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Most Clay Shooters and Wing Shooters come across targets that they struggle with from time to time. Rarely is this a permanent struggle; but for a period of time, individuals will describe a particular target as their ‘Bogey’.
If I were to be pinned down to selecting only two targets that caused confusion and temporary loss of confidence; they would be 1. Quartering away targets (RtoL for left-handers and LtoR for right-handers) 2. Looping targets: Let us look at the challenges and then the system for a right hander to best cope with an LtoR quartering away target (Clay Shooters; how many times has this particular Quail baffled you?).
Why should this particular target be so challenging? Well firstly it is an ever changing situation and therefore difficult to read. It is going away from the shooter but also has relative crossing movement.
Initially it seems to be going away very fast, then the crossing movement becomes apparent and in the latter part of the targets flight it appears to be going almost straight away slowly. The LtoR movement can seem deceptively small; but that very LtoR movement can cause the stock to be pushed away from the face.
So, what is the best approach? As ever, back to basics!
1. Where to kill it? Simple: as quickly as you comfortably can. Like any target that is travelling away from us; it needs ‘attacking’. Remember CLAY SHOOTERS NEED ATTITUDE! Kill it before you have time to be wrong! 2. Feet position; five past eleven to the kill point. 3. Pick up point; absolutely critical on this type of target. Choose a pick up that is too early on its’ flight path and the clay will be a blur; likely to cause the gun to chase the target to catch it up, then ‘flash’ past it. Choose a pick up that is too late, and we will probably not have enough movement on the gun, ending up shooting straight at the target at a point where gravity is causing it to drop. Result; target missed high to the left and over the top!
4. Kill picture? Easy; about a standard sized clay width between the bead and the target and just underneath it. 5. Gun ready position? Remember you need to attack this target and shoot it quickly. So you need a high stock hold position. If you like to shoot with your stock pre mounted, then this is the best ready position for you.
Clay Shooters; after you have looked at this diagram, close your eyes and picture that Dove or Quail on the same flight path!
Now you have a system to cope with the LtoR quartering away target; let us take a look at the ‘Looper’. It was not that many years ago that Clay Shooters would not have known what a ‘Looping target was, because clay shooting was supposed to include replication some form of shootable Game bird or vermin.
Now that a clay shooting layout is down solely to the imagination of the layout designer; it would be very unusual clay shooting that did not have at least one Looping target. These targets can be looping across R to L or L to R. They can also be quarteringin either direction as going away or incoming targets. Furthermore the loop can be steep or shallow.
I am choosing to use an Lto R crossing looper to highlight the challenges and a simple system to enable you to get to grips with this type of target. So why does this target cause so many clay shooters difficulties? Primarily because the correct kill picture feels alien to the shooters brain. It always needs to be graphically two dimensional.
A further challenge is provided because this type of target does not lend itself to any of the three main shooting systems. 1. Follow Through (That is coming up from behind the target) 2. Maintained Lead (Always staying ahead of the target) 3. The Method (The CPSA’S and my own much preferred system of pointing at the target and moving with it).
The solution is really so very simple: We just mentally remove the loop! However we do need to deviate from The Method to achieve this. This is one target that we don’t point at first!
Here is how to go about it on this L to R crossing looper:- Watch the target in flight and choose a definite Pick Up point where you are certain that you are going to see the clay early in its flight path, but see it very clearly: This will often be about a third of the way along the flight path.
Now decide the Kill Point it needs to be at a point before the clay target is dropping at its fastest. Set your feet correctly to the Kill point; and finally the secret to success: You now mentally draw yourself an imaginary straight line from the Pick Up Point to the Kill Point.
Your last piece of mental preparation is to decide the Kill Picture; which in this case is about 1 foot in front of the clay and about 6" underneath it. Before calling “pull “ make sure that the barrels are on the Pick Up Point, remind yourself that you are simply going to move the barrels along that imaginary straight line , and squeeze the trigger when you see that you have reached a point where you have created the Kill Picture.
One last reminder; this is a L to R moving target, so as a right hander you are going to lock the stock extra tightly into your cheek.
You have the systems; so you now need to practice. For Quartering targets, get yourselves onto a Skeet Layout this is a fantastic place to practice these targets. Station 2 for L to R and Station 6 for R to L. For Loopers you are going to have to scout around your local Sporting layouts. In closing, a few words about Practice. It is only going to benefit you if it is positive. That is, you need to be killing more than you are missing. Missed clays teach you nothing, and too many misses will demoralize you and sap your confidence.
It is very worthwhile two or three of you getting together ( you should all be at a similar standard ) Contact your local shooting Coach and book a shared session. This will probably cost you less than your entry fees to your next 100 Sporting shoot.
Do explain to the Coach what it is you want to improve on at the time of booking. This will ensure that exactly the right targets are set up for you and you will all be able to have the time to get the most out of your session.