Wednesday, 01 June 2011 00:00

Who You Gonna Call?

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It’s going to happen; or maybe it already has. If it has, there’s a VERY good possibility it will happen again.

Yes, sooner or later, even if you are only half-way serious about shooting sporting clays, you will take lessons. And if you’ve already taken lessons, you will take more in the future. The questions are: When? What will motivate you? Who will you call?

The when and motivation pieces are tied pretty tightly together. Eventually something will happen that will get you off of whatever you’re sitting on and you’ll make a call.

The big question is: “Who ya gonna call?” Ghost Busters won’t help. What about one of your friends at “The Club?” No doubt one or more of them have already been coaching you and they have made you the shooter you are today.

You will need a real instructor. Someone who has been where you are now and knows how to get you to where you want to go, and most important of all, someone who can understand you and communicate with you.

For me, I had been shooting skeet for a few years and had gotten pretty good at it. One day I went with the folks from my club to shoot sporting clays.

Up until then, all of the targets I had shot were predictable. I had everything memorized. Suddenly I was facing targets I had never seen before and I wasn’t very good at hitting them. What made it even worse was the person from my club with whom I’ve always shared a friendly rivalry was much better at it than I.

Competition is a wonderful motivator.

I called Addieville East Farms and scheduled a lesson with one of their instructors; some guy by the name of Jack Mitchell – a legendary British wingshooting instructor. I had no idea who he was. It was like taking batting practice with Babe Ruth and thinking he’s just another batting coach.

Jack was a patient and kind man and walked me through the basics of calling for the birds and mounting the gun. It was Jack who introduced me to the notion of stepping into a shot.

I was very lucky; I had accidentally stumbled on a world-class shooter who could teach. Not only teach, but teach me. You can spend a lot of time and money trying to find some one who can get through to you.

Jack past away and since his passing I have worked with a several other instructors.

Although I do manage to get something from every instructor, the instructors with whom I establish the strongest rapport have, in their own way, lifted me to a new level of understanding of our sport.

It was from Russ J. that I really began to understand how to focus on the bird, forget the gun, (Russ took the sights off of my shotgun) and have faith in the homunculus in your head that tells you when to pull the trigger.

Bob M. introduced me to “move on motion.” He also drilled into me focus, focus, focus. His dedication to making me a better shooter ensured that I stayed on track.

Their ability to work with me and my ability to understand them made our sessions successful. When they asked me to do something I knew what they wanted.

Bottom line: The rapport between the instructor and student is crucial. Each must be able to communicate with, and understand the other. Without this rapport, you can not take full advantage of the time and effort that you and your instructor put into a session.

Read 2351 times Last modified on Sunday, 05 June 2011 20:20
Ken Hartshorn

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.