24 February 2022

Shooting Clay: technique, body and mind

In shooting clay, the mindset is as important as the body.

Shooting clay is an increasingly popular sport where shooting technique, mind and body are three essential elements.

In fact, shooting clay, like any other precision sports, is too often underrated in terms of mind and body preparation. A proof is how most shooters receive mainly technical training.

To reach the highest personal level in a competition, however, the shooting technique alone is not enough. Suffice it to think that the athletes of the national team, in their training program, carry out different meetings with sports psychologists, who through multiple mental techniques allow the shooters to acquire awareness of their own ways of thinking and to learn to manage the emotions and physical fatigue to their best.
Moreover, many sessions of physical preparation are carried out, focusing mainly on muscular enhancement, visual-manual reactivity and improvement of balance and proprioception, that is, the ability to perceive the position of one's body in space, without resorting to sight. So, what are the steps to an ideal shooting technique?

Shooting clay: shooting technique

The shooting technique for shooting clay involves the transition from a static phase (before the recoil of the clay pigeon) to a dynamic phase (tracking movement of the clay pigeon and firing).
Conventionally, in order to make the teaching of the technique easier, it has been decided to divide it into 6 main phases:

  • Ready position: postural position assumed by the shooter on the platform and first contact with the firearm.
  • Taking the firearm: the shooter securely grabs the firearm and creates a whole with it.
  • Call for the clay pigeon: the minute the shooter calls for the clay pigeon, which is launched by the clay-pigeon thrower machine.
  • First mount of the firearm: the main phase, where the shooter must follow the clay pigeon in the shortest possible time by carrying out a swing, controlled and synchronized movement of the body and the firearm.
  • Transition of the clay pigeon: the minute the clay pigeon, during the swinging phase, is crossed by the barrels of the shotgun.
  • Firing: when the shooter, depending on the angle, the distance of the clay pigeon and the environmental conditions, decides to press the trigger. In order to perform a correct technical gesture, these steps must be carried out in a harmonious and coordinated manner, avoiding interference or interruptions.

Shooting clay: physical preparation

The physical preparation for shooting clay pigeon is certainly different for each sport and is functional for the reference technique.
Physical training should be aimed primarily at enhancing visual-manual reactivity, proprioception and balance, as well as the classic district muscle enhancement, which concerns the muscles most used during the technical action of shooting.
As in any other sport, a correct training involves the philosophy of “right halfway”: no laziness allowed, but also no rush. A typical preparation, carried out from January to October (end of the competition period), will include 2 weekly sessions of physical preparation lasting an average of 60-90 minutes, and 2-3 of technical refinement. To optimize the physical training, the circuit technique can be used, involving all the muscle bands most stressed during the shooting clay, in order to prepare the physique of the shooter in terms of resistance and muscular strength.
In the planning of the annual training for shooting clay pigeon, physical training exercises will have to be provided progressively. In the preparatory period (previous period and far from the shooting competitions), we will have an increase in the volume (representing the total amount of work carried out in a given period of time) of the overall exercises with respect to the intensity (expresses the degree of physical commitment required by the execution of a given activity).
On the other hand, in the competition period, physical training exercises will decrease in volume and increase in intensity, so as to keep the physique of the shooter in an ideal state for the shooting stages, without an excessive risk of fatigue.

Shooting clay: mental preparation

Mental preparation for shooting clay has a key role and is the most difficult variable to manage and control.
Being focused for a long period of time is very important in both competition and training. During the competition the shooters are led to have a greater stress due to many factors (public, fear of mistakes, referees, long waiting times between series of clay pigeons), which could cause distractions and consequent errors during the shooting.
Therefore, in order to minimize errors due to competition stress, during technical training simulations and unusual training for the shooter should be implemented, such as pulling in mono-podialytic support, closing the eyes during the call for the clay pigeon and opening them again immediately afterwards, fire with a single cartridge in a barrel, to improve concentration and stress management capability during official shooting competitions.
A particular mental preparation recommended to further improve one's shooting skills involves the visualization technique, where the shooter, prior to performing the actual technical action of shooting, pictures himself in the various phases to be carried out, from the stance to ready position to firing. It will then be up to the shooter whether to carry out the exercise with his eyes open or closed.
In addition to the training of the shooter, it is advisable to use a firearm that can ensure high shooting performance. Produced by the Benelli Team with the support of professional shooters and a research group of the University of Sports Sciences of Urbino, in 2018 the 828 U Sport 12-gauge was introduced to the market.

Benelli 828 U Sport
Benelli 828 U Sport

A shotgun optimized for Sporting and Compak, which differs from the other versions in the first place for the steel receiver (the firearm weighs 3.650 g with barrels of 76 cm). Benelli introduces this over and under shotgun in the field of shooting clay, choosing the two specialties that are direct descendants of that world that for decades has followed, cultivated and loved: hunting.
The 828 U Sport, also created for left-handed shooters, stands out for its sporty look, extreme ergonomics, stability and balance. The innovative Progressive Balancing system of the stock, through the application of 8 weights of 12.5 g each, allows to move the balance front or rear, according to the preferences of the shooter All the components of the 828 U Sport contribute to make shotgun and shooter a whole.

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