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Mental??? Yeah, once the basic skills of the game are learned...and this includes EVERYTHING from gun fitting to sight picture to anticipating what effect the weather will have on the targets:) . After that, then sure, it does become a mental game, and guess what??? That is what seperates those who win consistently from all the rest of us. Those who are truly top guns can't think about how their shells are going to perform or what chokes to use-they already know those things and trust them to work. Their attention has to go on the targets, and when it doesn't, they miss. Why does it seem so hard then? Well, just try to tell yourself over and over again to do something a certain way-it gets boring or you get distracted...any of a number of things. This is especially true of trap and skeet where the targets are always the same...or at least predictably so. Sporting is definitely more challenging with all the different presentations, and if you have a pair that requires you to shoot one in a certain spot and you don't then the second target becomes a whole different target. I was once told that the easiest kind of person to teach is one who is not the brightest. If you, as the teacher, can see a bright light burning in the pupils eyes then he/she has too much going on in their brain. Instead of reacting to the target and smoking it they will try to analyze it to death.
 

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I too concur with with the last two posters....When I started this shotgun/sporting clays thing, by far the the largest impediment to good shooting was all the the mental gyrations I went through...Now, I concentrate on the bird....If I start trying to get mental (missing the birds), I simply mount the gun later, so I have less time to think about the shot...It works! My 15 y/o daughter uses the same technique.........Chuck
 

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I certainly do believe it is a psychological game, similar to Archery, golf, and even bowling. There are physiological aspects and psychological aspects to these sports, and while each one presents there own obstacles and rewards, they are certainly entwined in each other.I realized this while I was in high school and studying archery. I was shooting competition and had a competition archer (much better than myself) as my coach. We would shoot together once per month and it would help. He gave me a book to read by Mr. Al Henderson (I think it was Al...) called Understanding Winning Archery. This book dealt with the psychological portion of competion archery. In short, the archer who could control his mind, could "will" the arrow into the bullseye. If done properly, you could see the arrow flying toward the target and striking the bull prior to releasing the arrow. I found this to be true. Some scoffed at the notion as if it were an attempt at psychokenetics, but I believed in it, and my average went from 230 to 275 out of 300 in a matter of weeks.While trap shooting, I found it important to use the same training I learned during my archery years. I could "see" the target break prior to pulling the trigger. I was not an impressive trap shooter averaging 23 for 25 per round. Just like my archery scores, my trap scores were close to crossing the threshhold from good to excellent. I never made it across that threshhold. This I attribute to not having the physiological part of the puzzle fine tuned, or perhaps I did, but was not able to mesh the psychological portion into the physiological part of the exercise. And that is where I think many shooters end up plateauing.A practice I disciplined myself to maintain was to leave the range on a good note. While shooting I wouild decide that it wa time to go and would allow myself a few more flights toward the target. If I had a particularly good flight where four of my five arrows were in the bull (or better), I would pull them and pack up shop and head home, confident in my abilities. If I left the range after a bad round I would dwell on the negative and that would brew until the next time I picked up my bow (or shotgun), and I would overcompensate, screw up, get more mad at myself, and it became a perpetual circle of negativity. So, if I shot a poor round, I would wait around until many other shooters would leave. I would calm myself and shoot "for fun" not "for score" and I would settle down. Once a good flight was shot, I would pack up and leave.There is alot to be said for how the human mind controls us and our struggle to control it. Mike RossThe Cartridge Guyswww.cartridgeguys.web1000.comLife Member, NAHCMember, National Rifle AssociationMember, Meeker Co. Historical Society
 
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My old coach used to say shooting games were basically 90% mental. When I was down at the OTC they stress mental as much as any other practice probably more. Visualization and relaxing techniques are very important to good shooting.

For trap I would certainly agree on that. If you can break 20/25 the only thing keeping you from breaking 25/25 is in your skull. Now manifestations of that can be physical. Such as picking your face up off the stock a couple times a round. You might think to yourself well I can't shoot this old gun that well, if I want to shoot great I need a perazzi etc. If you let things like wind or rain or ejected hulls bother you, you're only beating yourself. You must be able to recover from a mistake without frustration. I don't know how many times I've seen a good shooter that usually shoot high 90 scores miss a early target, get upset and miss 2-3 more on the same house. You can't do anything about the last target you shot or the next one you will shoot. Only thing you can worry about is shoot the one you are shooting well. Of course all these things are easy to type but hard to do, even guys that shoot for years and thousands of rounds of tournaments a year have good and bad mental days.

Breaking one clay out of a house (especially american trap) is easy, I've never seen anyone go out and shoot a 0/25 ever. It's doing it right 100/100 times that gets difficult. Getting into a good mental zone where you are just shooting one target at a time, not thinking about the last one or the next one. Not thinking about shooting a 25/25 on that 23,24,25 bird or 100/100 on the last few or 200/200 on the last 10 birds. Even the best still get neverous doing that. When I shot my first 200 strait at the grand american it really was a miricle I hit the last 3-4 targets.

When I was shooting on my best mental game days nothing phased me. I had no idea what number of targets I had shot, how many were left on that house, if it was time to switch stations etc. I've finished tournaments with 100/100 and honestly not known I had until reviewing the score sheet. That's either a good mental game or I'm just flighty :)
 

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I think it is because clays is a mental game that we get so much enjoyment out of it and, at the same time, so much grief as well. :cry:

What do I mean by that. We just shot a good course at Pine Creek with some tricky presentations; you had to study the flight line and work out what the clay was doing to plan the shot. So that is (for me) the mental fun part of the shoot - reading the clay and working out the plan.

Then there is the concentration part that is mental; today could have quailifed as a sporting duck shoot - the Tampa area has had about three times as much rain in June as is normal; Mark prepped the course Thursday and Friday we got 5 inches of rain at 6 PM. Even 4x4's were getting stuck. The walkers got around the course faster than the Carters for a change. So we had the noise of carts all around us trying to get out of the mud, we had some stands where the shooting staion was only just above water, plus all the usual chatter going on around us. So we had to concentrate.

Now the first two are using your brain to good effect; the trouble is it is hard to STOP using your brain and let the hands and the instincts do what they know how to do - we have to turn OFF the brain.

So yes its mental but there are several things to be considered and I haven' even covered visioning, goal setting and self motivation...

Yes it IS a mental game, thank heavens

Roger,

not happy with his score, but happy to have a great day shooting clays.
 

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I can only speak for skeet, but if we are talking about mental in the sense of confidence, I think there is little needed because you have such superiority with your shotgun...13 to 1 in speed. It's like a heavweight fighting a bantam weight. Does the heavy weight need confidence? Hardly.

Instinct shooter, with your philosophy, you would like Tonino Rossi, international skeet shooting coach, Olympic coach, and you can read about his steps to skeet shooting at www.issf.com.

Rossi doesn't want you to become clay dependent. To stop that, he says to see the clay come out of the house, but don't try to track the clay but take the gun, immediately, to your control zone, where no clay dare fly...it will be broken. The clay coming out of the house is only a signal to take action. Rossi teches low-gun, as I shoot, but I think this has application to a mounted shooter as well.

The Rossi method is like a miracle for me. As soon as I see that clay come out of the house I, move, I take action, and move the barrel to the control zone, see the lead and pull the trigger.

However, if you are talking about "mental" in the sense of staying focused for hundreds of rounds, well, those people are not focused...they are aliens.

I was in a tournament, recently, and I have a hard time staying focused for 50 rounds!!
 

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Any of the clay shooting games have to be at least 95% mental. Take skeet for example. It is the only way that you can explain that someone who can break targets from any of the 8 stations can't get 25/25 everytime out. I consistently shoot 23 or 24/25 so that means I can break every bird out of the house at anytime until I let my head get in the way and outthink myself. I get hung up on trying to get the ellusive straight round and then do something stupid. For instance, shoot straight all the way to 6 and then miss the high on a double or miss the first high on one and then go straight from there.
You can also look at it this way. Each of us has to be mental or we would not spend so much time and money shooting defenseless clay targets. We accomplish absolutely nothing but personal satisfaction. It puts no food on the table and takes quite a bit of our expendable income. But, What the heck, Each to his own. LOL ----AFG
 

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Rem,
Thanks for the link to issf. I will definitely check it out-it comes up as issf.org if you click on it, though. I'm always interested in how the mental stuff can help us as shooters, but I also know that a lot of it is not for me. A few years ago I took lessons from Gil and Vicky Ash-well respected instructors in Sporting Clays. Most of what they preach is both common sense and prejudicial--prejudicial in the sense that they have their own methods based on what has worked for them in the past. After many, many thousands of rounds through my old gun and about 4,000 through a new gun, I am finally beginning to shoot at the same level-both scorewise and confidencewise-
that I was at prior to the lessons. BUT, and this is important to me, I am a much more mature shooter with better insight into the sport. I will never be a top gun as I know what that takes, and I am not willing to make those sacrifices. It is enough for me to be competitive and win occasionally. To that end, I want to "warn" all of those who aspire to be the best that until you become one of the best you should expect the scores you shoot in tournaments to run around 10 targets per 100 less in competition than in practice or informal competition.
I recently shot at Elk Creek in KY and broke 88-the general area for my scores lately, but remember, this was an unfamiliar course. Two days later I shot a tournament at my home club and only managed an 81. The targets were similar in difficulty, and I was very comfortable here at home. It was only after I had missed about 10 targets and knew that I had no chance of winning that I got really comfortable and started smoking everything. Mental? You bet!!
 

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:?: Is it "SCG" or XT Babe? :?:

I'm confused!

My wife thinks I'm "mental" because I'm out at the range so much, shooting, so I'de say that shooting is mental.

Seriously I believe what goes on between your ears has everything to do with how good or bad of a day you're going to have. Here is a true story that has a lot of merrit.

Two years ago at my club duning a PITA 500 target shoot the useual 50-60 trap shooters and the dozen or so regulars shot for two days and it was a very nice shoot. On Sunday aftrenoon there were a couple of shoot offs to determain high shooters. The shoot off for high over all was between a highly reguarded shooter that every one knows and a good 'ol boy wearing dairyman's coveralls and shooting a Rem 1100 that looked like it had gone through the wash. As the shoot co-ordinator was explaining to this guy what a "shoot-off" is, he took out his wallet and handed his son a wad of cash and said " Go to the window and get a CASE of shells" Then turned around to everyone and said, "If we have to shoot until someone misses we are going to be here for a while."

The highly respected shooter missed two in the first 25 and the old farm boy had won before his son ever came back with the ammo. "Mental" you're darn tooten!
 

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Great Post SXS..

I have to agree with everyone else here... you Definately have to be MENTAL to shoot.. oh wait.. that came out wrong...

But seriously... I have shot in squads with and hung out at the club with some greats.. Linda Joy.. Jon Kruger to name a few... if you dont think its mental just watch the top shooters.. there eyes turn focused like a pro linebacker when they step into that station box...

Now if I could get my mind to work that way..lmao
 

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It's great to keep this post going...lots of good opinions, so let me add this, too. For those of you who don't shoot competitively or simply hunt try to imagine going through a routine before every target is thrown which includes: checking the point where you intend to break the target, where you intend to hold the gun to do this, where you intend to first look for the target (these all change in sporting clays-moreso than in skeet or trap), whether the target is curling away to the left or dropping etc,what choke to use, what shot size, etc, etc. Then you get to the actual preshot routine where you visualize the target breaking, collect your thoughts, focus your vision and finally call for the target. Then after the target is thrown your mount starts when you see the target, your eyes go to the leading edge of the target to read the line and judge the speed, your brain calculates the lead and finally you pull the trigger. The target either breaks or you immediately have to determine what sort of adjustment you have to make. You absolutely can not dwell on a miss or another will follow. Then you get to do it again and again until you move to the next station where you get to figure it out all over again. Whew! I'm worn out just thinking about doing it, but man, is it fun! Mental? Ask George Digweed about shooting the first 100 straight ever recorded in a major competition. He was so mentally exhausted that he nearly collapsed, and he was a strapping 30 something at the peak of his game. Good thing that hunting is more of an instinctive thing where we simply react to the game.
 

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Good description there 'instinctive shooter' but as a point of clarification, George may have been exhausted after his first 100/100 but he was not the first person to do that. Duncan Lawson did it first in 1974 with a Rem 1100.

One of George's most amazing display of shooting focus was the British Skeet Championship in the mid-1990's. There were 5 tied for first place, the shoot off eliminated everyone except George who won, because he shot 19 rounds of skeet straight!

Thats 475 straight in a shoot off! Phew

Roger
 

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Roger Gascoigne said:
Good description there 'instinctive shooter' but as a point of clarification, George may have been exhausted after his first 100/100 but he was not the first person to do that. Duncan Lawson did it first in 1974 with a Rem 1100.

Roger, I think you may be correct. The event I was referring to was George's win of the Nationals (if memory serves me correctly) just a few years ago. Still, the point being made was that it took a considerable effort both mentally and physically and it occured at a very important shoot which only added to the difficulty. It is also reported that someone who wished him good luck was treated to the reply of "What the Hell does luck have to do with anything?"
 

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It is interesting that people can hit every clay from every station around the skeet layout, but not always in a single round.

If you want an exercise to sharpen you up, and show you that instinct is a good tool if you can learn let your instincts take over, try this. It is a game we used to play at our informal club in England

"Anticipation Skeet" Make sure you and everyone around you are safe when you do this. Once the shooter is on the stand, and there are two shells in the gun, the trapper pulls either high or low or a pair. Trapper choice. The shooter has to finish closing the gun and get it into their shoulder and shoot within the flight time. NOT FOR BEGINNERS. :oops:

We found that regular 19/20 scorers were geting 22/23 and sometimes 24 when they shot instincively. HMM...MMM makes you think.
 
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