eliminate.  There are many more reasons for these techniques than I can explain here.

The Bottom Line 

  The moving gun cancels inertia, that reluctance of mass to change position which allows for a smoother and faster swing.  As the gun is placed in motion an internal time clock ticks and this sets up the shooter's timing protocols to identify slow and fast pulls and maintain a consistent recognition of target emergence to shoot a tight zone. 

Common Mistakes

Excessive gun movement - Do not move the gun too far.   If you cant the gun you do so only a few degrees, anything more than 6 degrees is usually excessive prior to target emergence.  Aim the sight beads at a protractor to get the idea.  You can exceed this during the swing itself up to 12 degrees on extreme angle targets once you know what you are doing.  When canting a gun during the swing avoid the temptation to consciously force the gun to cant to the target... just let it happen naturally... that is the trick to learn, to apply natural Body English.   If you use the Forward Stab method you don't push the gun outward, you lean in with the upper body using your cheek to perform the forward thrust... that's the inside secret that locks your head down to the comb snugly.  The movement of the gun is only about an inch forward... it's not much, but it breaks the inertia, etc.

Movement is too fast - All moving guns require slow-motion modes.  They are never quick or nervous-like jerky movements.   Very smooth, slow and controlled.  It's really a relaxing fluid move.   There is no better way to mentally tune-in to prepare to see the target than using moving gun techniques... the eyes, mind and body all work together like a well-oiled machine.   It also has a magical ability to reduce nervousness as once the gun is mounted and begins its move... the jitters simply vanish.  Why?  The mind has been refocused and the brain can't perform all things at one time.

Gun moving in an inappropriate direction - If you cant a gun it must be canted in the proper direction.  A right-handed shooter always cants to the right... and that includes shooting at left angled targets.   Left-hand shooters cant to the left.  When canting, the gun rolls on its side with the body... you don't twist the gun with the hands.  Your eye must stay aligned along the rib.  You bow, slightly, just like a Japanese greeting to produce the cant... you don't lift one shoulder up higher than the other... it's a rocking motion.  The shoulders will dip, but both on the same plane angle.  Just bow... a tiny bit.    If you use the Forward Stab method the gun must be thrusted straight out and the thrust continues all the way to the target.  Don't stop the stab once the target emerges as that defeats the entire purpose.  Don't thrust so deeply that you lose balance otherwise you are certainly moving the gun too fast and/or have shot at a very slow pull. 

61. I tried these moving gun techniques.    My scores went to the dogs.  What now?

  It's no easy task to learn anything new, but moving guns are horrific to learn because everything is moving and you'll get really sloppy fast... and confused.  First things first, watch a pro who shoots with a moving gun - many move their guns and you likely never knew it until you looked for it - and observe how it is performed.  Secondly, when learning moving gun technique the tendency is to move the gun too much.  In reality, the gun is moved so little it is hard for the outsider to see it, but you should be able to notice it without any problem now that you know the forms exist.  In fact, when you try it, it may even appear excessive at first until you get the hang of it.  You practice the technique at home, not on the trap line.  If you practice on the the trap line you won't learn it because you are splitting your focus between the gun and body moves and the target and sight pictures, timing the shot and zone, etc.  It doesn't work that way. 

  First you practice dry-firing so you and the gun become one.  You "feel" the gun and the moves so it is locked away into memory.  Moving guns require tremendous levels of feeling when shooting to get it down right.  Suddenly, it all comes together and you are using Body English moves to the imagined target during this visualization phase of training.  Then you take it to the trap line and tune it in.  Don't be afraid to move your body... that's what the Rolling Gun technique requires... lots of Body English.    The same applies to the Forward Stab... but now you and the muzzle of the gun move into the target!  Get the picture?  You don't just stand and swing the muzzle to the target with a simple hip pivot... the upper body is rotated and leans into the target (Forward Stab).  You will notice muscles are moving that you never used before.   This accounts for the initial sloppiness as there is too much body and muzzle movement at first when learning and control of the gun becomes fluid... it's so easy to move it around it causes you to miss targets until you learn to control the gun.  

  Trying these techniques will likely set you back to the first day you tried trap shooting, but you will pick it up quite quickly once you get the "feel" of it.  It's not for everyone.  You don't have to shoot a moving gun.  But if your scores have tumbled into the proverbial rabbit hole... why not try it?  You have nothing to lose and much more to gain.   

62. Shooting coaches told me never to cant a trap gun.  You say cant the gun.  Who's right?

  Your shooting coach is right.  Consider this scenario.  A new shooter picks up a gun and what does s/he do?  Swing for the target and cant the gun.  It's a natural unconscious move to the target, but it is an improper move for it being performed without design.  It creates inaccuracies for the new shooter (gun control problems) and likewise for the established shooter if the cant creeps back into form.  So, to shoot trap targets, due to shallow angles, canting is generally considered a, "no-no" and rightfully so.  However, with moving gun techniques, we are not canting the gun out of habit or faulty technique but from an intelligent plan of action, a design with specific purposes.  Moving gun techniques are not for the casual shooter, but for those who are finely tuned accomplished shooters who are seeking to tighten up their game and increase precision shooting. 

  These are professional shooting techniques.  Even attempting to learn such moving gun forms will allow your mind, body and eyes to expand with new acquired knowledge.  This new learned knowledge can then be applied to your form of shooting and you should then see your targets smoke heavily when hit as accuracy rises.  Amazing things can be learned from experimentation.  There are many ways to break targets... never forget this... for the day you find yourself in a prolonged slump is the day you will need to begin the experimentation process to break out of it.  Slumps are primarily caused by the mind screaming, "I'm bored!  Let's shoot this way... I can do it better, believe me!"  Very much a mind thing.  There is really no absolute right or wrong way to shoot.  It has been proven so many times in trap shooting and other talent-rich environments.  There are many shooters who use unorthodox methods and shoot extremely proficient and with awe.  Though experimentation you find that magic formula.    So typically, yes, you don't cant a trap shotgun unless you have a specific purpose to do so.   

63. When I cant the gun everything looks crooked.  It seems crazy to do this.

  You are looking at the background scene and yes, everything is slanted and it does seem crazy to do this.  But that all changes when you understand what is really happening... it all makes perfect sense, trust me.  At first it is difficult to adjust to the slanted image effect, but it disappears quite quickly.  Once you visually zero-in on the target you are now in the target's dimension of flight.  Call it the Twilight Zone for a better term if you prefer.    You are now only seeing the target in relation to bead/muzzle alignments so that disturbing slanted field of view in relation to the background vanishes.  If you applied pre-cant during your call routine you will be surprised to see how fast your gun's muzzle arrived at the target and the adjustments you can make to setup the sight picture prior to pulling the trigger.  The degree of cant should match closely to the degree of target arc angle (the degree of bending the target follows regardless of the general angle of the target).  When you do this nothing looks crooked or slanted at all... your eye is on the same plane as the target's true and actual flight path.    The cant matches that bending flight path of the target.  Now, your body will bow down, as you track the target, and this feels mighty strange indeed until you just "let it happen naturally."  No, your eye will not be misaligned from the gun/rib plane because you have mounted the gun properly.  Any eye or head misalignments is due to mismounting the gun, not canting.  These are highly advanced shooting techniques and not recommended for the novice in his/her first year of shooting.    These gun moving techniques are not easy to learn.

64. I tried gun canting and I found it did not work.  What am I doing wrong?

  You must have a high point of impact gun otherwise canting serves no purpose other than to release inertia so it would be better, in this case, to use the Forward Stab method.  A flat shooting gun's muzzle could be shot up-side-down and the point of impact remains the same.  The true purpose of canting is to shape the shot string to match the target's bend angle for dead-on dust-ball hits.    There are many more reasons too; applying automatic built-in lead, ability to dynamically adjust sight pictures, stop head-lifting, deadly accuracy, dramatically reduced muzzle movement, shoot a tight zone, etc.  When you cant the gun you don't use your neck or hands to apply the cant, you bow gently with your upper body using your cheek to press downward on the comb to "steer" the gun to the target.  Any other method used will not work.  Above all, it takes a ton of practice and a dedicated commitment to "make" it work.  The cant of the muzzle is very slight and to the novice or untrained shooter is hard to discern.         

65.  Who is making the best chokes for trap shooting today?

  That is a firestorm question.  All I can say is the best choke is the one that makes the best pattern for your gun.  The choke that works on your friend's gun may not work for your specific barrel at all, so you need to spend a bit of money experimenting with different manufactures products.  It's the nature of the beast.  But don't get all choked up over chokes.  Finding the right choke is important, but what is more important is to focus most of your time, money and energy into learning precision shooting techniques.  A pro could take any gun, with any full choke and break targets with impressive scores.  It's the shooter who makes good scores, not the gun (though both do need to compliment each other, ultimately).  Buy the 1" extended ported chokes.  I currently use, Briley Chokes.  Get rid of your factory chokes... they can't measure up!  The extended choke allows for greater shot string stabilization when in transition of being squeezed so less deformation of lead shot is accrued.  The porting reduces "wad slamming" so the shot is not bounced out of the wad's shot cup blowing the pattern... ported barrels do the same, but the extra gas release of the ported choke is most welcome.

66. What do you feel the best adjustments a trapshoter should make on his/her gun?

  Great question!  It is absolutely incredible just how many shooters out there have never made any adjustments to their gun.  Way too many simply buy a gun, toss it on their shoulder and learn to shoot by conforming to the gun.  It's non-productive and backwards... The gun must conform to you... not the other way around.  Then we have the group who have all the adjustable features on their guns and its all still setup wrong.  They believe it's right because it may feel right, but the gun is not setup properly at all.  Everyone, and I mean you and I too... all need to visit a stock-fitter to insure the gun fits and is set properly.    You need that "outside opinion" where someone on the outside is looking in.  Believe me, there are things you can't see by yourself.  Like having a coach, they see what you can never see yourself.  Here's a short list:

bulletGun fit.  See a stock-fitter for a routine examination and consultation and to check swing dynamics eye alignment.
bulletSet your point of impact.  This is critically import and and never to be ignored.  Set it for your timing.
bulletAdjust choking for the 25" hot-core pattern.   Thirty inch will kill precision and scores. 
bulletSet trigger to a crisp lock time.  Its got to "snap" briskly and consistently.
bulletAdjust how you hold the gun to get the proper balance for the swing.
bulletAd a florescent sight bead, so you can see what is going on out there in the sight picture world.

67.  My scores are simply not rising.  How can I identify the problem?

  If you are shooting low scores you will find the answer not so much in how you are shooting when pulling the trigger.  You will find the problem long before you pull that trigger.  All missed targets (93% at least) are due to improper setup of the gun or the shooter's setup routine is faulty.  If you can't break past a score of 93 consistently in handicap events you have serious setup problems.  If your scores are consistently above 93 but less than 98 it can still be setup of course, but it's more likely you have a precision shooting error (you'll know this if the targets are not dust-balling into smoke) or a concentration deficiency, generally.  The question requires a multi-faceted answer of great involvement, so I can't give you a simple answer here.  You are on the right track simply by "exploring & seeking" the answers.  Read books, take lessons, see a stock fitter, watch the pros shoot and study every little move they make from foot positioning to how they move their bodies.    Really study them in intricate detail then try to incorporate the "theme" of what they are doing into your form of shooting.  Then talk to them and ask two or three questions each time you do see them (don't overload them with questions to the extent of being annoying, a few will do fine).  Hit the practice trap and "experiment" with all you have learned.  Don't be afraid to miss targets when practicing... it's the technique you are looking for, not a broken target.   When the technique works the targets then break.   

68.  I make too many mistakes.  What can I do?

  Keep reading the books because the information is there... the stuff the pros use to shoot with precision. It takes time for some shooters to assimilate it and for others they just pick up on it fast. I believe it all depends how long a shooter has been in a slump or experience level makes it a variable, but they do pull out of it!  Everybody makes mistakes in trap shooting, everybody. Concentrate on what you do right not what you do wrong... figure out how it "feels" when you're hitting the targets and learn to reproduce and recall that "feel" at will... that's a trick to the game and it works once you get it down. Start thinking professional and you'll shoot pro scores... it's allot to do with the mind, being precise, knowing you will score well and hit them hard before you even call for the target. Even if you're missing them like mad... keep training yourself to think like a pro and believe in yourself. It's a barrier that can be broken. You already know how to shoot every target, it's a mind-block preventing you from getting them all. So that's the real mistake. Get the idea?  Never blame yourself when you shoot bad, or the other person, etc., blame is dangerous as it erodes confidence for the next trap or event. Chin up and try again.  When two pros shoot-off one is going to make a mistake and lose.  Both are using extreme skill and mind-determination, but that little mistake will creep in and that's the human factor that will never be resolved as we are not machines.  So if you are making mistakes don't be too hard on yourself, often excessive effort will create mistakes... go easy on yourself, learn to forgive yourself and start fresh with a new attitude on each post, trap or event.  A winning mind-set also has to be learned and that's how you learn it, by doing.

69.  How do I deal with the intimidators at the local gun club?

  These are the small group of shooters, a cliche, who are shooting well at practice and maybe winning High-Over-All at some shoots and they let you know it with brutish bragging or cutting down your efforts one way or another.  You can't ignore them because they are always in your face (and others) seeking recognition by elevating themselves while lowering your confidence (and others).  The best way to deal with them is to realize these shooters who brag the loudest for attention are not really winning anything but disrespect and scorn from other shooters, but that doesn't solve your problem, this will;    Realize they are not "winning" at the Big-Shoots... State level, Grand, International.  These shooters tend to score high on the little shoots where true accomplished competition is nil to nothing.  Here they choose and pick their competition which is always below their level of expertise... shooting against the relatively inexperienced Weekend Warriors.    It pumps their ego, gets them to the back-fence bragging rights, but they get beat time-and-again at the major tournaments.  Now, a shooter with a high average means nothing, nothing at all.  It does not mean s/he is the best around... it just means, in most all cases, the shooter can shoot singles and doubles targets fairly well (standing on the easy 16-yard line) and most likely can't win the big handicap events where the true test of shooting skill is demonstrated and where all the money and big trophies reside. 

  So, you may have a shooter, or tiny circle of braggarts with high averages, sniffing the air for someone they can intimidate and listen to their Bull, but in reality they are losers desperately seeking the glory of winners.  Just ask them if they won the Grand handicap lately or similar large event and that should shut them up for an hour or two.  That's how you mentally deal with egomaniac shooters.  Real pros don't brag.  They don't have to.  Another way to silence them (for a spell) is to beat them on the handicap events and keep beating them there and they will hate you even more!  I know many such braggarts who rant and rave of their great skills, wins and averages yet, have never won a handicap event at any large shoot like at the Reno Grand where there is some real competition or at the State shoots.  Hmmm, they don't seem to brag in these environments.  Warning:  Distance yourself from these brag-artists for they will certainly setup subconscious negativeness and strange emotions within you that will destroy your shooting, and that's the plan for them to beat you.  Remember, emotions in the cockpit will kill you, so it is on the traps.  If you can't do this then don't fly fighter jets or shoot trap and expect to survive.

70.  People keep telling me to be a good handicap shooter I have to shoot well on the singles.  True?

  False.  This is like saying if you want to shoot handicap scores well you should shoot Helice, Olympic, ABT (Automatic Ball Trap i.e.; Continental or Wobble-Traps).    All are separate games and each requires a differing technique.  There are no similarities between handicap and singles shooting... two different animals.   If you apply techniques to score well in singles on the handicap you will fall apart... and most shooters do!  A shooter can be like a general practitioner doctor who tends to perform okay shooting all the trap events (singles, handicap, doubles) but a shooter can become a surgeon on the handicap too! Reverse this;  "To be a good handicap shooter you have to learn how to shoot singles well."  You can see this makes no sense whatsoever as the games are totally different in nature.  Timing, leads, zones, setup, sight pictures, swing angle, eye and gun holds, and more, all differ so it's just another one of those conventional wisdom errors that have been floating around for years on end.  I know many shooters who shoot the singles event as a warm-up for the handicap... they would do better, way better taking 100 handicap shots to the practice trap for the warm-up instead. 

  Prioritize and Specialize = the keys to success in all life adventures.  It's like this in your occupation too.  You could be a welder or a certified high-pressure vessel welder; an accountant or an investment banker; a general aviation private pilot or commercial jet pilot; a structural engineer or a nuclear power engineer.  You have to specialize in what you really want to excel at it.  If you want to shoot and win those handicap events then get to the handicap line and keep shooting it until you master it.  If you want High-Over-All then shoot all the events.  If you want to be the best doubles shooter?  Then why are you wasting time and money shooting singles and handicap?  If you don't specialize the learning curve is a long one and often confusing trying to learn too much at one time.  Now ask yourself, "To be a good singles shooter I have to learn to shoot sporting clays well?"    

71.  I've heard pros say otherwise... you must shoot singles to shoot good handicap.  Who's right?

  Picking a fight, huh?  You likely read it in a magazine article or in a book.    This is that shooter's opinion based on his/her own personal experience, but it is not reflective of all professional shooters!  Everyone has a unique twist to the story of trap shooting but it is a fact that if you want to be good at anything in the shortest period of time you must specialize and place all your energy in that small area of interest.  I've spoken to many top gun pros and many of them totally agree with the specialization approach.  Many have told me if it were not for their sponsors they would never shoot singles or doubles... only the handicap.  I don't like to quote names but I'll make an exception this time.  Daro Handy, ATA & PITA Hall-of-Fame shooter told me on more than one occasion, and is quite vocal about it with others say's, "Shooting singles is an effort in futility."  When you think about it... it is.  What do you learn that you can apply to the handicap?  What do you win?  How much money is there?  It's all in the handicap event.    That's what draws all the people is the money and prizes and most all of the good stuff is in the handicap so that's where you should be.  Now if fun is the only thing you want this doesn't apply to you, but if money is then you know what you need to do.

72.  What is one of the biggest blunders a new competition-oriented shooter does?

  Going to the local gun club to practice and wasting time shooting singles and doubles.    In fact, a new shooter should be standing on the 20-yard line so they can see the target better and not have to swing the gun so much as they would on the 16-yard line.    A new shooter shooting the 16's is wasting ammo.  She/he is not going to stand a chance competing against shooters who shoot 98's and 100's, at least for a very long time.  Add up the cost of shooting singles and measure the potential gain and it's not very encouraging.  It's not going to be fun either losing all the bloody time!   The quickest point from A to C is B.  The new shooter will stand more of a chance of winning if s/he specializes in handicap because that's where most all the shooters fall apart.  It is also a better means to make money to help pay for your shooting expenses.  The 25 and 50 options give the new shooter a strong incentive and can receive four chances to break a good trap or two to make money and not even win the shoot!  It worked for me and I've seen it work for many others, including new shooters!  These are the "real world" realities of the game with the fun factor aside. 

73.  Why do so many people shoot singles?

  Generally, when you go to a shoot you shoot.  It's fun to shoot so it's fun to shoot all the events.  Fun is the leading factor.  There is invisible peer pressure too.  To shoot because that's what everyone else is doing.  And singles shooting gives the shooter a sense of accomplishment getting a high 90's score knowing it will be the best s/he'll get all day long.  However, there are money shooters who only shoot handicap events and have little to no interest in shooting singles or doubles.    And, there are shooters who can't financially afford to shoot all the events.  At $22 per event X 3 events = $66 per day X 5 days = $330 for that one shoot alone.  Multiply that by 10 shoots or more and it adds up.  A shooter who only shoots the handicap event only shoots one time per day at $22 X 5 days = $110 for the week.  It's getting affordable now to shoot even more shoots in the season.  Now the odds of winning increases for this shooter because of specialization in the handicap and shooting the event where most shooters do not shoot well.  And the more you shoot handicap the more you lose, but the more you win.  The law of averages work in your favor.  Neat little trick, huh? 

  Another reason people shoot singles is because gun clubs make money on the number of targets thrown.  They love the theory that to be a accomplished handicap shooter you must learn to shoot singles (and doubles).  It's good for business, good for shooters to have fun, but it may not be good for the shooter who is trying to win the event(s).  Shooting everything can tire a shooter out and bomb terribly day-after-day and the entire shoot becomes a waste of time and money.  Everybody is different.  Some shooters get better the more they shoot while others burn-out.  So why do shooter's shoot singles?  For many reasons.  The question to ask yourself "Is shooting singles really helping get to where I want to be?"  If it's just fun you are after... shoot'em up.  If it's money?  Go warm-up at the practice trap shooting handicap targets.   Whatever works for you is just fine.        

74.  Why do you advise to stay in the gun after firing?

  Head-lifting is a serious problem with shooters at all levels of experience.  The head will lift if not locked down on the comb, but it will rise ever so slightly at the moment of or just prior to the trigger is pulled.  This lift is almost impossible to control and it is caused by two factors, 1.) The mind anticipates recoil and forces the head to pull up.  This is why you see some shooters squashing the gun's comb to the cheek bone and this is too hard and most certainly is instigating a cheek rise.    There must be some facial muscle as a cushion.  This is why I teach "feeling the cheek pressure" method so pressure is just right each time, 2.) Dismounting the gun too soon creates a huge problem of lifting the head ever so slightly, but enough to miss the target on occasion causing your score to slowly slip downward as the event progresses.  Sound familiar?  Many shooters dismount the gun immediately after pulling the trigger, and they do so without thought, it's an automatic reflex.  This is the mind saying, "Get that gun off of my face" so they robotically obey the command.  The problem here is this dismounting process is uncontrolled and it eventually creeps in to dismount sooner and sooner, then suddenly without realizing it the gun is actually being dismounted before you pull the trigger.    It's very subtle, but it happens all too many times.  So you can see the reason why you must stay in the gun after the trigger is pulled for at least 1/2 to 1 second to maintain solid control.  You will also discover using this method will help you get deeper into the target before pulling the trigger and that makes for precision dead-on hits.

75.  What can I do to see my own mistakes?

  Certainly having someone videotape you while shooting is helpful to a degree but is limited in scope unless you have a professional coach review the film segments to point out deficiencies.  Doing it yourself doesn't work because most shooters can't recognize a mistake as it all looks okay.  So this is how you learn, 1) Study the pros when they shoot and I mean watch every move they make not watching the targets break as most shooters do, study the moves, the setup, setup timing, stance, swing, moving gun method used, gun canting, swing angle, shoot timing, zone, dismount procedure, gun hold points, call volume and timing, how they hold the gun, etc.  This will give you the foundation of how it is done right, then, 2) Watch other shooters, study them and "look" for everything  they do wrong.  Maybe they mount the gun too fast, stance is improper, moving gun technique is wrong, dismounting the gun too quickly, call is so loud the muzzle dances, gun hold points are wrong, etc.  When they miss a target guess what they did wrong then focus in on it and see if it happens again.  Is the shooter shooting too fast?  Trying to keep up with a fast squad?  Pushing the muzzle instead of swinging? 

  Start to think like a coach looking for mistakes other shooters make and you will begin to see your own mistakes.  This works so well that if you are in a slump it will give you the answers to what you are doing wrong.  Use other shooter's as your mirror.  Study the back-fence shooters because this is where you'll see all of the errors very clearly.  At short yardage there is too much muzzle swinging and this makes it a tad more difficult to see when beginning to evaluate shooters.  Also, the back-fence shooters are the worst culprits of making mistakes as they have forgotten many of the basics, or have never truly learned them properly and you can see the errors a mile away.

75 - A.  Options are confusing.  Any tips to share so I can understand them?

  Yes, a fine manual has been written that explains everything you need to know about playing the options.  Write to: The Scattergun Press 4919 Westview Drive, Austin, TX 78731.  Phone: 512-419-9345.  e-mail    The book is only $9.95 + $1.25 shipping and handling.  You'll learn the popular options, money division systems, program language and layout, attendance promotions, all the various classes of options and how they work, and more.  I recommend the book.  If you play the options or want to, you should have this book!    Mention that you heard about the manual from the James Russell web site.   For those who do not know what options are?  They are systems where money is awarded to shooters.  Even novice shooters can win money and help pay for shooting expenses.   It's a good thing because if options did not exist only the top-winners would take all of the money and nobody else could win a plug dime.   Playing the options enhances shooting performance as it takes you to a higher level of concentration.  The options I predominately play is the 25 and 50's.  Many shooters like the Lewis-class.   But by and large the 25 and 50 options give a good bang for the buck and gives you 4-chances to win money on each event.  Every trap you shoot can earn you money even if you end up with a terrible total score. 

Example:  If you shot a 25 on one trap, a 24 on the next and then shot two 20's for a total score of 89 (or even a lesser score) you won money on the first two traps.  You can win for losing playing the options!  If you play the option each day at the larger shoots, say 5-days, you have 20-chances to win money.  The odds are now in your favor you will run a couple of traps here and there and pay for attending the shoot!  Even if you obtain 23x23 and 23x24 or 24x24 here and there, by weeks end you may still have enough money to more than pay for your shoot.  Even paying 1/2 or 1/4 the cost of attendance is better than nothing.  Some shooters feel the option system is unfair.   I can only say, "If you run the traps you're in the money."  The shooters who do not play the options often have the lowest scores.  They are missing the incentive to work a little bit harder and targets just keep slipping by.  The option system has and does help many shooters to shoot better scores.  It's a proven fact.    

75 - B.  Explain the Olympic Trap games how they function for trap shooting.

Men's trap
  In the trap events, competitors move through a series of five adjacent shooting stations. At each station, one target is thrown from an underground bunker a minimum distance of 70 meters (229 feet, 8 inches) at speeds up to 65 mph. Each competitor fires up to two shots per target. Each target weighs 105 grams (3.7 ounces), measures 11 cm (4 inches) in diameter and is 25-26 mm (just less than one inch) thick. They are shot out of one of three trap machines at each station, and the athlete does not know what machine the target will come from or the angle or direction for the target. The preliminary round consists of 125 targets shot in five rounds of 25 over two days. Three rounds are fired on the first day and two rounds plus the final are shot on the second day. The top six competitors after the preliminary rounds advance to the 25-target final. The order of finish is based on the combined score from the preliminary round and the finals.

Women's trap
  This is a new event for the 2000 Olympics. Competitors move through a series of five adjacent shooting stations. At each station, one target is thrown from an underground bunker a minimum distance of 70 meters (229 feet, 8 inches) at speeds up to 65 mph. Each competitor fires up to two shots per target. Each target weighs 105 grams (3.7 ounces), measures 11 cm (4 inches) in diameter and is 25-26 mm (just less than one inch) thick. They are shot out of one of three trap machines at each station and the athlete does not know what machine the target will come from or the angle or direction for the target. The preliminary round consists of 75 targets shot in three rounds of 25 over one day. The final is shot the same day. The top six competitors after the preliminary rounds advance to the 25-target final score. The order of finish is based on the combined score from the preliminary round and the finals.

Men's double trap
  This event was contested for the first time at the 1996 Olympics. Competitors fire shotguns from five adjacent shooting stations. At each station, two targets are thrown from an underground bunker at speeds up to 50 mph. Each competitor fires one shot per target. Each target weighs 105 grams (3.7 ounces), measures 11 cm (4 inches) in diameter and is 25-26 mm (just less than one inch) thick. They are shot out of one of three trap machines at each station and the athlete does not know what machine the targets will come from or the angle or direction for the targets. The preliminary round consists of 150 targets shot in three rounds of 50 in one day. The finals are shot the same day. The top six competitors advance to the finals, which consists of an additional 50 targets. The order of finish is based on the combined score from the preliminary round and the finals.

Women's double trap
  This event was contested for the first time at the 1996 Olympics. Competitors fire shotguns from five adjacent shooting stations. At each station, two targets are thrown from an underground bunker at speeds up to 50 mph. Each competitor fires one shot per target. Each target weighs 105 grams (3.7 ounces), measures 11 cm (4 inches) in diameter and is 25-26 mm (just less than one inch) thick. They are shot out of one of three trap machines at each station and the athlete does not know what machine the targets will come from or the angle or direction for the targets. The preliminary round consists of 120 targets shot in three rounds of 40 in one day. The finals are shot the same day. The top six competitors advance to the finals, which consists of an additional 40 targets. The order of finish is based on the combined score from the preliminary round and the finals.

Men's skeet
  Competitors move through a semicircular range featuring eight shooting stations. At each station, single or double targets are thrown at least 65 meters (213 feet) from either the high trap house, which is 3.05 meters (10 feet) above ground level, or the low trap house, which is 1.05 meters (3 feet, 5 inches) above ground level. The houses are positioned 36.8 meters (120 feet, 9 inches) apart on either side of the range. Each target weighs 105 grams (3.7 ounces), measures 11 cm (4 inches) in diameter, is 25-26 mm (just less than one inch) thick and travels up to 55 mph. The competitors must hold their shotguns at hip level until the target appears and may fire one shot per target. The preliminary round consists of 125 targets shot in five rounds of 25 over two days. Three rounds are fired on the first day and two rounds plus the final are shot on the second day. After the preliminary round, the top six competitors advance to a 25-target final round. The order of finish is based on the combined score from the preliminary round and the finals.

Women's skeet
  Women's skeet is a new event at the 2000 Olympics. Competitors move through a semicircular range featuring eight shooting stations. At each station, single or double targets are thrown at least 65 meters (213 feet) from either the high trap house, which is 3.05 meters (10 feet) above ground level, or the low trap house, which is 1.05 meters (3 feet, 5 inches) above ground level. The houses are positioned 36.8 meters (120 feet, 9 inches) on either side of the range. Each target weighs 105 grams (3.7 ounces), measures 11 cm (4 inches) in diameter, is 25-26 mm (just less than one inch) thick and travels up to 55 mph. The competitors must hold their shotguns at hip level until the target appears and may fire one shot per target. The preliminary round consists of 75 targets shot in three rounds of 25 in one day. The final is shot the same day. After the preliminary round, the top six competitors advance to a 25-target final round. The order of finish is based on the combined score from the preliminary round and the finals.

76.  I need a formula to help me shoot better.

  As in the books the extra-full-choke is for practice, so just practice with the extra-full so you will build precise accuracy.  When you shoot in competition a full-choke is fine, it will widen the pattern a bit, but not too wide.  Full-choke can be used for singles, doubles or handicap and a good shooter can use the extra-full.  Here's a formula you can use:

1.  Practice with the extra-full-choke using a 3-dram shot shell of 1 1/8 ounce # 7 1/2 lead shot.

2.  In singles and doubles use an improved-modified with 1 1/8 ounce #8 shot.  This will give you more birds to hit by helping to relieve the tension in competition shooting by giving a wider pattern at close range yardage to compensate for inaccuracy and send more pellets out there to hit the target.  If you are tense, accuracy suffers.  Competition does have tension and stress attached to the game.  It only makes good sense to give yourself an edge.

3.  On handicap events, use the full-choke # 7 1/2 shot on anything beyond 24 yards.  You can use # 8 shot less than 24 yards.

4.  As scores rise, you can now begin to shoot all targets (singles, doubles or handicap) with the full-choke.  As accuracy again increases at the 27 yard line you can shoot the extra-full choke using 7 1/2 shot, but you have to be a precision shooter at this stage. 

5.  Shoot 3-dram powder load on all of the above.  Some shooters like less recoil and will reduce dram charge.  It's okay for single and doubles, but for most it is risky on handicap, until you get to professional status. 

6.  Don't forget to try other shot shells.  If you are shooting for example; Winchester, try Federal, Fiocci, etc.  One of these shot shell is going to produce a better pattern and you need to find out which shell your gun really likes; not the shell you prefer is right.  Matching the shell to the gun is critical.  Test not only on a pattern board as this is only a single dimension indicator.  Judge by how the targets are breaking in the real world. 

77Please explain trigger pull.

  A clean trigger is not hard to pull, feels light, has no creep and no gritty feel.  It releases the trigger suddenly and does so crisply like breaking glass.  The pull of the trigger should between two and three pounds pressure for most shooters.  Telling a gunsmith the above will give you professional results.

78Please explain eye pre-focus.

Mr. Russell,
  I bought and use both of your trap shooting books, "Trap Shooting Secrets" and "Precision Shooting, The Trap Shooter's Bible".  Both are excellent publications.  I have a question from the first book that I want to be clear about.  Regarding eye focus in chapter 8 of "Trap Shooting Secrets" you say, "When on station with gun mounted your eye should be focused from 1/3 to 1/2 out in front of the trap house relative to the center stake".  I take this to mean that regardless of with post I am on, I should focus my eye(s) - (two-eyed shooter) centered several feet out over the front of the trap house prior to calling for the bird.  Is this correct?  Can you please elaborate some just so I am clear?   No 25's yet.  Several 24's, 10 months in, and yes, I am trying to only break them one at a time.  I just can't get to that "25 plateau and it's really bugging me.

Answer to #78

  Some shooters pre-focus their eye's sight at the far edge of the trap house, but this can produce a blurry image and force the eye to jump/leap or fall behind the target quickly.  You can, or should try, like the book says, to pre-focus your eye from the far distant edge of the trap house to a point about 1/2 way to the center stake.  The stake is out in the trap field where the targets fall to the ground.  Yes, you would be looking over the trap house on every post.  You are not looking at the stake, but pre-focusing your eye about 1/3 to 1/2 the distance to that stake.  Example:  Watch TV then try to focus your eyes to a place between you and the TV.   The TV image will blur a bit, but anything that travels between you and the TV will be spotted and followed with great ease, like a clay target.  You will pick up the last 25th target when you treat it like any other target.  If you are dropping other targets 1 through 24 then it is just the learning process you are in.  But, there is something interfering with your routine that is creeping in to get you to miss.  Finding it can be hard, but if you keep aware of things it will be discovered.  I hope this helps you.   Thanks for the compliments, too!   

79Targets keep slipping by when I am shooting at my best.  Why?

Answer to #79.

  There are many reasons but since you are shooting at your best I will assume your gun fits, shoots straight and your swing, stance, shoe condition, eye pre-focus, gun hold point and sight picture is okay.  You are still lifting your head in anticipation of recoil or trying to see the target explode.  Most people do not realize they are lifting their head, releasing cheek pressure on the comb just a smidgen and that's enough to let the target escape.  Another reason is the flinch or poor trigger control and it could be other things too, but I would look into what I think it is first.  You are a prime candidate for a professional coach and shooting instructor to examine your form and help you find that little tiny error that is causing you so much grief.  See trap shooting instructors, schools, magazines link at the bottom of this page.   

80. Sometimes my swing to the target is choppy and I miss the target.  What is wrong?

  It could be anything from binding clothes to poor stance or gun mount.  Tape a laser pointer (you can buy them cheaply today) on your lower barrel (if over/under gun) and shine it to a flat wall.  You can place some electrical tape 1" squares to the wall to mimic the paths of targets.  Follow the tape markers with the "unloaded" gun and check for binding.  The laser light will "squiggle" really bad when any binding is detected and that will solve that problem for you.  Many shooters will discover they had an unknown binding problem when they take this test. A smooth swing to the target is desired.

81. I have been shooting five years and read your books (several times) and are excellent value to me, but I cannot seem to solve a riddle of Willamette Valley Oregon Trap Clubs.  I shoot the target and find holes, as many as 11 holes, but they did not break.  Help!   - R.  Seaton

  Learning to hit targets dead-center to smoke ball the target is important.  Targets that are "hard" to break can be due to the composition of the target and even a bad batch shipped to the trap club can happen.  In the damp areas of the country, like the Pacific Northwest, the clay targets absorb moisture and become soft so they do not snap, crack and break easily when hit.  It's like shooting a plastic Frisbee or a block of Swiss cheese!  You hit the target but pellets just pass right on through.  The solution is to recognize that you must be dead-centering your hits, but you should also tighten the choke to very tight specifications (replace the gun's barrel if you can't choke the muzzle) and use the most powerful and hardest shot you can get your hands on (of course your ammo must meet PITA and/or ATA rules).  Use 1 1/8 ounce 7.5 size shot with high alloy (antimony alloy is currently allowed) with 3 dram of powder charge.  Use new ammo not reloads!  Think about creating a special choke and barrel solution if you plan to shoot soft hard-to-break damp targets.  Also, when you see a top gun shooter in these areas ask them what they do to resolve this hard-to-break target problem.  You may get lucky and they will tell you their personal solution.  Keep in mind this is the same solution to use when trying to break "hard" targets that when hit the pellets just bounce off not breaking the target. These are secrets you need to know!  

 82. Do you have any books on how to become a professional shooter?

  I have written two new books that will help you measure your progress, Professional Shooter's Diary and Journal and I have another book that helps you start your own sportsman's business so you can take tax deductions like the pros do, Professional Sportsman's Expense Log Book.

83.  I purchased a BT-99 and sent the stock away to have an adjustable comb and an adjustable butt plate installed on it as you suggested in both of your trap shooting books which I purchased about a year ago. I was wondering about purchasing an adjustable rib for the gun from Add-A-Rib.  Is it a good idea to have both an adjustable rib and an adjustable comb?

 What you want is the Point of Impact that breaks the targets.  So, it does not matter what you do to your gun to get that desired result.  But first, shooting singles or shooting handicap yardage you don't change the settings on the gun.  That will drive you nuts.  The pros don't do it.  Now, they may use another gun, but if they use one gun for both yardage they will not adjust the gun.  They may change their sight picture, gun hold point over or under the house to make those fine adjustments due to distance shooting. My advice is to start with your comb adjustment at the 16 yard line until you get the breaks you desire, then try the handicap and see if you can still break those targets.  If you fail, then try the high rib adjustable feature to dial the POI in.  Most all modern guns now come with adjustable combs and adjustable ribs for trapshooting. Get the gun to shoot where you look and you will have the winning combination.  And, that could be a gun that has no adjustable anything to the gun whatsoever.  Get proper gun fit, find the POI that puts the pattern where you are looking. That is the secret.

 

 

- END OF QUESTIONS & ANSWERS -

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