Friday, September 24, 2010

The Yips

I've heard my golfing friends talk about it.  Suddenly, for no explainable reason, a guy can't hit the ball like he used to.  Can't putt, can't chip, drives go onto the neighboring fairway, whatever.  There's an accident on the neural highway somewhere between brain and beef and there's a casualty.  Worse still, you have no idea where the accident is or how to clean it up.

This always seemed puzzling to me.  How can you do the same thing you did yesterday and not get the same result?  Just doesn't make sense.  Keep in mind I'm not a golfer so all I see is guys who spend hours on the range fine tuning their stuff to the point that it really should be automatic.  They become consistent 3 or 6 or 8 handicaps, respectable performers, and then one day they can't break 90.  I'd understand if they were recovering from hip surgery or a broken arm, but when nothing changes?  I just didn't get it. 

Until it happened to me and my shotgun.  As I sat in the field Sunday morning filling the sky with lead, I couldn't deny that the boxes of shells were emptying much faster than my game bag was filling up.  Had this always been the case I wouldn't have given it a second thought, but not too long ago things were different.  Last season I had a mix of good days and stellar days, at least in terms of how many shells I consumed to get a limit of doves (currently 15 per day in my neck of the woods).  Where a box used to be more than sufficient, now it was pushing two or more.  It finally hit the tipping point on Sunday, the point at which I couldn't call it an "off" day any longer.  Off days only last a day.  This was stretching halfway into the season.

I honestly have no idea what changed.  Eliminate any mechanical issues with the gun and any physical issues with me and you're left with something between the ears.  More than likely I'm thinking a little bit too much about the shot and shooting behind, not swinging through, lifting my cheek from the stock or something equally ruinous.  And no surprise, these things are all difficult to self-diagnose.  So here I sit feeling fortunate that my family doesn't depend on my shooting prowess for sustenance but otherwise generally in a funk.

The fact is that I'm either going to have to plod through this until it corrects itself, which it eventually will after months or years of frustration and having no idea what the problem was will likely reappear further down the road, or I'm going to have to break down and get some help.  I've never taken a shooting lesson in my life, which is actually a pretty lame argument for suffering through a slump indefinitely.  Not to mention that I generally don't like to pay money for something that I ought to be able to do myself.  The reality of the situation, though, is that I can't fix it myself or I would have.  And the reality is that unless I get some help I'm going to be miserable doing the one thing that brings me great joy.  I'll let you know how that pride tastes going down.

1 comment:

  1. You know... it's not the years that get you, it's the mileage. In my own right, I guess I'm resolved to the fact that eventually I will grow less impressive as a shooter than I was in my twenties or thirties, and will likely suffer at the trigger as I get older and less coordinated. On the other hand, now I have the wisdom to know where to look for birds so I no longer have to look all over hell's half acre to find game. I recall many years as a young man burning through boot leather just trying to figure out how see a bird. I guess it's all in how you look at it. Me, I'm just happy to be vertical and still get a chance to see my dogs work.

    Relative to your diagnosis, I took a shooting lesson from Dale Tate some years ago. He drilled something into my head that has stuck with me to this day every time I raise a gun to my cheek, "head on gun, have more fun." Line of sight has to be on the barrel. If you think about it, the peeks are the single most damning habit a guy can fall in to. It could be over simplifying but more often than not, it's the most likely culprit. I'm sure you'll get it straightened out. Great blog!