André Dubois, blogger and clay pigeon shooting enthusiast, and David Avril, master shooter, offer 11 tips to increase your shooting performance.
Before each shot, determine where you will fire. This is easy on the course. In the trench, you don't know where the clay pigeon is going to go. Therefore, envision a left, centre, and right area. Before each shot, you need to be aware of what is going to happen. Your eyes must be accurately placed, your barrel and your feet also. Make a plan, visualize and execute it.
Shooters are always in too much of a hurry. In fact you have plenty of time. Your brain cannot clearly identify the target when it leaves the trap. So give some time for your brain to analyse the speed and trajectory. You would never shoot at something you can't see. So call the target, let it fly, take the time to assess its trajectory and speed, and then make your move.
To increase your chances of hitting the clay pigeon, your eyes should be locked on the clay pigeon, never on the barrel. When you drive, you focus on the road, not the steering wheel. If you look at the barrels to measure the lead, your brain doesn't know what to aim at. So keep your eyes on the clay pigeon.
Very good shooters are precise. They take the time to analyse the situation before firing. In the trench, merely shooting more relaxed will gain you a few more targets. A good shot is a smooth, calm, and confident one. Shooters who pounce on the target are not consistent. You should not rush your shot, otherwise it increases your stress and therefore lowers your concentration for the rest of the competition.
If you grip the gun too tightly, your forearms become overly tense, as do your neck and shoulders. You won't be able to go the distance. Squeeze the gun no harder than you would a hammer on the back hand. The front hand only acts as a guide. Clay pigeon shooting is a sport where you compete with yourself first, before you compete with other shooters.
Most shooters have never taken a course or read a book about shooting. You'll hear everything and its opposite. So you need to focus on yourself and your own experience, while building a solid technical foundation.
99.9% of missed targets are due to a technical error. If the slope of the rifle is correct, if the targeting tests are conclusive, the rifle is fine. It doesn't matter if it is an €800 model. The same goes for the cartridges. Entry-level 28 grams is perfect.
In Universal you have TRENCH AND DOWN THE LINE (DTL) SHOOTING STATIONS: LEARN THE SHOOTING POSITIONS FOR EACH POSITION BY HEART 5 shooting positions and 5 traps. It's not the runaway shot that's the hard part. The difficulty is that you don't know which trap goes off. The trick is that for every firing station there is a magic spot that covers any given departure. Success in trench and down the line (DTL) shooting comes from your ability to reproduce the right move every time. Hence, you need to know the positions of your feet, barrels, and eyes at each station. Then apply the first 3 tips on this list.
This discipline is far more technical, as the trajectories themselves are variable. Make the effort, learn the maintained feed. It literally changes everything. This shot is simpler, slower, and easier. This method consists of taking aim in front of the clay pigeon and following its course always in front. The advantage is that the barrels move at the same speed as the clay pigeon. Once this technique is understood, the course becomes much simpler.
Taking a training session is a good way to learn the basics and techniques from a professional. They will also be able to advise you on the right equipment to use for clay pigeon shooting. It will be just as important to learn with this professional the correct postures and gestures to be used to increase one's shooting efficiency.
All the best lessons are learned through repetition. Don't hesitate to rehearse your movements and postures at home. This only takes a few minutes yet will greatly increase your shooting skills.
David Avril's tip: to achieve a fluid movement practice following a line with your rifle. This line will represent the trajectory of the clay pigeon. These movements will become automatic on the next time you shoot.
For more information and techniques on clay pigeon shooting, check out our article on the various disciplines. You can also find the latest news on all the disciplines on the websites of the French Ball-Trap Federation and the French Shooting Federation.