Quantcast

Mind Games....

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Dave McCracken, Aug 8, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    It was after a rousing round of Chinese trap today. Geezer in Training Mike and I were comparing notes.

    The wind had given us a good excuse for missing, quartering in from the left and then gusting from behind, but we owned up to our misses.

    Mike shot a 24 his first round of Chinese. He uses a Perazzi he bought in 1987 ("When they were cheaper", he said) and it's a death ray. He dropped a few today and so did I.

    Mike said he had trouble getting a hard focus. I know I was having way too much fun on a couple posts and suspect my focus had softened also.

    We both have thousands of round behind us. If veteran shotgunners like us have trouble maintaining a focus, I'm sure others do also.

    Here goes....

    Once we have basic techniques down, have a well known shotgun at hand that we can keep on line and have a workable load/choke combination installed, most misses can be attributed to a lack of focus.

    Orange discs can be contributors to the problem. We see the fuzzy blob at launch and do not bring into a clear view. After all, close is good enough and things are happening fast.

    On the range we used today, the targets at the first two posts are almost edge on, showing little dome. Funny thing though, most of them busted nicely on the shot. As veteran shooters, we unconsciously tightened that focus on the sharp outline and maybe even on the leading edge as we should. We got more hits on that side than we did on the next two posts, which had a bigger piece of dome showing and we shot those after a warmup.

    Other things can contribute to the problem also. Speed is one, we want the grouse/quail/ringneck and we want it before our hunting buddies can get it.

    So is the stress of not wanting to look bad in front of anyone. After all, we Manly Men are great drivers, lovers, fighters and shooters, right?

    Testosterone poisoning has helped many birds to escape and scores to lower since first we shot flying stuff.

    So has unfamiliarity with our shotguns. Someone running a few boxes a month through Ol' Trusty Rusty will do better than someone whose custom fitted bird gun has sat neglected since last September.

    So, solutions......

    First, mix your clay games up. If you shoot lots of trap, shoot skeet, wobble and SC just to break up those machine style moves. Vice versa, of course.

    The new presentations will tighten up concentration.

    Second, work on that focus. Ted Williams, the baseball legend who was the last .400 hitter in the majors, said he could see the stitches on a fast ball. We're not in that league, literally, but some practice and committment will see improvements. On clays, focus on that leading edge. Birds, the eye or beak or that ring that gives pheasants their moniker.

    Since doves are just around the corner, here's a tip. Since the wings on a dove are in such fluttering motion, our eyes go to them.

    Resist the temptation,focus on the head and watch your bird to shells ratio improve.

    Third, get some home practice in. Use the corner of the room to focus on while you mount a shotgun KNOWN TO BE EMPTY. And narrow that focus down to the finest point you can. It helps.

    Traditional bowhunters that use no sights speak of picking a hair on a deer and trying to split it with the arrow. They do so often.

    We can do similar mind games. Focus on hitting that leading edge, practice and see it happen.

    The floor is open for discussion.....
     
  2. Catalina25

    Catalina25 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    47
    Location:
    east of NYC west of Montauk Pt.
    Dave I'll have to admit that a lack of focus is my enemy. And it's a shame because I don't get to shoot all that much. For me it's just the pleasure of the day, being outdoors and shooting a shotgun with a friend that most important. But next Wednesday when my buddy Pete and I do our monthly shoot I will apply myself a little more, focus. Thanks Dave...Tom
     
  3. TrapperReady

    TrapperReady Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2003
    Messages:
    2,732
    Good reminder in general. For sporting clays, though, I try to look for the "rings and ridges". If you inspect a clay up close and at different angles, you'll see that it has a number of details which can be seen clearly under many conditions.

    Try hard to look for those details... even if it's too far away to see them clearly. I find that "front edge" is good. Rings, ridges and highlights is even better.

    FWIW, I couldn't reliably see the rings and ridges except on very close targets until I got different contact lenses and better shooting glasses. Now I can see them on most targets inside 35 yards.

    Same thing for pheasants. Instead of looking for the beak, I'll look for the red around the eye and the white ring around the neck. Not only does it give me a positive identification that it's a rooster, but it also narrows my focus. If I can't really focus on the spot, then the bird is probably out of range anyway. Besides, my general rule is to not shoot at pheasants unless I can see the head. It really cuts down on the cripple rate (or at least the "dog has to chase after it a while" rate).

    BTW, in sporting clays you typically try to find the zone along the target's flight path where it is most vulnerable. MOST of the time, that will be right about the place where you can most clearly see it. If not, it's usually because the target setter is playing some tricks with you.
     
  4. enfield

    enfield Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2003
    Messages:
    1,041
    Location:
    Tennessee
    I've heard that orange lenses in your shooting glasses will help you pick up on the orange clay pigeons.
     
  5. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    Thanks, folks...

    Tom, most of us can up our scores by working on concentration. Focus on that leading edge.

    TR, true, but I prefer simplicity. Only close rabbits give me a good view I can pick up on. Everyone's eyes differ too.

    And on live critters that can suffer from bad shooting, my rule is "If I think it's may be out of range, it probably is and I shouldn't shoot". Seeing the head is a darn good idea also.

    And the "Sweet Spot" on any clay can be figured out with practice. I do find some presentations non representational of live game, but that's just me.

    Maybe somewhere there IS a teal subspecies that jumps straight up at 95 MPH.

    Enfield, my eyes work better with yellow on overcast days or in shade, and a medium grey for bright conditions. Experiment and see what works for you, because eyes, as stated, differ.

    The standard clay with a black rim takes me a hair longer to pick up out of the launcher, but IMO I get a little better "Fix" on it than on all orange targets. Minis and Battues,depending on the shot, are good to horrible.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2008
  6. dogbob

    dogbob Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    15
    When shooting Chinese with Dave on the "button" (the gizmo that launches the bird) you get the most out of the round. I think I shoot my best when Dave pulls. He can get in your head if you let him. The reason being, he mixes up the timing so that you have to concentrate only on what you see leaving the trap house. There is no pattern to his madness. When you call "pull" the bird may already be on it's way or it may be 4 or 5 seconds (eternity) before it leaves the house.

    A short story.
    Thursday evening, shot 3 rounds of 16 yd. trap with friends. Perfect weather, no wind just right to shoot trap. My concentration was lacking. Scores: 23/22/22. The birds I missed were clearly me not paying attention to what was leaving the trap house. Instead I just was going through the motions.... Calling pull and not being in "moment" (zone etc.) where you need to be for those few seconds while the bird is flying. It seems easy to think you can stay focused for those few seconds but in reality your mind must be blank of all thoughts, see the bird / shoot the bird.

    Now on to Friday morning to shoot Chinese. Nice temperature but windy with some gusts. After the usual mingling of the Geezers out on field 9 we go. I started off missing the first two birds due to the same reason I was missing the evening before. Dave then grabbed the controller from Doug and started his usual behavior. Some how instead of just going through the motions, I started paying attention to what was exiting the trap house. I did not notice the wind gusts or any other distractions. It's almost like everything went into slow motion. As if you can't help but shoot the bird when it flies by. The results? Shot my best round so far (22) missed the first two and the last bird.

    If you can break one bird, theoretically you can break every bird. The only thing stopping it from happening is YOU! I have no idea if this makes sense to anyone else.

    My hat is off to Dave and the Geezers for the best education one could possibly ask for. If you want to find out, just stop by on any Friday at 11:00 am. at PG trap & skeet field #9 and find out!
     
  7. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    Thanks for the endorsement,dogbob. A couple things....

    Wind can hinder performance, and KNOWING it can hinders performance even more.

    When I do the launching I try to even things out for the new folks and keep vets on their toes by changing up. This helps concentration no end.

    Did you note over on post 6 how Doug K and I kept moving around?

    That was A, great practice for live birds, and B, another way to keep things fresh and thus aid concentration.

    One of these days you and I will do a Flurry, hopefully over a wobble trap. That's a really good way to work on "See the bird, shoot the bird".

    "If you can break one bird, theoretically you can break every bird. The only thing stopping it from happening is YOU!!"

    This makes sense. You just had a Shotgun Satori, the Zen flash of insight. Congrats.
     
  8. TrapperReady

    TrapperReady Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2003
    Messages:
    2,732
    FWIW, I shot a charity event today. Soft targets all around. Still, I dropped a couple. On one, I let my focus drift back to the bead... barrel checking... and shot just a smidge low. The other one, I was focused hard on the target, but made a bad swing and covered the target with the end of the barrel. That caused me to lose sight of the target and resulted in a flinch as I moved the barrel out of the way.

    Should have been an easy 50, but I lost two targets by letting my focus come of the bird.

    One of the interesting things about hard focus on the target is that it often makes it very difficult to judge lead. I often find that if I know exactly how much lead I was giving a target, it means that I wasn't really locked in visually. Likewise, if I'm really focusing hard on the targets, I'll often be completely unaware of other things around me. For instance, it's not uncommon for me to step out of a station and ask how I shot it... only to find that I ran them all. My concentration was so completely on shooting the upcoming targets that I had no idea what I'd done on the earlier pairs. Either that, or I've got the attention span of a gnat on meth.

    As Dave mentioned, mixing things up is good. In sporting, we tend to get fixated on reading the target line, deciding upon a break point, visualizing the shot, going through our pre-shot ritual and then finally calling "Pull!". Shooting flurry games, or 5-stand while backing up a friend (with the club's permission), or Annie Oaklies all make us react and let our shooting instincts get a workout as well.

    It's one of the things I love about hunting. Running a station that features truly difficult targets is a great feeling. Connecting with a fleeting glimpse of ruffed grouse when your feet are pointing the wrong direction and your heart is revved up to about 200bpm is pure joy.

    enfield - I use Randolph Ranger XLW shooting glasses and have way too many lenses for them, in a wide variety of colors. I'm partially color-blind and thought it would be interesting to play around with different colors and see what works best in different conditions. What I've discovered is that I tend to use orange-tinted lenses in most conditions. In very bright sunlight, I may use a darker purple lens. Also, I use the same glasses when I bird hunt. Then, I use a very pale green. It offers (for me) almost true color reproduction in all lighting conditions. The light orange tints do make the orange targets "pop" a bit more than normal.
     
  9. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    TR wrote something of great note in the post above.

    "...If I know exactly how much lead....

    I seldom have an idea of how much lead I'm giving. I know the barrel out there in my peripheral vision is ahead of the bird. Don't ask me how much. The F/O beads seem to help getting the lead right for me but not when I look at them.

    That's more Shotgunning Zen. The less I think, the more I hit.

    As for colors, my Opthamalogist shoots a little. His position is that colors can help, but less tint beats lots of tint. If plenty of light hits the eye, the pupil contracts a bit,aiding focussing on a fine detail.

    A trick I've used for a long time is before calling for the bird, opening my eyes as wide as can be for a few seconds. This also floods light into the pupil.

    BTW, my shooting glasses are polycarb safety lenses with a touch of correction for astigmatism.
     
  10. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Messages:
    3,306
    Location:
    Along "That Dark and Bloody River"
    I used to shoot Skeet at a club in Florida and tried to interest members in shooting more like in birdhunting but it was probably three years before I found enough shooters willing to try "gun down" and "random releases". In fact, there were some complaints by some of the "score is Life" crowd about me upsetting their shooting with my "gun down" (International) style, and also my use of a .410 in all events.

    But when SC came along things really eased up a lot and very much for the better in my opinion.

    "Focus" has been an off/on problem for me. A tougher problem (for me) was learning to "shut down" between shots and except for the moments I'm actually shooting. I used to stay so keyed that I would actually be tired after four or five rounds of Skeet and focus was nearly impossible. I really think the "random release" shooting is what finally got me to control the adrenalin and once I did my scores got respectable fast... and that's when I got cocky and started shooting everything with a .410. Have had to eat "Humble Pie" more than a few times though, but that's Ok.:D

    We took "random release" as far as we could - like releasing "delayed doubles" on station 8 or releasing them as delayed and random "singles". It was that sort of thing that taught me what I will call "shooter poise" for lack of a better term, and the calming surely helped the "focus" issues a lot (imho).

    Great Thread !

    :cool:
     
  11. TrapperReady

    TrapperReady Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2003
    Messages:
    2,732
    This is very true. One of the keys to shooting well in windy conditions is simply acting confidently. If you try to wait for a lull, you're letting the conditions control you. If you just commit to focusing extra-hard on the target and stay in your own rhythm, it tends to work much better.

    Specifically with sporting clays...

    When I shoot in very high winds, I'll analyze the targets and lump them into one of two categories. The first is where the wind is making the shot tougher, either by blowing the target around or taking it farther away from you than normal. For those targets, I'll break it closer to the trap than I would in normal conditions. The reasoning is that it's (A) closer and (B) under power with more spin, which makes for a more stable and predictable flight.

    The other situation is where the targets are actually being blown closer to you. I've seen springing teal thrown that would normally be at 45-50 yards from the shooter the entire time, but due to the wind, they'll end up landing within 10 yards or so of the shooter's box. On these targets, I'll be very patient and let them get closer.

    One of the toughest things about wind is dealing with massive gusts. Each pair you shoot can be dramatically different from the one you just shot. The "mixing it up" reactive shooting that Dave mentioned is great practice. You may call for a pair and have a certain plan in mind, but then the wind picks up (or drops) and all of a sudden you've got to adjust on the fly. Shooting a bunch of wobble flurry or Crazy Quail in practice can help minimize the damage.
     
  12. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    Shawnee, we've had good shooters try Chinese trap or Mongolian Wobble once, acquit themselves well,and not come back because it breaks up the machine like moves they've spent years learning.

    I'm not a trapshooter, skeet or SC shooter. I'm not a hunter, though I've hunted for a half century this October.

    I'm a shotgunner. And mixing things up helps me be a good one.

    TR, wind helps me stay in the gun and concentrate.

    Your plan of breaking it close works. Partly because we have less time to think ourselves into a miss.

    Just shoot the thing.....
     
  13. Superreverb

    Superreverb Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Messages:
    187
    Location:
    Beautiful Western Howard County
    I've learned quite a bit from shooting with Dave. Now, I can, at the least, put into words what I see when the target is released. But, in truth, I'm still at a loss to describe what I visualize in terms of lead, read, bead, etc..

    I see the target and, more often than not, break the target - still clueless as to how it all goes together in my brain. This is how it's been since Day One for me. I envy folks who can see what you're talking about.

    This past Friday, I was shooting a nice Sauer Royal Grade 16-ga SxS that The Old Man had given me a while back (nice gun, but sports a ugly-ass plastic trigger guard that's broken in two....). By Station Six, I noticed that I wasn't even seeing the bead. Wasn't even seeing the barrels for that matter. All I saw was open space and then a target popping into view. Swing, slap-trigger. That's it.

    When I hit the bird, it was a wonderful thing. I could feel it.

    When I missed. Well.... maybe I could've used a Zenema for some of those targets.
     
  14. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Messages:
    3,306
    Location:
    Along "That Dark and Bloody River"
    Hi Dave...

    Must be some kind of "Right Brain/Left Brain" thing. The absolute surest way for me to blow a round of Skeet is to have the gun mounted before I call for the birds.:(

    Don't know what Chinese trap or Mongolian wobble is but they sound like fun.


    :cool:
     
  15. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    You're too modest, Ed. You see the bird, you shoot the bird.

    It works. I envy folks who can do that.

    And that Sauer is a sweetie. Did you note I went 4x4 with it after the round? I don't do that with many bird guns.

    That feel you mention's a sign you're a shotgunner and not just someone with shotguns. When you pull the trigger and KNOW the target's destroyed, you're a shotgunner.

    Loud Zen.

    Shawnee, Chinese trap as we do it is shot using a trap launcher and from Skeet Stations 1,2,6 and 7. The last 5 shots are fired from BEHIND the 27 yard line at a place of one's own choosing. SO, presentations vary from nigh crossers at 20-25 yards to extreme handicap targets WOD.

    Mongolian is the same but shot using a Wobble trap. Both feature a variable delay and sometimes a playful buddy on the button.

    Both are as much fun as we can have fully dressed, standing up.
     
  16. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Messages:
    3,306
    Location:
    Along "That Dark and Bloody River"
    Wow ! That would surely be a halycon shooting venture !

    But my 20ga. Browning BSS International (straight grip) and I have never shrank from anything so Darn the Score - Full Speed Ahead ! :D

    A place I shot in Florida used to run a pumpgun doubles round just for fun and a free dinner. It was the regular movement through the Skeet stations except you got a double every time you called for the clays... and of course you had to use a pumpgun. I've never used a pump much and so most of the time I went for the 2nd bird without remembering to shuck the action :banghead: and that always generated enough laughter to wreck a fellow's concentration. Good clean, insane fun. :)

    :cool:
     
  17. Oldnamvet

    Oldnamvet Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2005
    Messages:
    1,675
    Location:
    Michigan
    Good natured mind games

    Sometimes when we are just set to call for a bird, someone will ask "do you really want your feet in that position?". Just another way for friends to tweak you. You really have to focus or you will fiddle around for a second and then miss the bird.
     
  18. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    You'd like it, Shawnee. One local Pump gun game has a 3 shot medley, kinda like a simo pair with a report single. That's fun too.

    ONV, such is beneath the Geezers.

    Yeah, right.....
     
  19. TrapperReady

    TrapperReady Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2003
    Messages:
    2,732
    Dave - We've got a club that occasionally throws "True Triples" events. Normal sporting clays layout, except that they have three traps at each station and throw all three at the same time.

    Most of the time, they'll make one either high or an incomer, to give you enough time. Some of the time, they don't.

    Good fun all around!
     
  20. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Messages:
    3,306
    Location:
    Along "That Dark and Bloody River"
    "do you really want your feet in that position?"

    LOL ! :D


    Ah Yes !

    Like: "Wow! I'm gonna try that elbow position next round"

    :evil:

    Another one I remember is when a couple different color birds are loaded in the trap (like a white in with mostly oranges) and if you shot at the odd-colored bird it was scored as a loss whether you broke it or not.
     
  21. Snarlingiron

    Snarlingiron Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,362
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas (Where men are men, and a lot of
    I have been doing clay games since last December. I'm getting better.

    Couple of things I have noticed. Front sight...I have tried a lot of stuff (it's kind of my nature).

    I tried the EZ hit, and I like it. I now have Tru Glo Fat Beads on both of my shotguns. Thing is, I cannot for the life of me, recall ever seeing the things when I shoot. I know I do, but I just am not conscious of it.

    We mix it up all the time. I am best at skeet for now, but my friend and I have resolved not to just do what is most comfortable. So, we regularly shoot 5 stand, wobble trap, sporting clays and skeet.

    Very interesting about "just knowing when you hit". I have arrived at that point. I know the instant I pull the trigger whether I have hit or not.

    Finally, I tend to analyze everything. I have to understand what is happening and why. My buddy just takes it on faith. If someone suggests that he start his gun later, he will try it, and if it works he is done. Not me, I have to figure out in my mind why it works, so it generally takes me a bit longer to get it. He constantly tells me "stop thinking about it, and just shoot".

    When I do, I do better.

    Great thread.

    Given me lots of stuff to think about...Dang it!
     
  22. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    Man, ths thread has lots of good stuff on it and only some started with me.

    Mix things up, try different games and do not intellectualize on the firing line.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2008
  23. TrapperReady

    TrapperReady Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2003
    Messages:
    2,732
    Dave - Here's where we might differ. Then again, probably not. I'm all for "intellectualize"ing; however, not while shooting. I analyze my shooting quite a bit, but only after I've finished.

    I always go back through the round in my head and think about what went right and what didn't. If I can determine a pattern to what went wrong, then I'll work out a plan to fix it.

    But, you don't want to do that in the middle of the round, else your confidence and focus will go down the drain. This is very apparent when teaching new shooters. As an instructor, if I talk too much, then the students will almost always begin thinking too hard and lose focus.

    The important thing for the instructor is getting the student onto targets that they can succesfully break. We may start on an incomer, then move to a straight-away, then to a quartering bird and finally a crosser. The idea is to build confidence and work your way into targets that require a more complex move. If you get the student thinking too much, then the misses start to accumulate and the confidence drops, snowballing the effect.
     
  24. Snarlingiron

    Snarlingiron Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,362
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas (Where men are men, and a lot of
    Yep, I think that's what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I went from shooting 19-21 on skeet to shooting 8's and 10's :eek:

    It was frustrating to the point that I was questioning whether I wanted to keep doing it.

    Then, just as suddenly as it went into the pooper, it went away. When I stopped trying so hard, and just let it happen.
     
  25. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,936
    Location:
    MD.
    TR, I fixed it. Monday morning QBing after shooting is often profitable. Doing it on the line is egregious.

    Snarling, when a slump hits, go back to the basics.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice