Mastering the Mental Mindset

Train your brain to break more targets this season!

All too often we get caught up buying equipment and accessories seeking an immediate fix to our less-than-perfect scores, but the truth is, it’s not so much in the tool itself as it is the person using the tool. One of the most overlooked tools in clay target shooting sports is the human brain. 

If you want to improve your scores, it’s important to stay mentally focused while you’re shooting. Learning to maintain your focus through weather and other distractions while developing your confidence prior to the start of the round will help you make the jump from an average shooter to a great shooter without spending more money.


Weather has, and always will be, unpredictable. However, elite shooting sport athletes across the globe continue to shoot great scores in all types of weather. Olympian Kim Rhode won a gold medal in Beijing in the pouring rain! 

            Top athletes build up their mental focus by pushing themselves to practice in conditions most would be reluctant to. Athletes that are determined to shoot consistently high scores must learn to train and break targets in extreme conditions. Practicing in high winds, rain and other uncomfortable conditions will make you stronger mentally as your mind adjusts to these conditions.


Top squads across the country will tell you that they appreciate shooting with others that stay in consistent timing and rhythm throughout the round. Timing and rhythm are great for helping you

maintain your focus—but what happens if something throws your timing off?

Can you recover from distractions?

There are many opportunities to let yourself become distracted on the line. Maybe the previous shooter’s spent shell is ejecting in your direction, or there is a car alarm going off behind the line. You can’t remove these distractions, but you can limit how much they affect you.

Many athletes wear blinders on their shooting glasses, which helps them focus down range and avoid distractions in their peripheral vision. Others may have special hearing protection with noise-cancelling features. Take a moment to assess what things you find most distracting, and then look for ways to reduce how much they can affect you.


A perfect round begins with the first target. As simple as this sounds, too many good shooters begin the round mentally unprepared—they are just hoping that they break the first target, rather than knowing they will! Great shooters have confidence, and that confidence comes through mental preparation.

As a general rule of thumb, I recommend athletes arrive at their competitions early enough to watch at least two rounds before it’s their turn to shoot. As each target is released the athlete should be tracking the target and envisioning themselves breaking each target. This focuses your mind on seeing, tracking and breaking targets, and builds your confidence before you go up to shoot.

Practicing in all weather, learning to overcome distractions, and developing your pre-round prep system will help you train your brain to break targets on a more consistent basis. More focus and confidence while you are shooting will lead to a more successful season!

Tips: Practicing in high winds, rain and other uncomfortable conditions will improve your mental game.