A Life Lesson from Shooting | Eclectic Cake: A Life Lesson from Shooting

Saturday, 28 December 2013

A Life Lesson from Shooting

Inspired by the brilliant Amber Hill, this year's Young Sports Personality of the Year, I decided to give clay pigeon shooting a whirl. Afterall, how hard can it be? At just 16 years old, Hill is the Great British number one and ranked number five in the world. But after a couple of hours at A1 Shooting Ground, it turns out that, of course, she is incredibly talented – shooting is HARD!

Amber Hill – Young Sports Personality of the Year, 2013

Even after tuition and a few demonstrations, I spent the first half an hour randomly shooting at the air, guessing where the clay disk would be and only hitting the twigs of nearby trees. It was still fun to fire the rifle and, as my first try, there was no pressure to hit anything  I was reassured that this was quite a hard course, favouring smaller, olympic sized disks rather than the dinner plate sized beginner ones. But if we were after real pigeons, I'd be going home very hungry.

Then, everything just clicked. I worked out where to look down the rifle for good aim, to be patient when taking a shot and to follow the disk as it flew through the air. SMASH, I hit one! Straight in the middle – the sweet spot – scattering shards of clay in all directions. It was so satisfying to finally hit the target and reach my aim to get just one out of 50 shots. Anything over this would be a bonus.

Having hit one, though, of course I wanted to hit more. I shouted "pull" for the next disk to be fired into the air, as I tried to follow exactly the same line and do as I'd previously done. But now I was concentrating on the wrong things. My arms were tense and my mind was focusing on what I had done, not what I was about to do. I was over-thinking everything and making it too complicated. The clay whizzed by without so much as a scratch.

On this wintery December day, the rain had fallen and the wind had started to pick up speed. As the next 'pigeon' was sent skywards, a gust blew it out of the usual line of fire. Keeping the rifle next to my cheek, I quickly followed the wayward clay. As it had taken me by surprise, there was no time to think about where my hands or feet should be, I just lined up the gun and shot.


Instinct had taken over and I stopped trying to duplicate my previous shot. The unexpected direction of the target had forced me to stop over-thinking and get on with the task in hand. My performance certainly benefited – I nailed 11 shots out of 50, most of which were redirected by the wind.

So when things take an unexpected turn, let instinct kick in. Your 'co-pilot' has been trained for these situations and you may just find yourself better off.

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