I have given a lot of shooting advice to a lot of high school kids on our trap team in the past four years. If you threw out 99.9 percent of what I’ve told them, trap can be boiled down to two things: “Keep your head on the stock” and “focus on the bottom edge of the target.”

The former is obvious, since we have all been told forever that your eye is the rear sight of a shotgun. The latter, however, works wonders, and it surprises me every time it does. Looking at the bottom of the target should be wrong because trap targets are rising. But from what I have seen, far more targets are missed over the top than underneath. For whatever reason, people who don’t lock their eyes onto targets usually miss over the top.

The bottom edge of an outgoing target is distinct and easy to see. While I generally dislike the word “aim” in conjunction with shotgun shooting, the saying “aim small, miss small” applies here. If you look at a small part of a target (or the head of a gamebird) that’s what you will hit.

Last night at practice, one of our novices was mostly missing or chipping the few he hit. At first, I could see his barrel slowing as it got to the bird — one sign the shooter is looking at the bead. I told him not to worry about hitting the target; just to look at it. He kept missing, but at least the barrel wasn’t stopping anymore, so I knew he was looking at the clay.

“What part of the target are you looking at?”

“The top,” he said.

“Try looking at the bottom,” I told him.

Then he started center-punching targets until I stopped handing him shells. Shooting a shotgun is easy when you look hard at the target.