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Target Assessment

Most of us coaches started with skeet or trap.  We were told where to hold the gun, how to follow the target, which choke to use, and where to break the target.  But we were never really told the why behind those statements.  We started coaching and passed along the same information to our shooters.  Where did we loosed the why?  Well, it was never lost.  When it comes to Trap and Skeet, you don’t always need the why, so you just don’t pass it along.  But knowing the why behind the shot will make you a better over all shooter.

As your shooters get older, you need to begin teaching them about target assessment.  They need to learn the geometry and physics behind hold point, focus point, and break point.  They also need to understand choke patterning, barrel length, shell selection, and other things.  sporting clays is the perfect example of how these things come together. 

Take a sporting clays station or a 5-stand and let you shooters see different targets.  Talk with them about hold, focus, and break points.  Talk with them about the difference in chokes and barrel lengths.  Explain the difference in shot size, shot volume, and velocity.  After you have begun to teach them about these things, show them different targets and get them to tell you these things back.  Where do you want to hold on this target?  Where do you want to break this target?  What choke do you want to use?  Teach them to use their surroundings too.  Look for signs where other have shot at targets, where targets have broken, and where missed targets land.

After you have gone over things on the sporting clays field, come back to the trap and skeet fields and get your shooters to asses those targets too.  Scores may initially go down, but they should come back even stronger in the long run.

Why don’t we explain all of this to start with?  Well, the answer is simple.  Your young shooters don’t know enough yet.  Too much information can cause a shooter to “think.”  When a shooter first learns Trap or Skeet, they don’t need to think, they just need to do.  They will have a lot more fun and want to come back.

I have a degree in engineering and mathematics.  Early on in my math, engineering, and physics classes, I was taught formulas that didn’t make a lot of sense.  I learned how to use and apply them, but I didn’t understand them.  My professors and teachers tried to explain the formulas, but I was just more confused.  I learned to accept the formulas and move on.  Then I took calculus!  Once I understood calculus, everything made sense.  We even went back and reviewed those formulas I had memorized, and now I understood them.  What changed?  I was older and had taken enough classes to be able to understand calculus. 

How does this apply to your shooters?  Well, they haven’t shot enough and aren’t capable of grasping all the details behind each shot.  When they are older and have enough experience, you can begin to explain these things.  How will you know when your shooters are ready?  They will begin to ask you.  Trust me.

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