Hold Points

Writing articles for Shotgun Sports has made me pretty introspective about my own shooting. I started off my 2014 Skeet Shooting season in San Antonio at The Blaser Skeet Classic. Unlike years past, I did not shoot well, and I struggled to figure out why. I began to try to put together the rationale for my poor performance.

The conclusions I came to were two-fold. One was that I had the early-season jitters. I think everyone has them, but this particular year I seemed to be overly sensitive. I was not smooth at all. I chalked that up to not shooting competitively in several months.

Secondly, I noticed the background varied depending upon which fields I was assigned. The terrain on some fields sloped away, giving the shooter an unobstructed view of the target. On other fields, the terrain rose up in front or the target was in the trees through at least half of its flight.

So here is what I think: You must not let the terrain dictate the height of your gun barrel or the distance your hold point is from the house. Remember, if you are a student of Todd Bender, the proper barrel placement for the high target is at the bottom of the High House window. The Low House hold point is at the bottom of the window except for Low 5 and Low 6, where you should hold your barrel no lower than the top of the Low House window. I found I was holding my barrel all over the place in an attempt to get the target into the sky (attempting to avoid trying to find the target in a cluttered background, normally trees). This caused me to hold the barrel all over the place depending upon the field, thereby counterproductive.

A couple of weeks later, I attended yet another tournament where the background was not optimal for me. I simply don’t see the target well when the trees are close in. As a result, I moved my hold points to a position where I could get the targets into the sky. That was a mistake. Resist letting the background or terrain force you to change either your hold point, both in elevation and distance from the house, or your break point. Increase your focus on the target and try to relax. If you have close-in trees, vary the color of your shooting glasses lens, perhaps purple as that color tends to cut down on the green.

Remember, maintaining consistent hold points is the key to reducing the negative variables which lead to good shooting results. The following are the suggested hold points on the skeet field as per Todd Bender. (Editor’s note: You can purchase Todd Bender’s Championship Skeet and Todd Bender’s Championship Doubles Instructional DVDs through the Shootin’ Accessories catalog section in this issue on page 52 or by calling Shotgun Sports at (800) 676-8920.)

 

Station 1 High House:
Hold down the line of the flight path of the target and roughly 5 feet above the hoop. Look above the barrel.

Station 1 Low House:
Hold level with the bottom of the window 5-10 feet outside the house.

Station 2 High House:
Hold at the bottom of the High House window, along a line parallel with the right edge of the pad to the base line 3 feet out. Todd calls this the “One Third Rule”.

Station 2 Low House:
Hold at the bottom of the Low House window, 5-10 feet out from the house.

Station 3 High House:
Hold level with the bottom of the High House window (1/3 of the way) or 21 feet from the house.

Station 3 Low House:
Hold level with the bottom of the Low House window and 5-10 feet out from the house.

Station 4 High House:
Hold level with the bottom of the window 1/3 of the way out. Hint: The High House shooting boundary marker is roughly 1/3 of the way out.

Station 4 Low House:
Hold at the bottom of the Low House window 1/3 of the way out. Hint: Like High 4, the Low House shooting boundary is roughly 21 feet out from the house.

Station 5 High House:
Hold level with the bottom of the High House window 5-10 feet out from the face of the house.

Station 5 Low House:

Hold level with the top of the Low House window 1/3 of the way out or 21 feet from the face of the house.

Station 6 High House:
Hold level with the bottom of the High House window 5-10 feet out.

Station 6 Low House:
Hold level with the top of the Low House window 1/3 of the way out along a line parallel to the left side of the pad to the base line and out 3 feet.

Station 7 High House:
Hold level with the bottom of the High House window 5-10 feet out.

Station 7 Low House:
Hold down the line of the flight path of the target approximately 5 feet above the hoop. Look above the gun.

Station 8 High House:
Hold level with the bottom of the High House window out to the center stake of the adjoining field.

Station 8 Low House:
Hold level with the top of the Low House window out to the center stake of the adjoining field.

Consistency of your hold points will not only make acquiring the target easier, it will enable the shooter to minimize the reaction time to the targets and smooth out your swing.

If you hold in too close, you will be chasing the target with a very aggressive gun movement. This can sometimes result in going past the target and stopping. Holding too far out will make you wait on the target, causing you to shoot the target later than the recommended target break zone.

My final recommendation is to resist making changes to the basic fundamentals of the game in order to accommodate the changes in background or your shooting inconsistencies. If you are having an issue, get some professional help.

Good luck and good shooting! SS

John Bulger started his skeet shooting career in 1988 at 42 years of age. He shot his first 100 straight the following year in the 28 gauge and since then has broken a total of 239  perfect scores: 90 in the 12 gauge, 77 in the 20 gauge, 54 in the 28 gauge, 10 in the .410 bore, and 8 in the doubles. John has been on 16 All-American Concurrent Teams, 21 Texas State Teams. John has earned both his AA and AAA pins including a 4x50 Pin earned at the Hodgdon Mini-Southwest in 2010. John’s most memorable accomplishments were winning the Briley Bradshaw in 1997, the Texas State 12 gauge Champion in 2002 and the Texas State Doubles Champion in 2011. That same year John was awarded the Earl Barroso Award for winning the Senior HOA at the Texas State Championships. John was also the Senior HOA Champion at the Mini-World in 2010.  During his career John has shot 170,050 registered targets. While he’s had a couple of 399s, a 400x400 is still on John’s bucket list. John served on the TSSA Board of Directors from 1997-1999 and has been a member of the Dallas Gun Club since 1989. John has been a contributing writer to Shotgun Sports since 2013.

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