By: Paul Giambrone, III
All too often I will see shooters taking a step when they are finishing a shot or throwing their arms towards the target and making them off balance. When we finish the shot, both feet should still be on the ground and you should be perfectly balanced! This helps ensure a good rotation, sets you up for a solid follow through and puts you in great position when you start shooting doubles. Think about some other sports that involve a swing. Tennis, baseball, and golf are some of the ones that come to mind. When you are finished taking a solid swing at any of those, you are still balanced! So, why would shooting be any different? It shouldn’t!
When I step on the station, one of the first things I do is set my feet to the correct foot position, but I am also checking my weight distribution. Not how much weight is on my lead leg (right-handers that is your left leg, left-handers that is your right leg), but where my weight is in my feet! The majority of my weight is in my heels, not out on my toes. Do I have some pressure on my toes? Sure! But the majority of the weight is in my heels. When you have your weight in your heels and you turn/rotate with that foundation, you are setting yourself up to make a very solid and clean rotation with the target. Not to mention, you can generate a lot of power from your heels to keep up with the faster, more aggressive shots. Shooters that are out on their toes, especially your non-lead or back foot, the tendency is to push or lunge with that foot, causing the rotation to get out of sorts and therefore the gun speed is compromised. I have seen someone poke in front of the target, poke the gun over the target, poke under the target or lose gun speed and miss behind the target! All from the non-lead or back heel coming off the ground!
Right-handers have a tendency to raise the right heel off the ground on their low house targets while left-handers have a tendency to raise their left foot off the ground while shooting their high houses. I see so many problems from this one item! And guess what, solving the problem sounds easy, but once that habit is ingrained, it is one of the most difficult ones to break. If you can’t keep it down (including in your follow through), try taking two whole targets and putting them under your toes or the front of your foot (the non-lead or back foot) and take some shots. Now, before doing this, make sure you are being 100% safe and check with your other squad members first. When I am working with my students, I’ll put the front of my foot under the front of their non-lead or back foot and tell them not to crush my toes when they take the next shot. What either of these solutions do is force the shooter to get their weight back in their heel and forces them to make their rotation with both feet firmly planted to the ground.
Lastly, weight distribution. You should have more weight on your lead leg than your back leg. When you keep your weight in your heels it may force you to bring some of that forward weight to your back leg. That’s ok, as long as you still have the majority of the weight on the lead leg. The key here is all about balance and helping you make a cleaner rotation when you shoot! If that weight distribution is either 60/40, 70/30, 80/20, so be it. Just make sure it stays consistent around the field. Meaning, you aren’t 60/40 on station 3 and then 80/20 on station 6. Personally, I am around 70/30 because that is all my left knee can take after having two knee surgeries on it! The key is to find what is comfortable for you and keep it consistent.