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Sharpen Your Focus

A shooter's breathing technique can also help golfers relieve tension

Vincent Hancock

Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

November 2008

Vincent Hancock of the United States (above) won a gold medal in skeet shooting at the Beijing Olympics. Sport shooting like this is one of my favorite activities, and parts of it can help your golf game.

A good example is the breathing method that shooters use to relieve pressure and sharpen their focus. Here's the technique I learned early in benchrest shooting (from a sitting position) with a rifle, and it applies to target shooting with other guns.

watson

Illustration: Steve Karp

When you're aiming, or just before yelling "Pull" at a clay target, take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Then take a second breath, let it out halfway, hold it, and squeeze the trigger. It's a smooth, efficient process similar to what your pre-shot routine should be.

Having an ingrained routine will help you under pressure. It keeps your thoughts positive and focused on the present. Try the shooter's breathing method: Take a deep breath, and let it out; then take another one, let half of it out, hold it, and swing.

THOUGHTS FROM TOM

Here's another key that trapshooting and golf share. I started nailing a lot more clay birds when a coach told me to "Get reckless!" You have to swing the gun past your target aggressively—lead it by enough. The golf swing requires the same sort of uninhibited action. Get reckless and swing past the ball, and you just might find that you hit shots longer and more solidly.

Watson is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Click here for more tips from Watson.

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