Now, let’s dive into a very fun topic: Shooting Doubles
If you’ve followed along with Matt and I on social media, you know how much we love shooting doubles. As with any of the three trapshooting disciplines (singles, handicap, and doubles), you know that consistency is key. Being able to dial in your timing while shooting doubles can be tricky, but with enough perfect practice it becomes easy. Unlike singles and handicap where the trap is set to oscillate left and right, doubles targets will always come out in the same location. This gives you a great opportunity to get on that first bird very quickly.
There are a couple typical styles of shooting doubles: The spot-shoot method, the tracking method, and a mix of both.
SPOT SHOOTING DOUBLES
Spot shooting begins with pinpointing a specific location on the path of that first doubles target. Then, when you call for your targets, that first target will intersect with your hold point. When the target gets close to your bead, all you have to do is pull the trigger. There are a couple benefits and drawbacks with this style:
1) The first target rarely has an ability to react to wind/conditions as it’s just coming out of the trap house.
2) Your follow-up time to the second bird is much faster, since it cuts out swing time to the first target. This gives you an opportunity to shoot that bird much like a singles target near the apex in its flight cycle, before it starts to drop.
1) Not every pair of doubles is perfect. Weather or trap problems can throw the target off its normal course. If the target comes out in a different spot than where you are holding, you may be forced to make a quick reaction move, which can be difficult.
2) If your timing or eye efficiency is off that day, doubles can be more difficult as spot shooting relies on your timing and being able to see that first target very quickly.
3) It is very difficult for a one-eye shooter to be able to use this method. Not impossible, but it will take a real commitment to be able to pull it off.
THE TRACKING METHOD
The tracking method is pretty simple. You start with a lower gun, typically at the top of the trap house and come up to the first clay target after it comes out of the house, similar to tracking a singles target. There are a couple benefits and downfalls with this style:
1) If that target does come out slightly different, you’re able to catch that different trajectory and make a good swing to the target, as opposed to having to quickly react.
2) This method allows for one-eyed and/or new shooters to get on the first bird consistently.
1) This method takes more time to get to the second target, as you spend a good deal of time following the first target. You’ll likely be shooting more second targets on the downward trajectory, which can be difficult to compensate for with your swing.
2) There’s more barrel movement to the first target, which can cause a less consistent swing to the second target.
A MIX OF BOTH STYLES
The last option I will be going over is a mix of both these styles mentioned above. This hybrid starts with a bit higher of a gun than the tracking method, but not all the way up to the flight path. Many start just below where they want to shoot the target, make a small movement upward to the target and pull the trigger.
The benefits of this style are:
1) Less reaction to the first bird, so you’re getting on that second bird at a faster pace and able to find more consistency in timing and swing.
2) The ability to catch the target if its slightly off its intended path. Just like the tracking method, this allows you to make a slight movement to where the target is at. Unlike spot shooting where you’re trying to make a quick reaction if the target comes out weird, with this method you’re already planning on making a slight movement to the target.
1) This method can be difficult to master as there is a lot of timing components and hold point knowledge that must be figured out for each station.
2) Possible inconsistency of movement to the first target depending on the clarity and speed of your eyes.
There are tremendous shooters in all of these categories, so don’t feel like you have to master one style because it works for someone else. Figure out what style works best for you, and incorporate that into your recipe.
Since Matt and I both spot-shoot doubles, the rest of the article will be focused on how we shoot them and why:
WHAT TARGET TO SPOT SHOOT FIRST? THE “RIGHT WAY” vs THE “NORMAL WAY”
This has been an age long discussion: What target should you shoot first in doubles, and why? Go watch shooters at a event and you’ll see a majority of shooters shoot the right bird first from post 1-3, and the left bird first on post 4-5. If you watch Matt, he shoots them this way as well. Its simply the most common way to shoot doubles as you’re shooting the straight away target first, which is typically a faster track or spot so you can get to that second bird faster. Another point to add.. trying to shoot that angled bird first definitely comes with its own challenges, and thus, most people don’t even consider trying it.
Why shoot the right bird first? Growing up I shot like a majority of people do, watching and learning from the greats of this sport. However, I noticed myself struggling when I would get to post 4 and 5, as I would shoot the straight away bird first but was dipping my shoulder when I would go for the second angled bird. I tried different styles of shooting, hold points, eye placement, and footwork. However, none of these options ever felt quite right for me, and I would lose birds as a result of the whole process feeling “off”.
This is when I was told to try shooting the right bird on 4 and 5 first. Some of the most talented shooters in the ATA that shoot right birds first, so I figured I’d give it a go. I was blessed to be able to chat with Sean Hawley who gave some great pointers on shooting that right bird first, and after that things started to “click”. Like with every discipline, I had to find my recipe on shooting as I shoot with the dot system for doubles, so it’s technically putting me in the one-eye category of shooters versus two-eye shooting. The biggest difference: there is a lot of specific timing and eye placement components. You’re having to react to an angled bird much faster than a straight away bird. However, I can say with confidence that it cured my “dipping” problem on those posts as now it was a simple straight away I was shooting for my second shot. LOL
Now, another thing to mention quickly. If you’re a one-eyed shooter, you never want to lose sight of that bird behind or under your barrel. One eyed shooters have the disadvantage of not being able to “see through” the barrel like two-eyed shooters can. If this happens, we lose that target for a split second, often creating a barrel jump at the target. So try to be mindful of your hold points; and if you are making a slight move to the target, try to keep that hold point on the leading edge of the target.
In this section I want to dive into some detailed photos illustrating how Matt and I spot shoot doubles. Here I will be providing pictures from post 1-5, as well as the differences between our shooting styles we each have for post 4-5. If you read my first article on footwork and stance, apply that information to this lesson as well. When I step up to any of the doubles posts I want that first target feeling comfortable to shoot. However, I’ll also focus on making sure I can get to, and through, that second target.
EACH POST & WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Post 1: The first thing you want to do is find a specific hold point in the distance of where that target is crossing along the path of where your timing will feel natural to shoot the bird. This hold point can vary day-to-day depending on target height, speed, variant weather, etc… As you can see in the photo, the red dot is that aforementioned hold point location.
What Matt and I do is lock in on that hold point, then drift our eyes down closer to the trap. Once our eyes are in the right location we soft focus our eyes before calling for a target. Once we call for the target, we’re looking for target movement. Soft focusing allows us to acquire and lock-on to the target much faster, giving us the ability to watch that bird float right up to the bead, and once it’s there, pull the trigger. Another critical tip Matt gave me was “Once you pull the trigger on the first bird, don’t pause to watch how hard you hit that first bird. Immediately start moving your eyes to the second target. Don’t worry if you’ve hit or missed that first bird, you cant change it now.”
Post 2: As with post 1, we find our specific hold point location. Once the gun is set and locked in, we drift our eyes down and soft focus just above the trap house. When we say pull, we watch the target come floating up to the bead. Once you shoot, make a consistent swing to that left bird. If you feel yourself swinging over the top of the target, try incorporating a slight dipping or “U” in your swing to help come up to that second target, or be right on it if it does take a dive.
Post 3: As with post 1 & 2, we find our specific hold point location. For us, this is a little further out than post 1 & 2 because of the increased angle on post 3’s first target. Once the gun is set and locked in, we drift our eyes down and soft focus just above the trap house. When we say pull, we watch the target come floating up to the bead. We both shoot the right bird first as we find it easier to go from the right to left (being right handed shooters) for this post. As always, make sure your footwork is correct to get to and through that second bird.
Post 4 (Left target first): Shooting the left bird first (the normal way) is just like post 2, but with flipped angles. Now you’ll be shooting the left bird first, which is the straight away. You’ll want to get your hold point set, drift your eyes down and destroy that target when it floats to your bead. Make sure your footwork is correct so you can now get to and through that second bird. For anyone who is making slight movements to the target, be on the leading edge of that target. It makes for an easier move, and typically for one eyed shooters it prevents any issues with losing that target into or under your barrel.
Post 4 (Right target first): Shooting the right bird on post 4 is NOT difficult. With some practice and learning this hold point’s timing, it actually becomes very easy and makes for an easy move to the second target. Similar to post 3, your hold point will be slightly further out as the reaction time to seeing this bird and pulling the trigger is generally not as fast as a straight away. Be sure to drift your eyes down and soft focus on a location, as this will significantly help you acquire that target faster. You’ll watch that bird come up to the bead, pull the trigger and make a move to that second target. With the second bird be sure to swing up and through the target as it feels like a straightaway.
Post 5 (Left target first): Post 5 is a fun post shooting this way. The target feels like a mirror of post 1 where the first target doesn’t make much of a move before it gets to your barrel. The biggest thing you want to watch is your eye placement to pick up the movement from soft focusing your eyes. Once you destroy that first target, don’t hesitate and move to the second target. Keep watch of your footwork to make sure you can make a good move to and through that target.
Post 5 (Right target first): Post 5 has taken me the most time to understand and perfect its timing. As every trap house is different, you must find a way to learn that distance you need for your hold point.
I shoulder my gun downrange when first getting to 5 before the squad has started as I have a method of measuring out a how far I need my hold point from the trap house. From there I watch the shooters targets in front of me to find the correct height, and my hold point is locked in and set.
Again, I bring my eyes back to the trap house and soft focus. It’s a quick reaction watching the target come up to the bead, but focus on a smooth trigger pull and then immediately start moving your eyes to the second bird. Don’t overswing to that second bird.
To close, everything discussed are things to try. Never feel like you HAVE to shoot doubles a certain way. If you prefer shooting your left target first on post 3, by all means, do it! (or any of the posts)
Doubles can be fun to learn, so have complete confidence and don’t give up if something isn’t working right away. Shooting all right targets first has taken years of dedication, commitment and a willingness to find what I have to do to destroy the clay birds.