By running a simple repeatable mental program for every shot. It starts when the shooter before me fires their gun. There's no need to focus from the moment my gun goes off until it's time to start that program again. So besides chambering another shell I pretty much just watch all the other's targets, thinking about whatever comes to mind. But when it's time to start that mental program again, 100% focus for 3 or 4 seconds.
It's what Lanny Bassham teaches, and it improved my game. cls
Try self-visualization. Don't watch the other shooters birds. Close your eyes and "visualize" a straightaway from your post and the smoke ring as you center it in "your minds eye". When the person on your left shoots, open your eyes while you drop in a shell, and blow a smoke ring with your eyes open. Olympic shooters use this method.
JRD, that's why keeping it as simple as possible with the fewest steps is important. Which is why I always load and close my gun as soon as possible, without disrupting any squadmates of course (well unless it's Jerry).
"Mount - Call - Smoke"
is sort of the routine, but mostly without thought. Other than to assume you'll smoke the target. It's what you're there to do and you've done it thousands of times before. Any negative thought at all and you're more prone to a negative result. It's never even "I can do this", but instead, "It's gunna happen."
Saying I think about whatever comes to mind above really wasn’t entirely correct. I do watch the other targets paying attention to height. And before starting a post and maybe in between shots I stay conscious of the two widest angles I’ll see from that post, and what would be in the center of them. But I do let my thoughts stray some in between shots, my brain can’t handle trying to stay focused for almost an hour straight. It’s fatiguing.
But you can't have that confident positive thought and subconscious action until you've sent a lot of shot down range with the same properly fitting Trap gun. No AA-27-AA pin for me yet, so I wont say, "It works for me" like I often hear here. But it's sure made an improvement in my game. Good luck. cls
In my novice opinion I would say the focus part of the game is the one thing that is difficult to teach, or even explain in words. It wasn't until a few months ago that I accidently realized there was a focus zone. It just sort of happened, and I shot my best scores to that point. I think the difference between the great shooters and most of us average shooters is the ability to generate the positive attitude of confidence deep inside you well before you ever even get to the range. It is something that starts inside the soul.
I've found it easier now to sort of get into focus zone, but a lot of that depends on my first few targets of the day. If I break them good, then it is easier to have confidence the rest of the way. I prefer to just go into a mental lull after I shoot, watching the other targets, but not focusing on them except for the one before my turn. I tell myself prior to my turn "one target at a time, one target at a time". Then when it is my turn, as I am mounting, I tell think to myself, "I own you" in reference to MY target that I am calling for. For me it seems to help keep my mind in the right groove, that I am dominant to the targets and I WILL BREAK IT. If I start thinking about the score, or one of the squad mates scores, or the chores I have to do when I get home, or the job I didn't finish at work that has been bugging me, there is a strong chance I'll miss the target. I think it is easiest to achieve mental state of trapshooter Zin when you are on a squad with good shooters who are doing well and keeping a good shooting rythum. Of course I am a new shooter and my philosophy will surely change as I gain experience. Until then, believe deep down inside your soul that you will break the next target, believe in your mind with isolated focus that you will break the next target, and I believe a person will. Own the target!
I find it quite simple to focus on about 90 birds. I will break 5-6 additional birds by luck. The remaining birds become difficult. When I am thinking about focusing on each bird, I remember to think about it but fail to do it.
What is being discussed is, concentration. As was mentioned, a shooter need not concentrate for the entire 25 targets, only a few seconds before calling for each target. The total concentration period for each member of a squad can be less than 30 seconds.
The advice to set up a simple pre-shoot routine or mantra, is sound, in my opinion as is the suggestion to visualize a broken target just before calling for your target. I differ with the suggestion to visualize straight-away targets, however. I would suggest to simply visualize a smoked target out in front somewhere with no particular location. You don't want to be surprised when your target is not a straightaway.
or each time you prepare to shoot. This assumes that your gun fits and your gun mount is exactly the same each time so you don't have to concentrate on correcting or checking things just before you shoot. The mantra needs to be the only thought when preparing to call for targets. Other thoughts will decrease the effectiveness of any pre-call routine or mantra.
Confidence and aggressiveness when calling for targets is also important. You might say something to yourself like, "this one is dead" or "I'll hit this one". Most any positive thought about the anticipated result will work well. Then go after the target... smoothly and confidently.
Not to be a wiseguy, you might be bored with the repetitious target presentation. Having shot ATA trap for 30 years I was having problems maintaining focus. Drop one or two targets and watch the shootoffs from the porch. Started up sporting clays 2 years ago.Very challenging,to say the least. Went from an "A" class trap shooter to a "C" class Clays shooter. Shot in a 65 shooter tournament recently that was won with an 88 by a master class nationally known shooter..No more focus problems, but a lot harder to hit them, and more fun...for me anyway...
Some really good advice here. I just did an interesting exercise using the real names of the people on this thread. Guys like Pat Ireland and Chal L Schmidt, looking at the ATA shooters site, are 27 yard very experienced shooters. Others have few or no registered targets. Always makes me wonder,,,
Mike I don't think you have to be AA27AA to be able to give advice, all you need to be is more experienced and shoot a little better than someone that's asking for help. Many people know all that is needed to shoot good scores but seem to shoot below their potential for many reasons. The first couple of years most people are working to learn the basic fundamentals of shooting trap, after that they have the fund-a-MENTAL-s to break good scores. This is when it becomes more of a mental game and this is what keeps their scores down. Lanny Basham's book "With winning in mind" is an excellent place to start.
It' true for most people that you can't concentrate and stay focused the whole 100 target race, I know it's impossible for me. The main thing I try to do is to think of why I am on the line, I'm there for one reason only and that is to see the target and shoot IT. I leave everything else back at my shooting bag and I not out there to keep scores or definitely not to think of my final score. Between my shots, I let my mind relax and look at the targets, if someone misses I will visualize in my mind that it is a smoke ball and when I see targets break I say to myself "That' me". When it comes my turn I'm ready to look for the target, I try to think of nothing other than seeing that target! Thinking too much has always been a problem for me and is the one I work on constantly now. John
When I first started shooting trap, I'd have problems staying focused and was dropping quite a few birds. So, one of the guys at my Ikes (an experienced shooter), stood behind me, and every time it came to me, he would say "one bird at a time" or "smash this bird", and to my surprise, I saw my scores go up. Now, of course, he doesn't stand behind me, but I still say to myself "smash this bird" as I'm about to call for the bird, which eventually lead to my first 25 straight...up next would be the 50 straight...then the 75...then the 100.
I really think focusing only comes with repetitious practice, competition, and a commitment to be the best. How bad to you want to win? How bad do you want to run that 100?
Take each bird seriously, if you are losing focus, you are not taking it serious. Daydreaming, bullshitting, grabassing, etc... means you are not taking it serious.
That's why there are contenders and pretenders. Contenders take every target seriously and that's why they feel no pressure because they are not focusing on the pressure, they are serious, in the zone of what they have to do at that particular moment. Which is breaking the bird they call for.
That's what it means to be in the Zone and it is a learned skill from repetition not something that can be learned in a book.
If you were a competitive athlete growing up, your should know what the zone is. If you don't I bet you lost more times than won.
Nike has the greatest line ever for games of skill and pressure: Just do it!!
Make the commitment to be the best, run a 100, or whatever and: Just do it!
Concentration on targets at the level achieved by the really good shooters requires a commitment to the sport that begins several days before the shoot and spills over to many other parts of ones life. I do not think I want to pay that price. For me, trapshooting should be fun and sometimes satisfying. I will do my best to focus on the target as I mount my gun but that is about the limit to my concentration commitment.