By ‘The Smooth Bore’
Smacking the butt into your shoulder, canting your head down onto the comb and waving the barrels at the fast retreating target is no way to go clay shooting. (Apologies, here, to those of the lefthanded persuasion, as I have written this from the perspective of a righthander. Please substitute Left for Right wherever necessary, the principle is the same.)
Good shooting can only begin with a good mount. Think where you are going to see the target for the first time – as likely as not, it will not be as it leaves the trap; traps are usually in undergrowth or against a dark background. The first real sight of the target – that when you see it both with your eyes and understand it with your brain will be when it breaks cover against the sky. So, start with the muzzles at, or just before and slightly below, this first sighting point with the gun at an angle to the body such that, when you mount, it will move with a motion parallel to the level of flight. The point being, that by not having to swivel or turn the gun to the level of the target’s flight in the mount, you put less momentum into the gun, so there is less to take out to steady the gun onto the line of the target’s flight.
On your call, the target will appear more or less in the expected place and will pass over the muzzles, your eyes locking onto it and your brain assessing the actual trajectory. At this point your mind must be free of outside distractions (backchat, social media, stock market prices etc.) and your concentration fully on the job in hand. Begin to swing the gun at a speed sufficient to catch up with the target, but not so fast as to outpace it, such that you end up having to stop and wait for it at some stage down the range. At the same time raise the gun with a parallel action so that your line of sight is along the barrel and on the line of the target’s flight, then bring the stock to your cheek with your eyes locked onto the target. Now ‘roll’ your shoulder forward to engage the heel of the stock and complete the ‘triangular steady’ of the gun, that is: the right hand, the cheek and the shoulder.
At this point the gun should be swinging and pointing at the target, having caught it up. It is at this moment that the problem of ‘stopping the gun’ rears its ugly head, as the brain finds it difficult to ‘let go’ of the target and allow the gun to move smoothly ahead of the target to achieve the correct forward lead. Here, practice will make perfect, as in so much else. Try not to shoot in the same, wrong, place every time; either take your shot earlier or increase the smoothly acquired lead. Taking the shot earlier requires you to move the barrels quicker, effectively increasing the lead.
You will have admired good, experienced clay shooters as they make the process look easy and seem to be moving in slow motion. Why is this? It’s because their entire effort is guided by their sharp focus on the target and their familiarity with swinging the gun to their line of sight before locking it into the shoulder with the minimum input of energy. This allows smooth target acquisition and fluid application of lead.
Develop and practice a good, consistent gun mount and you’re ready to improve your score.