A shooting Christmas

Pet Easton takes Christmas to the next level as she offers her tips to work on your shooting over the winter season with her Christmas check list

Changes to your usual shooting set-up should be made over the winter months so you are prepared for the coming season.

This is important as it allows plenty of time to get used to, and overcome any setbacks that the change or changes may bring. Whether it’s a new gun, a new cartridge, new technique or new approach for a specific target or even a different choke, don’t delay in getting out to your local ground and putting those changes into practice and getting used to them.

I’ve made quite a few changes this year and I really feel I’ve got my work cut out! A new gun with a totally new set-up, new chokes and inevitably quite a bit of work needed to get the whole thing feeling like I’ve been shooting it for years!

Don’t be afraid to make changes, sometimes it is good to experiment and work with new ways and the down season is an ideal time to introduce them, explore in your own mind what you might want to try and then, if need be, ask for some advice about how to go about it.

Hatch a plan
Have a plan for the coming season and set clear goals for your training plans. If you have decided to take some time off through the winter, use this time to plan your goals for when you return.

Perhaps include a plan of the kind of targets you want to practise, or perhaps a new discipline you are thinking of trying. As part of your plan, think about keeping a shooting diary of your practice and future competitions complete with scores and errors you can refer back to it if you need to. Having clearly hatched a plan of things to achieve or at least set your mind to, gives you a positive outlook for your future shooting.

If you are an addict like me and have been hard at it all year, give yourself some time to recuperate.

I’m not suggesting you have to take a four week holiday in the Bahamas – although that would be absolutely fabulous – simply spend time doing something different. Trust me I know how hard it can be as I feel totally lost if I don’t go shooting on a Sunday morning, but apparently there are other things to enjoy besides shooting!

Indulge yourself over Christmas and remember to treat yourself when you have done well – you will know when you feel you have achieved beyond the norm.

You may have had a good training session and felt everything went just how you planned or you may have hit your best score yet.

Personal bests are always worth a huge pat on the back and the act of reward makes it easier to do the hard work again!

The type of reward is up to you, but acceptable forms are shopping trips, a glass of wine on your return home or that ultimate indulgence – chocolate!

My other Is are to INSPIRE someone in the coming months and year, to have a go at the sport. And finally, INSIST that someone helps you with the vegetable preparation and washing up on Christmas Day!

Just like your car, regular attention from an expert can make all the difference to keeping your gun in tip top condition.

The last thing you want is a malfunction whilst in the middle of the shooting season and as a consequence your gun being out of action for several weeks while it is waiting to be repaired.

The mechanics of your gun can take some abuse through the year, so winter is always the best time to get it looked at by a reputable gunsmith.

Whilst you are looking at the mechanics of your gun, it is a good time to consider any recoil-reducing products you may have thought about having fitted. As I mentioned earlier any changes need plenty of time to get used to.

Take some lessons
This is a great opportunity to get some lessons and brush up on your shooting. Bad habits can set in quickly and your time is wasted practising them.

As with any sport, always get someone reputable or who you trust to cast an eye over what you are doing and take the time to work on your least favourite target while someone more experienced is on hand to give you some help.

It will pay off in the end and I always think a lesson or a course of lessons is an ideal addition to your Christmas present list.

Mark up
Mark up your 2012 calendar with the dates of important shoots you want to go to in the coming year.

It’s hard to commit to events when you are working, but I tend to colour code my yearly planner: red means ‘must do’. Orange is for domestic championships and green is a reminder of any county championship events. Pink entries are charity events and blue is for all the other shooting events throughout the year – as you can imagine my busy year planner is like a vast rainbow and hopefully there’ll be a rich pot of gold somewhere along it in 2012.

The official Clay Shooting Wall Planner will come free with your March issue so have your colour coding ready by then.

Cartridges are a costly commodity and many of us are ultimately governed by price when it comes to choice – especially in this economic climate. It’s sensible to look at what’s about to make sure you’re getting the best possible value and performance. So dark winter evenings are an ideal time to surf the manufacturers’ and retailers’ websites and do your homework on what cartridge is most suitable for your chosen discipline, how much they cost and where you can get them from.

Shop for any equipment you may need for the coming year or add it to your Christmas list.

Here are a few things on the market you might want to look at: Dirty Dog shooting glasses, which come in a set with numerous coloured quality lenses and are great value!
MacWet gloves are still, as far as I’m concerned, the best on the market for quality and performance. Be careful when you buy these from a retailer as there is a glove suitable for summer and winter, which isn’t always clear on the packaging.

And my final gift idea again is that professional shooting lesson or course of lessons for a loved one. There is always something to learn and something that needs work; I can’t recommend enough getting some good help.

If you have found my Christmas check list useful it would be great to hear from you or if you have any questions; email me at pet_easton@hotmail.com or write to me at Blaze Publishing

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