I’ve been shooting skeet since last July with a Ruger Red Label 20 g. My friend and I shoot most every weekend, sometimes twice per week end.We both took a lesson with Charles Schneible, which was quite wonderful..
I was shooting in high teens fairly consistently, but recently my scores have been going downward…dropping sometimes below 10!! Im concerned that Ive picked up some bad habits since my lesson, and that by shooting so much, I am just reinforcing them.
Can you recommend (specifically) some exercises I can perform (both in the house and at the range) to ‘audit’ myself, and make sure I’m on the right track?
I am afraid that this is not one of these things that can be fixed at home. You say that you are shooting skeet, so I am going to assume that you are using a mounted gun so that the low gun position of sporting clays is not causing you any trouble. You can practice your gun mount at home and many of the best shooters do.
One of the problems with all of the home practice regimes is that they make you aim. It is hard to get that corner of the picture frame or dot on the wall to move. The flash light stuff really does not work out.
However, here is what you can do at home. Keep a log book. I have done it for the past twenty years (I wish that I had started sooner) and am now on log book number 33. Shooting should be fun, but if you want to get better, you will have to remember what worked for you and what areas need improvements. This will take a little work. Each shot you fire at a skeet target costs about $.40 (half for target, half for cartridge), so it makes sense to get the most for your money.
Before you go to the range, write down the ONE area in which you want to concentrate for the day. Improving ones follow through is usually the most productive single step a skeet shooter (or any shooter) can make. During your practice session devote yourself to constantly improving that one single aspect of your performance. When you are done, analyze your performance in your log book, note your weaknesses AND strengths, and make a note of the area of concentration for the next session. Read the log book BEFORE you go shooting the next time to refresh your memory.
A log book will give you a game plan and structure for your shooting. Shooting is so much fun (when you hit them) that we tend to forget the lesson part. Keeping a log helps you learn.
In my log book I also keep gun and range information, range directions, driving times and distances, motels, contact people, malfunction rates for my autos, special reload performances, shooting gear performance and all sorts of other stuff. You will figure out what works best for you. With my shooting log, I end up knowing exactly how much I have shot each year and also the number of rounds I have put through each of my guns. You may choose to concentrate on other data.
When I was shooting International Skeet, I would make a note of my score each round and of any particular bird I missed. Over time it became apparent that I had trouble with a certain bird (low six single) later in the day. It turned out that as I tired slightly later in the day, that I would lean forward a bit more. This is death for a right handed low gun shooter on low six. The log book helped me catch that one.
As to lessons: You don’t learn golf or tennis with one lesson, you certainly cannot expect to learn to shoot a shotgun with just one period of instruction. The best way to handle lessons is to take one, digest and practice what you learned for a period of time (perhaps a month) and then come back for the refresher course. A log book would help you remember what the instructor had said. Lessons are expensive, so you might as well get all you can out of them.
In addition to your log book, you might also start to build up your library of shooting books and videos. You can buy half a dozen good books for the price of an afternoon’s lesson and each author will have some little nugget of information that the previous one missed. I have learned less from the videos, but always enjoy watching them anyway. They help pass the time until I can get back out shooting.
This hasn’t been an exact answer to your question of how to practice at home, but it is as good an answer as I have come up with over the years.
SHOTGUN REPORT’s Technoid-
Often in error, but never in doubt.