As many of you know I am an avid Sporting Clay shooter. It does not mean I am good at it, I just really enjoy the sport and the challenges that come with it. I was given a great opportunity this past winter to spent couple days and take lessons down in Vero Beach, Florida courtesy of CZ-USA. The instructor was Tom Mack, 13 Time All-American and worldwide known competitor in Sporting Clays events. I knew going into the lessons how good of a shooter Tom is and soon I have found out that he is as good of an instructor. His personality allows everybody to relax and to be able to focus on improvement of their shooting skills. I have to mention that Tom grew up in Michigan and he is a lifelong hockey fan. During the two days we spent together, we had some good conversation about the game of hockey. It never interfered with the teaching because Tom is a great professional. We could not help ourselves but use references from hockey to sporting clays and the other way around. Both require lot of refined hand eye coordination and focus.
The lessons took place at Indian River Trap & Skeet club in Vero Beach, FL (www.indianrivertrapandskeet.com). Tom has just finished weekend of competition and the club allowed him to bring couple of guests for lessons after. The main focus of the lessons was on fundamentals and staying relaxed throughout the course, level headed. Try to avoid too many highs or lows. Develop a routine you can stick with whether you are breaking targets or not. The proper routine/rhythm will turn into more hits than misses very quickly if you have strong fundamental skills. I still consider myself as a beginner shooter and Tom gave me direction how to improve my position, how to mount the gun to my shoulder and hold it there. Once we were in the right position, we watched and followed the clay targets without pulling the trigger for few rounds on each stand. The point of this exercise was to learn the view point (the point where you pick up the target with your eyes) and the hold point (the point where you hold your gun to most effectively engage the target).
The next was the kill point, where you actually pull the trigger and finally the follow through. I never thought the follow through movement has so much importance on accuracy. Tom explained with the help of hockey analogy for me to better understand “the why” and that made the difference. Every time I wanted to pass the puck or shoot it I had to follow with my stick towards the point of intended pass or shot. If you don’t have proper follow up, the puck will not get there. Now, we’re talking sporting clays, shooting and passing the puck same principal, I’ve turned the corner. Last, but very important was our conversation and practice of having proper lead. The lead has to be the same when you pick up the target with your eyes as when you follow through after pulling a trigger. Holding a consistent lead cuts down on the number of movements. More movements mean more chances of throwing yourself of the target. The success of sporting clays or other shotgun disciplines depends mostly on being smooth, consistent and the most efficient shooter you can be. The one lesson above all is the efficiency of movements. Very challenging concept for beginners but once you understand the technique, learning is lot more fun.
I tried to write the few most important lessons I learn during the two days with Tom Mack. I learned much more than I can possible write. Lot of the sport eventually becomes second nature or “the feel” for it. We had lot of fun and I really appreciated Tom’s time and energy he put into our lessons after long weekend of competitions. I would strongly recommend Tom as an instructor and I guarantee that your shooting will improve after few lessons tremendously regardless of your skill level. You can visit Tom’s website at www.tmshooting.com.
I also want to thank the Indian River Trap and Skeet club in Vero Beach, Florida for allowing us to use and greatly enjoy their facility. It is absolutely beautiful and very friendly for shooters of all levels. If you live in the area or just visiting stop by. I always enjoy visiting local shooting clubs or ranges when I travel. Gives me an opportunity to practice and meet people from different parts of our great country. Thank you for reading and “pull”.