Shooting in tournaments may not be something that the average shooter does, but given my performance, I can safely say that my average status is still very much in tact.
Tournaments provide an entirely different perspective on our sport. You get to shoot targets that you’ve never seen before and shoot with people at all levels of experience.
In a tournament, I’m often times put on a squad with master class shooters and in some cases, nationally recognized shooters.
Our sport is one of, if not the only one, where for the price of a standard entry fee you can participate with the top champions in the world. The average golfer can only dream of entering a tournament, and for no additional fees, be part of Jack Nicklaus’s foursome. I don’t know how long the National Sporting Clays Association will continue this practice, but for me, I’m going to take advantage of it for as long as it lasts.
As an average shooter, if you are uncomfortable shooting tournaments, view them as learning tools. Doing so will take the edge off of any issues you may have with winning, losing or who is on the squad with you.
When I’m in a squad with “above average” shooters I always keep in mind that this is serious business. For them, a target or two can mean the difference between winning and losing. Where they finish not only determines their cash prize, but also affects their standings in their NSCA class.
No one wants to be known as “that guy” who distracted the pro and caused him to lose the tournament. To that end, when I shoot with top-rated shooters:
- I keep my mouth shut and keep comments to myself. These guys are focused. Comments like “I kept shooting behind it,” or “That bird’s impossible to hit,” are distracting and not appreciated.
- I keep my eyes and ears open. These squads give me a front-row seat to see how top-rated shooters set up and take targets. I look at everything: What’s their hold point? In a simo pair, which one did they take first? How did they move their gun?
- I do not expect a free lesson or coaching. They are there to win and do not want to deal with my problems.
Give these guys the space they need and after the shooting is done, most of them are more than happy to talk about their strategies and tactics for taking targets.
A day of shooting and seeing first hand how the big dawgs do it is well worth the price of admission.
Ken 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.