Looking for a different key

For some, frustration with shooting performance is an all too familiar experience, says Mike Smith. A lot of help is out there, but so much of it simply fails. The key just could be to look at your shooting process differently.

Every shooting technique is different

One of the most interesting and inspiring things about teaching shooting is an acceptance of one remarkable observation – all of us are different in how we shoot.

Those differences, important though they are, are commonly slight between one individual’s shooting process and the next. However, some differences can be so incredibly subtle as to be something only experienced by the individual concerned. In other words, that something, whatever it is, is unique to you.

Shooting technique we're all different
Shooting technique

We're all different

When you stop making progress

When we start shooting, whether live quarry or clay target, everyone begins with and looks to master the basics. As we progress further some people will advance nicely, whilst others begin to find the going tough; progress falters and often stalls completely. 

On the clay ground, blanking that quartering away rabbit yet again no matter what we change – despair! Or game shooting, a couple of lean drives in, at last a good peg …you virtually empty your cartridge bag, and …  miss everything regardless of how much lead allowed or speed of swing – frustration!

Familiar? Well, you are certainly not alone, and indeed what you experience is actually far from uncommon. Up against that brick wall just what do you do? It is at this point that most will go looking for help with their shooting – the problem is when it comes to help there’s a whole bunch of it out there!

Advice is often too general

Shooting is certainly an advice-rich activity. You will find that advice is all around you …  and it will find you! In an age of social media especially, advice - good or bad, correct or otherwise - can batter you from every direction. Everyone, it appears, has some form of opinion.

So why does so much of that advice – enthusiastically communicated, and unquestionably well intentioned as it is – regularly not work? It fails because as shooting advice it is often generalised, and whilst useful and workable for one person this does not necessarily mean it’ll click adequately with another.

So unless you get lucky, nothing to do with your shooting gets any better. Frustration drives itself still deeper and shooting performance suffers further as confidence breaks down and self-doubt cuts in… more consternation…more disappointment. 

We tailor instruction to the individual
It's all about you

We tailor instruction to the individual

Instruction should be unique to the individual

Shooting is a physical skill, and as such can be communicated and taught. Shooting schools have been doing this a long time and have become very good at it.  However, a potential issue for some people lies in a Century-long school tradition that attempts to impart the teaching of shooting by rote.

Here everyone is assumed to be the same; everyone will pick things up and advance the same way. It’s an attractive pitch: all that is required on the part of the individual is commitment to whatever mantra has been offered, and loads of practise.

Well, if you relate in any sense to the difficulty described in this piece you will already have a fair idea that this is frequently not the case. Chances are you have a greater degree of difference in how you connect with the world and this is likely to impact your progress when it comes to the actually very complex task of hitting a moving target. 

What we have to recognise first and foremost is how the shooting process is different for you: How do you take in information? How is that information used (perceived, tested, recalled and adapted) as an applied skill?

Might be time for a change...

Of course it will require work, there is nothing achieved in learning a truly adaptable shooting skill that comes without effort for anyone. The first step now is to accept that in your own shooting some things probably need to be looked at differently – and, you know, that might well be, above all else, the key to unlocking everything. 

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Include me and I learn”
Benjamin Franklin

Enjoyed this article and want to know more?

Why not contact us at Glenzier Sporting. Mike Smith has run the Whithorn shooting ground for 20 years and offers teaching lessons and gun fitting.


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