Shooting a Shotgun - Mind Over Matter

By S P Griffin

Shooting a shotgun is as much mental warfare as it is fundamentals.

This past Saturday my brother, my dad, my two oldest sons, and I went to the skeet range. We decided to shoot a round of trap since the skeet range was packed. All of us, except Dad, had not shot trap before. It looked easy enough, actually I thought I would be really good at it. WRONG, I hit the first one and missed the next 10. My brother, who shoots sporting clay tournaments, shot 12 out of 25. I ended up tied with my 14 year old at 6 of 25. Embarrassing, to say the least.

Once I started missing it was over, I started riding the targets, closing one eye and absolutely fell apart. I had changed chokes from improved to modified before we started, so in my mind that was the problem. I changed back after going 2 of 15 and finished 4 of 10 with an improved cylinder, not much better. It wasn't the choke, it was my brain that got in my way.

It happens at the skeet range and in the dove fields, and is very difficult to overcome. Here are some tips to avoid a mental breakdown.

Take your mind off of missing.

Do you remember the movie Tin Cup? Kevin Costner was warming up to play in the biggest golf tournament he had ever played in. The normally calm Costner couldn't hit a straight shot to save his life. He kept shanking the ball down the line of other golfers and the more he did it, the worse it got. His caddy and long time friend made him turn his hat around backwards, pull his pockets inside out etc. etc., and then made him hit the ball again. After some resistance, Costner did it and low and behold he hit his next drive perfect. Although this was a movie, there is some truth there. If you can do something that takes your mind off of missing you have much better chance of overcoming it. Turn your hat around, take your glasses off, do something different just to take your mind away from the fact you are sucking it up. Keep positive, negativity is the enemy.

Why not where.

When analyzing the miss, concentrate on why your fundamentals broke down. Don't dwell on where you missed, let's face it you were most likely behind it or over it. Instead answer these questions: Did you have the right focus as you shot? Were you on the line of the target? Was your move and mount smooth? Did you have the right muzzle speed? One of these will answer why you missed.

Get back to fundamentals.

Okay, you've turned you hat around backwards, figured out why you missed and now it's your turn again or a dove is coming by. Shoulder your gun correctly, use good footwork, and follow through with your shot. Don't focus on anything but the bird, forget about the last station, the last dove, or the bill you forgot to pay. ONLY THE BIRD! The good news is it only takes one good shot to erase 10 bad ones.

Just like a good shooter in basketball, you have to keep shooting and being consistent. The moment you start to doubt yourself, your accuracy will drop. Keep your confidence high and don't start trying to modify your form or how you normally shoot your shotgun.

A side note to the skeet outing is that my 10 year old made fantastic progress for only his 2nd time shooting. He only shot 2 the first time, and only hit one shooting trap so his confidence was in the toilet. As he began to shoot skeet I was worried, but he hit 1 out of 4 on the first station and that was all the confidence he needed. He shot 10 for 25 (with a 410), including both of them on the last station (the hardest station). A little confidence goes a long way. Happy shooting.

Hello, my name is S P Griffin and I've recently started a blog about dove hunting, hunting dogs, and shotguns. It's kind of ironic that the name is Dove, Dogs, and Shotguns isn't it? At you can find everything from how to articles on hunting, shooting, dog training, to hunting supplies and accessories. Check it out and feel free to leave your comments about the site.

Article Source: Shooting a Shotgun - Mind Over Matter

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