These are trapshooting tips that have worked for me. Your mileage may vary. I am still not
as good as I can get but by following these tips I continue to improve.
- Wear light colored glasses
Light colored glasses cause your
eyes to dilate less then dark glasses. Your vision is sharper the less
dialated your eyes are. You should also wear a hat with a brim that will
help prevent squinting on bright days.
- Think positive thoughts
This is probably the most important
thing I have done to improve my shooting. The subconscious brain cannot
distinguish between a negative and a positive. So if when you call for a
bird you are thinking "Don't miss", your subconscious is hearing "miss".
If you think "Don't raise your head" the subconscious hears, "raise your
head" and as a result most of the time you think this you WILL raise
your head. So by thinking postive thoughts your subconscious only hears
postive thoughts. The key words I focus on when I call for a target are,
"Hit the target", "See the bird", "Head down", "Slow and smooth", "Wait
for the target" (this last one is very effective if I have a bad
A good book on this subject is Mental Training for the Shotgun Sports
by Michael J. Keyes
- Stand correctly
This one is so easy, but so misunderstood. A lot of trapshooters stand the same way at each
station on the trap field. They line up in relation to the concrete on the ground instead of
in relation to the traphouse. This causes you to have 5 different views of the target in
relation to your body. At one station the targets are always going to come out to the left
of the center of your body, at other stations they will always come out skewed to the right.
As a result instead of having to learn one way to shoot targets you have to learn five ways.
This is often why shooters have trouble with a given station, especially the end stations.
By always setting up in relation to the traphouse
you only have one view of the target that is consistent at all stations.
For me I always setup so that my left foot is parallel to the path a
hard left target would take. What this means is that at station 1 I am
standing so that I appear perpedicular to the station's centerline and
at station 5 I am standing almost parallel to the centerline. The following
picture illustrates how I place my feet.
will sometimes adjust my position depending on how I'm shooting
on a particular day. If I'm having trouble with right-hand
targets I will rotate clockwise slightly, visa-versa for
problems with left-hand targets.
- Look at top of the trap house
There are a lot of differing views on
this one, so select the one that works best for you. For me watching the
front edge of the traphouse where the bird comes out helps me
tremendously. This allows you to see the bird very early. All you will
see initially is a streak of orange (in fact a lot of shooters call this
shooting the streak). By seeing the streak so early you have more time
to react to the target and can shoot it closer to the traphouse. The
only disadvantage to this method as is that it increases eyestrain
because you are constantly having to focus between the front edge of the
trap house and the target kill zone. But if you follow the next tip this
- Don't look around
Watch the trap house even when you are waiting
your turn, don't look around at the other shooters or the scene in the
distance. By watching the trap house you are not having to constantly
refocus your eyes. The only time your eyes refocus is when you call pull
and the target comes out. Your eyes will then track the target. As soon
as you shoot (and hit the target), refocus your eyes back on the top of
the traphouse. This helps reduce eyestrain.
- Don't move the gun until you see the target
A lot of shooters
are aware of this but stop paying attention to it. If I shoot a lot I
tend to start anticipating when the target is going to come out and
start moving the gun when I call for the target. This results in missed
birds and frustrating times. To correct this I work on it often during
practice. I get a friend to pull for me and tell him to occasionally not
throw a target when I call for one. This helps teach me to keep the gun
still until the target has actually left the house, if I don't keep the
gun still it is very obvious as the gun barrel moves even though no
target was thrown. For variations of this I will instruct my friend to
also give me slow pulls, this again causes me to wait until I see the
target before shooting. It also has the side effect that slow pulls no
longer affect me in competition. Since I don't move the gun until I see
the target it doesn't really matter when it comes out, so if it is a
little slow I shoot it anyways. If the pull is very slow(>2 seconds)
I will turn it down because my mind can't stay focused for that long.
But for slow pulls under 2 seconds I shoot them and haven't missed one
in over a year.
- Be consistent with your equipment
It takes me 5000-10000 rounds and 6 months to get proficient with new equipment.
This includes a new gun, new shells, even minor adjustments to the comb or butt pad. I only make changes
once a year starting in December and ending by January or Feburary. From then on I
stick with the load and equipment I have and practice a lot until I'm proficient with it.
This consistency pays off in that I never go into long slumps. I may have a bad day but
since I started this routine I've never had 2 consecutive bad days.
A lot of my trap shooting
friends are changing guns or loads every week. They might shoot good one
week but lousy the next week so they change something and keep changing
things until they have a good day. But then a few days later they are
shooting poorly again. They don't understand that the changes they have
made in the past days/week/month is what is causing their inconsistent
- Practice shooting 5 rounds at a time
When practicing I shoot five rounds of trap in a row before taking a break. This is to build my stamina
and prepares me for competition. In competition you often don't get any breaks between each round of 25 targets
and move directly from the end of one round to the beginning of the next. If you don't practice shooting
at a 100 targets in a row, you will tend to get tired by the 3rd or 4th trap. If in practice you
only shoot a single round then take a break, your body gets conditioned to this and when you shoot
in competition after the first trap your body is expecting a break. When it doesn't get it
you start to get tired and make mistakes.
The reason I practice 5 rounds in a row as opposed
to 4 which I would see in competition is to make sure that my body is
conditioned to keep going all the way through the end of the 4th round.
- Hydrate your brain
Your brain's reaction time decreases when you are
dehydrated. A slow reaction time makes it harder to hit targets, you can
still hit most of them but a few are going to slip away. So to make sure
that your reaction time is quick be sure to drink plenty of fluids
before and during a shoot. When I'm shooting I tend to drink 2 liters of
water on cold days and up to 6 liters on very hot days. Give it a try.
Copyright (c) 1999-2002 Craig Colvin. All rights reserved.