Claybrakn... Keys to Success (8/10)

Keys to Success

By Frank Neumayer 

Question:  I want to challenge myself to become the best possible clay target shooter I can be.  Where should I start, or what should I focus on first?  From your experience… what advice can you give me to point me in the right direction?           

Answer:  First of all, before we address the keys to successful clay target shooting, you’ll need to determine at what level you’re at with your shooting, and at what level you hope to achieve?  Based on your choice, this will dictate the equipment needed, as well as the time, energy, effort, and expense you can expect to put forth in order to accomplish your goals.  Basically, there are three levels of clay target shooters regardless of the game.  Each level is unique in what it offers, and what the shooter may hope to gain or achieve from the experience.  First, is the Sporting Level:  At this level you’ll find most of your club, league, and recreational shooters.  Many upland bird and waterfowl shooters can be found at this level.  They enjoy shooting for sport, fun, recreation, and socializing.  Winning for these shooters can be as simple as posting a good score on the range, or bagging their daily limit in the field, all while having fun with good friends in the process.   

     Second, is the Competitive Level:  At this level you’ll find the serious clay target competitor.  Whether it’s Trap, Skeet, 5-stand, or Sporting Clays, these shooters just love to compete, and they are constantly working to improve their game.  Winning is important, but it’s certainly not everything.  Continuously improving and perfecting their personal performance level is their main focus, but they do enjoy the close camaraderie and fun that comes along with it.  Third, is the Championship Level:  There are considerably fewer shooters at this level, and they are considered by most to be the best of the best.  Striving for excellence is their primary focus, and maintaining this elite level of shooting can be all encompassing for most of them.  To many, these shooters are considered professionals.  Winning, and doing it consistently at the highest possible level, is extremely important to these shooters.  Every tournament and event is taken very seriously, and every single aspect of their game is approached with consistency and a meticulous attention to detail.


     If a shooter expects to be the very best he or she can be at any level, they’ll need to embrace the attributes that NFL coaches have often referred to as the three “D’s” for success.  Whether its clay target shooting, or any other competitive activity for that matter, these attributes are viewed as the primary factors to being successful.  The first is Desire!  Unless you have that strong, burning desire to become the very best you can be, I can promise you, you won’t achieve your fullest potential or fully accomplish your goals without first having that irrepressible desire to be the very best you can be.  The second is Dedication!  You must be willing to focus intently on each and every single aspect of improving your game.  Even at times when it feels completely wrong, you need to stay-the-course, stay focused, and drill yourself repeatedly until you perfect or master whatever element of the game you’re working on. 

     A key to this attribute is following the advice of your coach or instructor to the letter.  Focus, and repetition on every detail is extremely important, and you’ll need to do it again; and again; and yet again until you nail it.  The third attribute is Determination!  You’ll need to meticulously “plan-your-work” toward improving and perfecting ever aspect of your shooting game, and then methodically “work-your-plan” piece by piece until it all comes together.  Many dedicated hours are needed to be successful, and unless you are willing to commit the time, energy, effort, and expense needed to perfect and maintain your game, you’ll never achieve that advanced level you’re seeking, and certainly not the championship level.  For me, the following quote pretty well sums it up as I continually work to master my shooting ability… “In striving for perfection, you’ll achieve excellence” (Vince Lombardi).


     After taking all of this advice into consideration… where do you start, and what are your next steps?  First and foremost, be a student of the game.  Learn all you can from the Top Guns; their articles, books, and videos, and start working on perfecting the basics and fundamentals required.  At some point, you may determine that an adjustment, or upgrade in your equipment may be warranted.  If so, choose wisely, with quality, safety, reliability, and versatility being the primary elements to consider.  As you read and study all you can, don’t hesitate to ask for some professional instruction or coaching to help you work through any issues or problems that may be keeping you from advancing.  Above all, you must be honest and realistic with yourself, and always set your goals and objectives to be value-added, success-oriented, and attainable.  It’s going to take time… so be patient and don’t get frustrated!  Plan your efforts well, and be sure to keep your focus on quality rather than quantity when practicing and competing.

     Over the years, I’ve known shooters from various levels, get so frustrated as challenges increase, that they give-up the game entirely, sell their guns, and move on to something different.  They failed because they were not being honest or realistic with themselves as to the level of commitment required to achieve the success they were expecting.  They may have had the desire in the beginning, but as they advanced, a lack of continued focus, dedication, and determination kept them from accomplishing their goals.  Obviously, all three attributes must be in equal play in order to be successful.  Always remember, the level of your success will be determined in equal portion to the commitment you’re willing to put forth!  For most shooters, a little extra effort applied to the basics and fundamentals, coupled with a modest application of the three “D’s”, keeps their shooting game challenging, rewarding, and fun.  Beyond that… whatever advanced level you hope to achieve is entirely up to you.

     If you have a specific question, send me an email at 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


© 2011 Claybrakn Shotgun Instruction. All Rights Reserved. 


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