I such a bad flinch when clay shooting that sometimes I can’t even pull the trigger... help!

Q: Over recent years, I have developed a fairly regular flinch when clay shooting, which often leaves me simply unable to pull the trigger - which can be very exasperating! Is there anything I can do to reduce the frequency of it happening?

DON BRUNT replies: Unfortunately, there is no single 'magic bullet' for solving this frustrating issue and there are several factors that can cause it. In some cases, it can be caused by a fear of recoil and that can be caused by a poorly fitting gun, an excessively thumpy choice of cartridge or fundamentally poor gun mounting.

In addition, it can be as a result of lack of confidence and a fear of missing the target, whereby the brain is looking for what it feels is the perfect place to pull the trigger and when it doesn't think that has occurred it is subconsciously reluctant to pull the trigger and cause a miss. Another possible cause can be noise and the body's fear of it when the gun is fired. This shouldn't really be an issue for clay shooters though as there are very few who are foolish enough to shoot clays without proper ear protection.

I don't know what gun or cartridge you shoot, but I would be tempted to switch to a lighter load (i.e. 24g or 21g) and try something with a lower muzzle velocity as that will help reduce felt recoil. If that doesn't work, it might be worth trying a gas-operated semi-auto, which would also help soak up recoil. Make sure your gun fits you as a gun with a stock that's overly long, short or with a comb that doesn't allow you to see down the rib while keeping a good connection to your cheek is probably giving you a bit of a beating.

If it's down to a fear of missing, work on your confidence and ensure that you already have a comprehensive plan when it comes to taking the shot. Run through the shot and visualise what you expect to see, the start and finish points of your swing and the gap you expect to see. If you start the shot being sure of what you intend to do, there's a lot less opportunity for doubt to creep in.