I have been shooting skeet for a number of years and do ok at it…..well enough to keep trying anyway. I have often seen a target obviously broken toward the front or the rear and heard a comment from someone that the shot was either in front or behind, i.e. a comment on the lead.
I’ve made those comments myself too. But the more I think about it the less certain I am that we can tell. If you hold an edge-on target against a random test pattern from the patterning board, it seems obvious that there are many locations throughout the pattern where a hit on the front or the rear of the target could occur. I know it is occasionally possible, under perfect lighting conditions, to see the shot string in the air; but that doesn’t occur often for most of us.
I also believe we can usually distinguish a well centered target from one that has been fringed. But when a target has been fringed and only a few pieces come off of the front or the rear, can I really count on the bulk of the pattern having been in front of or behind the target.
Maybe this is a case of probabilities….What think ye?
I really don’t know what to think, now that I think of it. Like you, I had always assumed that when you blow the front of the target off, that you were a bit in front. One of the reasons that I shoot slightly tighter chokes than most people do is so that I can “read” my breaks. I have heard many other better shooters tell me that this is why they shoot full choke at 16 yard ATA trap.
When shooting skeet with my Beretta 303, I have always obtained my best scores using a measured .010″ choke. This is a bit tighter than most people use for skeet, but I really can read my breaks. I can definitely see that I am in front when I take the nose off the bird and I can take corrective action or just back in the glow of another job well done. The break just confirms what I have already realized.
I have fooled around a lot with cylinder bore at skeet, but find that I am frustrated by the inability to achieve a harder break when I know that I am dead center. Consciously or unconsciously, I seem to need to read my breaks.
When I fringe a target and a piece comes off, say, the front, I still consider that pretty good feed back. Since I am on the fringe, if the front-of-the-target side of the pattern is barely good enough to pull off a piece, it stands to reason that the rear, 5″ further to the edge of the pattern, is less likely to produce a hit. It can happen, as you suggest, but it is rare enough so that I can ignore it- just as I ignore my bad scores and seem to remember only my better ones.
Bottom line: breaks and patterns are random events, but not all THAT random. Occasionally you will get the wrong information by reading a fringe break, but generally it tells the truth. At least, that is my take on it.
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)