In the beginning…
I caught up with clay shooting later in life, after spending most of my life riding motorbikes I was looking for something safer to fill the weekends.
My interest started not long after meeting John and Scott Barnett at Mickley Hall shooting school just as they had started full time with the ground. John had a strong history in the sport at the England level also being British Open champion at Double rise. Scott at the time had moved from a junior career in Trap to taking on the sporting world. Scott is now a 7 times England badge holder, being a former White gold challenge champion and a Perazzi Grand Prix champion.
John and Scott have taken me from a none shooter to AAA in English sporting in a very short period, the facility and knowledge they have allowed me to consistently improve, their experience has been an invaluable resource in the development of the SP also.
Early progress in my shooting saw me make the Cheshire team in my third year and some minor wins including a summer series win at Mickley Hall winning the final to pick up a 12 gauge shotgun and a winter series win at Doveridge in my class (B at the time). After the early success, I was inspired to push on to find my limits, soon I had progressed to AA and my average was sitting at 85% but I had hit a plateau.
Stepping up to the next level
Still being coached by Scott the plateau made little sense and became a frustration, like most I have plenty of commitments away from shooting and often an excuse was found. It wasn’t until an England selection shoot that I was able to pinpoint the inconsistent form.
A testing day was ahead, a 2.5hr drive and an England selection shoot at Westfield, this wasn’t going to be an easy shoot but I shoot clays well at range and was looking forward to the challenge.
To get my eyes off the road I set about a few goes on the pool shoot which had a healthy accumulator prize of £1500, 2 soft misses saw a 23 ex 25 posted. I fancied my chances of taking the straight but I had the main shoot to get on with.
The day started well, but quickly deteriorated, the weather was perfect with sun and a light breeze, my shooting though was inconsistent – looking back it was certain stands in particular driven, high simo incomers, low incomers and sitting crow style targets. My shoot had come apart in a spectacular fashion finishing on a 69 ex 100 a long way off my average and current form.
I headed back to the pool shoot to try and salvage something from the day – this then rubber-stamped the day with a dismal 14 ex 25. Still confused and now annoyed I proceeded to try and hit one 40 yards hanging clay with no success, only on the last shot did something click – I then closed my left eye – bang a ball of dust then another and another-so I opened the eye – nothing. My left eye was shooting the gun not my right eye.
I hadn’t lost hope, there are lots of options out there. I shoot gun down both eyes open so I set about all the options. I found none complimented my shooting and I wasn’t prepared to make a drastic change, I neither had the time or resources. Lots of testing followed and my eyes were still predominately right dominant but would switch to left on certain shots on certain days but never consistently. Every option seemed a compromise on my style, I have always focused on the clay – well at least tried and this was becoming difficult as the left eye got involved. I have now altered to centre vision 100% of the time.
Time for a fix or it was a new hobby
As I am a qualified Mechanical Design Engineer, I have prided myself on beating every Design and Engineering problem I have come across, my work has taken me to Europe and back, from Aircraft to Prestige Automotive brands. I saw this as just another problem that needed a solution.
The mantra in my industry is KISS Keep It Simple Stupid, this will hold you in good stead to solve most things – if it’s getting complicated, look at it again from another angle.
The SP breaks cover
I looked at how the eye and brain worked together and if there was any scope to control this process. After researching science journals I noted a number of scientists had shown that your eye will react to stimulants. Though only proven in the lab I set about proving this in a real situation and in 3D, the previous testing had been via 2D stimulants.
Initial testing had an immediate effect on how I could position the gun – I was able to position the gun with accuracy and lose the correction that I was doing – this also allowed a smoother quicker mount as I had more confidence in the positioning.
Early prototypes created an immediate change and as the shape was refined and confidence grew it was becoming clear that I now had control over which eye created the shot picture. I still had 2 strong barrels in my peripheral vision but now I was placing the gun time and again with my right eye.
Shooting the SP
As I had always shot with 2 eyes open the journey to realize the SPs potential was just about trusting the shot, By keeping the focus on the clay and trusting the shot I was now seeing balls of dust consistently something I rarely did before. I also found I had more time with the clay and my shot options seem to increase – were as before I had to manage a shot I was now seeing the clay and shooting the clay with my scores going up and up.
My first season with the SP and only full season saw my average lift 3% to 88% I moved up to AAA, I won my first shoot and carded PB after PB eventually hitting a 98 ex 100. I picked up a Bronze in AA at the Prelim shoot at the World Championships and followed that with a Bronze at the British Open Sporttrap in A class, along with 3 county titles it was my best season by a huge margin.
The extra mile
I experienced the impact of the SP first hand but I wanted to take on a number of shooters to give me black and white reviews on the SP and what it could do for their shooting, the list of local volunteers wasn’t short they had witnessed first hand my progress and wanted to see what the SP could do for them.
The testing has covered multiple shooters and disciplines and the shot count was well over 60K when I decided we should move forward to a full product. The SP is a new way to deal with your eyes but using established forms of shooting.
The SP has now been independently tested across the World and articles have been written on the impact on shooters, there is a lot more to follow with the SP as we are only just beginning but the evidence is hard to ignore, with wins from club to the World stage across multiple disciplines the future is looking good – and I can enjoy my shooting again.
Once you are aware of the SP you only need to focus hard on the clay, get your techniques and lead right and the clay will break. (please always have you gun fit checked and POI – both barrels, before trying an SP, the gun has to be pointing where your eyes are looking).