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Hesitation. A common mistake amongst new shooters. Here’s how to avoid it.

Many new shooters have tendency to hesitate - here's how to avoid this common mistake, advises David Turner.

down the line clay shooting

"See it, shoot it" is the mantra which works almost every time

Hesitation is a common shooting problem.

While teaching my wife to shoot some years ago, she noticed that the person in front of her, shooting a simple going away target, was waiting way too long, or as some would say “hanging” on the target, only to miss when they did fire.

My wife turned to me and whispered, “it’s like she’s waiting to miss”. Hence the saying that I still use when coaching and teaching: “Don’t wait to miss.”

Another way to think of this common lapse in technique is when we try to “make sure” of a shot, this will usually cause a slight hesitation, which will in turn, more than likely result in a miss.

How do I practice and avoid hesistating?

We can help ourselves get to grips and practice shooting intuitively. DTL (or Down the Line) offers a valuable technique that will help us default to a more intuitive response process at faster “going away” targets.

I call this technique “See it, shoot it”. 
If we hesitate or aim, we will often miss, as the target becomes increasingly difficult as it’s going further away.

clay shooting

Competition is a great way to shoot under pressure

See it, shoot it

See it, shoot it is my way of describing a technique that helps us default to our natural hand and eye co-ordinated response to a fast target that we need to get onto and shoot positively the moment we see it. This should be done without conscious thought about actions or aiming, as you would a rifle.

Clayshooting practice

Good technique is rewarded by practice

Don’t dwell

DTL can become quite a compelling discipline that some find very addictive and while not as popular as it used to be, most grounds have a DTL range. There are competitions all over the country and I suggest that you go to watch one to see just how fast the competitors shoot. They certainly don’t “wait to miss”. Look at the CPSA website for up-and-coming DTL shoots, or check your local club events.

The same principle applies for crossing and incoming targets on a Sporting layout. With these you will often see shooters mount early and track the target way before they take the shot, needlessly “hanging” on it and usually missing.

With an incoming target, often described as a “dropping crow”, we see it coming from a long way out and have loads of time to get ourselves organised. The way to tackle this type of target is to wait; maybe even look away for a moment. Then, as it reaches a comfortable range, we can smoothly mount and shoot. 
Again, no “hanging” or “dwelling” on the target.


Similarly on the skeet range we don’t have time to wait and we tend to plan our shot more carefully with a break-point already established in our mind. This is a great place to practice getting into a rhythm, maybe using a 1, 2, 3, move-mount-shoot approach.

A well-rounded shooter practising DTL and skeet will enhance and improve their Sporting shooting. It is well worth the effort.

And remember the mantra at all times: “Don’t wait to miss”.