My shooting journey continued last week, and I was pleased to find that once I picked up the gun, the technique for holding it, standing correctly and loading the gun come back pretty quickly. I was lucky enough to have another sunny day (in November!) so we headed straight out to the Skeet range to pick up where we left off…
Unfortunately, my shooting skills didn’t flood back straight away and I missed the first few clays, pulling forward too much each time. Something didn’t feel right. Simon, my instructor racked his brains and decided to try something we hadn’t done previously. He tore off a piece of tape and stuck it on my glasses, over my right eye – just covering the iris so that my peripheral vision was still intact. I took aim again and sure enough I hit the target, and then another and another…Simon explained that although I am left eye dominant, I have a right eye influence and that seemed to be taking over at the last minute, causing me to see double and essentially, go for the ‘invisible clay’. I’m told that even experienced shooters sometimes shoot for years rather averagely and then as soon as they get their eyes sorted, they suddenly start posting great scores – so it is testament to Simon’s level of skill and expertise that we were able to correct it so early on. Once we’d resolved this, I found I was hitting more targets and so gaining in confidence with each shot.
We moved round the stands, which gave a different perspective of the clay each time; more like ‘real’ shooting. I found that after three or four times from the same position, my aim got lazy as I knew where it was coming from so I started to miss. It really emphasised the need to stare down the clay and really focus on every part of the process; feet, eyes, gun. This was evidently the case when I called pull and Simon pressed the wrong button, releasing a bird in the opposite direction. However, the unexpected change allowed me to focus on it without any preconceptions and I hit the clay immediately. It just goes to show that when all the elements are aligned, a natural instinct definitely takes over!
Speaking of natural instincts, my experience is in the ski industry and I have worked in ski resorts for five winters, so snowboarding comes naturally to me. Simon compared shooting to skiing which helped me relax and see that it’s all just a technique that when mastered, can happen automatically. Similarly in both, you find your position, bend your front knee and lean forward slightly…but instead of pointing your board down the mountain to go you simply point the gun in the air and wait! I’m sure with time it will flow just as seamlessly.
My success rate this time was much higher, possibly because I hadn’t spent so long in the classroom before taking in all of the information I needed to start! After an hour or so though, the gun started to feel heavy and my posture felt awkward, so my tiredness was leading to mistakes. We decided to call it there with the promise of heading down the lane next time.