Well, I teach that there is two types of practice, and you should never mix the two up. There is skills practice and there is tournament practice. Both are vitally important, and all competitive shooters need a mix of the two. The ratio of one to the other will change back and forth over time as the shooter progresses. Unfortunately, few shooters ever do either of these effectively.
Skills Practice is deciding in advance of arriving at the range, a particular skill that needs to be addressed. Let’s say you have having trouble with rabbit presentations. Then head straight to the rabbit station(s) and get to work. Working on rabbits does not involve all the other stations on the course, you are going to ONLY shoot rabbits today. I don’t care if you shoot 150 rabbits…..don’t distract yourself with the other presentations on the course, or with what your buddy’s new gun feels like on crossers, etc. Go to the rabbit station and get to work. Probably by yourself, or at most with one other shooting partners who agrees to work on the same issue. Stay focused on the task at hand. Just think, if you really solved your problems with rabbits( or whatever the presentation/issue), how worthwhile that afternoon of practice would really be! Maybe it’s working on your gun mount, or footwork between targets in pairs, or your preshot routine….whatever. Working on these issues does NOT involve wandering around the course with your buddies just shooting each station until you are happy (or tired of being heckled by your friends). Go fix one issue, and you will have had a good day’s work.
Next up is Tournament Practice. This is where the rubber meets the road. Again this does not involve a trip around the course shooting targets till you ‘learn them’. Get a score card. If you normally shoot a warm up before a registered round, head to the 5 stand and warm up. Then, either alone, or with a squad that is willing to do the same thing you are doing, hit the course like it is the US Open. No ‘extra view birds’, no ‘do overs’. Rotate the order, score fairly, and move through the course. If you crater a station, deal with it. You cannot stay there until you sort it out…...you don’t get that satisfaction during a tournament. You have to learn to walk away to the next station and get your chin up and figure out the next station. Finish the round, and add up your score. You now have a benchmark. Of course, if you dumped a lot of birds on some station, you can now go back and work on it. This type of round is best done on fresh targets. If your home club hasn’t changed the targets in weeks, drive a bit further and shoot a course you are not familiar with….(and in a nice way, let your home club know that you went somewhere else to see new presentations. Nothing motivates a manager to change his targets like a loyal customer feeling like he has to spend his $$$$ someplace else)....it will be worth the effort.
NEVER mix these two types of practice up. Skills practice will generally put you back into your conscious mind too much for effective subconscious performance in a tournament round. Tournament practice doesn’t allow enough repetition to learn a new skill. NEVER allow yourself to start a Tournament Practice round, get frustrated, and just start skills practice. Finish the round. Otherwise, you are practicing quitting.
How is that for a format of practice to get your season going?