Bird Hunting photo

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One of my crosses to bear, in shotgunning and in life, is that I possess the attention span of a flea. If I could keep one thought in my mind all the way to the end of a task, I’d be a much better shooter. As it is, I’ll run the first nine targets of an easy sporting clays station, then miss the last when my mind wanders off before the job is done. Similarly, if I had paid full attention when I signed up for the Iowa DNR’s Youth Trap Coaching Clinic, I wouldn’t have thought I was registering for a class in nearby HarPER, Iowa, when the class, in fact, met in HarLAN, Iowa, clear across the state.

After realizing my mistake I called my friend Dave, who I had talked into taking the class with me, and explained that there was a change of plan. Instead of meeting at 7:15 for a leisurely drive to Harper, we’d have to hit the road about 3:30 a.m to get to Harlan for 8:00. Dave is as good-natured as I am scattered. He picked me up right on time, drove the whole way, and got us there early enough to take a 30-minute nap in the car before class.

We spent the morning in the classroom and the afternoon on the range learning how to coach young shooters. One of the many things our instructor Ben taught us was the term “focus through” which replaces “follow through” as the last of the IDNR’s “11 Fundamentals of Trapshooting.”

“Focus through” is a perfect descriptive term for the completion of a successful shot. You may not agree with me, but I believe physical follow-through is overrated in shotgun shooting – no amount of barrel movement can alter a shot charge’s flight once it exits the muzzle. On the other hand, “focus through” — keeping 100% of your attention locked onto the target all the way through the shot until after the bird breaks — is essential. Hard focus on the target is what prevents gun barrels from stopping too soon. Hard focus in everyday life helps you tell the difference between “Harlan” and “Harper,” too.

So: focus-through or follow-through? Which works for you?