I’m not saying change your shooting style for every darned clay they throw at you, but the ability – and the confidence – to understand that a particular clay would be easier to break if you used, say, the maintained lead method of shooting – will always pay dividends.

Learn how to shoot in every style there is – and then try and make up some more styles yourself!

When you’re practicing tell yourself that you’re going to shoot everything in, for instance, pull away mode.

Make a conscious effort not to drop into your usual ‘easier’ way of killing the bird.

If you struggle shooting a particular style, go and have some lessons. Explain the situation you’re in to the instructor, saying that although you’re happy shooting using the so and so method, you really want to master a different style. Insist that he makes you shoot all the birds in the way that you want.

One of the hardest styles to get to grips with is maintained lead.

Master this method fully and again, I promise, your scores will be better than ever before. We’ve mentioned the maintained lead technique in the past (Feb. ’06) and I think it’s probably about time we had another in-depth look at the subject sometime soon.

In the meantime get a copy of the book, Move, Mount, Shoot, (written by five-times World Champion John Bidwell and SG’s editor Robin Scott) or John’s latest instructional DVD.

Both will definitely help to increase your averages.

You should instinctively know which style to use as soon as you see the bird presented. A huge library of sight pictures is invaluable when it comes to beating your competitors, and the only way to increase the catalogue is to shoot more often, at different clubs, and in different disciplines.

GUN CHOICE

There’s no way that an up-and-coming trap shooter, for instance, would venture out with a Sporter or game gun. In exactly the same way, if you’re trying to do your best on a Sporting or FITASC layout the last thing you want to be using is an unsuitable gun.

In some ways I feel I need to qualify this statement because I think we all know deep down that it’s the person behind the barrels that counts, and not the gun itself – irrespective of the make of the gun, its price, the chokes, or the cartridge.

A good shot is a good shot and he’ll break targets – no matter whether he’s using a £200 Baikal or a 20k Kreighoff.

But, having said that, if you’re serious about your shooting and want to up your scores, make sure you’re using the right type of gun for your chosen discipline.

If you don’t you’re in a worse position compared with everyone else that’s shooting alongside you.

This is probably the only time I’ll ever recommend that changing your gun could increase your scores!