Slump Cures

Dear Technoid:

Although I’m sure that a shooter of your caliber(oops, gauge) has never had this problem, I’m in a clays slump. I’ve had people watch me shoot, and they don’t see anything obvious that I’m doing or not doing. But, I must be. Whatever it is, I’m doing it on the skeet field as well–lousy all the way around. Where do you start looking?

Amherst, MA

Dear Bill,

Well, even for someone of my “gauge” it is a bit difficult to analyse problems over the ether. Normally, I have to be close enough to throw a handful or two. Since I have never seen you shoot, it is difficult to guess what changes might make you improve. Slumps can be intellectual, physical or technical. I have tried them all, as a teaching experiment only, of course.

One of the standard slump cures is to lock your guns up and take up golf for a couple of weeks. Personally, I’d just as soon foreshorten Mr. Winky as give up the game. You might also try switching shooting games for a while. If you are not a trap shooter, give that game a try. At the very least it will help you perfect your long shots.

If you think that the slump is recoil generated, try switching to a gas gun or 7/8 oz loads. A different gun is always good for better scores for a week or two. Borrow the gun, don’t buy, if you can because the “new” wears off after a bit.

Sometimes slumps are exacerbated by “trying too hard”. Translation: aiming. If experienced shooters are watching you and can’t figure it out, consider that it might be a slight slowing of the swing. This is hard to spot if it is only a subtle slowing. Try shooting your birds very quickly. Quicker shooting generates more muzzle speed and helps the follow through. Often that works well enough to get the confidence back and then you can return to normal technique.

Last, but definitely not least: Find an instructor and take a lesson or two. Everyone hates to pay to fix something that they think that they can do themselves, but sometimes it is the best way. It can be very much more economical to seek paid advice than to try to shoot your way out of a slump. If you have good instruction in your area, take some lessons. Amherst is within two hours driving distance of Keith Lupton in the Hudson Valley of New York. He is one of the best in the North East.

Must go and solve the problems of the rest of the world. Yeah, right.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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2 Responses to Slump Cures

  1. Pat McGill says:

    I had the same issue went from 90% + to 80% – on a good day, for years, tried instructors and time off. Figured it out last year. During the previous administration reloading componets were pretty scarce and when available I bought in bulk. Long story short I had the chance to go to the Grand American last summer. Figure if I am going to go that far I would splurge and buy some AA’s. My Average jumped back to where it was before. Measured the shot I had been reloading Bag said 7 1/2 , measured at 9. Even at 16 yards 9’s are a bit light. Got confirmation at my local club when a fellow shooter suggested I do something about the shells I was using since he could see the target get hit (puff of dust) but not break. Sadly because of the covid and boredom I have so many reloads. I guess I will take up skeet for a while. Check your shells, buy some “premium” and see if it makes a difference. The problem with one getting away that your shooting brain knows you hit is that your conscious brain gets involved. We know how that turns out.


  2. Correct on all counts Bruce. Slumps are usually not mechanical. They are mental that cause mechanical issues. While correcting mechanical issues will help………unless you start thinking differently, your slump will continue. Keith is a great guy and a very good instructor, but the mental game is a tough gig to help with unless you have training in Sports Psychology. Not going to toot my own horn here, but find someone who can help with both ends of the shooting game. As good a Keith is give him a call and ask him…………he will tell you straight out if he does. Good luck in getting it going again.


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