Question: After addressing stance, hold point, breaking point, and lead, what should the shooter be thinking before calling for the bird?
Answer: Your question leads us to the subject of “pre-shot routine.” More specifically, what is the last “cue” or prompt you should use to remind yourself of what you need to do to break the next target. If you are planning correctly, you should know the starting point for your eyes (visual pick-up point) and your gun (hold point). Picturing lead will be left to your subconscious, aka your on-board target guidance system. However, you must feed the brain the visual information it requires to kill the target. To feed the brain the required information, you must intentionally, and with intensity, focus on the target. Focus, sharp visual focus, on a particular “focal point” on the target must be intentional because it requires voluntary movement of the eye muscles. It cannot be left up to chance or delegated to the subconscious.
How many times have you forgotten to look at a target? It’s easy to do. So if the act of visually fixing on the target is a conscious and intentional act that you must remind yourself to do, what is the best mental technique to prompt yourself to apply sharp visual focus through the execution of the shot? Answer: A visual cue. In simple terms, a visual cue is a last minute suggestion or set of instructions you give yourself just before calling for the target. It’s a mental note to prompt you to focus on the target to kill it. “Front half,” “Leading edge,” “see the dome,” “see the rings,” “turn the eyes on” are all good examples of appropriate visual cues. The visual cue is the final element of most pre-shot routines and is perhaps the most critical.
Let the visual cue become a habit, the very last thing you say to yourself as you call for the target. FOCUS!