Improve your balance… and your shot!

Your shotgun isn’t the only thing that should have good balance, and having good core strength will help with this according to Ethan Lowry

Sporting clays can be thrown at awkward angles across varied terrain – a strong middle section will help maintain your balance and hit the target

hen we talk about balance and shooting, most people usually associate it with the balance of the gun itself – gun fit being an important and overlooked aspect within the sport. However, maintaining your own balance while shooting is also of paramount importance, not only for your performance but also for the safety of yourself and others. Your balance is affected by many variables: your core stability, base of support, footwear, the ground you are standing on and the recoil produced by the gun.

Your core stability and base of support are easily the most important and interlinked factors, which can be easily improved through some simple training. In striving towards clay shooting glory we rarely see shooters working on their physical fitness, most of their time is spent behind a gun but maybe this should change. You may smirk at the thought of clay shooters performing some form of yoga in a spandex shooting vest but it shouldn’t be so quickly scoffed at.

Balance can be easily trained through even the simplest movements. The following exercise can be performed every day within the space of approximately 10-15 minutes.

1 Begin lunges with a straight leg planted on the ground a large step ahead of the rear leg – if you have never done lunges before, you can start with the rear foot on the floor

  Standing on one leg – as simple as it sounds, by taking away one foot, you immediately reduce your base of support. You can literally do this for 20-30 seconds at a time at any location. You can make this harder by performing this exercise whilst performing another task at the same time, for example: while brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. Doing this will make the exercise more difficult because you’re having to think of two totally separate tasks at the same time.

• Incorporate the use of a ball  – you stand again on one leg and throw the ball either to another person, or, against a wall. You can throw in different directions and with different amounts of force. You will have to reach in different directions and with varying speeds.

• Heel-to-toe walking – imagine you have been stopped by the police on the way home from the pub. Often you are asked to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line. I’ve always thought this a strange task as even sober this can be a challenging task. This altered walking pattern again reduces the base of support when a person takes a step. Performing this exercise on unstable surfaces can make it even more challenging. You can try it on grass, soil, or sand. To make it more difficult again, you can try going backwards as well as forwards.

2 Keep the bottom of your front leg and your back straight, then lower your body until the knee touches the floor

These three movements are excellent but to improve yourself further you need to properly challenge your muscles appropriately, specifically around your pelvis and abdomen. The following two exercises a perfect for just that:

• Squats are a popular exercise, especially within the gym. They actively involve the majority of the muscles around the pelvis and abdomen. You can perform them with or without an added weight. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees as if to sit back on an invisible seat. Once your thighs are level with the floor, push through your heels, straighten your knees and stand up tall.

• Lunges are similar to squats but require a bit more balance and coordination to perform – see the previous page. This is because for a brief moment you are again only using one leg. As with squats you can perform these with a weight. Stand on both feet then stride forward with one foot, slightly further than a normal step. Keeping your torso upright, bend both knees to approximately 90 degrees or until your rear knee is just about to tough the floor. Then bring your front foot back and stand up.

Don’t try and perform too many of these exercises at once. Breaking them up into sets of five, 10, 15 or 20 will be more efficient lending to optimum improvements in strength and balance. Exercising will also help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your general health. Allowing for some of these exercises to be performed every day will again allow for optimum results.

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store

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