5 Tips to Help You Prepare for the Season

May 2, 2024

It means more range time for many of the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program (Tennessee SCTP) teams!

Practices are in full swing and before you know it, competition time will be here. For athletes looking to better their skills and scores, here are five tips to help you prepare for the season.

Regardless of skill level, setting goals before the season begins is important for all athletes. These goals do not have to be number-oriented, although setting a goal to shoot your first 25, 50, 75, or 100 straight is a strong start. To map out what you aim to achieve, invest in a journal. Your journal serves as a place to document range visits and track progress towards your goals.

For improved muscle memory, incorporate gun mounts into your daily routine. Start with 25 to 50 mounts daily, gradually increasing to 100 or more. Perform these mounts indoors in front of a large mirror, mimicking your pre-shot routine as if you were at the range. This exercise not only strengthens muscles but also ensures a consistent mount. For extra practice, place“targets” around the room and practice smoothly moving to the target.

Before the season starts, it is crucial to check all equipment to prevent malfunctions. Annual maintenance on a shotgun varies by manufacturer, but all athletes should start their season with a thorough cleaning and a brush-up on firearm safety practices. This includes proper handling, storage, and usage protocols, thus promoting a safe shooting environment for everyone involved.

A majority of athletes in the Scholastic Clay Target Program experience growth each year, which often results in changes to the fit of their shotgun. At the beginning of each season, prioritize consulting with your coach to ensure your shotgun is adjusted to your current and correct size. If at any point during the season, you notice a significant drop in your average scores, don’t hesitate to reach out to your coach again for further guidance.

The most fundamental piece of the mental game in shooting sports is attitude. It is all about learning to forget the outside noise and focus on the present before stepping on the line. The smallest distractions from daily stress can distract even the most decorated athletes from hitting the target so it is key to find a routine that gets your mindset right. This can be listening to music, breathing exercises, stretching, etc. Click here to explore the Tennessee SCTP manager’s recommendations for shooting sports resources.

You may not know it but there is a difference between practicing and practicing with intention. Intentional practice is identifying your most troublesome stations or targets and spending extra time focusing on those areas.  Having trouble with Station 4 in American Skeet? Use your last box of ammunition to shoot all 25 rounds from Station 4. Practicing this way can increase scores far faster than going through the motions. Be sure to take notes after each range visit to track areas of improvement and create a game plan to overcome those struggles.

Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned competitor, the fresh start of a new season offers endless possibilities for growth and success. With these five tips in mind, we hope you feel prepared and excited for the competitions up ahead. To stay updated on the Tennessee SCTP season, visit tnsctp.org

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