I have been shooting Trap (mainly Down the Line) for several years as a hobby but I would love to take it one step further and start entering competitions. I’d like to focus more on practising over the winter months, so that I can reach a good enough level to compete next summer. However, my work commitments and travel time to the clay ground often get in the way. I rarely find time to go more than two or three times a month, and will probably struggle even more now that many grounds have closed their doors to weekday evening shoots.
Can you give me any advice on fitting clay shooting into my schedule better or recommend any activities off the clay ground that could help me improve my scores?
Bessie Lowe, via email
I suggest you have a couple of coaching sessions, before the end of the season, to ensure that your style is correct and you’re working on making sure your body movement, to the left and right targets, is balanced and the same for both angles. By doing this you will then be able to practise dry mounting and moving correctly, so when you go shooting two or three times a month to practise your style is faultless.
One way to practise your movement at home is to pin a piece of string onto a wall in the shape of a V, making sure the width between the top of the V is similar to the angles you get on the shooting range. Print off a couple of pictures of clay targets (edge on) and put them on the wall at the top of the V. Then you can change the string width for narrower angles and also for targets going away from you so that all your body movements are perfected.
Practise dry mounting and moving the gun barrels along the left line of the string a few times, and then do the same on the right. Feel and think about the way you move. Start slowly and then as you become smoother and more relaxed you can increase the movement speed to simulate shooting clays on the range. This practice also helps keep your muscles fit and supple for when you are shooting. Physical exercise and working in the gym or swimming will help you to stay fit as well. When the body is fit, the mind has an advantage, too.
Shooting a competition is no different from the shooting that you have been doing. The only difference is one word, ‘competition.’ The clays are the same, the gun is the same and you are the same shooter. You shoot for your pleasure and that one ‘C’ word should not change anything.
Remember: practice equals competition and competition equals practice. They are the same thing, so enjoy.