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Woodshedding 101.....

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Dave McCracken, Jun 20, 2005.

  1. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Dec 20, 2002
    Back when I made some of my living with a Gibson ES 335 and a Fender Amp, "Woodshedding" was a musician's term.

    It meant practice with nuances suggesting it was to improve your performance. Woodshedding usually meant practice with a specific purpose in mind. It could be the purpose was to get better in general, or better at a specific piece of music, or just getting a riff right.

    The concept can and should be applied to practice with a shotgun. Once past the first couple of humps, all practice by a new shotgunner should be for specific purposes.

    The first two humps are....

    The kick hump. Once the tyro learns to shoot without experiencing pain, things go lots faster and better.

    The moving target hump. We all have to learn to direct the cloud to the target while the target is moving at unknown speed and distance.

    Once we have a handle on these, then use your practice time to focus on something needing improvement. For example....

    I'm in the process of learning to shoot with a head up posture. My neck is getting creaky and old, and if I'm to shoot at all I have to adjust things to avoid pain and suffering. I've been a stock crawler of the worst sort so this is quite an adjustment.

    Also, my mount is not as consistent as I'd like it to be. So, to work on this I shoot everything low gun. Mounting as I call for the bird means I have to do things correctly. If the mount is OK, the clay breaks. If not, the clay sails on and I'm reminded to get things right.

    A trip to the range might include some targets shot from standard posts, followed by moving the mikes around to change the angles and ranges. Here's the program I followed this AM at PGC. I had Range 7 to myself.

    A round of wobble shot from the standard positions was first. I would shoot one clay. If I hit, I moved to the next position. If it was a miss, I shot from that post until I hit one solidly, then moving on. Another round of this followed shot a bit faster to add some stress.

    Then, I shot with the Post One mike moved maybe 15 yards left so it was near Skeet station II. This changed the angle almost to a crosser on left angle shots. Been having trouble on right to left crossers and this was very good practice.

    Did similar to the Post 5 mike but moved it back some. A round here had different angles and perspectives. After some bad shots, I settled into busting them with regularity.

    Moved mike 3 back to the 23 yard line and shot a round from there. This was humbling but I did close in on them and hit most of the last 15. The greater distance means tighter focus and concentration are crucial.

    Finished up with another round from standard positions. This went well, and I scored a 22 or 23. Not bad for an old man with a creaky neck....
  2. foghornl

    foghornl Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    When I first saw this thread, I thought it was about how "Art's Grammaw" took the miscreants with bad language & worse manners out back to the woodshed and flailed the tar out of 'em. . . :D :D :D

    Nice work, as always Mr. McCracken...When you bind & publish all your stuff in Shotgunning 101, I'm in for a copy or 2.
  3. Rupestris

    Rupestris Senior Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    SE Michigan
    Put me down for at least two copies.
    Could I get signed copies? :p
  4. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Dec 20, 2002
    Foghornl, when I talked with sm yesterday he mentioned switches and a wide leather belt in connection with woodshedding. It seems a common response.

    As for Shotgun 101......

    Most of the material is on file. I'd like to get some pics done to illustrate a few things. Mostly waiting on a comely female to volunteer. Pics of such would get more attention than of me for sure.

    I could print out hard copies without frills or pics, just to get the things out where they're needed. Print them loose in 3 ring binders so stuff can be added as needed. Shotgun 101 is a workbook.

    Signed copies, no problem.
  5. Norton

    Norton Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2003

    Good points as always.

    To continue from the music perspective....

    It's very easy for anything that we do to become routine. This is desirable as long as we are trying to develop the routine towards a legitimate goal.

    For example.....something I know a lot about is playing the tuba. One of the things we do as wind musicians (or string for that matter) is to learn scales. The idea being to develop the muscle memory to be able to negotiate common patterns in all keys. Simple, right?

    Now here's the rub.....like all things, it's not "practice make perfect", but "perfect practice makes perfect". Simply going over the same scale patterns day in and day out will only ingrain THAT PATTERN into your muscle memory. It is necessary to alter the patterns on a regular basis so that it's not the sequence of notes, per se, but the relationship of all of the notes in that key to one another.

    The same could be said of playing high notes.....again, seems simple right? "Just play the high notes stupid!" But how I approach the high notes, scale wise, by large interval, etc all play into how I will get to that High C.

    With regards to busting clays......seems simple.....mount, point, squeeze, follow through......but in that simplicity lies the challenge in maximizing the consistency necessary to play with the big boys and clean rounds.

    The great former tubist with the Chicago Symphony, Arnold Jacobs, was one the first to do a lot of research on how musicians learned as well as the more well known work he did on respiration.

    Much of this has now become part of the Zen and the Art of Archery, Inner Skiing and like books.....but he was doing this work back in the '50s.

    Basically he determined that the brain can not "unlearn" something. you can not say "don't do this". You have to reprogram your brain by at repeating the desireable outcome.....in other words, "brain, I want you to do this".
    Dave has picked up on this......

    So, we have to approach our desirable outcomes from many different angles. Playing scales in various patterns, working those high notes in numerous ways will help us to develop the desirable outcomes without letting it become routine.

    When we shoot trap (or pistols or rifles for that matter) we get ingrained into our muscle memory the information necessary for the patterns which we repeat. For things such as mount, follow through, etc.....we want this to exist in the unconscious realm. However, by "mixing things up" we make sure that we are developing the desirable habits without clouding things up with undesireable ones.

    Dave....it would appear that I've become a slave to just shooting rounds of trap rather than really practicing. I'm going to try out some of your suggestions next time I head to PGC.
  6. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    at the center of my own little universe
    Good info again Dave.
    How many of us have ever shot with a coach? I mean really focused on a weak spot?
    I have been very fortunate to have the aquaintence of a small municipal range and range manager who has, thru much experience, the ability to spot the weakness and knows what to do to correct it. He has been a highly competetive shooter himself since age 12. My cost in the last 3 years can be measured in a couple of cold ones and a taco or 2 after the lesson and some of my time helping load traps, carry cases of targets, and help clean up around the range. By getting there early or by staying late and helping, I have had the range and the teacher to myself. The (not-called-for) targets come fast when we are "grooving in" an essential skill, slower when we are focussing on a weakness or relearning, the commands are clear and as fast as the birds. the voice behind me, the targets in front, and the shot that connects them. at the best of these times I am aware of nothing else in the world. I can do some of this by myself but for me, I become more focussed when the targets are coming without my call.
    Is this what you call "woodshedding"?

    (btw, 30 years ago I sold a gibson SG and a fender twin reverb and bought a D-28 Martin)
  7. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Dec 20, 2002
    Norton, the first time I was in The Zone, no shotguns were near. My Gibson was. The notes came out without conscious thought.

    "Practice makes permanent"- Gil and Vicki Ash.....

    Kingcreek, yup. Working on the weak stuff, polishing here, changing there.

    OT, never had a Martin, had a Guild D-35 (Mahogany and Spruce like a Martin D-18) a Gibson Hummingbird and a custom Dobro. Played as much Country and Bluegrass as Rock, love it all....

    A good coach is a treasure at any price.

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