George, in a comment to a previous post on bowling pin shooting, asked why it is that if the shooter misses a pin, particularly pin one or two, the shooter continues across the pins, making it a longer distance back to the first pin. This brings up the subject of pin shooting sequence and methods.
For practice purposes, I break pin shooting down to three movement groups.
- Group One: From the start position raising the gun vertically, to the shot at the first pin.
- Group Two: The transition from vertical movement to horizontal movement, and the shot on pin two.
- Group Three: Horizontal movement from pin two through pin five.
When you first try pin shooting, you stop the gun movement at each pin, fire, and then move to the next pin, stop, fire, and so on. As your skill and speed increase, you reach a point where the gun never stops moving, with each shot being fired with the gun in motion.
Regardless of the method you use, the first shot is the key to a successful run. If you miss the first pin, or the second, it's tough to recover with a reasonable time. A good portion of your practice time should be devoted to Group One, shooting just that element until it becomes smooth and accurate. Of the groups, it's also the least fun to practice, but it is perhaps the most important.
When practicing, you should concentrate on smoothness of movement and accuracy over speed. Smoothness and accuracy will automatically generate speed the more you practice. Try to find the "groove", where the movements seem to flow together. Pushing for speed will only allow you to miss the pins at a faster and faster rate, and you can't miss fast enough to win!
Don't practice any one movement group too long in any one session, as you tend to get tired of it. After practicing Group One for a while, try adding Group Two to the end of Group One, from the start position come up to the first pin, shoot, then move to pin two and shoot it. This is a good drill that should be practiced regularly. I save Group Three as sort of a bonus practice, since it's the most fun to shoot. If you get group One and Group Two working well for you, Group Three will pretty much fall into place without a lot of work.
One of the keys to successful pin shooting is tempo or rhythm. If you listen to a really proficient pin shooter you will notice that the shots are spaced with amazing precision. Newer shooters will vary faster and slower between shots. Really good shooters will actually accelerate through the run, with the time between pins decreasing across the run. This is really difficult to do at fast speeds, and I am just now starting to experiment with the technique, with mixed results!
OK, you've been doing your practicing, but how exactly should you shoot the pins, left to right or right to left? Like everything, everyone has their own opinions. Initially most shooters shoot left to right, since we are used to doing things that way in this country. For that reason, it may seem faster and easier, although it may only be easier due to familiarity. When practicing, practice shooting both ways. It will come in handy when you miss a pin and have to come back for it.
My personal opinion is that the most effective method is to move in the direction of your non-dominant/non-sighting eye. For example, if you are right handed and you sight with your right eye, I would suggest shooting right to left. Why? This way your non-sighting eye will be looking at the next pin in your sequence, rather than looking at the last pin you shot. This assumes that you are shooting with both eyes open. If you close one eye, it probably doesn't make any difference!
When you get your pin shooting in the groove, it becomes one smooth and continuous motion from the start position through the last pin. Anything that disrupts the rhythm leads to missed pins and slow times. Two guidelines are:
- Try not to disrupt the rhythm.
- Try to minimize changes in direction.
For example, if you miss the first pin, by the time the bullet misses the pin and you know you missed, you are already focused on the second pin. Continue on, maintaining the rhythm and tempo and shoot the rest of them. If you miss another one, continue on, and when you shoot the last pin, then change direction and go the other way, picking them up in reverse order. If you miss the last pin, stay on it until you get it off the table, then move back picking them off in sequence. Whatever you do, don't try to change your game plan in the middle of a run.
As I said before, the first pin is the worst one to miss as it has the potential to cause you the most trouble. If you miss the first pin, the temptation is to change your plan and shoot it again, but to do so, you have to stop your rhythm, move back to the pin, shoot it, then start up again, and move back to the second pin. Starting and stopping, and changing directions, usually leads to missing more pins! The two videos in the posts below demonstrate effectively dealing with missed pins.
And finally, a short discussion on a pin shooter's worst nightmare, the "Train Wreck". First off, don't give up on it. Sometimes two good shooters will both shoot faster than they should, and both end up with Train Wrecks. Every one is different, and there is no easy way to clean one up. If a pin is on its side, try to hit it slightly above centerline, as that will make it rotate in the right direction to roll off the table. If you hit it low, it will get backspin and like a golf ball, try to roll towards you sometimes!
At least, that's how I do it, and what works for one person may not work for someone else. This at least gives you one perspective on pin shooting, and you may well develop techniques of your own that work better.
Happy Pin Shooting!
Labels: Pin Shooting