Learning concentration through skeet shooting - Major League Fishing

Learning concentration through skeet shooting

October 9, 2009 • Curt Niedermier • Angler Columns

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s backyard shooting trap with my dad. We used a simple thrower like is available from Walmart and shot only for fun. I did the same thing in high school with my friends, and eventually graduated to an actual trap range in college. After about a two-year hiatus, I recently got back into the shooting sports by joining a local skeet club. Most of the members compete across the state and even the country, and they are all talented and more experienced than me. But from them, my love of the shooting sports has fired back up to the point that I can’t keep clay pigeons and double-barrel shotguns out of my easily distracted head.
If you are not familiar with skeet, visit http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=49004 for way more information than you need and to introduce you to the complexities of what should be a simple game.
Skeet has helped me tremendously with developing mental strengths that I can apply to fishing or any task. In my writing, it is often difficult to relay the mental aspects of fishing that so many pros have mastered. While I can explain how to rig a weedless lure, skills like concentration, confidence, determination and discipline are best learned through experience. Those experiences, however, can come from any part of life, like I have learned through skeet.
For example, when I step up to the first and second stations on a skeet field to begin a round, I am focused on the steps I need to take to break the target and can usually hold the focus through the shot. By the time I reach stations three and four, however, I often find myself thinking about a missed shot, admiring another shooter’s shotgun or wondering if the clouds are going to bring rain. When I step up to shoot, lack of concentration causes me to miss as much as, if not more than, poor form and fundamentals.
The same is true in fishing. When I start out a day flipping, I am totally in tune with my casts and lure through the first hour or so. But as the day progresses, my mind starts to wander. I may begin making poor pitches and hang the lure or splash too much. I may miss a subtle bite that I should have felt. Or I end up overfishing each cast and wasting time.
As I progress as a shooter and an angler, I have learned that when distractions work their way into the scene, I can overcome them by slowing down and reviewing the fundamentals. I think about my lure scraping every rock and about the exact place where I want the cast to land. I don’t do it as well as the pros, but those skills come with time. Concentration at least makes my execution better and my reaction time faster.
Another lesson I have learned is one of confidence. When I step to the line to shoot skeet, I know that I will break the target. Of course, I don’t break every target, but before I shoot, I tell myself I will. I believe that I will. In fishing, I have to rely on my experiences and gut instincts and tell myself that if it feels right, it will be right, and I will catch fish.
If I miss a shot in skeet, I don’t dwell on it and take a hit to my confidence. I study the situation and try to determine what I did wrong. Back to fishing, if a lure or area doesn’t work, I think about why, but I don’t criticize myself, which would rob me of trust in my instincts. I try to grow my confidence by analyzing the situation and making a change. I have to believe that every move I make is the right one.
Don’t be afraid to look to other aspects of life to strengthen your mental skills and competitive abilities for fishing. You’ll be surprised where they show up.