ASK BEN!

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Ben Husthwaite answers your questions about anything Sporting Clays!

Do you suck at certain targets?  Need some sporting advice for your shabby style?  Want to know how a pro does it?  Here you can ask all of your deepest, burning sporting clays questions to World Champion competitor, target setter and shooting instructor Ben Husthwaite.  Just fill in the form below or send an email to askben@internationalsportingclays.com and we’ll publish all of his sage wisdom and Jedi mind tricks for you here.  Please indicate if you would like your name withheld.

Keep an eye out here for your answers.  Also visit Ben’s website for his instruction schedule.

Question:

What type of targets do you shoot in practice? Is it all hard targets or do you shoot some easier stuff to get dialed in?

-Jake

Answer:

All depends on what I’m practicing for and who is setting the targets!  I would try to get as near to your competition targets in practice as you can.

-Ben

Question:

Do the top sporting clays shooters, such as your self, bother to carry shot size nine for mini’s, or do they mostly shoot eights and tighten up some? Do you believe there is a benefit to shooting 7 1/2 size shot as opposed to eights on skeet style targets at approximately 25 yards?

-Wayne

Answer:

I don’t know a top shot that carries 9’s!  However, I shoot mostly 8’s and 7.5’s for sporting!  Golfers use different clubs so I use chokes and two shot sizes for the advantage!

-Ben

Question:

There’s been a lot of talk on choke "brands".  The question I have is this.  When you compare the top tier chokes say, top 5 brands, is there really that much difference?

-Scott H

Answer:

I think all peoples opinion would vary.  I chose Briley before being sponsored. Their back up service and quality is second to none! Remember, a choke is only as good as the quality of shell going through it but I do believe there are differences and it depends on what you are looking for.  Even patterns, center density or other etc.

-Ben

Question:

Would you elaborate on what your pre shot routine consists of?
Thanks in advance.

-Reid

Answer:

It’s a set of rules covering all the important parts. Controlling everything, leaving nothing to chance or unplanned and as you have probably seen, helped both (U.S.) national champions this past year. [Ed note. This is probably all you'll get out of him until you book a lesson.  It will be time well spent.  If you haven't already, read the 2010 NSCA Championship article for more insight.]

-Ben

Question:

Do you train for an upcoming shooting season?  If so, what do you do?

-Jake

Answer:

Because I take a lot of time off during the winter, I come back and train hard!!! Mostly on basics and decisions making, hold points, hand matching target speed and kill points etc.  Just trying to get the timing back.

-Ben

Question:

I have suddenly not been able to hit long teal, 40 yards, falling.  I was shooting them with a sustained lead and I have been practicing the pull away.  I have tried shooting them with sustained lead, just can’t hit them anymore.  I can hit them at the top or when they first start falling, but after they pick up speed I cant hit them.  Same shot I use to smoke.

-Joey Graves

Answer:

Without watching u shoot its hard to comment!  Pull away for me on droppers is the best bet.  This may sound weird but  turn your head to the side and look at it as a crosser and decide what lead you would see, then apply this lead as a dropping target!! That’s how I do it.

-Ben

Question:

Hi Ben I am a B class shooter in English Sporting and use a Remington 3200 trap gun choked full & full. I also have a model 1100 semi-auto choked full, do you think I need to open my chokes?

-Mervyn

Answer:

Er, quite simple, the answer is yes.  I know of no competitive shot that would chose to use this combination.

-Ben

Question:

My gunfit is good, but most of my misses I believe are because I slightly overshoot the target.  How do I change the POI to make my shot go lower?

-Dennis

Answer:

If your gun fit is good then its a visual problem!  I would hazard a guess that your gun (comb) is too low and you’re lifting your head when you shoot causing barrels to rise!

-Ben

Question:

Whats the best way to stay mentally focused on every station on a whole course or for a two day shoot?

-Jake

Answer:

I think we had this question before!  I teach a pre-shot routine which is quite basic but very very important!  Without this in your bag mental fatigue will set in and also when the pressure comes on the effects will escalate.(See question from "Age" below.)

-Ben

Question:

How do you prepare for a long strech of highly competitive shooting? The Worlds are in Texas May of 2011. There is another huge shoot the very next week. How do I get ready?

-Breeze

Answer:

Physical and mental fitness is key and also not to over practice.  I would train hard 2 weeks before, then the week before the world, I would lighten up!  Working hand speed and method etc!  Then after the world, do one day on things that were wrong.

-Ben

Question:

Any advise for the aspiring target setter?

-Scott

Keep it simple and please the majority. Don’t try something new in competition, its an art form, a job of balancing everyone but also splitting the pack. Look easy but shoot hard is what I like to achieve.

-Ben

Question:

Throughout a day of shooting, I’ll run into patches where my focus and concentration on the target wane and I’ll start missing an extra bird or two when I was running stations. How do you keep that strong mental focus on target without going to "autopilot"?

-Age

I use a very extensive pre-shot routine, it’s something I teach in my lessons and something the top 3 in the world do! Its keeps your mind occupied in the now.

-Ben

Question:

My son would like to know how can a young adult break through the big money barrier to compete? How does a young adult find the funds to be at the shoots and compete when they have the talent but not the funds available to travel, practice and compete? Especially the ammo for practice. Any thoughts? Advice? Ideas?

-Carolyn

It’s a question I get asked a lot. It’s very difficult to break into the sponsorship circles, sometimes its not because you’re a good shot but what you can give back. When writing letters tell them what you can do and always write monthly updates to your sponsors to keep them informed, but above all just keep striving and work hard. Just write nice letters asking to be allowed into the bottom of the sponsor ladder and work up.

-Ben

Question:

I know it’s a popular view especially in sporting to choose 1 or 2 chokes and use them for everything. I lean more toward using all my chokes making sure of yardage, using multiple loads. What is your view?

-Breeze

"I’m in full agreement I change chokes all the time, even between singles and doubles on FITASC.  I promised myself I would stop changing chokes when Tiger Woods uses only one club!"

-Ben

Question:

Will an autoloader ever win a world title in Sporting Clays or F.I.T.A.S.C. and why?

-Anonymous

No reason why not! It has already won a silver! Remember its not the arrow its the indian!

-Ben

[Editors note: Around 1991 a gentleman by the name of Duncan Lawton won the World FITASC title over Stuart Clark and George Digweeed shooting a 1/2 choked Remington 1100.]

Question:

How do you approach battues that have a fair amount of distance and speed?

-Bobby

As you probably know this target is usually always missed due to lack of lead!  There are 2 parts to this! If you imagine that 40% of people will break this target and 50% of people will be behind it, I’m going to make sure I’m in the 10% that miss in front and generally you run into it!  As a method I mount under the target by the amount I feel is the right lead for where I will take the shot.  Then I swing perfectly straight (not high to low) to the huge lead that I have envisioned! Its harder to explain than show!

-Ben

Question:

I just upgraded from a Browning Citori 28" Field Gun to a Berretta 32" 682 Gold E.  Problem, I shoot right handed and am left eye dominant I’ve trained myself on the Citori but am seriously confused with the new Berretta. I keep looking at the barrel and not the bird.  Whats the best way to handle the eye issue?

-Dominic Trower

This will be a 2 part thing.  Have you tried the easy hit sight?  This would be my first suggestion.

-Ben

Question:

Can you expound on how shooting a target below your feet requires a different stance/technique than one whose path is higher?

-Dana Farrell

I try and keep my stance and posture the same, only bending at the waist and lower back!!! There fore keeping tension out of your hamstrings and allowing me to swing a flat line not my body rolling up or down towards the end of the swing, and with the gun I just swing under the targets flight line !! Hope this helps

-Ben

Question:

Should shotguns be dry fired? A bunch of us old guys are just taking up Trap and Skeet in our golden years. Some of us think it is ok and some of us say it harms the gun in some unknown way? We value your thoughts on the subject.

-John Amos

I have always been instructed not to dry fire on inertia triggers but mechanical are fine. I’m no expert in this matter though!

-Ben

Question:

Two long crossers with overlapping trajectories have me cross eyed. The targets are left to right with the closer of the two about 30-35 yards and probably 50% faster than a skeet target. The second bird is about 50 yards out and actually passes the closer bird. The targets overlap briefly and scotch doubles have happened. The more distant bird has me baffled. I can break it occasionally but the barrel/target relationship never seems the same. I will apprcaite any suggestions, observations or hints that you can offer.

- Ken Schafer

Well trying to coach blind my advice would be to decide which of the targets makes an easier second shot!  If you can comfortably take the back bird and continue on to the front bird, therefore keeping the gun moving in one direction, do that.  When you have chosen this technique, shoot them as singles in the chosen break points gradually moving onto to a true pair. 

Things to look for…if you can keep the gun moving in the same direction, it’s always a plus!! Is one bird higher so its always in view?  But as earlier stated I always chose my shots as to which is going to make an easier second shot, the hardest thing on the pair you describe is letting one go and waiting for the other, the singles practice will help this, hope this helps.

-Ben

Question:

A couple of days ago I was on a shoot -off for the third place of a competition. We were shooting simoultaneous doubles and on the second double they had a very fast, left to right crossing standard target but at close distance (25 yards) and a very low fast quartering away standard also from the left.

My opponent shot first and hit both targets. While stepping in the hoop my instinct told me to shoot the crosser first. Before its trajectory crosses the trajectory of the other target (just like we shoot a skeet target before the middle flag) and then turn to the going away bird. However logic prevailed, that says never experiment during a competition and I shot the lower going away target first. I missed the second target. However this thought of "what if…" has stuck in my mind since then and I wanted to ask you weather in such moments is it good to trust your instinct rather than shooting logic and shooting training habbits?

- Konstantinos Tsaparas

I would never try anything I have not mastered. My aim would be to use my usual hold point routine and kill the targets where they are clearest if my opponent had hit the first pair and the pressure was on and this is the deciding factor.

- Ben

Question:

I noticed that among the 8 parcours you recently set in Tennessee, there was not a single rabbit target. What’s the deal? (and I’m not complaining, just curious).

- Jack James

I won’t set a rabbit unless it will be 100% consistent and as you could see from the terrain, this was never going to happen!  So, I took the choice to not throw one!  If someone had lost the shoot due to a rabbit stopping or jumping it would not have been right, everyone should get the same birds!

- Ben

Question:

I have trouble with leads and am trying to find a method that works for me. I use the lead at the bird most but would like to try using the barrel lead but cannot seem to see it. What can I do to help myself with this problem?

- Glen King

Hi, a good question!  If lead is causing you a problem I would suggest going to the pull away method, this will guarantee you that the gun will be speeding up at the moment the shot is taken!  As for lead at bird or barrel, in my experiences you can either do one or the other, if you see it at the bird don’t fight this just go with it !

- Ben

 

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