I was originally going to jump on the subject of straight-away targets and why we miss them, because the topics go together. But that subject is huge, and needs a ten article series.
Instead I’ll just start with gun speed in general.
If you’ve shot much trap, you already know that there is not much gun movement except on the hard angles. But whatever movement the target needs, it needs to be precise. And the speed of your gun must be correct to help you smoke the target. Different skill levels, reaction times, eyes, and shooting styles, use different gun speed.
You must realize, that when your gun arrives on the clay and you hit the trigger, your gun is moving. If its way too fast or slow you will miss.
The easiest way to figure all of this out from day one is to let your eyes do the work. Lock them on the target and they will lead the way to proper gun speed.
Over time, and thousands of targets, you will get faster. You’ll smoke targets closer to the house, and your gun will be moving faster.
I believe its okay to train at the range on pushing yourself to see and shoot the target faster. You will miss some. But when you find the right speed you’ll smoke lots of them. The key is to SEE! Don’t just move the gun super quick and expect that to help.The eyes come first. And don’t try it in competition. Once you practice a lot you will find a comfort zone from shooting rounds for score.
In this game, gun speed changes a lot. What are you gonna do when the wind pushes those pretty, high targets down, or makes them bounce?
Are you gonna do what Billy Bob told you about not to slow your gun, and follow through like he does? That’s good standard advice sometimes. But not always for trap.
When a trap target does something unexpected, you may have to slow the gun or shoot a millisecond later than what feels right to break it.
Hold points are extremely crucial to give you the correct gun speed. I am a firm believer that hold points will change depending on conditions, the field, background, light quality, and even how you feel that day. I don’t understand good shots that claim to use the same hold points everywhere.
I’ll leave you with a warning. This is something that has hurt me in big shoots: emotions.
For me, feeling good or bad about how you are shooting will affect gun speed. Getting excited about shooting great and smoking everything is dangerous for me. It has ruined too many shoots in my past.
It goes like this. I’m 50 straight. I feel great, like i cant miss. “Wow I just freakin smoke rolled those last 3 posts like Phil Kiner! I must be getting faster!”
And guess what. My gun speed was getting faster. But my experience level was not able to keep up. It wasn’t ready. So, after 4 misses in a row on post 4, I settle down. Too late though. No trapshooter wants to turn a 100 into a 95 because he’s happy.
Use the gun speed that fits your level in competition. During each round, do what you’ve trained to do. Leave the emotions behind until you’re back at the clubhouse.