Good Coaching and Instruction
By Frank Neumayer
Question: I really want to get better at clay target shooting, but I’m at a point where I need some experienced help! I know we have some really good shooters out at the club, but being a novice… I hesitate to ask them for help. What advice can you give me?
Answer: First of all, don’t be shy or intimidated about asking for help! A little coaching, from an experienced shooter or professional instructor, will be one of the best things you can do to improve your game. Even the best of shooters know the value in having that extra set of eyes focusing on their methods and techniques when problems or issues occur. As you know, there are plenty of experienced shooters out at the club, and many would be more than willing to help you improve… all you have to do is ask! Be a little cautious though, not every good shooter does everything properly or correctly, and you certainly don’t want to adopt or inherit some poor methods or practices. With that said, an experienced shooter or professional coach can watch your gun mount and set-up, your movement to the target, your break point and follow-through, and can easily point out where you can make minor improvements or adjustments on those simple or unconscious mistakes you’re making.
Just be mindful that not every good shooter is a good instructor or coach. First of all, find someone who has an excellent shooting resume. This means a shooter that has competed successfully over time at the championship level. Couple that with a personality that’s pleasant, knowledgeable, articulate, and most of all patient, and you’ll have a wining combination. With someone like this, you’ll gain a better understanding of the concepts and methods of how the game is correctly played, and you’ll be more willing and open to accept the directions or instructions that are being communicated. First off, you must be prepared to openly accept constructive but positive criticism; be willing to make the proper adjustments; and then incorporate those changes into your routine if you want to seriously improve your game. Doing things correctly, with repetition and practice are the only means I know of to offset discouragement, frustration, and apathy as you move forward toward improvement. Again, a little application of the three “D’s” (Desire, Dedication, and Determination) will go a long way in helping your improvement efforts. Here are three main points to consider when looking for professional help:
First Point: How much are you willing to pay? If budgets are tight, tapping into some of the experienced shooters at your club can be a good option. Many of these individuals can provide good, basic coaching and instruction at very nominal costs… if any at all. However, if professional coaching and instruction is the avenue you choose, then Trap and Skeet courses will start at around $200. per person for a (1) day clinic. For (2) to (4) day Sporting Clays instruction the costs can be from $350. up to $1500. plus shooting expenses. Now… for personal one-on-one professional instruction regardless of the discipline, the cost will start around $500. to $650. a day and can go upwards to $1000. for (3) days. This whole subject simply rests on the level of personal choice and commitment that you are willing to put forth to improve your shooting game. Every professional instructor I’ve met does an excellent job, so it won’t be a question of wasting money, but more a question of… how much are you willing to invest in yourself?
Second Point: What type of credentials should you look for? Certainly, you want an instructor that has a proven track record of years of high
level championship success. Many are repeat All Americans, some are in the Hall of Fame, and most are Master Class shooters. I also recommend you look for coaches and instructors that
have completed professional instructor training programs. There are excellent certificated programs provided through the NRA, ATA, NSSA, and the NSCA, and you’ll find that instructors that have
completed this type of formal training are a little better organized, equipped, and a bit more serious about providing the best possible, value-added training to their students. Style and
personality are also very important when it comes to conveying detailed information and instructions. Again, look for an instructor that is pleasant, knowledgeable, articulate, and most of all…
patient. Ask for references so you can talk to shooters who have taken classes from these individuals. For the amount of money you’re investing, you definitely want someone who can
relate to your issues and concerns at your level, and one who understands your style and pace of learning.
Third Point: How much are “you” willing to make the personal commitment needed to improve your game? Regardless of the amount of money you invest on professional instruction, the most important thing comes down to your level of commitment to improve. First of all, a good instructor will start out by having you work on correcting any bad habits or techniques you may have adopted. From there, a unique and personal shooting plan will be developed that has you working on the critical aspects needed for you to advance. The key to all of this, is what amount of time and effort you are willing to invest to advance your game? You can have the best map in the world but if you don’t follow it diligently and precisely you’ll never reach your destination. As you remember the three D’s required to become the best you can be, here’s where you’ll really need to apply those attributes because now you’ve made a substantial investment in yourself and it’s entirely up to you to make it pay off!
From experience, I’ve known some professional instructors that expect you to completely adapt to their exact style and approach to breaking targets. After all, they are champions and their style and methods got them to where they’re at… so obviously they consider their approach to be best and only way to success. The problem with this approach is that not every student is identical when it comes to the specific details of age, size, shape, ability, or the level of desire and commitment to the goals they hope to achieve. In my opinion, a good coach will make the appropriate considerations that will incorporate each student’s individual traits, abilities, and desires, into one unique and special shooting improvement plan. When a student makes the commitment and pays for the instruction and training, a contract is made, and it becomes the instructor’s responsibility to properly analyze and evaluate each student, and then provide a detailed, individual improvement plan that will show immediate results, coupled with progressive or incremental long-term improvements. Their job is to provide you a map… your job is to follow it to success!
If you have a specific question, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to get it answered. Please keep your questions brief and to the point.
See you at the club… Frank
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