Perception Versus Reality
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By Daniel Schindler, Paragon Master Sporting Clays and Wingshooting Instructor, Coach & Mental Trainer
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When an entry-level shooter decides to work with me, I can almost always count on his or her open mind and eagerness to listen. That's because from their perspective of "why did that just happen," they have little or no experience to fall back on. X's and 0's are a complete mystery. That's OK of course, and very much understandable. Underway enthusiastically, instruction is received and implemented with little if any resistance. Predictably, student comprehension and progress accelerate rapidly. Here's a common, subtle difference with a more experienced shooter in a lesson. XXXXXX. We're off to a good start, yes? My student's thinking, "Darn right we are! I smoked those targets!" Well, let's slow up a second and consider why he's here today. It's not because of X's, it's because of those all too frequent, mysterious and frustrating 0's.

Please understand that my student can break targets with a "less than ideal" swing. As can we. Standing behind him and watching each swing very carefully, the swing errors are quite obvious. To me. But not to him. And why would they be? At the very least, in the shooter's mind, every X forgives the swing error. At worst, the X refutes the error. But it's the missing that's the real reason for him being here with me today. And when the errors are pointed out, I can see the glint of doubt in his eyes. After all, remember, he just watched XXXX. The problem is, X's can easily divert our attention from what is really happening in our swing. Really happening, not what we think is happening. As already pointed out, a swing with errors can break a target. But – and this is key – not consistently. That's where the 0's are coming from. That's where our inconsistency comes from. Said very respectfully, please stop listening to folks behind you telling you where you missed the target. The question begging to be answered is WHY? What went wrong in your set-up and/or your swing? Before the trigger pull? A competent Instructor must see and know why, what the swing error was, specifically. Without that information, having just missed the B bird and a new shell going into the chamber, what are you going to adjust to make sure the B bird breaks on this shot?

Top shooters can't afford to trust perceptions. They have to know what they are doing in each and every swing. Reality, not perception. If a swing error occurs, they will see it and correct it with the very next shell. That's how they come out of the box down only 1 target, not 3 or 4. If the target does break, they will see that too. No, not just the break, but what they did, specifically, so they can now repeat the successful swing. Thanks for stopping by. Be safe and I hope to see you on the course.


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About Dan Schindler

Dan Schindler is one of only 50 worldwide members of the Guild of Shooting Instructors (UK) and is one of the most highly respected Sporting Clays and Wingshooting Instructors in the US. Dan is an NSCA Level III Instructor (since 1995) and founded the Paragon School of Sporting with one goal in mind. Whether it be for the advanced competitor or providing the basics to the entry-level shooter, Paragon provides the simplest, most practical and most effective Instruction, Coaching and Mental Training for the Sporting Clays, Skeet, Trap & Wingshooting enthusiast. Dan Schindler helps shooters alleviate a lot of their frustration by taking the mystery out of breaking targets, calling their own misses and make their own corrections. Lessons are fun, enlightening and our clients learn to shoot better in minutes! Dan teaches locally at River Bend Sportsmans Resort in Inman, SC.

Dan Schindler's Books

Shooters from around the world read Dan's books 2, 3, 4 or more times and refer back to them often. These three EXCELLENT books - Take Your Best Shot, To The Target and Beyond The Target take the MYSTERY out of missing targets so you can shoot more CONSISTENTLY!  Order Books!

Newest Release...Take Your Best Shot (Book I), 3rd Edition is THE Gold Standard Primer for shooters of ALL skill levels...

Solid, valuable, concise information that has helped thousands of shooters shoot more consistently with higher scores. It provides the steps and succinctly lays out the fundamentals required for good shooting. This book is used by recreational and competitive shooters...high school and college shooting teams from around the world. 

To The Target (Book II) Builds on the steps outlined in Book I. Emphasises Gun Management skills when the trap fires, creating a consistent, reliable, trustworthy swing.

Beyond the Target (Book III) is for shooters of all levels, filled with valuable information, clay target truths. Entertaining and a culmination of 3+ decades of Dan's life's work as a teacher, competitor, published writer and much more.


"Take Your Best Shot is the best clay and wingshooting shooting primer on the market that I have ever seen. The brilliance of its simplicity aids in getting across the correct messages for successful shooting for ANY clay/wingshooting shooter, let alone a new shooter. As a master instructor, founder/Head Coach of the Jacksonville University Shooting Team (a national championship program), and JU faculty member, Take Your Best Shot is standard reading for ALL of our varsity shooters. Dan has managed to capture the basics beautifully, and he has placed them in an easy, simple-to-follow, witty presentation. My students love the book and read it time and again. Highly recommend, no matter what your level of shooting experience and expertise."

David T. Dobson, M.B.A.

Paragon Master Instructor

NSCA Instructor, Level III

NSSA Instructor, Level III

Mark Engen These three books are a must-read for all clay target shooters. They are clear, concise, logical instructions on how to shoot clay targets and how to improve your scores. Taking a lesson from Dan would be very advantageous & help hasten the learning process. He has been my instructor for 15 years. With each lesson, I always come away amazed at how much I have learned & how my scores improve. 
He also emphasizes how important it is to practice regularly & stay with his advice & recommendations to really learn new skills to improve your scores. He has helped me tremendously & I highly recommend him.



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