On afternoons in high school, I would head straight to the gun club in my school uniform for skeet shooting lessons. My instructor, Terry, was a trap and skeet Olympian who wore the same uniform every day too–a cowboy hat and shorts. Predisposed to dirty jokes and occasional foul language, Terry got along well with the high schoolers he coached.
At competitions, Terry would stand on the sidelines like a football coach grunting and barking at us till he was blue in the face.
He always barked the same mantra, with a Gosh dammit thrown in each time — and this is what I’m going to share with you. This mantra is my secret to success on the skeet field. But before I tell you what it is, promise me you will take it to heart! My mother paid good money for this advice.
See it. Head down. Follow through.
Memorize these and I guarantee you will see results. Repetition creates muscle memory, and that applies to your mental muscle as well as your physical muscles. Iif there is one thing I learned in my years of shooting, it’s that shooting well is a mind game. You can’t be distracted by who’s watching or what they’re wearing or the cute guy you’re competing against or what happened at school.
The instant the bird comes out of the house, you are focused on it and looking at nothing else, especially not the end of your gun. Your job is to follow the bird with your eyes even past the point when you shoot.
Really get your cheek down on the stock of the gun. Get cozy with it, as if you’re trying to rest all of your cheek fat on the top of the gun stock. You know when you want to make a funny face, and so you push your cheeks together and your lips get all smushed? This is the look you want to go for. It feels awkward at first but no one can see it because they would have to be standing in front of you while you’re shooting.
Doing this is important because,
A) The tighter you hold your gun to your body, the less kick back you will feel when the gun fires. Your body will move with it instead of against it.
B) I know this sounds obvious, but you want to shoot what you’re looking at. If you were to hold the gun away from your face and body, and point it at the moving target, the end of the barrel would likely not be pointing at the right spot. Whereas, if you keep your head down and the gun tucked into your body, your entire body and the gun will move with the bird and your aim will be much more accurate.
Like in golf or tennis, once you’ve hit the ball, you must continue your swing until it is complete. Tiger Woods does this. Serena Williams does this. The same applies to skeet shooting. Once you pull the trigger, continue the motion until the bird is no longer in sight (or the pieces have hit the ground.) It is so tempting to fire, see you missed or hit it, and stop immediately. NO! Thou shalt not. It results in you moving your gun away from the target too quickly, even as the gun is firing. Seriously, I have proven the success of follow through many times in skeet competitions–so trust me on this one. You will hit more targets if you stay with the bird and really complete your “swing.”
That’s all folks. There you have it. My secret to shooting success. I have the mantra “See it, head down, follow through” memorized, and it is the last thing I think before pulling the trigger. (Gosh dammit!)
So now that you know how to shoot, you can move on to the important question at hand: What do I wear?