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Teaching in South Dakota

We finally got to Hunters Pointe Sporting Clays in Humboldt, South Dakota, 16 miles west of Sioux Falls. Tony Bour, the owner, had been trying to get us to come up there for two years but it just never worked out.

So we squeezed it in this year to teach on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and returned to Houston on Saturday night because we needed to be somewhere else by Sunday evening. It was a great travel plan, but it didn’t work out that way since our flight Saturday night was canceled. Now it’s Sunday morning at 5:30, and we are getting ready to board a flight to get home today sometime. That’s life in the travel zone.

But we had a fabulous time teaching and meeting all the fine folks in South Dakota. We will definitely make this a regular stop.

The biggest thing we learned was that everyone still wants to look down that gun barrel and that they have such a hard time getting away from the aiming mindset. Most of these folks had never had a lesson and had learned by just going out and shooting after someone told them to put that little white bead three feet in front of the pheasant and shoot. Well, you all know how well that works.

So we had a ball teaching a system that works and is easy to do. It was easy for some and not as easy to accept for others. As one of my students remarked, “it’s counter-intuitive but it works, so I’m going with it.” Most of the students were swing-through shooters and really wanted to see the barrel and know exactly where it was. But we were able to get all of them on the right track of success with their shotgun.

Once again, we found that the importance of a good gun mount is imperative. Having that gun up and in your face makes it impossible to see the target until it gets past the gun. Then panic sets in and nothing good will happen. If people will just learn to mount the gun, then you don’t have to think about it when you are taking the shot and losing some of your focus on the target because you are thinking about the gun mount. I think if we could get that through everyone’s head before they came to the clinic, they would do so much better so much quicker because they wouldn’t have to be thinking so hard about making the gun mount and it not hurting.

On the first day, I had three gentlemen who were hunters and the first thing they did when we went out to the first station was to mount the gun. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in the pheasant field with someone who has the gun mounted all the time. You only have 100 percent of focus and if your mount is less than stellar, you have to put a lot of your focus on making the mount. That takes away from the focus you need to have on the target.

I made them all get the gun off their shoulders and they said it made the target slow down and they could see the target. And this was why they didn’t need to close an eye. Oh yes, most of the students were closing an eye at the last second. Why? So they could see where the barrel was, of course.

The wind that day was ferocious. It was gusting to 30 mph and practically blowing us over, but we all hung in there and ended the day shooting well, knowing that old dogs can learn new tricks.

The animations were a hit again. They make it so clear to everyone how this works and show where the eyes need to be. They also show that eye dominance is not as big an issue as some instructors make it.

I had two people who were told they were left-eyed but right-handed, so one had started shooting left-handed. The other had always shot right-handed but had changed. He really wanted to shoot right-handed so I told him “let’s give it a try.” It took all day to get the pictures right and get him to stop looking at the gun, but it finally started clicking.

This morning started around 4 AM with texts from our son Brian with pictures of our new grandson, Joseph James Ash, born at 7lb. 13oz. It was worth getting up early to see. I can’t wait to actually see and hold him.

Then we had another great day of people learning, and the weather was perfect. I had a gentleman from Minnesota on his second day and four members of the Bour family. What a hoot. They learned so much. None of them had ever had a lesson and all the mythology out there became real. We also talked a lot about the gun mount, which they did not have.

T (short for Tony Jr.) had been diagnosed as left-eyed and he was right-handed, so he had been shooting left-handed for a while. But as a kid, he had shot right-handed and he really wanted to shoot right-handed. So I gave him an option to try it and let the brain redo the pictures. He said he was willing to endure that and go for it. It was a rather long day for him, but by the next day, it was all coming together. He shot well and was very happy, as it was more comfortable shooting right-handed. The ladies in the group also learned that they needed to not look at the gun and to practice their gun mount. A great day for all.

The next morning we started early because we had a flight out that night. We had some new students for the day and some second-day folks to heel. We started with nice weather, and then it went to rain, then hail, then sun again. Wow, it’s almost like being in Houston… just wait and it will change!

I had the five Bours and John was almost beside himself. This system was counter to what he knew, but it worked so he accepted it and shot great when he stopped looking at the gun. During the rainstorms, we went to the lodge and did the flashlight drill and three-bullet drill, which helped everyone realize how often they look at the gun and how to practice the right way to let the peripheral accept the gun. It’s a different way to look at it. Also, making the target be behind the barrel or across the barrel really worked.

So we went off to the airport only to find out that our flight was canceled. We spent another night there and took off for a 6 am flight tomorrow. Ah, the joys of the traveling.