Shooter: X Bully: 0
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By Daniel Schindler, Paragon Master Sporting Clays Instructor and WIngshooting Instructor
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Humbled by the scores of teaching opportunities presented to me over the decades, I’ve come to realize how a few simple solutions answer so many student questions. By simple, I’m not implying the solutions are easy. I am saying, the solutions are not complicated and don’t need to be. Here’s a good example.

Problems typically arise when we attempt to use our skills under pressure. Once distracted – the bully has come into the box with us, a.k.a. fear. A trillion words have been written on how to manage pressure so let’s take a look at the cliff notes

A few words on fear…

Every time a shooter faces fear – what he/she is really facing are the perceived consequences, oft-times hugely exaggerated. Facing those very real emotions, the burden is to stand up under the mountainous weight of expectations we impose upon ourselves.

“To allow our fear to ruin the opportunity in front of us

– even before the gun closes –

guarantees we’ll never get to the score we so much want.”

In plain language, on average, shooters fear missing targets. This is logical and makes perfect sense. No one likes missing for reasons we all understand. The thoughts of negative outcomes typically create turmoil and stress in the shooting box. Worrying about this and that, our attention ratchets back and forth between our misses on the last Station – dreading what might happen to us now – usually landing on the particular consequence we believe will befall us here. In my opinion, said respectfully, as a result of all this, it is we who create this anxiety overload. The fear we feel is not a group thing. No one else feels it – not the shooter behind us or any spectator. Just us. We are now being bullied by our inner voices, the fear we have created.

Here are a few examples of what initiates our fear:

Fear of failure.

Fear of missing.

Fear of not scoring well.

Fear of losing the respect of our friends, and others.

Fear of consequences.

And: fear of the unknown.

All of this is about what we don’t want to happen to us. To worsen matters, we then allow the fear to control how we react. This is the bully – intimidating us – reinforcing our apprehension. While we typically can’t make all this go away – we can move our attention to what we can control. We can decide what to do next, and not allow the bully to control our next move.

Most folks don’t realize they actually do have a choice and are not locked into reacting fearfully. Submitting and surrendering control is a common, natural, instinctive response. In most cases involving fear, people mentally retreat. Folks give in. Once afraid, they let their fear control what happens next. The result: a tense, tentative, “be careful” swing. This reaction, though understandable, was a choice. A decision to submit – to surrender – to allow the fear to control their swing and hope for the best. Which invariably leads to this: 000X0X0X.

Every single time we step into the shooting box, we are presented with an opportunity. An opportunity that will forever and always contain risk. Which brings us to the old adage: no risk, no reward. Please consider these questions very seriously. Are you willing to risk the shot outcome? Are you willing to risk the consequences of missing – the unknown? Are you willing to let go and unconditionally TRUST your best swing here?

If you want your very best chance to break the targets in front of you – take a breath and take control over what you are doing. You decide. Don’t let the fear decide. Accept whatever you are feeling and charge ahead with conviction. Mean it! Choose fight. If we choose flight – then the bully wins and we lose.

To allow our fear to ruin the opportunity in front of us – even before the gun closes – guarantees we’ll never get to the score we so much want. Where we end up on the scoreboard later will be decided by the decisions we make and what we do right now. Don’t back down from the bully. Let go of what “might happen,” reach inside and let’er rip! Don’t forget – the risk is already there for every person who steps into this box. A scared, half-attempt will only give us what we feared would happen. The rewards we all want are waiting for us on the other side of the door marked Unknown. There’s a Truth!

“There can be no discovery without risk.

How can we ever learn what we are really capable of if we don’t take the risk?”

Spring has sprung! Be safe and I hope to see you out on the course.


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About Dan Schindler

Dan Schindler is one of only 60 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 & 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 Schindler's Books

 Yes, Dan's books help you take the MYSTERY out of missing targets and help you quickly learn steps to shoot more CONSISTENTLY!  Order Dan's 3 books NOW!

New Release...Take Your Best Shot (Book I), 3rd Edition is THE Gold Standard Primer...

and is all about the fundamentals, a requirement for good shooting. This book is used by high school and college shooting teams, recreational and competitive shooters from around the world. Solid, valuable, concise information that has helped thousands of shooters shoot more consistently with higher scores.

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' life's work as a teacher, competitor, published writer and much more.


A few Facebook comments Dan Schindler's Books:

Don N Lisha Sante Got my three book set. Read book I and can’t put book II down. Can’t wait to apply all I’ve learned tomorrow now that the rains gone.

Steve Powers I got my copy about a month ago. I’ve read it twice, cover to cover & reviewed the sequence of steps multiple times. Good Book.

Jim Butler I've read my copies twice now and it has absolutely picked up my game. Joined a sporting clays league this spring. Increased my top score by 7. Thought them to be expensive at first, but now find them extremely valuable now. Thank You !!!

Telford Scott Great book !! Simple steps with great results!!

Randall C. Burl Best investment a shooter could make!

 David Parks Received mine yesterday and have one chapter left to read. Can’t wait to get to the range and practice the new techniques I have learned. Now I feel like I have a system to work with instead of shoot and hope.

Bill Fibelkorn Called the number on their website, ( leary of ordering through Facebook posts) and Mr. Schlinder himself answered the phone. One of the most pleasant people I have ever talked to about anything. Whenever I get a chance to get down his way, I am going to get in touch with him to shoot. Got my books this weekend, read the first one and it reminded me of the basics. Just started on the second one, going to keep reading them over and over. The best reading you have for shooting clays.

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