Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How "Bargain Basement Thinking" Can Help You Break More Clays

This tutorial originally appeared in the free, weekly e-letter distributed by Shotgun Life. To subscribe, please visit http://www.shotgunlife.com.

By Andy Tubb

As a former marine and law-enforcement officer, one thing you realize is that when it comes to making a shot, you often don’t have a lot of time to analyze the situation. Your years of training take over at a subconscious level so that you can process the information yet remain detached enough from it to apply the same level of reasoning that helps you make the decision about which box of cereal to buy in the supermarket.

That is the state of mind you want to be in when shooting sporting clays – or any clays shooting sport for that matter. It’s a mental state where your training blends with your subconscious so that the use of your shotgun becomes instinctive and fluid. This state is where your training and subconscious meet; I call it Bargain Basement Thinking.

Bargain Basement Thinking is a sense of awareness that’s rooted in your subconscious. Bargain Basement Thinking enables you to use awareness instead of analysis. What’s the benefit to this when it comes to clays shooting?

By its very definition, analysis means that you are questioning something. For example, after the target is called for, an analytical shooter will look at the target and analyze if he is too far in front of it, behind it, question the wind, the light – you get the idea. After trying to make sense of all this data as the target is flying out of range, chances are pretty good that the shot will be missed.

Let’s compare that with awareness.

An aware shooter is able to draw on his training to instinctively know when to pull the trigger. For our purposes, awareness = muscle memory + subconscious training + eye/hand coordination. Now, if you look at the individual components of awareness, what you’ll realize is that it all adds up to your instinctive ability to point at a target.

Therefore, Bargain Basement Thinking is when you become competent without having to analyze.

In order to optimize your Bargain Basement Thinking, I recommend to my students that they shoot with their gun down – or low gun as it’s often called. Here’s why…

When you premount a gun, after you call for the target, you have to begin moving a static gun. At the most important time of the shot (the time when you’re establishing the target), your muscles are static, your vision is obscured and you try to catch up by analyzing the situation simply because your brain does not have the chance to be aware of the target yet.

With low gun, you open up vision, your muscles relax and you immediately achieve that fluid movement as you swing toward the target and mount the gun. All the while, you are only aware of the target – not of trying to get the gun moving or struggling to actually see the target as it’s moving away from you.

With low-gun shooting, you’ve detached yourself from the gun while at the same time, you remain fully aware of the target. Muscle memory takes over in terms of the gun-movement mechanics and your focus remains completely on the target. Next thing you know you’ve broken the target.

Many instructors will show you how to hold the gun, where to place your feet, and tell you whether or not you were in front or in back of the target after you missed. Unfortunately, what they don’t stress is your own natural ability to use Bargain Basement Thinking to accelerate your success in the clays shooting sports.

For more information about Andy Tubb, visit his web site at http://www.glorioustwelfth.com.