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Expectation vs Preparation

Updated: Jan 9

Copyright © 2024 Clay Target Nation Magazine

November 2023 Edition

Written by: Gil, Vicki and Brian Ash


One big thing we have been emphasizing is that skill resides in a person’s memory, and a person cannot visualize something they have never seen, so there is no shortcut to becoming proficient with a shotgun — especially in hunting situations. Coupled with our brain’s inability to do anything we want it to do unless it first has a picture of exactly what we are asking it to do and in what order and where, this keeps most shooters and coaches stuck at a level below where they would like to be. If the target were still, anyone could become moderately proficient in a short amount of time, because on a still target, the shooter is looking down the barrel and at the target at the same time. This pointing sequence in your brain began when you were 6 months old as you began to look at and point at what you wanted. When we ask our brains to point at what we are looking at, it seems normal, because we have been doing that all our lives. But when we ask our brains to look at a distant object and point at another object, our pointing sequence crashes. No person comes out of the womb predisposed to be able to shoot a shotgun at a moving target, but given the time and effort, regardless of the visual perception a person may have, the brain will sort out the confusion and make the confusion go away. Be patient!


Shooting with a solid plan in place and a

visualization of how you want the shot to

come together is a way to build skill.


Being able to consistently point ahead of or in front of a steadily moving object is a new sequence in our brains, and like everything else we do, it must be repeated enough times so that it happens without our having to think about it. Your ability to consistently create this action is not tied to your desire for it to happen; rather, it is tied to how many times you have done it, and then how many times you have done it deliberately, and then how many times you have done it successfully. Skill is built through repetition, but getting shooters to put in the time it takes to build the skill sequences in their brains is difficult, if not impossible. It takes time and many repetitions for the brain to myelinate a new skill circuit, especially one that is contrary to our natural instinct. The desire to point at what we are looking at is strong within all of us and is the most frequent cause for missing a moving target with a shotgun, feathered or painted.


► Gil, Brian and Vicki Ash are NSCA Level III instructors who host shotgunning clinics at gun clubs around the country. They run OSP Shooting School and host its Knowledge Vault. To learn more, visit them online at www.ospschool.com.


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I cannot stress the importance of pre-shot planning to my students enough. This is an excellent article written by NSCA Level III instructors that discusses the benefits of this simple concept. You will learn how to properly execute this basic skill in my Learn To Shoot class.

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