After a shamefully long hiatus, I’ve been back in the stand with another shooting lesson at Southdown. With roughly 6 months (or more) since my last lesson, it was inevitable that I’d need to spend a bit of time going over ‘old ground’ to refresh my memory.
During my last lesson, Simon had explained that although I am left eye dominant, I have a right eye influence that seemed to be taking over at the last minute. After correcting this issue last time, we thought it would be a good idea to try the gun on my right shoulder (as I’m still only a novice, I wouldn’t be hugely affected and having to re-learn too much)…however, in the months that have passed, my eyesight seems to have corrected itself and I didn’t have the same problem as before. So it seems I was back to left hand shooting with a left dominant eye…very peculiar. And shows what a difference taking a long break makes!
I started on the skeet range and after two hits straight off the bat, I thought it had all come flooding back. Then a few clays later, I seemed to get worse! I think being back on the Skeet range with the familiar targets meant I had started to pre-empt the shot rather than just allowing myself to be natural and take each clay as it comes. This resulted in me missing the next few shots by predicting how fast the target was going to come and at what height etc. so I was pulling ahead of the clay instead of actually following it with my eyes and taking into account the many other factors, such as wind and personal error.
It was time to mix things up and move on from the Skeet range, so we headed down the lane to try some of the sporting stands available.
I loved the variety of the different stands, which threw targets in every direction imaginable, really challenging what you think you know about target speed, angles and distance. Trying a couple of different stands meant I had to really watch each target before my first attempt to work out what it was doing…there’s no chance of just copying your previous techniques like on the Skeet range – this required me to really read the target. There’s many more factors at play here including your own position and aim – Simon tells me I’ve now got to try and judge the distance, work out the angle the clay is travelling at and assess the speed to accept how much time I have to shoot. There seems to be a lot at play! It’s interesting to notice how the illusion of speed can change when you are under pressure, and if you just relax you have more time than you think to lock eyes on the target, aim and shoot (and hopefully hit) each time. When I remembered each of these components and forced myself to relax, breathe and take a bit of time, I found I was much more successful at breaking clays.
By the end of my lesson with Simon, I had hit crossing targets, quartering targets and teals, adding a few different experiences to my repertoire! I’m starting to get the hang of it and really enjoyed the variation of the targets down the lane. Now I’ve just got to try not to leave it so long this time!