Hunter's Run Gun Club Port Allen Louisiana
HRGC sporting clays port allen louisiana
 

We spend a ton of time discussing the things that we think and may make us better shooters. “I think I want to try a high rib.” “1 ounce loads break the target better!” “Slower loads? I will have to adjust my site picture.” “Don’t tell my wife, but I am buying that K-80.” Heck, I may be guilty of a couple of these, except the slower load comment, as anyone! Yes sir. We spend a ton of time and money trying to improve, and I think we forget to practice the basics. Really! How much time have you spent practicing your gun mount in the mirror or gun movement following the line on the ceiling? I think we are all guilty of answering, “Not enough!” As addicted as we are to this sport, one would think we all would practice daily, but sadly, between the “honey dos”, work and family time, we never seem to find the time. There is one basic that you can practice almost anytime of the day, multiple times per day, and it only takes a couple minutes to keep you in tip top shape.

Focus is one essential basic that you can work on every day, anywhere, and with very little effort. When I started, I read all the articles, and I watched the DVDs. One resounding topic kept resonating from the pros. Focus! “You must focus on the target!” “Find a spot on the target, and get a really hard focus.” All of that advice sounded really great, but without access to the pros no one could answer my questions. “Why?” “What does that do for me?” “How does that help me break the target?” Being the inquisitive person that I am, I was surprised that not many people could articulate a satisfactory answer, and after shooting a couple 20,000 targets, 2 new shotguns, and $700 pair of shooting glasses, I found my answer. As it relates to shotgun sports, focus is your ability to control the target with eyes. What does that mean? For those of you that played a little baseball, what happened when you took your eyes off the ball, foul ball, strike? It probably wasn’t a homerun. As with any sport that requires you to catch or hit, you have to keep your eyes on the ball. Great! I’ve heard that all my life, but I never gave it any thought because throwing and hitting came pretty naturally for me until I started shooting. I kept my eyes on the target all of the time, but I wasn’t controlling the target to allow the rest of my body to react to the target. One simple statement opened the door for me. “Eyes first, and the hands will follow.”

Nowhere was this more apparent than attempting to shoot double trap. Seeing the first target was easy, but I found myself behind or blowing way out in front of the second target. It was simple. I was moving to the second target with my hands/gun first before acquiring it with my eyes first. This caused me to wait for the second target, and then I would play “catch up.” We all know how that ends (X, 0). After this little epiphany, I started performing a little eye exercise in between shots to train my eyes to acquire the second target. I would practice having a calm eye movement from the left side to the right side of the trap box. It was shooting that second target that caused that truck load of bricks to land on my head. I began seeing the second target so clearly that it looked like the target had stopped. I noticed that once it stopped or appeared to stop, I was pulling the trigger, and the target was now breaking with ease. Now I understood why they kept telling me to pick a spot on the target and focus.

The sequence now looked like this: Eyes→Hands→Target→Clarity→Trigger Pull

Training your eyes to focus/see a spot on the target allows you to control the speed of the target. Ding, ding, ding, the bell was ringing. Epiphany number two was noticing that once my eyes controlled the speed, i.e., target was crystal clear, meant my brain has completed the necessary trigonometry, i.e., calculated the lead, and my hands were in the right place to break the target. All I had to do was pull the trigger. Well, now that I had it figured out (famous last words), all that was left was to train my eyes to see things they have never seen before.

You will have to believe me when I tell you, I began to see things I have never seen before. You will eventually see the dimples or dots on the target. You will begin to count the ridges on the dome, and you may even be able to see the rabbit picture in the center of that target. Heck, on a good day with the right light, I can usually see someone’s shot string. It is possible, but you have to train your eyes.

The first exercise I used was modifying something I have always done. While driving, I have always “taken leads on a passing pigeons or black birds, so instead of looking at the separation, I began trying to see the beak of the bird. I used to look at the whole bird, but gradually my eyes automatically began to focus directly on the beak. Once that was mastered, I turned my focus to see the eye of the bird as it passed at 70 mph. It stays in focus just long enough to see it clearly. Try this one. While driving, try to see the bolts on the road signs. I think you will be amazed at how clearly you will begin to see a 1/2” bolt head passing at 70 mph. Trust me! This can happen. Remember, if only for a half of second, you are trying to see it perfectly clear. Road reflectors are another great object to focus on. I do this to see how long I can hold the focus as I pass it. At this point, I guess I should write a safety disclaimer, so here goes: PRACTICE SAFE DRIVING. KIDS DON’T DO THIS AT WITHOUT AN ADULT PRESENT. A safer practice is the one Dan Carlisle suggests. Try lying on the floor and focus on a single ceiling fan blade until it stops for a second. I like to practice my focus outside on fast moving objects that are at similar distances to what I will shoot, but of course he is Dan Carlisle, so I practice the fan method as well.

Eye focus is essential to being a great clay shooter, and my advice is that should train your eyes daily. If you will take a couple minutes each day, I think you will be surprised how fast you will begin to the see proverbial, gnat’s “rear end” at a 100 yards! Oh, and for all you hunters with duck loads pushing $30 per box, you should start see some savings when the feathers are flying. Focusing on the eye or the beak of those passing green wings instead of looking at the whole flock will definitely help you be the high man in the blind!