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Learn From The Best by Robert R. Comal

re you a sporting clays shooter looking to get to the next level in your game? Have you been having a little trouble trying to decipher for yourself what you have been doing wrong on certain targets? In this issue of Shotgun Sports I review two new DVDs from two excellent coaches in sporting clays. Either or both of these instructional DVDs can help you get a few extra Xs on your scoresheet.

“Be Your Own Coach in Sporting Clays” The Woolley Way with John Woolley

Sunrise Productions has been making and distributing high-quality shotgun instructional DVDs for years. Bruce Scott and his staff have featured many of the most sought-after shooting coaches in the country and the world to help you improve your shotgunning skills. In their latest instructional DVD, Sunrise Productions has teamed up with three-time world sporting clays champion John Woolley.

"Be Your Own Coach in Sporting Clays" The Woolley Way with Jphn Woolley

John begins by telling the viewer, as a shotgunning coach, it’s his job to point out what’s being done wrong and to provide the tools to fix what’s wrong. He also states, however, it’s not his job to fix what’s wrong — that’s your job. Bruce comments it is difficult to fix what’s wrong if you do not have the skills to analyze the problem, and that is the purpose of the video — to provide the viewer with the tools to fix what’s wrong in their shotgunning game.

John tells the viewer he has six basic rules to help the shooter improve: Keep Your Head Still, Gun Mount, Focus, Never Let The Bird Pass The Gun, Stance and Gun Fit, and he provides viewers a detailed description of each of his rules.

As Bruce emphasizes, the purpose of the video is not to change how you obtain lead (forward allowance) on a target. If you are a proponent of the sustained-lead technique, swing-through or pull-away, that’s fine; this video will not change your technique. The “method” being discussed and demonstrated here is the Move, Mount, Shoot method used by John so successfully. This method readily incorporates all three of the most common techniques for acquiring lead on a target. You might be thinking right now “How can that be?” Well, when you view this DVD, it will be quite clear.

Early on, Bruce proclaims his role in this DVD is to be an instructor’s worst nightmare. He tries to commit every possible mistake (not counting gun safety, of course), while at the same time asking John if he’s up to the challenge of giving him a lesson. The first station John and Bruce make use of is an upward-rising, going-away target. Bruce attempts a couple of shots with marginal hits on the bird.

The purpose of this particular station is to show the viewer the benefits of a proper gun mount. John explains the mount Bruce used forced his eyes away from the target and back to the gun. The gun was mounted to the shoulder first, causing an up-and-down movement of the barrels. It’s very difficult to maintain good barrel control with such a mount.

John demonstrates the correct way to mount the gun to both Bruce and the viewer, obliterating the birds in the process. John responds to Bruce’s question of how a shooter can determine at home if he or she is mounting incorrectly by saying he instructs his students to practice mounting in a mirror. You can readily see improper mounts when you practice by looking in a mirror. I have used this method for years and it works.

Stance is the next topic John and Bruce take up. John shows Bruce how foot position/stance can positively or negatively affect how the gun aligns in the mount to your shoulder, thus causing rotational issues and barrel/target relationship problems. John positions Bruce in his optimum foot position to benefit his mount on a piece of cardboard and traces his shoe positions on it. This becomes Bruce’s stance template for the remainder of the video.

Also in the segment, John discusses with Bruce the physical makeup of the shooter can be complemented with a different configuration of the gun. Bruce, who had been shooting so far with a Caesar Guerini low-ribbed Sporter, is given the opportunity to try shooting a high-ribbed Guerini Sporter to see if his mounting and shooting style is benefited. In just a few shots, it seems Bruce’s efforts are indeed improved by a differently configured gun. The higher-ribbed model better suits Bruce’s longer proportions than the low-ribbed Sporter.

Hand position on the gun can produce good or unwanted results, also, as John describes to the viewer when Bruce attempts a shot or two on a high incomer. John tells Bruce and shows viewers how improper hand position can make you mount improperly, causing misses. That’s something to think about when you do your mirror practice as well.

Keeping the head still — one of John’s basic rules — is discussed and demonstrated. John shows the home viewers how turning the nose slightly in towards the stock as the gun is mounted secures the head and leads to better gun/target alignment and, subsequently, more and better hits.

Focus and setup are next discussed using a right-to-left Chandelle. How well a shooter sees the bird is paramount when consistent shooting is your goal. Both hard and soft focus are discussed.

Soft focus is when you initially set your eyes to the point of emergence of the target, the point in the flight path where your eyes are ready to pounce onto whatever jumps into view. Hard focus is where you lock onto the detail of the target — shadows, shiny spots, rings of the target, etc. You want to pick up as much detail as possible to get a solid connection to the target mentally and, most importantly, visually. When you shoot with that much hard focus on every target, your scores will improve dramatically. That’s good information for whatever game you’re shooting — skeet, trap or, of course, sporting clays.

Throughout the remainder of the video, John and Bruce discuss and demonstrate all the aspects of John’s six basic rules on an assortment of targets — Rabbits (where John emphasizes seeing the ☺ on the target); Springing Teal; left-to-right and right-to-left crossers; crossers on report pairs and simultaneous pairs; and many more. Many of the targets fired on make use of Sunrise Production’s proprietary EYE-CAM®, a unique device that allows you to look down the barrel in very much the same way the shooter in the video sees down the barrel. Although the EYE-CAM® is a monocular view over the gun — in essence, what a one-eyed shooter would see — it is still extremely useful to show home viewers the proper barrel-to-target relationship and lead techniques.

Finally, the sponsors of the video are acknowledged — Caesar Guerini, makers of fine competition-grade shotguns, and ESP, producers of high-grade electronic hearing protection. You’ll see their products in use throughout the video.

I could go into long detail on every chapter of this video, but that’s not my purpose here. My purpose is to give you an overview and a preview of the excellent information provided in this video. Sunrise Productions and John Woolley have put together a very informative instructional sporting clays DVD; however, I will say the majority of the fundamentals and basic rules brought forth here can be used effectively in any clay target sport.

I enjoyed watching this video and learned much from it. Now I know what to look for the next time I shoot those darn rabbits. That ☺!

Gebben Miles’ Sporting Clays Instructional DVD

Quiet Dust Shooting produced this instructional DVD on sporting clays featuring 2009 NSCA Nationals Champion Gebben Miles. Gebben is one of the nation’s finest sporting clays competitors and has garnered numerous state, national and international titles.

When I first watched this video, I realized it isn’t quite like any other instructional shotgunning DVD. It makes use of integrated motion graphics, professional-grade camera work and high-definition videography.

Quiet Dust Shooting "The Premier Sporting Clays Instructional Video" by Gebben Miles

Gebben begins the video with a short introduction and then goes into descriptions of the equipment, safety rules of shooting and some basic fundamentals of handling a shotgun. From that point, he gets into the terminology used throughout the presentation. He explains graphically enhanced areas along the target’s flight path will denote the Soft Focus Point, Hard Focus Point, Kill Point, Target Line and Hold Point of your gun on every presentation. I enjoyed the graphics in this video. it definitely added to the learning experience.

Although this video uses no view of the over-the-barrel relationship to the target, it does make good use of over-the-shoulder views and a view from near the front of the barrel back toward Gebben. That last view allows home viewers to watch the movement of Gebben’s eyes as he tracks the target from his soft focus, to hard focus, to kill point on the target.

Next, Gebben goes into what he calls “The Tools” of his instruction. Now, I’m familiar with names like sustained lead and quarter techniques, but Gebben uses terms like Come To The Gun, Two-Piece, Bump The Lead and, my favorite, The Hold Out. There are other intriguing names for his tools, but I will let you discover those on your own when you watch the DVD.

One of the neat things about this DVD from Quiet Dust Shooting, along with the integrated motion graphics, is the use of Key Points. The Key Points appear in the upper right or left-hand corner when Gebben is summarizing all the elements of the shot or tool. While Gebben is recreating the shot, he’s describing proper setup, soft and hard focus points and kill point of the shot, and you see the Key Points on the screen. I believe this is a very useful technique in demonstrating shots on video. It certainly helped me understand the shot better, as well as Gebben’s instruction. Quiet Dust Shooting also made generous use of a rewind effect that allows the viewer some repetitious views of the shots Gebben demonstrates.

Each of the ten tools in this instructional DVD are the same tools Gebben uses in his personal shooting technique. In the Sustained-Lead Tool segment, Gebben describes this as the tool he uses on most crossing shots, Rabbits and as his fall-back tool when he’s uncertain exactly what he’s going to do on a target. Like most elite-level shooters, Gebben makes the shots he’s demonstrating and describing look easy. His movements are fluid and precise on every shot, especially combined with the graphics that denote the target flight. I found myself watching these individual tool segments over and over to make sure his instructions sunk into my hard head.

Gebben incorporates what he calls “anticipating the move” of the gun with the target. He gives this analogy of what he means by “anticipating”: He thinks of it as if he’s sitting at a stoplight in his car waiting for the light to turn from red to green. When the light turns green, he doesn’t immediately stomp on the accelerator. He lets off the brake, the car begins to ease forward, then he applies more gas. This analogy is visually depicted as Gebben describes it to the viewer at home. It’s a simple touch but effective to get the point across.

The Key Points for the Sustained-Lead Tool are: Move laterally with the target and maintain the speed of your barrel with the speed of the target. Additionally, Gebben adds to have confidence in your move.

The Come To The Gun Tool is used, Gebben tells viewers, on quartering shots that are medium-fast to fast in speed and medium-long to long in distance. As with all the presentations in this DVD, the graphics show you the Flight Path, Hold Point, Soft Focus Point, Hard Focus Point and Kill Point. I can’t tell you enough how much better I understood the instruction when it was described and shown with the help of the graphics. Gebben tells viewers if you’re having trouble with quartering shots, it’s better to let the target come all the way to the gun because it’s easier to “feel” the bird/barrel relationship.

Key Points here are: The Hold Point should be a quarter of the way back from the Hard Focus Point to the Kill Point, and be patient, let the target come all the way to the gun.

The remaining tools: Quartering Technique, Collapsing Lead, Two Piece, Bump The Lead, Cut Across, Catch Move, Rabbit Technique and The Hold Out all provide high-quality instruction just like the Sustained Lead and Come To The Gun. You will learn much from them.

There is also a Bonus Feature… Gebben provides his opinions as to the workings of the mental game. He gets into the brain’s different waves and how to benefit from their affect on your performance. Good stuff!
While this is Gebben’s first instructional DVD, I consider it a very good effort. It provides high-quality, detailed clay-target instruction and really good visual graphics. I’m glad I had the chance to review Gebben Miles’ Sporting Clays Instructional DVD from Quiet Dust Shooting. Check it out for yourself.