You Cannot NOT Think!
Just like you cannot “not think,” you cannot shoot consistently without being aware of the barrel. It’s there. It’s part of it, albeit a small awareness.
Trying to feel your way through the shot and not see the barrel is futile, and establishing an awareness of the muzzle in the periphery is an individual evolution. It is what deliberate practice is all about.
This topic was in great measure the genesis of our Kill Shot Reviews (KSR) on our Knowledge Vault. Shooters who are watching them (on both clays and game birds) before practice and before a tournament shoot remarkably better scores with less practice! This is called Perceptual Cognitive Learning.
Making it Easier on Your Brain
When shooters intently watch the KSRs and they find their brain in a situation that it has seen perfectly executed over and over, two things happen:
It is easier for the shooter to visualize in detail how and where the shooter wants the brain to bring the shot together. Both sides of the brain are involved with the shot and have a very specific task as the shot comes together, making it easier for the shooter to slip into the zone shot after shot!
The criticizing left brain is programmed to see the target on the correct side of the barrel and send the shot when the speed is matched. This frees up the right brain to adjust the lead while matching the speed.
After you match the speed and take the shot, everything is moving in slow motion.
If the shooter breaks the target, he can replicate it. If not, the reason for the miss is so blatantly obvious that a shooter can easily correct it on the next shot.
Prediction and Committment
The key to being able to execute this in practice and eventually on game day is twofold. The shooter must predict in detail how they want the shot to come together and they then must commit to the shot according to their plan.
It is the prediction and then the execution that sends a successful shot to the long-term memory. Any success without a detailed and committed prediction will simply be a product of how well you felt that day. You will forget it because it remains in your short-term memory!
This is why you can go out to a troubled shot and after eight to ten shots you can “find it” and repeatedly hit the target over and over again. When you see the target next, it’s as if you never practiced it. It stayed in your short-term memory due to no prediction. And without a prediction, there’s nothing to commit to but the lead!
So you experienced what the short-term memory does best. When it takes on another task, it forgets what it was just doing. Prediction and then execution create long-term memory.