Take a break or try something new?


March 20, 2006, 12:02 AM
(also posted in shotgunworld.com)

So the last few time I've been shooting skeet I've just been striking out. A few weeks ago I was certain that I was very close to a straight, I was getting 24s and 23s. I shot two 24s in a row at a local club shoot in February and was feeling really good at my shooting. The last ten rounds that I've shot have all been around 17-21, very frustrating. I did find out today that I put in a modified choke tube on my bottom barrel after I shot my first rounds of trap in 6mos a few weeks ago (and got a 23 and 24). The weather was really good at the same time I was really hitting 'em, and the last ten rounds have been poor weather where I've had to wear a light or heavy jacket.

What the heck should I do? I have a couple of theories why I'm tanking all of a sudden. I may be just assuming that I'm going to hit certain stations and then get sloppy and miss. I'm sure the modified restriction didn't help any, but I was still shooting poorly after changing it for a skeet choke.

I've been thinking of taking a break from skeet for a little while to shoot sporting clays and 5-stand instead. I did that a few months ago and it really helped, then when I went back to skeet I was able to get over my past hurdles and get some real improvement in.

Any thoughts?

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March 20, 2006, 12:12 AM
From my own experience, when I start thinking about my scores, I tend to shoot worse. When I just concentrate on breaking the next bird, then I do well. There have been a number of times I've walked off the line and the trapper has said "Nice round" to me (indicating I'd run them), and I didn't realize it until then. All I'd been thinking about was staying in rhythm and breaking the targets as they were thrown.

If you're suffering a slump, then it may be worth just "playing" for a bit. Try to play some games that make you shoot more reactively: wobble, doubles skeet, crazy quail, etc... Just focus on the next target, not your score.

Dave McCracken
March 20, 2006, 08:59 AM
A round of skeet or trap is not 25 targets. It's 25 rounds, one shot each. Take them one at a time.

Much as I like singles trap, if that was all I was doing I'd die of boredom. Shoot some Wobble, Chinese, 5 stand, SC, Bunker, and have fun.

March 20, 2006, 12:03 PM
I've found on skeet esp. that the better i get, teh slower the game becomes. I then have all day to get after the target, and I then lead it too much and i miss in front.
but yes, I do find shooting all the games helps with all of them. I like to shoot. So shooting all the games doesn't bother me much. I like sporting clays the best, but like to shoot them all to help with all the games.
Anyway, I bet you are thinking too much instead of just shooting the bird.

March 20, 2006, 01:28 PM
If your gun just barely fits you (buttstock is almost too long), Winter clothes can screw with the length of pull and screw up your cheek weld.

The weather can also impact your concentration. So can thinking about your scores, drinking extra coffee, eating donuts at the range, or any number of other things.

Like a few others said, slow down. Take each shot one at a time. Frustration, like recoil, is cumulative. I should know; I'm going through a slump myself. Pulling out, though.:)

March 20, 2006, 02:53 PM
I've found on skeet esp. that the better i get, teh slower the game becomes. I then have all day to get after the target, and I then lead it too much and i miss in front.

There are nights when I'm shooting trap (most of my trap shooting is done under lights), when the targets look like basketballs floating out there and I've almost got to intentionally try in order to miss them. There are other nights when they seem like aspirin-sized super-sonic missles.

What is the difference?

In a word, concentration. The days when I struggle, I find that my concentration has wandered. Sometimes it's lighting conditions. More often, it's something else: too much caffeine, thinking about my score, planning for retirement, thinking what a jerk the guy on station #4 is, etc.

On nights like those, I'll try emptying my head of all the excess junk and shoot one more round, forcing myself to focus only on the leading sliver of the target. If that doesn't work, then I pack up my stuff, put everything in the truck and go home. Once the downward spiral begins for me, I know that I'll just frustrate myself more and more... which leads to even more concentration problems.

Now, what if you're shooting in a tournament?

Last year, I was shooting a sporting clays tournament and started off one event horribly. I'd been shooting well in the preceding events, but this one was awful. The other guys in my squad had very few misses in the first three stations, while I had very few hits. By the time we were leaving station 3, I was a mess.

Fortunately, it was a long walk between #3 and #4, and I got the right attitude in between. We'd had some side bets going, and I paid up through those stations and then bowed out. It was just one more thing messing with my shooting. I also decided not to give a rip about my score and just worry about breaking the next target thrown.

To make a long story short, I shot very, very well for the remainder of the course and finished up getting a couple of punches in my class. The moral of the story is that anything distracting you from looking at the target that's in the air is a detriment to good shooting.

March 20, 2006, 03:07 PM
TrapperReady, great post! I've definately had days when I've been really concentrating and the targets do look like lofty orange clouds just floating along waiting for my leisure to shoot 'em. I think I've also let my recent slump discourage me into just getting over it already. Next time I'm out there I'm going to really concentrate on some fundamentals, foot placement, thinking about breaking the target, and really concentrating hard on that target.

March 20, 2006, 05:30 PM
I found that as my Trap score improved (not that Iím any good) I stopped seeing the movement of the shooters next to me. I was definately concentrating better. All my resources were from 44 degrees to the right to 44 degrees to the left. I even find myself thinking of a song while Iím shooting well. I am a true believer of the one thought theory of shootingÖ. Repeat one thought like keep your head on the comb or one shot at a time. Like in golf if you think; keep your head down, keep your arm straight, donít over rotate you are thinking about too much.

This is just what works for me.

March 20, 2006, 07:42 PM
I have had these slumps myself. One thing that helps me is to have an instructor watch me. Just like in Golf, bad habits can creep in, or a grip can change. Since these are gradual, we don't even notice ourselves.

March 21, 2006, 02:52 AM
Great post TrapperReady

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