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Clays on the Brain: pre shot routine

Clays on the Brain: pre shot routine
Clays on the Brain: pre shot routine

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Optimal – Don Currie

The OPTIMAL Process. (Part 1, Pre-shot planning). Beses being great shots, competitors at the top of our sport have something else in common…a process.

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Date Published: 11/15/2021

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Clay Shooting technique – How to build a pre-shot routine

Read our interviews with…Steve Scott: Roberts: at: …

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Date Published: 5/10/2022

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Go Shooting Shotgun Coaching Videos – Series 2 #13

Olympic Gold Medallist, Russell Mark, gives us a unique insight into how to mentally prepare for each shot whilst competing under pressure.

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Date Published: 9/26/2022

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Pre-shot routines – Clay Shooting – Georgina Roberts

A pre-shot routine is the preparation we go through for each shot we take. For the majority of shooters, this routine will consist of using …

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Date Published: 4/11/2022

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You know you need a pre-shot routine. How do you create one that works for you? The best shooters can consistently post high scores.

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Date Published: 11/14/2022

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Pre-Shot Routine – Silver Willow Sporting Club

Properly done, you should be done your pre-shot planning before you step into the stand and prepare to call for the first target. One of the …

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Date Published: 5/30/2021

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Ben Husthwaite reveals his pre-shot routine

No one wants to miss a shot, let along lose a competition simply because their head’s not in the game. Ben Husthwaite shares some pre-shot …

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Date Published: 7/29/2021

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Clay Pigeon Shooting Association – CPSA Videos | Facebook

Today we have a great veo from 2014 FITASC Sporting World Champion Ed Solomons Shooting Coach about the importance of pre-shot routine and …

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Date Published: 7/7/2022

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tips for sporting clays – Google Sites

Restrictions on ammo for TRAP in accordance with the NGB ATA: “Any load with a velocity greater than. 1290 FPS (feet per second) with maximum shot charge of …

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Date Published: 4/26/2022

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Steve Scott shares his shooting routine – could it help you?

Want to shoot like Olympic clay shooter Steve Scott? Here’s the pre-shot procedure he follows every time he picks up his gun.

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Date Published: 12/1/2022

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The OPTIMAL process

(Part 1, Planning before the shot)

Aside from being great shooters, competitors at the top of our sport have something else in common…a process. Whether it’s clay court, FITASC or other self-directed sports from golf to shot put, top competitors have a process or “program” that they go through as they prepare for and execute their performance. Simply put, a pre-execution routine or process leads to consistent execution and reduces the likelihood that our conscious mind will be occupied with thoughts that distract us. Pre-shot routines help us focus our mental energy on the task at hand. Virtually any sport psychologist will tell you that in order to consistently perform at peak levels during competition in a self-directed sport, the athlete should focus on the process, not the results. In competition, you cannot control the weather, your competitors, disruptions, or the behavior of your teammates. However, you can control the process you use when competing and how well you follow that process for each pair. Interestingly, however, most competitors are reluctant to share details of their specific routines. So what should a prospective Masterclass attendee do?

Like most experienced clay court and FITASC competitors, I’ve searched high and low for THE process I could practice and follow in competition to take me to the top of my class or propel me to the HOA in major tournaments. I’ve competed in thousands of competitions, taken dozens of shooting lessons from some of the best instructors, read and studied the art and science of shooting, been coached by sports psychologists, done independent research on the brain, hand-eye coordination and biofeedback, and exchanged notes with other top competitors. As such, I would describe my quest for the perfect pre-shot process as a lifelong quest.

After winning the side-by-side event at the NSCA Nationals in October, I set myself a challenge: The process I did that Thursday afternoon in 35 mph winds and shooting a gun that choked extra full used to capture and record allowed me to get in and stay in the “zone” and win the competition. This article and the OPTIMAL process are the result of my journaling and subsequent efforts to reduce my thinking to a simple, memorable, and repeatable process that I could teach my students and use in the competition.

In my careful study of pre-execution routines both inside and outside of the shooting sport, I have come to certain conclusions regarding target targets and FITASC. The goals of any pre-shot routine should be: 1) study the target and understand its character, 2) create a target plan of action, 3) form an image of the target and your execution of the pair, 4) gain establish the correct physical position to perform the pair and 5) to calm or clear the consciousness.

O P T I M A L is an acronym, or more accurately a mnemonic, designed to provide you, the competitor, with a seamless flow to follow at each station as you approach the shooting station for the first time, at the time where you shoot your last pair. OPTIMAL stands for OBSERVE, PLAN, TEST, IMAGE, MARK, ALIGN and LASER FOCUS. The OPTIMAL process is divided into two phases: Phase 1 – OBSERVEPLANTEST is the pre-shot planning phase and is usually done before you enter the shooting range, and Phase 2 – IMAGEMARKALIGNLASER FOCUS the pre-shot routine, this is the program which you perform as soon as you enter the shooting range and just before you call in each pair. We cover O-P-T below and I-M-A-L in Part 2 of this series.

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The pre-shot planning phase of the OPTIMAL™ process (OBSERVE-PLAN-TEST) usually takes place outside of the shooting range unless you are the lucky first shooter in the rotation. In this case, you only have the option to OBSERVE, PLAN, and TEST during sight pairs while standing in the shooting station.

Once you are in the best position to see the targets, OBSERVE. Study the surrounding terrain, backdrop, and vegetation. Find the location of both traps. Look at the angle of the traps and trap arms if you can see them. WATCH each target throughout its flight, from the moment it leaves the trap until it hits the ground. Specifically, look for transition points where the target appears to noticeably change speed or direction. Identify two or more landmarks that each target flies through and visually map the target lines over background terrain, vegetation, or the sky.

Next, PLAN how you will break the targets. (See for more details on shot planning). Your plan must consist of a visual pickup point, hold point, and hold point for each objective. First, identify your breakpoints—the areas along the finish lines where you’re most comfortable breaking targets. This is the exact point where the target will come into focus and optically slow down. Ideally, the target should be moving at a fairly constant speed and direction (not in transition) at the break point. Identify your visual pickup point – the area on the target line closest to the trap where you can see the target clearly for the first time after it emerges from the trap arm. Set up a breakpoint for the first target. The holdover must be positioned along the target’s trajectory between the pickup point and the holdover, and is where you line up the barrel of your weapon just before you call in the target. For the second target of a pair, identify a point where your eyes and muzzle should go immediately after firing the first shot. This allows you to efficiently frame the target with your eyes and AIM your weapon to the second target’s line of sight. If you plan well, you’ll always know where to aim your weapon and your eyes while executing the target pair. Starting at the right place (the breakpoint) and following the path (the finish line) to each goal’s breakpoint will result in consistency and higher scores. With time and practice, this pre-shot planning process will become second nature.

Next, TEST your PLAN. With your hand and arm outstretched opposite your dominant eye, rehearse your plan, paying special attention to confirming the correct placement of your hold points and visual pick-up points. Simulate moving your weapon to your breakpoint and your eyes to the pick-up point. Watch the target launch. Pick up the target with your eyes and move your arm and hand along and slightly below the target line through your first hold point. Now move your eyes to the pickup point of your second target and your outstretched hand and arm along the second target’s line of sight and through the hold point. If the timing works, join us. If not, adjust your breakpoints and possibly your timing for the pair and test again. If during the TEST the targets jump in front of your eyes or hand, consider moving your holdpoint a little further from the trap.

That might sound like a lot of work, but remember: it’s the hard work outside the box that allows you to excel as soon as you step onto the shooting station. If you don’t have a plan and execute it every time you get in the box, you can’t expect to be a consistent performer. The most important effect of pre-shot planning is that it gives you an accurate understanding of what the targets are doing and penetrates your subconscious with the shot plan you are about to execute.

opt. . . OBSERVE, PLAN, TEST. You have WATCHED the targets and know exactly what the targets are doing. You have a solid goal retention plan, and you’ve TESTED your plan to make sure it’s working. Now you are ready to destroy the targets.

In Part 2 we enter the shooting range for the second half of the OPTIMAL process, the pre-shot routine and discuss IMAGE, MARK, ALIGN and LASER FOCUS.

© Don Currie – 2014

Pre-shot Routines

With so much you can’t control, it’s good to focus on the things you can, explains Georgina Roberts.

A pre-shot routine is the preparation we go through for every shot we take. For the majority of shooters, this routine consists of using the same movements, breathing techniques, and thought processes before each shot. It can also be broken down further into habits and rituals, such as rotating cartridges in the chamber to ensure branding is facing the same direction.

We can only control the controllable. When it comes to shooting, there are few things we have complete control over, but our pre-shot routine is one of them. Whether you’re training in the UK or competing abroad, you can ensure this routine is perfectly replicated with every shot.

A robust routine provides consistency, both mentally and physically. It’s something we use as a ‘to-do list’ before each shot so that when we go through it and check everyone off we really feel ready for the next target, and this combination means there’s a greater chance of that it is you will hit the target.

It gives us something to focus on while waiting for shooting, helping to calm competitive nerves and fears and take focus away from distractions around us.

The more steps you have in your pre-shot routine, or the more complex it is, the more likely you are to forget a step — and that could have negative repercussions.

However, I personally believe that it doesn’t matter how simple or complex your routine is, as long as you can do it flawlessly every time.

Short and sweet

It’s important that your routine allows you to focus on your performance rather than worrying about whether your routine is right. In Olympic Trap we have 12 seconds from the moment the person in front of us shoots to call for our target.

That means your routine needs to be short and sweet, but also consistent so you know you won’t break the 12-second mark. Otherwise there is a warning – the yellow card.

That would be far from ideal, but it’s better to take a yellow card and then execute your drill perfectly and hit the target. Just try to make sure you don’t do it again!

A second yellow card in the same round means you lose a target. I hold my routine for about 8 seconds, which allows me a few extra seconds in case I need to reset without risking getting a warning.

I’ve heard many people say that the work involved in learning to shoot a discipline is 90 percent technical and 10 percent mental. Once you learn to shoot with it, the work becomes 90 percent mental and 10 percent technical.

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Using a pre-shot routine gives us the perfect opportunity to incorporate mental aspects to aid in our shooting. This can be anything from visualizing shattered goals to walking through our process.

Routine after the shot

The post-shot routine is less talked about, but it’s also worth a mention. This can help you ground yourself after each shot, especially if the target was missed.

It’s easy to carry a miss forward and let it affect the next target negatively. Showing frustration in your behavior, such as B. Angrily throwing your bullets on the ground can certainly have a domino effect.

Not only can it carry through to the next shot and result in a miss, but venting your anger can spur your competitors on when they think they have an advantage over you.

While it’s easy to use this time to reflect on what we did wrong, it’s important to accept the result and move on. As you analyze the shot, use it to decide how to approach the next target.

Georgina’s pre-shot routine

Check the foot position Hold the weapon and the eye steady. Imagine the target being smashed. Bring the weapon to the shoulder and make sure it is mounted correctly. Bring the barrel to my breakpoint. Bring your eyes up and allow my focus to adjust. For example, I work on “staying still” while letting my eyes rest. Call for the target

…and after the shot

Note: I also focus on my breathing during this process.

Open the gun and throw the shell casings into the container. Analyze the shot – what did I do well, or what do I need to do for the next target if I missed? Load cartridges ready for the next target Once that shooter has fired Once the shooter has moved, hop on the pin and begin my pre-shot routine

Controlling the controllable elements

There can be major differences in setup, not only between shooting ranges, but also between individual ranges in the same location. There are few similarities in shooting, particularly the layout (other than Sport and FITASC where traps vary) and our own routines.

When shooting a new range or layout, set your plan and intentions. As I shoot each new range, I want to record the schematic, hold points for the gun, and sights.

These each vary based on factors such as background and weather conditions. These ideas can be applied to any shooting discipline, for example if you are sport shooting, observe targets to determine your holdover points and “kill” points before stepping into the stands.

When I personally test breakpoints, I use a cartridge to measure them for consistency. Standing in my ready position, as if about to shoot, I take a cartridge and place it on the mark on top of the trap house.

I then use the markings on the cartridge to select a point in the background (e.g. a broken clay or a tuft of grass) where I will hold my gun. I’ll then repeat this process for each pin so I know where my breakpoints are.

The printing on the cartridges varies, so I always try to use the same ones when measuring my breakpoints. I will use the cartridge to measure and then put it in a separate bag to try to keep it consistent.

It doesn’t have to be the exact same cartridge you use every time, as long as you use the same cartridge for every stand in a layout. When coaching, I recommend cutting a clear ruler down to pocket size.

This is something you can travel light with and will guarantee consistency as you build confidence while testing new breakpoints.

*This article was written for Clay Shooting and is available at:


Clay Target Nation – July 2021


Victoria Stellato 2021-06-09 01:01:56

You know you need a pre-shot routine. How do you create one that works for you?

The best shooters can constantly post high scores. But did you also notice that they each use unique shooting styles to get the job done? Some have a low stance and aggressive movements. Others are more upright and look as smooth as possible. In addition, some practice for hours while others never seem to be in the rifle club. Despite all of these differences, these shooters have one thing in common: They’ve taken the time to develop a unique pre-shot routine that helps them look their best when they step onto the station.

If you look at any of the top shooters, you might notice that they use a pre-shot routine. Each shooter took the time to figure out a unique sequence that worked for them. Creating a personalized pre-shot routine will help you become more consistent and improve your results. Here we examine the pre-shot routine: why you want one, what to consider when creating one, what to include, how to manage stabbing, and how to incorporate this into your practice.


One thing we are all taught is to model our heroes. In shooting, that means doing what the top shooters do, even if you don’t always run straight. While they can’t shoot exactly like your idol, you can integrate their secret weapon to improve your shooting. A pre-shot routine is something that every top shooter has and very few amateurs use. It’s the key to good shooting because it helps you in many ways. First of all, it allows you to become consistent, perform under pressure, gain confidence and adapt to different areas.

It can do a lot more than that if you let it. Your pre-shot routine is like your assistant on the skeet field. It can pick you up when you need it most and help you complete challenges.


There are a few things you can do to create the perfect pre-shot routine.

Think about your personality. If you have the same personality as your favorite shooter, copy their pre-shot routine. If they’re even slightly different, you need to create your own. It’s a lot easier to stick with something that’s tailored to you than to try to force yourself to fit a mold.

Balance your speed. Faster shooters may need a few extra seconds to slow down. Slower shooters may need to accelerate to avoid losing targets for long periods of time. Whatever the case, the key is to create a routine that gives you a steady pace that allows you to set up correctly and stay within time constraints.


What constitutes a pre-shot routine is unique to each shooter. Here are some of the basics to add.

1. Start trigger. Though most new shooters don’t realize it, your preshot routine begins long before you even step onto the station. It can start when walking between stations or when the shooter enters the station in front of you. Starting earlier gives you enough time to observe the goals and get a feel for any adjustments you should make. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is determine your starting trigger, or what your mind is telling your mind that it’s time to focus and focus. When you’re at a loss, the most common way to start is when the shooter in front of you has four birds left before it’s your turn. This gives you enough time to observe targets.

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2. Observe the goals. Once you’ve activated your pre-shot routine, the first thing to do is observe the targets. Make sure you watch at least two from each house to understand what they’re likely to do. Pay attention to changes in altitude, e.g. B. Diving targets or targets lifted by the wind. Also, be aware of any inside or outside targets that might affect the apparent velocity of a shot. See if they are in this spot all the time or if they are jumping around because of the weather. This information will help you to make any corrections. Just remember that you need to think about where the goals are in relation to the center stake. It doesn’t matter where they land or what they do after the center post.

“The key is to create a routine that gives you a steady pace that allows you to set up correctly and stay within time constraints.”

3. Think about what you are going to do. Once you have an idea of ​​what’s going on, it’s time to think. Create a little strategy to help you plan your moves when you’re on the station. For example, think about how wind affects targets and what adjustments you can make for an easier shot. You can also think about how the background or shadows are affecting your vision and compensate for that. While this may seem like too much thinking at first, with practice it becomes second nature. Being able to make these adjustments is important. It makes your work in the field more manageable.

4. Visualize the recording. Some people need more than just thinking about what they are going to do. If you’re one of those people, visualizing the shot can be a great addition to your routine. It can help you prepare for the goal because visualizing the movement trains your subconscious to act. Plus, it takes your mind off imagining missed targets and gives you one last positive image before entering the station. Since Sagittarians rely heavily on their positive thinking, this is a good addition when you need a boost in confidence.

5. Setup. Mistakes in your setup cause bugs, so be sure to tweak your routine to eliminate them. Several different tactics can help you get set up correctly, but many people find it helpful to create a checklist. They run it through briefly on the station to make sure they’re ready to go.

6. Trust yourself. Once set up, it’s time to let your subconscious take over. Your consciousness has done its job of analysis. You are as prepared as possible. The thinking phase is over and it’s time to shoot. Take a moment to relax, center and trust yourself. If negative thoughts creep in, let them go.

You’ve now committed to the shot. Your weapon is mounted and you must be sure that you have done everything in your power to succeed. Now is not the time to hesitate or question yourself. You want to get this part done quickly because you don’t want to undo any of your work. Relax yourself. Don’t think of anything. It’s time to take the shot.

7. Make the shot. It’s time to execute the shot. That doesn’t mean you can relax after your hard work. You have to pull through the target and break through. Call for the target and be ready to move. Get on it as soon as possible and start swinging with it. Be prepared to go up, down, in, or out with the bird. Try to ignore any pieces coming from adjacent squares, live birds or bugs entering your field of view, or anything else that might distract you. Remember to move off your legs with a simple start, swinging gently and keeping your shoulders straight as you rotate your torso. Keep your cheek pressed against the shaft and watch the bird. Follow after pulling the trigger.


Once you’ve got the shot, your routine isn’t over. The final step should be to accept whether you hit or missed the target. If you take a bad shot, don’t fret. Dwelling on missed targets only leads to more bad shots.

The best post-shot routine is to walk off the station with confidence. Gather with your friends and talk to them if you are a chilled team. If you’re taking photos with people who like to keep quiet, let your mind wander. If you think about shooting throughout the flight, your mind will be exhausted. So spend the whole weekend preparing for success by taking your time before starting your pre-shot routine for the next shot to enjoy the scenery, chat with your friends and soak up the sun.


Hopefully you now have a good understanding of how to create your daily workout pre-shot routine — but don’t forget the stabbing. You may need to make some changes to perform well in these. Remember that nothing about your physical game will change. However, you are under pressure. Whether you have five spectators at a small tournament or hundreds of people watching you shoot, you compete right under the watchful gaze of a crowd. Everyone reacts differently to this situation. Some people love the pressure while others crumble. If stabbing is making you nervous, consider giving yourself a little extra time during your pre-shot routine to calm yourself.


For your pre-shot routine to work, you need to practice it before attempting it in a tournament. Spend some time refining it at the club so it becomes automatic when you’re shooting at an event. It will also help you have better exercise sessions overall. The same goes for your shoot-off routine. Spend some time replicating and practicing a jump-off so you can perform under pressure.

While creating a pre-shot routine may feel like a lot, it gets easier with time. A correct one can give you extra confidence and help you improve your game overall. Make it work for you to help you when you need it most. The key to a good pre-shot routine is creating one that works for you. Think about your personality. Find something that feels natural and is easy to hold. Following the necessary steps will help you build confidence and achieve more goals.

©COLE Publishing-Mozaic. Show all articles.



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