There are several sure-fire ways to keep yourself from breaking clay targets with a shotgun including closing your eyes before pulling the trigger and loading up with slugs—both of which I’ve seen.

A less obvious, but equally effective, technique to lowering your score is to do a bunch of rifle shooting right before stepping up to the line for some trap, skeet or 5-stand. There’s nothing that throws off the mechanics of a graceful shotgun swing as quickly. Get the concept of “aiming” buried into your body’s sub-conscious and have fun watching those targets sail toward the horizon unscathed.

This has happened to me more than once at my gun club where the rifle range and shotgun fields are right next to each other. Every time I go from shooting a rifle to shooting a shotgun my technique tanks.

Yesterday I watched this happen to two of my friends, both of whom are very good shotgunners, and neither of whom couldn’t hit a clay worth a damn after their rifle shooting was done.

But even though I was smart enough not to shoot a rifle beforehand, I still shot like hell. That’s the beauty of shotgunning. If you don’t get thrown off by one thing, there’s some other flaw in your technique waiting to derail you.

As one of my “friends” on my squad told me, “I think your shooting technique is contagious.”

—John Snow