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Grip: “Under-grip” to Over-Deliver

Question:

I’ve shot registered skeet for a long time and noticed that some shooters hold their guns like they caught a king cobra while others handle the gun like it’s a new-born puppy.  Other than, “It’s up to the individual,” what do the experts recommend?

Answer:

If I may, allow me to rephrase your question. What “intensity of grip” is best for effective clay target shooting?

Think about it this way. The movement of your body and gun to the breakpoint is directed by the brain and nervous system. The eye, optic nerve, brain, nervous system and muscles of the body all work together to point the shotgun in the right place at the right time to intercept the clay target. Our eye receives the visual imagery, which is then transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain where it is interpreted. Electrical impulses are then sent to the body through the nervous system to guide the hands and body to the target.

In order to shoot your best, I have two tips to put your body in the best posture to receive and respond to the signals transmitted by the brain:

  1. Keep the weight of the gun in the hands. I frequently tell my students, “If you keep the weight of the gun in the hands, you will feel as though you are driving a Ferrari. If the weight of the gun is in the shoulder, you will be driving a lawn tractor.” By keeping the weight of the gun in the hands and leading (pointing) with the front hand, you are much better able to respond to the movement of the target. 
  2. Use equal and moderate pressure on all points of contact throughout your stroke. A shooter has four points of contact with the shotgun: the front hand, the back hand, the cheek ledge and the shoulder. Avoid “over gripping” the shotgun. Imagine a medium handshake: not a death grip but not a “cold and clammy” handshake either.

If the pressure at all four points of contact is moderate and relatively equal, you will be in a much better position to move responsively to the target.

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