Not ready to go out shooting yet? Georgina Roberts continues her ‘quarantraining’ with some tips on hand-eye coordination technique that will improve your cognitive and motor skills for shooting.
In shooting, your brain receives information from the eyes, processes it, and uses that information to guide the actions of the hands. That’s what allows us to move the gun and pull the trigger in the right place. We are simultaneously using cognitive and motor skills to read the flight of the target and move to it accurately.
It’s called hand-eye coordination – the ability to use the eyes and hands simultaneously to complete a task. If we can develop that ability, we can shoot more accurately and consistently.
So how do you go about improving your hand eye coordination? If you search online you’ll find many examples. Here I will describe just two exercises that I have been working on, both of which were shared with me by ladies in the England Netball Team.
These exercises are great for improving your general hand-eye coordination, but similar exercises can also be used immediately before you compete as a means of ‘warming up’ your eyes and reactions so you’re ready for the first target.
It’s important to treat training the same as competition, so you’d need to build some hand-eye coordination exercises into your routine. The exercises you include in your warm-up routine don’t need to be as physical as the ones described here.
Throwing and catching a ball against a wall or with a partner before going on to shoot is popular. Some shooters will juggle as part of their warm-up routine.
Another option to prepare yourself could be playing a game of badminton or ping pong, but preferably you would want to choose something that you can easily take with you if you’re travelling abroad to a shoot.
I’ll often see members of the Italian team using exercises such as these ones to warm up before they set foot onto the range, and if they believe it’s beneficial then it’s certainly worth considering.
More detail on Georgina’s training tips
This exercise combines hand-eye coordination skills with an exercise. I used tennis balls, but if you don’t have any, you can roll up some socks into two balls. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Start in a standing position, legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart
- Hold your arms outstretched in front of you, with a ball in each hand
- Throw the balls up in the air and simultaneously perform a squat – bringing your knees to a 90 degree angle
- Drive up out of the squat and catch the balls
- As you improve, add a bit of a twist by quickly crossing your hands and bringing them back to the start position while the balls are in the air
I generally complete three sets of ten reps of this exercise.
Throwing & catching
You’ll need a tennis ball for this game, or a similar ball that has a bit of bounce to it. Find a suitable wall that you can bounce the ball against – preferably without a window that you’re likely to smash!
As you’ll see in the photos, I’ve used a large sheet of plywood that we happened to have at home. Stick some Post-it notes or similar markers on the wall at various heights and angles. I pinned some air rifle targets onto my sheet of plywood, but any sort of paper or tape could work equally well.
- Choose your starting position, set a timer going for one minute (you can use your phone) and throw the ball at one of the targets
- As the ball bounces off the target, move – run and/or jump to the ball to catch it
- Immediately you catch it, throw the ball at another target, and repeat
- To make it harder, extend the heights and angles – try to go from one target to the one opposite, to make you react quicker
- If you drop the ball, just pick it back up and carry on, don’t stop the timer. See how many you can do within the time
I will set my timer for one minute, and have a brief rest before going again. Typically I’ll complete the game five times and try to beat my score each time.
More on clay shooting technique
- Ethan Lowry on hand-eye coordination
- Tips on improving vision for clay shooting
- George Digweed: The master shares his shooting technique
- How does caffeine effect your shooting?
- How to beat the flinch