Are shooters born or made? It’s some of each. By way of illustration (and to give me an excuse to brag about our high school trap team) let me tell you about the top shooter on the Iowa City West High trap club. Bryce (pictured here) just won the annual High School Shoot at the Cedar Falls Gun Club in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He beat a field of 330 by breaking 50 straight, a feat that has been accomplished fewer than five times in the 26-year history of the shoot. He is a great kid and we are all proud of him.
Back to the “born or made” question: Bryce had hunted a lot and was already a good shot when he joined our club although he had never shot targets. He had the habit of closing one eye just before he pulled the trigger and of riding targets for a split second to make sure of them.
We got him to keep both eyes open and to pull the trigger the instant he was on a bird. The rest of his success has been the result of his own abilities and a lot of rounds through his gun.*
Having watched Bryce and a lot of other kids learn to shoot trap in the last three years, here’s what I think it takes to become a good shot:
1. Eye-hand-coordination. Mostly, you’re born with it.
2. Attention span. Again, you’re born with it, but you can develop what you have.
3. Listening to your coaches and learning from them how to diagnose your own mistakes so you can practice good habits, not bad ones.
4. Love of shooting. You have to be absorbed by it.
5. Lots of time and money to spend on practice.
So, born and made is the answer. Not everyone with the natural gifts to be a shooter puts in the effort, and not everyone who puts in the effort has the natural ability to be good.
*Beretta 682. Although I don’t think higher-end guns are necessary for success at this level of shooting, I do believe clay target games are much, much easier to shoot with a gun that shoots slightly high so you can see the target over the gun instead of blotting it out.