It certainly helps if you keep a game book. When I first started shooting, I didn’t record every outing I went on in a journal - a failing I now regret. I can still remember my first-ever pigeon like it was yesterday but most of the details are lost in the mists of time. Which is a pity.
Keeping a diary of events the highs and lows - allows us, from time to time, to review all the important aspects of a day’s shooting. This in turn, enables us to improve elements of our own performance and to refine aspects of the days when we have the ability to exert the necessary influence to do so. The principal focus of a day’s shooting is, naturally, the shooting itself. We can consider this in terms of our own contribution to the day, the team’s performance as a whole and then address the quality of the sport on offer.
In relation to our own performance, there may be purple patches, where everything within a considerable radius just folds up in fine plate glass window style and plummets to the sward below to await collection.
There may also have been drives where the proverbial barn door could have swanned past with no particular urgency and never had a moment’s concern while doing so.
What was the difference? Was it the same gun, the same cartridges or even the same coat? What was your footing like? Were you on plough? On grass? Or stood on a pallet beside a roaring torrent at the bottom of one of those famous Welsh valleys?
Were there trees? In the distance or all about you? Did you have a lot of time to watch the birds as they approached or were you snapping them as the flitted through the upper reaches of the wood in which you were planted?
All of these things, and more besides - like exactly how much of that delicious red infuriator was consumed the previous evening, if we are completely honest - will have an impact on your shooting and if you want to get better at it these are the issues that must be addressed. Make a note of the best moments of the day, and the worst. Take the notes with you to a trusted instructor over the next few months and work on those aspects of your shooting that have let you down.
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