Ask the Experts: April


web_11Excuses, excuses

Q. My friend is always making excuses when he shoots badly or misses targets. He saying things like: “I’m tired, I didn’t sleep much last night,” or “I am not in the mood to shoot today.” or “I had a busy week at work and I am still thinking about it.” It is annoying as I know he can shoot better than he is doing. What can I do to help him? Oscar Fowler, Staffordshire

A. This is an interesting question, as there are different factors at play here. There is the fear of failure and maybe a fear of winning as well. So the excuses are a shield to protect his ego, as a ‘just in case I don’t do well’ strategy. Unfortunately the other factor is that he is programming negativity into his mind, and since the mind only does what it is expected to do, he is producing poor performance.

Imagine this: you are sat in a building feeling really tired and almost at the point of falling asleep. Then the fire alarm sounds. You’re immediately alert and make sure you get yourself out of the building as soon as possible. What happened to the tiredness? It was banished from your mind. Remember, thoughts become things.

Next time your mate comes up with an excuse before he shoots and says “I am tired,” reply, “Go home then – no point you being here.” Or if he says, “I am not in the mood today,” reply, “Well now you have told yourself that, you won’t be, will you?”

Don’t make excuses for misses. Learn from them and move on

Don’t make excuses for misses. Learn from them and move on

Small replies like that will make him think about the negative words that come out of his mouth (I am sure he does not know what he is saying and is just programming into himself). Remind him that he enjoys shooting as it is his pleasure and his hobby, and it does not matter what score he shoots as long as he enjoys himself.

Remember, we all start shooting because it is fun. We have no expectations – we just enjoy pulling the trigger, and it is a bonus when we break a target. Get him to go back to having fun, stop the excuses and he will enjoy his shooting again. And guess what else happens? He hits more clays and so do you! Enjoy. Lesley Goddard

Eye issues

Q. I don’t need any glasses to see but I have recently been suffering with itchy eyes and sometimes my lids stick together at night. They also feel sandy if I rub them.
I got some Viscotears from the chemist but they make my vision blurry.  What do you suggest? Jenny Rose, Milford Haven

A. It sounds as though you may have two issues. Firstly, blepharitis with a secondary dry eye. Fortunately, this can often be easily treated with over-the-counter products, but it is wise to choose those without preservatives such as Thealoz, Hyabak and Celluvisc. These are also not as greasy as Viscotears so will not blur your vision.

Lid hygiene is important to remove the scaly deposits that accumulate at the lid margin and lash root. Blephaclean wipes are very good – no not use baby shampoo, as it can dry out the skin and interfere with the oily layer of the tears.

However, it is worth having it checked by an Optometrist with Dry Eye expertise to rule out any infective component. Ed Lyons

A tough week

Q. I have been shooting really well and making good scores during practice in the week leading up to a competition, and then on the competition days, my scores were really low. What am I doing wrong? Joseph King, Yorkshire

A. There are two main reasons why this could have happened. The first is that you have used all your mental energy on shooting practice.

You should shoot quantity on the first couple of days, and then two to three rounds of real quality, and maybe only two quality rounds on the pre-event training day. You have probably continued to shoot quantity and tired your mind out so much that it is no longer sharp for the competition.

The second reason is that you were having an adrenalin rush (nerves) and did not get yourself into the shooting mode that you need to be in to perform at your best (relaxed but ready).

This shooting state is gained through trial and error, so you know what mode you need to be in to perform at your best. This is why it is important to keep a shooting diary of your performance and scores at each shoot. Then you can look back and find out which mood produced the best results, and aim to put yourself into that mood each time you shoot. Lesley Goddard

With the stock completely re-built, Mr Walter was able to continue shooting with his Merkel

With the stock completely re-built, Mr
Walter was able to continue shooting with his Merkel

Checking in

Q. In the summer of 2012 I took a Merkel 12-bore shotgun into Tim Greenwood for some work. This gun was my brother’s, and we shot together for many years until he died a few years ago. The gun was passed to me and I was determined to make this gun my gun of choice whenever I went shooting. This would enable me to still have a part of my brother with me when out in the field.

Unfortunately, a couple of years then passed and my ability to get to grips with the Merkel was becoming disappointing, not to mention frustrating, with inconsistencies on every outing. Breaking clays was a hit-and-miss affair – I was hitting some of the more difficult targets and missing easier ones. I even had a couple of refresher lessons in the hope of rectifying my problem.

I came to the conclusion that the stock was too short and needed extra length to it. I talked to a friend, who recommended Tim as someone who may be able to help.

An initial email followed with a phone call secured our first meeting at Tim’s workshop, and within half an hour of my arrival he had found the reason for my problem. I was not looking down the barrel but along side of it, and with the cheek too low on the stock. Tim then set about reorganising my stock, added a piece here and a bit there, all tapped together for me to go away and try – and try I did. I’m now hitting targets with some consistency.

Since I collected my gun on 21 September 2012 I haven’t been in touch with Tim, even though I said I would let him know how things went. Well, after a couple of thousand clays broken and more than 20 driven days, my shooting has improved beyond belief thanks to the work Tim carried out on my Merkel. Not only have I connected with my target, I can also retain my connection with my brother.

We discussed at the beginning how the cost of implementing the work would not add value to the gun, and whether the amount was worth spending. The value of the gun doesn’t always guarantee good shooting, but before the cost should come the fit. So in my case the cost of the fit was well worth it.

I can’t thank Tim enough for the work on fitting, stock alteration, cleaning, re-polishing and chequering of woodwork. It has been much admired by friends and colleagues. Peter Walter, by email

A. Hi Mr Walter. Thank you for your kind email letting us know how all the alterations turned out.

It is always a nerve-racking time for me taking a gun from a client who has great sentimental attachment to it and making major alterations to make it fit, especially when there are no replacement parts available in case of an accident during the alterations.

I always feel quite honoured when a client allows me to cut and inlet pieces of wood in a much-loved gun – it is a real act of faith in my ability.

I look forward to seeing you soon with the barrels for re-blacking, and perhaps a clean and service before the next season. Tim Greenwood

Bifocal blues

Prescription lenses can be difficult to get right, particularly with bifocals

Prescription lenses can be difficult to
get right, particularly with bifocals

Q. I am a 63-year-old DTL shooter and wear bifocals daily. I have had some new shooting glasses made but they are varifocals and things are blurry at the edges. I was told I couldn’t have bifocals in the shooting frame, but I need to be able to mark the scorecard as well as see in the distance. What do you suggest? Mark Babb, Penarth

A. Firstly, varifocals are never a good idea for shooting. Really, we don’t want any aspect of the prescription lens to focus anywhere but the clay, as excessive muzzle awareness will cause problems.

Secondly, bifocals should be an option that can work for you, unless your prescription is very high. A common solution I use is to have a distance-only lens in the dominant eye, and a small, offset bifocal in the non-dominant eye.

This will enable the shooter to see close up without affecting distance focus. Ed Lyons

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