Over the years I’ve acquired numerous puzzle pieces: I’ve had my gun custom fitted. I’ve learned to read targets. Lessons, techniques, glasses, vests and chokes have come and gone. All of these pieces are at my disposal to assemble as needed to break the targets I am given.
All of these pieces are necessary and deserve attention. However, there was one major piece of the puzzle I neglected, and until recently, I never considered it a piece of the puzzle. I’ve never seen it addressed in any of the publications or websites I follow.
It’s the thing that holds my gun steady, schleps my gun, ammo and the other paraphernalia I need from station to station. It’s the thing that supplies oxygen to my brain and eyes so I can focus on a target.
What I’m talking about of course is my body and more specifically, its level of fitness. This should be obvious, but it is almost never mentioned: Shooting clay targets is a sport, and like any sport, physical fitness plays a role.
Yes, of course, there are some VERY successful shooters out there that can be classified as out of shape and “full figured.” They have the natural ability to pull the entire puzzle together and somehow their level of fitness does not interfere with their performance. However, for an everyday shooter like me, who really has to work at breaking targets, my level of fitness is a major puzzle piece.
The timing of this column is only coincidental that it was written at the New Year. It’s not meant to be one of those New Year’s resolution columns where the author tries to sell a magic regimen for $19.99 that is guaranteed to get you in shape in just six weeks.
What I am putting forth is the need to pay at least as much attention to our level of fitness as we do to such things as technique and the management of the mental portion of our game.
In case you are interested: I started working a program a few months ago and it’s beginning to pay off. I can now shoot two rounds of sporting clays without my performance tapering off at the last few stations. The increased stamina means I can focus harder and concentrate more on all of the targets.
And although I still miss my share of targets, with the new shooting vest I received this Christmas, I cut a much svelter figure when I step into the box to shoot.
Happy New Year.
Ken Hartshorn is a technical writer and has spent the majority of his career documenting storage hardware and software products for start up companies. Although start ups demand long hours, he always finds time to get to the club and break some clays. Ken is not a shooting instructor and he is not a professional shooter. He’s part of the majority of people who love to shoot clays just for the sheer fun of it.