"Why Do I Shoot Sporting Clays?"

There are many reasons that people shoot sporting clays. It is fun and relaxing. We feel that there is some psychological benefit to breaking things and making noise on a clays range. We are also convinced that you just meet a finer class of people around a shotgun.

Did you ever stop and think about why people compete in recreational sports? It seems like people enjoy the risk of winning or losing when there is no chance of a monetary loss. In their everyday jobs, there is risk and typically a chance of monetary loss. Because they deal with the risk of monetary loss daily, when they can take a risk and there is no chance of any great monetary loss, they get the adrenaline rush - without the risk.

This is why people do sports. They fish, hunt, play tennis, golf, run marathons, etc. As long as they don’t put excessive amounts of pressure on themselves to perform, everything is okay. They have fun: win, lose, or draw. It is only when they pressure themselves to perform that problems occur. Ordinary people turn into zombies. They lose perspective. They forget it's just a game.

The frustration of underperformance causes people to do and say things that they normally wouldn’t do or say. Things like throw shells, open or close their gun in a forceful way, say things about themselves or their heritage that is not true, etc. Smiles turn into frowns. Personality shifts occur in the nicest people. They turn into a person you are afraid to talk to or even be around. The desire to improve drives many people to spend lots of money on gadgets and new equipment in the hopes of improving their scores. All they have to do is relax and have a little fun.

Shooting is made up of vivid subconscious images and feels – not complex technicalities. When problems occur, the first place most people go is technical, not feel. It should be just the opposite! If a shot is rushed, erratic, and panicked, it should feel slow, smooth, and in control. It's a simple game – focus on the target, smoothly put the gun where it is going, and pull the trigger.

Watching what people do when they miss makes us wonder if the person they turn into is really who they are and they are just doing a good job of covering it up. Or is there something mystical about a clay target hitting the ground whole that enables that target to take over your mind and make you do and say things that you otherwise would not do or say? It is, after all, just a game. It is supposed to be fun.

If you are not shooting sporting clays to have fun, you will not find or achieve much success. We find that the difficulty of this game shows us a lot about the psychological make-up of the people who shoot it.

Spend a little time defining why you do this! Write it down! There is something about writing things like this down that helps one keep things in perspective. If the reason you do this is not 100 percent personal (only to please yourself, not others) then you are doing it for the wrong reasons, and your successes (if they happen) will be small and short-lived.

I'll leave you with something our friend and student Mike Buoy wrote to us earlier this year. He found that his shooting had improved dramatically and he was having more fun when he realized the following:

"I stopped being so anal about winning. When I felt this emotion kicking in, I stopped and asked myself this question - what will change tomorrow morning if I don’t hit this target? NOTHING. The sun will still rise."

Relax and have fun!