Site Update
September 2014


Shooting Training

As with most sports there is more to training than simply taking part in the sport itself.  With shooting, while actually firing the gun at targets is an important part of training, there is a great deal that can be achieved that does not involve actual shooting.

For the person who just likes pulling the trigger as often as possible this might be bad news, but for the shooter keen to improve (and thatís most of us) there are many training methods that can help raise standards. Hereís a list of some of the training methods that may gainfully be employed.

  • Dry Training
    • This covers a great variety of training techniques.  Vital aspects of good shooting such as gun mounting, stance, posture and balance can all be learned best in dry training.  For many new to shooting dry training will strengthen the shooting muscles, especially those required to mount the gun properly. Ladies (though not all) and men in sedentary jobs are often lacking in basic strength.  This means that there is a general lack of gun control and poor shooting is inevitable.
  • Physical Training
    • Dry training with the gun exercises and strengthens the muscles specifically activated when shooting in a way weight training cannot do.  However, training in a gym with weights and machines will bring an overall basic power increase which will definitely help your shooting.  And of course a decent degree of overall fitness should be considered vital, too. Take medical advice before setting out on a general fitness regime, just in case.
  • Psychology
    • This is an area that is being increasingly explored in other sports, and has made inroads into shooting, too. Pistol & rifle shooters have certainly benefited from the attention of sports psychologists.  There is no doubt that a positive approach to shooting can only be beneficial, and it is well worth seeking out a sports psychologist if you feel the need.
    • My only reservations on the subject are that sports psychology should be viewed as an enhancement for some people - it will not work for everyone nor is it a substitute for good technique and regular training.  It should also be a prerequisite that the sports psychologist has a working knowledge of clay shooting, and not just be applying general theories that may or may not have any relevance.
      Speaking not as a sports psychologist but as a former GB Olympic Skeet shooter and coach my observations on the subject are as follows:
    • Logical Thought
    • As humans we are familiar with the process of working things out by logical thought. We work through problems carefully, examining the pros and cons before eventually deciding on a course of action. But logical thought is a relatively slow process and therefore no use at all for a fast reflexive sport like Olympic Skeet. However it does have its place in the early learning stages, where basic technique has to be understood and then learned by constant repetition. Constant and correct repetition of the basics leads to:
    • Automatic Response
    • Automatic response, or Conditioned Reflex, is in action whenever you drive a car, play tennis or squash or shoot Olympic Skeet. An OS target takes less than 2 seconds to fly right out of the field, less than a second to reach the centre peg. Shooting with well-trained reflexes is the only way to deal with these targets.
    • Problems arise when the shooter allows logical thought to intrude on the reflexive action. This slows the shooting action and makes good Olympic Skeet shooting impossible. It mostly happens when the shooter loses confidence in his ability to shoot without thought, reflexively, and tries to direct the shooting action consciously. This sometimes happens at the highest level, when a shooter seems to be in a slump. Over thinking is frequently the cause.
  • Shooting Training
    • There are many ideas on actual shooting training elsewhere in this web site. One point to make, though, is that firing off endless boxes of shells without purpose is not training, itís just messing about!  This is certainly true of station practice at Skeet, where blazing off round after round at a target will rarely solve a problem, if anything it can just drive the error further into the subconscious.
    • You should always have a plan when shoot training. If you have a coach he will give you certain areas of your technique that need attention.  Sort out the basic movements in dry training, then apply them on the shooting range.  Make sure you have a clear goal in mind for every session, and when you have achieved it, stop shooting.


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