Quick Links to Bob's Topics
So you finally get serious about shooting doubles and get some instruction and begin a practice routine and all of a sudden your normally consistent singles game becomes erratic and somewhat unpredictable... I know this happens because it's happened to me and at least a few of my students and fellow shooters.
So lets look at some of the probable causes and cures for this troubling symptom...
The best singles shooters I know (I'm not one of them...) are very deliberate shooters. They have a disciplined setup and pre-shot routine and are not noted for shooting targets exceptionally fast. Which, in my opinion is the best possible way to shoot great singles scores! If you watch any of the All-American shooters (Like Harlan Campell, Kenny Darroch, Nora Ross or Lou Ann Munson)...and I mean watch the shooter not just the targets break...you'll see every shot looks like an instant replay of the last one! No rush, ...see the target, ...identify the shot, ...move the gun and ...make the shot. Sootball! Repeat. They have all worked for many years to refine their technique to this level of perfection. Believe me its no accident.
So you have done something similar and have been shooting very good to excellent singles and now it's gone to heck in a hand basket and you're wondering why? What makes a great singles shooter and what defines a great doubles shooter are two completely different things. The deliberateness of the great singles shooter has to be replaced with a seemingly reckless abandon to shoot great doubles! (The great PA shooter, Frank Little, said he does not see the first target in doubles break when he's shooting his best... his eyes move to the second target as soon as he commits to the trigger on the first shot!!). This is not an uncommon thing. It took me a while to learn the technique, but it was well worth the effort!
Here again the All-American (all around great) shooters have figured out how to make the transition mentally from one game to the other. Yes, it's all in your head! (Most of this sport is...) You are trying to break that first doubles target faster than a normal singles target and you have succeeded in doing so...but this same speed is near impossible to duplicate on the oscillating 16 yard targets! Most folks speed up their singles after beginning to become reasonably proficient at doubles. This is where it goes into the crapper! One must make the mental gear-shift back to the more deliberate move that made you so successful at singles in the first place. How do we do this?
• Practice. Singles practice is not everyone's favorite. But, in order to maintain a consistent set up routine and a more deliberate approach to the target, practice is imperative!
• Define your personal set up routine. Write it down...memorize it and own it. Now on the practice trap go through it on every shot and be aware of the timing. Do it exactly the same way each time until you feel its automatic.
• Once you call for the target, DO NOT MOVE THE GUN UNTIL YOU SEE THE TARGET! Doubles shooting over voice releases tends to make us anticipate the target. It's not going to outrun the shot from your gun, so take the couple hundredths of a second to get your eyes on the target! It will dramatically improve your singles (and handicap) scores.
• Remember that the two disciplines are exactly that...two separate and different games with different and separate pre-shot routines and mental approaches. Try shooting targets in your mind and go through the complete setup routine and shot (of course you never miss doing this!) Try to make your singles shooting smooth and a little deliberate. The first target in doubles should be fairly fast and a tiny bit reckless... in other words, don't dwell on the shot. See it and shoot, get your eyes to the second target as fast as you can and let the gun barrel follow your eyes.
With this approach you can now work on each game and perfect your technique. To win those HAA and HOA trophies you have to shoot all three disciplines well. Good luck with this and most of all have fun! Remember that the journey to a goal should be as much fun as reaching the goal itself.
Shoot well and often!
Grease and oil, answers to some slippery questions....
I know, I know, it's a terrible pun and title for a blog...I just couldn't help myself!
During the course of the year, we handle hundreds of shotguns belonging to us and our customers. Some are sent to us to sell on consignment and others for simple repairs or shipping to their respective manufacturers for updates or repair. While in our posession, we inspect them for obvious (and not so obvious...) flaws and items needing attention. On of the most common issues, other than dirt and grime, we encounter is improper lubrication of the guns.
In many instances I am looking for the grease fittings on the gun because there is so much grease packed in there I can't imagine any other way to get it all in there. Other times its like looking into the Sahara desert...not a drop of grease or oil anywhere! Both instances are harmful to your fine target guns and can cause irrepairable damage as well as some potential safety issues!
Ok...so what do you do?
There are dozens of lubricants, greases and CLP's (Cleaner-Lubricant-Protectant) out there. Most of which are more than adequate for target shotgun and hunting gun use. I prefer synthetic lubes and some are even biodegradable. We carry the Gunzilla line of CLP and its what I use to lube and protect all my firearms where a grease is not warranted. It cleans and protects against rust and corrosion better than any I have used thus far. For my auto pistols it is absolutely the best as it is not greasy and won't stain my clothes when I carry one in a holster or belt. It does a great job on shotgun barrels getting out plastic and carbon. All our display guns, which get handled by our customers, get the Gunzilla treatment. its on our website...check it out!
Grease and heavy oil. There are some points on all guns where grease or heavy lubricating oil are necessary. Break open O/U shotguns need a small dab of grease on the hinge pin(s) and cocking cams. Shooters using release triggers with hooks need a very slick oil to make sure they don't hang fire. SLIP-2000 is the choice here. They make a very good grease which comes in a large needle like applicator. This is perfect for getting just the right amount to the spots that need it...as opposed to the "cover everything" method! The SLIP-2000 oil is the very best I have ever used for release trigger hooks and hammer sears. It stays put and provides a very slick surface coverage even under extreme pressures of hammers and sears. We have these on the website as well!
Remember, a little goes a long way when it comes to lubricants. If you have questions about a particular gun send me an email or give me a call and I'll be happy to help.
Shoot well and often!
How to run a National Championship:...
To digress from the saga of the Fabarm combo, I thought you might like some impressions from the Sporting Clays Nationals in San Antonio.
David, our IT Manager and I went to San Antonio to attend the NSCA Nationals. Talk about an impressive shoot! Over 2300 registrants during the week long event, shooting Sporting Clays, FITASC, 5 Stand, Sub-gauge events and special gun events! Non stop action from 7:30 am. until 6:00pm. every day!
The targets on the course were set to National Championship standards, which meant you have to bring your best "A" game if you expect to win a trophy or place in one of the many events. There were lots of shots 40 yards and further and the FITASC course was very humbling to say the least! We went down to watch the Master Class 5 Stand for a while...holy cow!! Fast tricky targets and long crossers...the shooters seemed to have little difficulty breaking those tough targets.
The Top Gun Shoot off was awesome! Under the lights the best shooters in the world were breaking targets and pairs of targets that mere mortals would not hit even by accident. Speed was not the real issue...they used midi targets thrown slowly and at about 35 yards to fool the shooters. The tough ones were falling targets at about 35-40 yards..in pairs! Lots of "lost-dead" and "lost pair" calls there.
Our EZPull and TARGET MANAGER systems were received well by the club managers and owners who were looking for ways to control costs. Shooter convenience is the best reason for this technology but it also provides a serious measure of target inventory control for Sporting Clays, 5 Stand, Trap and Skeet.
Overall we had a great trip to San Antonio. If you are a Sporting Clays Shooter, I highly recommend you make the trip at least once. Nice town, plenty of hotel rooms, lots of good restaurants and the shooting is terrific!
We'll get back to the Fabarm Axis Trap gun saga in the next issue... until then, shoot well and often!
The saga continues...
We left our heroine on the tracks of the B&O railroad with the train bearing ....oops wrong saga.
The Fabarm Axis combo and I seem to be getting along nicely. After checking the impact point on the O/U barrels and determining they both shoot to the same point, I set up the impact to 90/10 and have shot about 700 doubles targets with them so far. Scores have been from 94 to 98. I'm writing this from the Missouri Fall Handicap and managed a 96 yesterday including a 50 on the second trap. I like it! The gun moves very smoothly to both targets and the #2 (Light Mod) and the #7 (IMP Mod.) absolutely toasted the targets using light 1oz. 7 1/2's for both shots. At this point I think I'm just going to leave the setup right where it is.
During the last couple weeks since my last blog, I have been working with the single (un-single 34") barrel. The first job was to pattern it and find out where it was shooting. No big surprises here, the barrel shot dead on the horizontal axis and with the rib set at its top notch in the front, it shot 3 inches high or 60/40.
To begin shooting clays, I set the rib to 80/20 or 9" high and shot a few targets from post 3. I had the #9 (OMG Full!) and it appeared to me that I was on the bottom side of the targets. I then went to 90/10 and that seemed somewhat better. I backed up to the 27 yard line and shot about 10 targets with the same setup. I was not centering the targets or hitting them consistently as hard as I thought possible so I bumped up the impact point to 100% high and the lights came on! Holy cow! The #9 choke tube absolutely eviscerates 27 yard targets using factory AA Handicap 7 1/2's! My patterning results with the #9 choke were pretty scary...it had a great pattern but very tight even for 27 yard handicap...it would roll them up like a 16 yard target. Useful for finding where the gun shoots but in my opinion a bit tight for daily use. The #7 choke still breaks the target very hard but gives you a little room for a slight error in pointing the target.
My handicap scores with the un-single have been in the low to mid 90's thus far. The gun moves very smoothly to the target and I typically take 2000-4000 shots to get dialed in with a new handicap gun. This is about as different (in price and type of shotgun) from my Silver Seitz as you can get...but I feel the gun is a great shooter and an excellent value for a shooter at any level of proficiency. I am conviced you don't need to drop $15,000.00+ to play this game well and have a state-of-the-art gun as well.
I'm at the Missouri Fall Handicap this week so I'll get some real-world targets under my belt with the Fabarm Axis. I'm looking forward to seeing how this gun performs in the longer term and if any issues arise. The good news is Fabarm has (as part of Caesar Guerini...) a fabulous support system and gunsmithing facility in Cambridge, Maryland. I don't really anticipate any problems, but its nice to know the factory is there to help if one develops. Their customer service is second to none and we have experienced minimal down times for our customers who have sent Fabarm or Guerini guns in for repair or adjustments. David Olin, my IT manager and I visited the repair facility last summer and were VERY impressed with the whole operation.
Stay tuned for more adventures with the Fabarm Axis trap combo. Thank you for reading my blog and looking at our web site. Your comments are appreciated, feel free to email or call anytime.a
Break 'em all!
A new adventure begins...
I actually had no intention of trying a new gun...really. However, I was thinking a little about my doubles shooting and how my trusty MX-10 was working out and I thought maybe some changes to the balance point would help a bit as the gun always seemed a bit muzzle light. The simple solution is some lead tape on the underside of the barrels and a little experimentation to find the right amount of weight and the best place to put it. Basically an afternoon at the range with the lead tape and a field set up for doubles.
With a barrel light or muzzle light gun, it's easy to get the gun going to the target...it's also easy to stop or slow down the barrel...and that's what was happening. I was pushing the gun through the bird too fast and then realizing I was out in front and trying to slow it down or make a correction. At best, that does not work. Hence, the lead tape day...
While at the Grand American, the folks at Caesar Guerini and Fabarm had a extra used demo Axis combo set. I picked up the O/U and it felt really good. I asked them if i could try the gun and they said I could "borrow" the gun for a while and see if I liked it. Sure, why not? Then I got thinking about how many Caesar Guerini and Fabarm guns we sell and the fact we tell people how good they are. My thought process got me to the "better put your money where your mouth is" adage... and since I had been looking for some fodder for the blog anyway...what the heck...let's shoot a new gun and go through the process and describe what I do to set up a gun and begin to shoot it. Hopefully, you the reader, will benefit by my descriptions and anecdotal comments.
Step one: The initial setup.
Since both the un-single and the O/U have adjustable ribs to alter the point of impact, (POI), and there are 5 choke tubes to select from, a little time at the pattern board is in order. First the chokes. I started with the O/U and selected the #3 or IC choke for the bottom barrel. Fabarm chokes throw very good patterns and the IMPROVED CYLINDER compares very nicely to the .015" choke in my MX10. I shoot the first bird relatively fast and that has served me well so in it went. The top barrel got the #7 or Improved Modified choke. Again it compared very closely in pattern density to the .028" constriction choke in my P-gun.
Setting the POI was interesting. I set the O/U rib to what the book said was 90/10 or about 12" high at 40 yards and it seemed to work fine right away! I adjusted the comb to a tight figure 8 and went out and broke a 47. Not bad. The gun moves well and using light 8 reloads broke the targets with authority. (When I did my part!) If I run into some high targets I just add a 1/16" washer under the comb and blast away. The next 100 targets were a 48 and 47 so l'm reasonably sure I'm on the right path. Another 1000 targets and I think the Fabarm Axis and I will be getting along just fine.
Next blog soon...I'll go through the setup of the un-single. Hope you find this interesting and informative. Shoot well and break 'em all! Bob
The Future of Gun Clubs
There was a recent thread on Trapshooters.com about all the gun clubs which have closed in recent years. I was somwhat amazed at the number. Many, of course, closed due to urban sprawl. Others just seemed to fade away...sometimes not that they are not being used...they simply lost money and closed.
I talk with all kinds of gun club owners and managers every day as part of my job here at Target Shotguns, Inc. We sell a lot of different equipment to them and service a lot of their equipment. During my discussions with them I ask some questions like "How many targets do you buy every year?" and " What is your target loss percentage?". Inevitably, the most successful club managers can almost tell me to the target how many they buy, how many they throw from each discipline and what their loss percentage (targets not paid for..) is. The clubs that are on the fence financially are also almost always on the "honor" system or have no idea what inventory management is all about.
As an example, a modest sized club throwing 375,000 targets a year having tight controls and making money will have a target loss in the 6% range. Amazingly they are still not being paid for 22,500 targets! However if those targets are budgeted for in the cost of a round of trap, skeet, sporting clays or 5 Stand, the clubs are in fact getting paid for them...just indirectly as a cost of doing business added to the shooting fee.
Take the same club with NO target management (inventory control) and the unpaid target average will typically jump to about 17%! Now we are talking about 63,750 (That's right! sixty three thousand, seven hundred fifty!!) unpaid targets. 41,250 more unpaid targets than the club throwing the same number of targets with a target management system in place. With an average price of a target at $.10 each....that means the club paid out over $4000.00 more for targets AND, more importantly, did not receive another $4000 in revenue for the club! Now, I don't know about your club, but I'll guarantee you that mine could use another $8000 in the bank at the end of the year! Thats a new PatTrap, 1/2 the cost of building a new field, 3 new Sporting machines, a complete 5 stand management system or even one heck of a Christmas Party!
The point being that in today's world, gun clubs have to be managed like a real business. ( You don't think WalMart or KMart have loose cost and inventory controls...) Keeping the doors open on small clubs is the key to surviveability of both the clubs and the shotgun sports in general.
We offer a complete integrated RFID card pay system called TARGET MANAGER. It allows your club members to pre-pay for their shooting. Your club has a record of the transaction on a computer log with the easy to use software we provide. Your guests can be issued a pre-loaded card in exchange for their car keys or driver license and they can settle up when you read the card after they shoot.
Members and guests swipe their card on the reader at the shooting venue they choose and the appropriate number of targets and a couple extras are deducted from their card and loaded into the Target Manager on the field. When they are through, the "extra" targets that are not used will disappear in a few minutes after shooting stops and all the "paid for" targets are used up. The system will not allow more than 8 - 10 targets as extras in the "bank".
Sporting Clays shooters simply put their card in the slot on the Target Manager and shoot the station. As each target is thrown, one target is deducted from the card. Of course pairs will deduct 2.
If your club is loosing targets or would like a simple fun way to increase profits, give us a call or send us an email. Check out EZPull and Target Manager on this website. We're here to help and we can make your club profitable again!
My old friend, Terry Jordan, makes one of the best practice tools in the shooting business. He makes a large banner like wall chart that allows you to practice trap shooting in your basement or garage by dry firing at the targets on the chart. It looks just like one of the trap fields at Sparta and allows you to swing to the target and "see" the lead and dry fire. There are small dots to the left or right of the target to give you an approximation of the lead you'll see when shooting trap.
Terry developed the chart while looking for a way to keep his trap shooting game sharp during the winter months in his native Ontario, Canada. It tends to be cold and nasty most of the winter and his shooting practice was limited at best. Many All-Americans use and endorse his chart, including Harlan Campbell!
As the weather begins to turn cold I hang up my chart in the basement and begin to set up a 15 minute a day routine mounting and dry firing my trap gun (and my doubles gun...) so when I show up at the Dixie Grand in January or the Southern Grand in March, my guns don't feel like alien creatures in my hands. Even during the shooting season I'll use the chart for a week or so prior to a big shoot to enhance my actual practice and keep a fine edge on my shooting skills.
There are three important things to consider when opening up a retail store...location, location and location. The three things most important to your success in competition shooting are ... preparation, preparation and preparation!
I have suggested in prior blogs how to go over your equipment (guns, glasses, etc...) during the off season. You and your body are part of your equipment as well so making sure you are ready to shoot both phisically and mentally are just as important as maintaining your guns! So use your winter down time wisely and dry fire your gun at least a couple times a week. Mentally shoot some trap targets while you are resting...you never miss! Work on your setup routine when you dry fire and stay accustomed to handling your guns.
Have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas season and thank you for reading my blog.
In case you hadn't noticed...sporting clays and 5 stand have really taken off in the shotgun shooting community. I'm still a trap shooter first and foremost, however I really like the other games to help keep my gun handling skills sharp. 5 Stand, in particular, is not only a lot of fun and can have some very serious targets but it takes about the same amount of time as a round of trap. For me this means I can sneak out of the office for a couple hours and shoot and be back for the afternoon calls etc...
I put one of our new EZPull 5 Stand controllers at my local club. WOW, what a cool thing! We can have true report pairs, following pairs and true pairs just like real sporting clays. The built in programmable time delays make for some real interesting (...difficult to hit...) pairs! The controller is totally wireless and the traps can be either hard wired or wireless in any combination. We can also tie in the Target Manager RFID card payment system to it so your club has a good handle on how many targets are being thrown!
The system will control up to 8 traps and has 3 modifiable programs for a 6 trap layout and 3 more for an 8 trap layout. In the manual mode you can throw any target or combination of targets by simpley pressing the numbered buttons. A flush can be thrown by pressing random buttons until the appropriate number of targets has been released. Great fun!!
Clubs looking for extra revenue that don't have a 5 Stand are missing the boat on this one. Give us a call and we'll be happy to help you set one up at your club.
We are getting ready for the Missouri Fall Handicap and will have he new Zoli Trap Combo guns there along with some demos. Looks like we'll have some great weather again in the long term forcast and I'm looking forward to seeing all our friends there and cooking up 800 or so hot dogs on Thursday evening! Come an join us for the fun and the shooting.
Last but not least I want to thank all of you for a great Grand American. Our business was good and it was so great to see all our friends and customers who come and visit. I actually shot a few good scores (not good enough...but good.) this year. Lynn Gipson has done a great job as new Executive Director of the ATA and he and his crew did a great job organizing the new computer system.
That's all for now, shoot well and enjoy!
On To Sparta
Missouri to Minnesota to Maine and on to Sparta...
It's been a while since I have written a blog. Sorry to those who read them faithfully. I really do appreciate your comments and the fact you spend your valuable time reading my blogs. Thanks!
Lots of new stuff happening since late spring, we were vending out at the Missouri State Shoot in Linn Creek in mid May. The numbers were down a little bit, however the weather was OK and the folks were friendly and happy as always. We cooked about 500 Hot dogs for the shooters on thursday night and they raised some more money for the youth program with the miss and out after the hot dog roast.
We got the first demo gun of the FABARM Axis trap combo and had an opportunity to shoot it on the practice fields while in MO. I am truly impressed with the gun and its capabilities. It "feels" good in your hands and points easily. Dennis Taylor, my cohort in mischief, and I shot it at 16 yards and Handicap. (27 yards). The IM choke vaporized the singles targets and the Full choke tube put the fine grind on the 27 yard clays. We were using Federal light 1 1/8 oz #8 for singles and Winchester Super Handicap 7 1/2's for the caps. I felt the recoil was light to average with the single barrel and Dennis agreed with me. My personal gun has a recoil system on it so I moan and groan about any gun with a wood stock...this one I could shoot though. Dennis, who says I am a wuss, felt the recoil was very manageable and felt about the same as his tricked up Caesar Guerini combo.
We didn't get the opportunity to shoot doubles with the gun... however we did do some pattern work with it and found the POI to be consistent with what the owners manual states and the patterns with the choke tubes were as good as any we have tested in the past...and better than some expensive guns. The Axis shares the "Tri-Bore" system with the XLR5 guns and they shoot very consistent patterns. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to shoot some doubles with the O/U at the Grand. We'll have some demos there so come and shoot one! We have some Axis guns in stock and they are ready to go! Call us for some great intro pricing!
Next came the NC State shoot. We had some great weather this year and the numbers were up a bit. Shooting at Bostic,NC was as good as ever. I managed a couple of doubles trophies for my efforts and am pleased with that! Dennis Taylor won a bunch of trophies too using his Caesar Guerini combo. I think he won about 6 Veteran titles...good shooting Dennis! We are shooters here at Target Shotguns. If you have a question about a gun, we can help. I have a former World Sporting Clays champion as an instructor here as well as an All American Skeet Team member to help with skeet questions. We want to sell you the right gun the first time! Call us and ask, we are here to help.
On to Minnesota... Why, you ask? I have been working with an electronics design engineer there on some completely new integrated voice release systems which can include wireless target management. These systems are ready to go for Trap, Skeet, Sporting Clays, 5 Stand and FITASC Sporting and Super Sporting Clays. They can be used with or without a RFID Card reader system. Clubs needing complete target management systems now have a single source... Target Shotguns, Inc...US! We will have all the systems on display at the Grand American. Come visit and take a look at the future! Made in the USA!!
Now it just so happened,(my wife was not convinced of the coincedence...) that the Minnesota State Shoot was on the same weekend as my planned visit to Minneapolis! So, since we have many good customers in Minnesota, I felt obligated to attend the State Shoot in Alexandria. What a great shoot! The folks were friendly and the targets great. Mark Zuahar (sp?) an and his buddies cooked up some of the best food I've ever had, I even won a few bucks with a 50 straight in Sunday's handicap. If you haven't been to Minnesota, put it on your bucket list of places to go! Oh, one more thing. Innterstate 94 runs directly in front of the trap line, don't say "pull" when one of those orange Schneider trucks is coming by!!
My wife, Janet, and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this August 4th.... Which happens to be right before the AIM shoot at the Grand. OOPS... Now, I have been promising her I'd take her to Maine and eat all the lobster she wanted for a long time. Time to make good on my promise and go. We did and had a blast! I did get to visit our friends and customers at the South Berwick Rod & Gun Club.They were really suprised to see me, and I was delighted they were so pleased with their new Canterbury Wireless trap systems.
Leaving for Sparta for the Grand American this Saturday. Hard to believe this is my 35th Grand. Please come and say Hi if you are in Sparta! We'd love to see you. That's all for now, shoot well and thanks again for reading the blog and visiting our site.
Reloads and other mysteries....
OK, ok I'll admit it, I like to reload. It's kind of like my wife Janet's crocheting...I relax while I reload and it helps me unwind after a busy day.
That being said, should you consider reloading or not? It's a great hobby and if you have the time to devote, it can be productive, relaxing and rewarding. You also have to be a shopper and snatch up any deals on components and empty shotshells. If you wander into your average sports store the retail price of components (+ tax) will usually equal and sometimes exceed the cost of new shells. I go to a few large shoots where vendors have shot, powder, primers and wads at near wholesale pricing. I'll stock up on whatever they have that's a good deal.
I generally shoot new shells at registered handicap and save the empties. That's my primary supply for shells to reload. Some of the big clubs will just about give you boxes of empty shells after a shoot so you can stock up there too. The Remington Gun Club shell is a very good shell to reload and the cost of new ones is about $60-$65 a flat. Most often I reload STS or Nitro27 shells. They produce great loads and can be reloaded multiple times.
What to use.:
Primers:. I have found little difference in primers other than some failures in the Noble Sport 209's. They are ok...I just don't trust them enough to use for registered targets...great for practice though. Most often I use Fiocchi primers which for all intents and purposes duplicate Winchesters. Use the correct loading data for the primers you choose. The only downside to Fiocchi's is they are a tiny bit larger than Remingtons or Winchesters...so if you go back to them after loading Fiocchi's you may find the primers are a bit loose.
Powders are another subjective area. I happen to like Green Dot for handicap loads and Solo 1000 for singles and doubles (trap) loads. They seem very close to factory shells when I use these components. For skeet and sporting clays I use a 12 ga. 1 oz. load with Solo 1000. Velocity is around 1210 fps. and it patterns well with both 7 1/2 and 8 shot. The "Clays" powders are very clean burning and those of you who use autos will find cleaning a snap when using these. Choose one you like and stick with it!
Factory (Rem., Win, and Fed.) have gone out of sight in the last two years...so, I switched to Down Range products wads. Their DR-XL Blue 1 1/8 oz wad is all I use for the heavy loads and the DR-XL1 for the 1 oz. stuff. They pattern great, are generally available and priced reasonably. I find they leave very little plastic In the barrel which is nice when gun cleaning time comes around! One other note, the wads mentioned above have a bevel on the wad apron to slide over the base cone in the newer Winchester AA red and dark silver shells. It makes loading these shells a whole bunch easier.
Shot.: I prefer Magnum shot or hard shot if I can get it. That said...I got about 8 bags of reclaimed shot from Silver Dollar Trap Club this past spring and loaded it up for singles and doubles practice and it worked just fine. Handicap loads or long range loads for sporting clays I would use Magnum 7 1/2. Lawrence brand is some good stuff and I'm sure there are others which will perform equally well.
Most importantly, be consistent with your reloads. Find what works and stick with it! Use only published reloading data, weigh your powder charges and don't rely on charts. Changing powders and recipes often will lead to problems. Reloads are lot like computers...Garbage in....Garbage out!
Hope you found some of this helpful! Shoot well and often,
All athletes understand the idea of fitness as it is the basic engine for any athletic endeavor. To be "fit" is a very different measurement in many sports and fitness can translate to a need for endurance, stamina, strength, mental focus, etc. When it comes to your eye, having a fit eye is the fundamental key to performance of eye function. A fit eye is the one that is capable of providing critical focus and attaining heightened visual aptitude for sporting performance.
The eye must be able to react quickly to register visual targets.
The eye must be able to focus with critical accuracy.
The eyes must be able to maintain focus without diminishing performance over time.
Your glasses or eyewear can be tuned to register different pieces of the visual color spectrum to enhance performance. In other words you'll see the target better with certain colored lenses.
Target Shotguns now stocks the PILLA Zeiss shooting glasses!
To create a perfect visual instrument for sport, and analysis must be made of how to train the color for a competitive advantage while managing for the existing lighting condition.
Pilla's Zeiss lenses are tuned individually using the best of science as well as very specific modeling of various lighting conditions.
I have personally tried the Pilla Zeiss lenses and I'm really impressed with their performance. For those of you who do not need prescription lenses we have plain lenses in stock in all Zeiss colors.
For those of you that require a prescription, Pilla has a unique interchangeable lens system where your prescription lenses stay with the frames and you simply change colors of lens to suit conditions. If your prescription changes, you simply purchase a different set of clear lenses and put them into your frame. You no longer need to purchase a complete set of multi colored lenses.
Call David or myself at the shop for further information on Pila eyewear
Shoot well and often!
Unlike the Pennsylvania rodent who prognosticates weather, I'm just getting ready for the 2013 trapshooting season to begin. Ol' Phil has a batting average around .500 when it comes to predicting weather. I would rather be 100% certain that I'm ready for the spring season by doing some preparation now!
Planning the shooting year.
I'm fortunate as I'm able to head to Florida for the Dixie grand in Mid January. This really gives me a head start on the shooting season with some interesting Florida (Silver Dollar) targets. I can get a feel for what I need to be working on for the upcoming season. I take some serious notes during this shoot so I can review my performances and remember any issues when I return home . I concentrate on things like pre-shot routines, visual setup, target acquisition and the all important mental game.
Using a few notes helps me get back to the mental state I was in during the particular event I am mentally reviewing. I make notes of the temperature, wind and lighting conditions. What color lenses I used. The squad I shot with and any other pertinent data which helps me assess my performance...good, bad or mediocre.
After the Dixie Grand, I get out my yearly calander and start choosing the major shooting events I plan on attending for the next 10 months. Some, like the Southern Grand, NC State shoot and the Grand American are automatic. Others depend on where the dates fall and our business schedule. I usually make about 7 major shoots a year. I also hit a few local ones to keep my game sharp and support the smaller clubs near my home.
By having the dates for the competitions ahead of time I can schedule my practice time more efficiently. I can work up to a big shoot with increased emphasis on any one or all of the events. I don't generally spend a lot of time on 16 yards...but before a big shoot I might add a few rounds of practice into the routine. I spend an extra 15 minutes each day on my Terry Jordan Wall Chart the week prior to a major shoot as well...this can really pay big dividends!
So don't be a groundhog and wait in your burrow for 6 more weeks of winter! Start preparing now for the upcoming year. Get busy on your wall chart with dry fire exercises and plan out your shooting year early. Shoot well and often!
OK...So its Winter....
Some folks look forward to winter...not me. I don't really consider clay target shooting a winter sport. (Unless I'm in Florida or Arizona at one of the winter shoots there!) So what does a clay shooter do when the weather is cold and snowy outside? Well, I know some of you go shoot winter leagues etc.., we don't have any of those around here and the few nice days we get I'm out there shooting.
All during the shooting season I do routine maintenance on my competition guns. They get cleaned and oiled between each shoot and wiped down before being cased. However, winter provides us with the time to really break down our guns and thoroughly clean and inspect them for any signs of wear and replace things like recoil pads and beads.
I find that recoil pads get worn and hard after a season or two and are not all that dificult to install if you have a bench sander and a bit of patience. You can save yourself $50 or so if you do the installation yourself. Since you have plenty of time in the winter months time is not an issue so do a good job! There are a couple of YouTube videos that give easy directions on pad installation. Here is one for you to cut and paste on your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ak4YeXEN5FI
Of course a lot of you reload. I take this time to really do a careful cleaning of my reloader and my reloading bench. I seem to accumulate a lot of "stuff" during the year that I don't really need, a lot of it gets tossed and the rest put away neatly for future use. My reloader is a PW that's at least 20 years old. By doing the annual maintenance on it I have never had any down time or serious breakdowns. Heres a tip for you PW loader users...Jim Skeel (firstname.lastname@example.org) makes absoulutely the best replacement hoppers for PW (and other) loaders. He advertizes them on Trapshooters.com. I purchased them from him recently and what a beautiful job he does! Well worth the expense and the powder no longer leaks from the bushing wheel! Check out the picture...
Winter is a great time to use a "Terry Jordan Wall Chart". I have mine set up in the basement rec-room and try to dry fire with it at least 5 times a week for 15 minutes each session. (We sell the charts, just give us a call and we'll arrange delivery to your home address. $150.00 + postage) Follow the directions with the chart and you will be truly amazed at how easy your shooting skills will bounce back during the early spring if you keep up your dry fire routine. Terry lives in Canada and comes to Florida during the spring and shoots amazing scores...guess how he does it...he uses his wall chart during the Canadian winter to stay in "shooting shape". So does Harlan Campell, Drew Waller, Brad Dysiner, Paul Shaw, Phil Kiner and Chris Vendel...pretty good company to practice with!
Get some exersize during the winter! Walk, shovel some snow, rake leaves, clean the garage. Don't sit around watching football on TV and expect to come back to shooting 300 targets a day. Dry fire with a barrel weight in your gun. Easy to make with a piece of steel rod glued into a empty shell. Wrap the rod with masking tape to prevent scratching your barrel. If you make one that weighs about a pound and use it a couple times a week to dry fire you'll keep the muscle tone you built up during the shooting year. Cheap and simple and believe me it works!
The Staff and I here at Target Shotguns, Inc. hope all of you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. We appreciate your business and hope you enjoy my comments on the blog.
Shoot well and often!
Watching shooters practice...or rather observing them... can be a learning experience in itself. I spend a lot of time doing this in the hopes that some form of enlightenment will come and help me with my shooting and give me an inspiration for this blog. By the way, I really appreciate the comments from you, the readers, good or bad, it inspires me to continue and to do my best to improve the content so you, hopefully, benefit from my ruminations.
Last week at the local club I was shooting practice with some folks I had never shot with before. Although they were all pretty good shooters, the pace was such that I felt if I dropped a shell I'd lose my turn! Pull-bang, Pull-bang, Pull-bang.... Then me............. Pull bang! I think we shot the round of singles in some sort of record time! After which I felt like I was letting the squad down by shooting at my own pace. Which, if what my usual squad mates tell me is true, is not slow.
The last time I checked, we don't pay by the hour (or minute in this case) to shoot trap, skeet or sporting! I couldn't figure out what the hurry was with these folks so I decided to rest on the clubhouse porch for a round or two and just observe. The result was interesting and informative to me and, with a bit of luck, to you as well.
What I saw was interesting. The same group went out without me and managed to shoot even faster! I could hardly believe just how they seemed to toss the gun to their shoulders and as soon as the cheek and gun met holler "pull". I would have been impressed a lot more if they were breaking all the targets. Unfortunately each shooter missed a handful. It was fairly obvious that all the shooters were competent gun handlers, they just were never really ready to shoot the target when they called for it. Consequently the misses added up quickly.
I have always stressed a pre-shot routine for shooting good scores and as we get older our eyes don't focus as quickly as they did in our youth. Shooting at a speed where you can't establish your routine, even though it may be faster than some, can spell disaster in a game where the difference between winning and losing is 1 or 2 targets. Try not to get caught up in a fast squads rythm when you are shooting practice. Use your own set up routine and concentrate on each target. Make sure your eyes are quiet (still) when you call for the target.
What this will do for you.... is translate to your competition shooting....hello...that's what we practice for is it not? At the club you can usually choose your shooting squad mates. You will find during a comptetition however you might be stuck with a really fast group of shooters or at least one or two in front of you. Your ablilty to use your practiced routine will no doubt allow you to prevail and shoot a good score!
Shoot well and often,
I know most of you think "politician" is a dirty word...I happen to agree with you in most instances. However, as shooters we can always learn something new by observing folks who are good at their jobs and relating it's application to our shooting skills. I use pro basketball players as an example of a pre-shot routine... watch a good player before he makes a free throw. You can watch him shoot 20 times and the routine he uses never varies. We should use the same discipline in our pre-shot routine.
Back to our politicians. During the course of my conversations with shooters at our gun club or when visiting other clubs for competitions, I hear shooters talking (complaining) about things that interrupt them during the course of shooting an event. Announcements, car horns (usually an alarm...which no one pays any attention to anymore!) guys with loud or funny sounding calls on adjacent fields...well, you know the stuff I'm referring to. These kind of distractions fall into two basic categories...inevitable and avoidable. (Frank Little talks about this in his instruction book on trap shooting...thank you Frank, RIP) The avoidable ones are those that you control, putting on the right glasses, remembering your stuff (earplugs, water bottle, shells, etc...). You are responsible for those things and have control over the outcome. The inevitable interruptions are what I'm talking about here.
I was watching a news program last night and marveled at one politician who was being interviewed by a persistent reporter. No matter how many times the reporter asked questions on a plethora of subjects the politician stayed focused on HIS agenda. He never really addressed any of the reporters questions and continued pressing his side of the story...it was amazing to me that someone could totally ignore his surroundings, both sights and sounds, and continue to concentrate on his thoughts and words. I'm glad this guy isn't a clay target shooter! He would be tough.
Talent not withstanding, each of us could shoot better if we were a bit more like the politician in the interview. Being able to focus our thoughts and energies to the goal of breaking clay targets, regardless of the distractions, is a goal all of us need to work on. Learn to leave the thoughts about home issues and work issues in the car with your gun case. Don't let the inevitable interruptions during competition upset your concentration.
Sounds easy...it's not. Focusing your concentration during distractions is not an inherited trait like blue eyes or blonde hair. Just like the shooting skills you worked hard to acquire, the ability to ignore or not pay attention to distractions takes practice. Teaching your brain to ignore things can be done during every day activities. Read a magazine with the tv or a radio playing and really concentrate on what you are reading. Shoot practice on the field closest to the club where the sounds and voices of others are in the background. Mentally prepare yourself to be focused during the competition and it will help your scores and allow you to enjoy your sport even more. You might even run for office!
Shoot well and often,
Weight as tested (empty) 8.2 pounds. No additional barrel weights were put on the test gun.Pull trigger, 3.7 lb.
We have had the XLR5 guns from Fabarm for a couple weeks now and today was the first time I had the opportunity to take it to the gun club and run some shells through it. All I can say is WOW!
First impressions are important. My thoughts, when assembling the gun, were that this gun is built like Fort Knox. No stamped flimsy parts in the action. Big, tough machined steel and alloy parts look like a target auto should. The action spring is in the front of the gun around the magazine tube so no issues with long spring tubes going through the stock! Cleaning is a snap as all the parts which get dirty are right there in front. We'll get to that later...
The gas system is unique as it uses a polymer/plastic brake/buffer to compensate for different loads. We went to the range today with 7/8 oz., 1oz., and 1 1/8oz. loads in light, heavy and handicap variety. regardless of the shell the gas system operated flawlessly and the shells were ejected about 4 - 5 feet to the right and 2 -3 feet in front. I did not think anyone would be bothered by the empties being ejected. We'll put a shell catcher on it when they come in from Brownells however.
The 14 1/2" Right hand stock was kind of universal. Everyone who shot it had no problem with the stock when it was set up for me. I had the POI set at 90/10 and the gun absolutely vaporized targets (we shoot biodegradable White Flyers...)! I had the #7 (trap light full) choke in the gun and from 16 to 27 if we did our part the gun really toasted the targets. The gun comes with Skeet, IC, MOD, LT FULL(or TRAP FULL) and EX Full. We'll do some extensive pattern work next week and publish the results.
Its hard to describe the barrel bore on this gun. The forcing cone is VERY long, we're talking a foot or so! The bore tapers to a straight section and then the choke tube does its magic. I ran my bore mic down the barrel from both ends and its pretty interesting...I don't claim to understand how it works but the patterns we were throwing today provided target breaks which rival any barrel (including some of the tricked up ones..) that I have ever owned. Hard breaks from the center to the pattern edges. We shot 7 1/2's and 8's and could see little if any difference, however the 7 1/2's made more smoke from the 27 yard line.
The trigger is a precision cast alloy frame with some machining done to accommodate the steel parts which make up the complete trigger. The carrier system is similar to other autos however the sear and hammer bear a striking likeness to the Ljutic Bi-Matic. It's a very simple and clean design with a minimum of parts. (Releases will be available soon!) Judging by the construction and function I would not think there would be any significant issues here. Again, tough and reliable.
Shooting the gun is similar to most autos. Drop the shell into the receiver and push the big easy to push button on the LEFT side of the receiver with the heel of your left palm. The bolt closes with authority and feeds the shell into battery and you are ready to go. We did not put any additional barrel weights on the gun, however the supplied stock weight (5oz.) was in the butt stock. I got the feeling the gun would "point" well just holding the gun. This proved to be correct once we started shooting. Just a bit on the muzzle heavy side, the gun moved easily and reliably to the target. Recoil, or the lack there of, was mos impressive. I'm a real wimp when it comes to guns that kick and this one is like shooting pillow! With the 7/8 and 1 ounce loads it felt like a 28ga. gun. Even the Nitro 27's and the Kemen Handicap 1 1/8oz. loads were fun to shoot. The gas system buffered the recoil to a push rather than a slap. Hard not to like the gun.
At this point we were rained out as a big thunder cloud came over and lightning shut down the range. We headed back to the shop to take the gun apart and clean it. The cleaning process takes 10 minutes if you work slowly! All the parts are easily disassembled and cleaned using only a small brass punch to remove the 2 trigger pins, your favorite CLP (cleaner, lube and protectant, we use Gunzilla...) and a bore snake. Unlike some autos, the XLR5 trigger pops out an back in with no effort at all. Just wipe everything down and put it back together and you're ready to go. Nice.
My own impressions aside, as I am one of those people who like autos, we had a half a dozen folks come over to shoot the gun while we were on the trap field. All were experienced shooters and every one of them commented most favorably about the gun. One of the veteran shooters brought over his 7/8oz. reloads and the XLR5 gobbled them up and spit out the empties every time. Another shooter had some factory Kemen 7/8 oz. shells and the gun not only worked every time but he broke all the targets he shot at with them! His comment was.."I see one of these in my future..!)
We'll head over to the 5 Stand range as soon as we can and I'll write the addendum to this report. Pattern results should prove interesting once we get them on paper as well. Thanks for reading my words here, hopefully you gained some insight into Fabarm's newest target gun.
Shoot well and often,
Sunday afternoon proved to be a better time to hit the pattern board with the XLR5 from Fabarm. The weather cooperated and we had plenty of time to shoot patterns for both POI and pattern density and distribution. A very enlightening day to say the least.
Our Point of Impact patterns were dead on the money. Fabarm states the XLR5 will shoot from 50/50 to 90/10. It does exactly that. Matter of fact, it was so exact I have never seen an adjustable rib that spot on. the patterns were centered from left to right and the vertical adjustment determined how high over the hold point the pattern shot. Simple and very effective. Adjust the rib, adjust the comb to get a figure 8 and voila .... it shoots like it is supposed to. No tools are needed to adjust the rib... just spin the adjustment wheel and up or down it goes. The comb hardware is like the rest of the gun, built to last a lifetime. You do need the supplied allen wrench to adjust the comb. The adjustments are simple and reliable and the comb does not need washers to keep it in place. Left to right adjustment is easy too and uses the same allen wrench.
No great surprise the choke tubes performed superbly as well. They are one of the few manufacturers who drill the tubes from solid bar stock. No variation in POI with any of the 5 chokes we had. Patterns were as expected from good quality chokes. Each of the 5 delivered a uniform circular pattern with no "hot" core. The full choke was definitely a tight full and as we progressed to more open chokes the patterns got larger. The Skeet tube and the Improved Cylinder showed very even patterns right out to the edges. Nice. I can't imagine needing any more than the 5 chokes provided with the gun. Also, as a side note, the Skeet, IC, and Mod are approved for steel shot as is the barrel of the gun! The "tri-bore" system really works...I have no clue as to how, but they certainly did their homework.
Back to the trap line. One of the club members brought out a box of Federal Low Velocity loads. They are training loads for kids or ladies and their muzzle velocity is 900 fps. The XLR5 cycled them with no issues! The conclusion is...it really is designed to shoot any shot shell!
Next comes some sporting clays and 5 stand. Hopefully we can go next week some time and give you a report on how the gun handles that discipline.
Thanks for reading. Shoot well and often!
OK, we have all done it but the question is why?
In order to be a competitor, you must be as intense during your practice as you are during a registered event. Its hard. If it was easy every person with a shotgun would break all the targets! Fine, how do you do this?
The last time I checked practice ammo and targets were expensive. Yes, it's fun to shoot clays because, just like we were when we were little, we like to see them blow up! But gaining important knowledge about our performance can be a fun challenge as well. Plan your practice sessions and set some goals for each time you go to the line. Have a specific purpose in mind and remind yourself of that purpose during your practice sessions. Concentrate on each target with the same intensity you would have if it meant winning a tournament or championship. Focus on each target with your eyes so you mentally see the target break each time you call. Break the target with your eyes!
If you have any specific questions regarding my blogs, send me an email at email@example.com and I'll be glad to respond.
Shoot well and often,
Most of the time I breeze through life not letting things get in my head or under my skin. Even the unavoidable glitches that life throws my way seldom bother me much.
Here's the catch...I just went through a strange bout of missing left angles at trap post 1. 50 years of shooting and I, for some reason, can't run post 1 on a trap field. Something was amiss and for the life of me I couldn't figure it out. I tried shifting my look point and my hold point...no improvement. I changed my stance (the wrong way...) not a thing different. I even changed guns, of course we know its " seldom the arrow and most often the Indian"..... Nada.
Well, I guess I better practice what I preach...I need to find a good coach and have him/her take a look and see what on earth I am doing (or not doing) to cause such a disaster on post 1.
Enter 20+ time All_American, Pete McCall. While at the Missouri State Shoot, my vending spot is a couple down from Pete's trailer, so I walked over and asked him for some coaching help. We talked for a bit and since I was shooting right in front of his vendor spot, he said he'd watch me on the next 100 of the 200 target event...
He did. After the first 25 he asked me why I was turned so much to the left on post one? I don't know...just got that way I guess. "Point your left foot at the spot you will break a left angle" he said. Ok. I can do that.
Back out for the next 25 I ran post 4 and 5, then over to one. OK, point the foot at the spot where I break the left angle...whoa! How did I get so out of position? It took only a few seconds to realize that I had inadvertently turned myself about 35 degrees to the left...and never knew it! The fix is in! Well, at least for the time being I have some re-training to do. (I did not miss any more from post one during the event!)
Even after 50+ years of shooting one can make simple errors and fall into a slump. Getting a good coach to look over your shooting once in a while can make a huge difference in your overall game. Frankly, my head was more out of line than my shooting...when you start missing targets and don't understand why it can make you a little nuts. So have your shooting and your head examined once in a while!
Shoot well and often,
Who doesn't like to win some cash from time to time....most all of us, I would imagine! Sometimes you can improve your chances to pick up some winnings by using your head when you enter an event.
Lewis class purses are a no-brainer. Since they pay so many scores depending on the number of entries, other than tying the hi gun score you can win with any number of scores . In fact its possible to win more than the hi gun score money if there are few or no ties with your score that hits one of the lucky numbers. You won't pay for a new gun with your Lewis class winnings but it's fun to get a check back.
Hi Gun purses are best left to the Big Dog shooters. If you don't often (or never) shoot championship winning scores, playing these purses is only giving your money away.
Class Purses where all the entry money stays in your class is a good bet if you are shooting well and have shot some higher class scores of late. The number of shooters in the class determines how much the payout is going to be. Look for one that pays 2 places which gives you a better shot at collecting at the end of the day.
Wolf Purses and other various money pots have to be judged on their own merits and what the entry fee is. Sometimes at a big shoot you can plunk down $5 for a Ford purse and hit it for some serious cash. Same is true with a Wolf purse. Entries are small and lots of folks play them so if you feel lucky...go for it!
Calcuttas or Special Events are just a euphamism for gambling. Lots of fun and you can "buy" your favorite shooter and share in the winnings if he shoots a top score. At a big shoot there are times when tens of thousands of dollars are in the Calcutta, but beware, there are lots of folks there who know the shooters so buying your favorite in an auction might not be cheap. Sometimes they "bundle" 2 shooters or more together so you get a package deal. They also offer "wild cards" and the bidding on those is usually high as you get to pick your shooter from the pack.
Over the years I have played lots of options. Sometimes hitting for some serious cash...sometimes not so much. Learn the ins and outs of the options before you play and figure your chances with your head and not your heart! I have spent all the money I ever won shooting, however I have some shooting trophies from State, Zone and Grand shoots that mean a lot to me and bring back some sweet memories of places and folks that are a lot more important than money.
Most importantly, have fun! Shoot well and try your best and the day will never be wasted.
Break em' all,
As we sell ammo in the shop, a lot of my customers, particularly newer shooters, ask me a lot of questions about ammo and shot size. What brands are better than others? What is "dram equivalent"? What speed shell should I use? And of course the ubiquitous question ..... 7 1/2's or 8's?
There is a difference in ammo quality...but not so much between brands, more so within each brand name the type or quality of the ammo varies greatly. Premium target loads like STS, AA and Federal Premium or Papers are all superior performers. We have our personal preferences but on any given day they will all outperform us! They all contain hard shot, good wads, clean burning consistent powder and very reliable primers. You can't go wrong with any of the above brands...however you can spend some serious cash shooting it! I watch for the rebate programs and either reload or sell my Remington Nitro empties.
The next level of target ammo will deliver premium ammo performance. However, using a Reifenhouser or ribbed disposable plastic hull, they have reduced cost significantly and though still more than reloads they perform very well. Kemen, Rio Premium, Estate, Super Target, B&P fall into this category. Most are priced in the $60 per flat range. These shells use steel for the metal base on the shell, this has a tendency to stick in Ljutic, Alfermann and Seitz type guns as they don't push the shell out a bit prior to ejection. The hulls are reloadable however you must use caution as the base wads can become dislodged and cause some problems.
Promotional loads like the "Field and Target" loads found at discount stores are OK just not the most consistent or reliable. They are designed for the once-in-a-while shooter to have some fun with. I have used them for 16 yard and doubles practice but am not impressed with the results. The soft shot and lack of one piece wads makes for some interesting patterns. Shoot them if you must but be aware of the axiom...you get what you pay for.
Even serious shooters seldom can tell the difference between shells of less than 30 feet per second velocity difference. 2 3/4 dram shells will break any target you shoot at(And hit!). 3 dram shells are nice for handicap or long crossing shots in sporting clays. Super Handicap, Nitro 27 and Federal Premium Handicap loads are the Ferrari's of the shotgun shell world. They are assembled from the best components money can buy and if you shoot long yardage handicap trap or FITASC sporting clays you might want a few of these to reach out and touch a target!
Last but not least...7 1/2's or 8's? Personally I think #8 shot will do for any target inside 30 yards. After that you might consider 7 1/2's for their retained energy. I think the most important factor is your shotgun. Some just like 8's more and others throw better patterns with 7 1/2s. You can do some pattern work on paper to find if there is a difference.
Hope this helps a bit. Thanks for reading! See you on the range,
After two weeks of sitting in our display trailer just off the shooting line at the Southern Grand and the Florida state shoot, I was amazed at how many shooters were getting pounded by their shotguns. Their shoulders and heads were snapping back due to recoil....ouch!
Individual shots don't matter much, however like a boxer getting hit with little jab punches, the cumulative effect can be devastating to the shooter over a 100 or 200 target event. Sooner or later a gun that hurts you will begin to negatively effect your scores.
OK, how do you solve the problem? There are a couple of interesting solutions that I'll list here:
1. Gun fit. As we discussed in an earlier blog, having a good fit on your shotgun will reduce felt recoil significantly. There are a number of qualified folks around the country who offer this service and it's normally well worth the price paid.
2. Recoil reducers in the stock. There are a number of these on the market (ie: Dead Mule and Edwards...) and they do work reasonably well. They add weight and have either a mercury or spring mechanism inside which dampens recoil. The combination of weight and dampening can be highly effective and if your gun tends to be a bit muzzle heavy it will help to balance the gun.
3. Recoil Reducing Stocks. There are several options in the recoil reducing stocks that are available. The Precision Fit stock is a bolt on arrangement which is amazing in its capacity to reduce recoil and allow for perfect gun fit. Not cheap at $1295.00 but well worth the price. Others like Pro-Soft and Stock-Lock are considerably more, however they look great and work even better than they look.
Porting, back boring and long forcing cones. Porting a shotgun barrel will keep the muzzle under control and reduce the upward motion of the barrel. This can have a dramatic effect on recoil to the face and also allows for a quicker recovery for a second shot in a doubles presentation. About $100 a barrel and there are several companies that do it well, Top Line porting and Pro-Port being two of them I use.
Back boring a barrel can have a positive effect on recoil, especially in combination with a long forcing cone job if the gun has short ones. Patterns generally improve and the recoil sensation is softer.
In conclusion, get rid of recoil and your scores will improve... Thanks for reading,
As a gun dealer I get to listen to a lot of interesting reasons to purchase a new target gun. Some,few, are willing to admit they just want a new toy. Others have had the old gun for so long its starting to have some reliability issues so rather than spend a ton of money on a rebuild they buy new. I try and change guns when I'm shooting really well...the logic is I can determine if the new gun will perform equal to or better than the old one.
Unfortunately, many shooters look for a new gun when they are in a significant slump. Although it might make you feel better psychologically, it probably won't cure your shooting ills! More often than not you'll have more obstacles to overcome learning the quirks of the new gun and trying to improve your shooting skills.
Remember that you only can acquire good shooting skills with knowledge (coaching), practice and application. Mental preparation and a positive attitude don't hurt either. If buying a new gun was the only answer, rich people would be the best shooters.
Dumbo's magic feather and the money cure for shooting good scores are both fairy tales!
Shoot well and often!
Most shooters associate the words "target management" with sandbagging. Trust me on this...we are not going there!
By "target mangement" I'm talking about how you manage your shooting game plan. (Game plan? Now what's he talking about?) You would not expect a football team to show up to play an important game without the coaches and team captains having a game plan would you? Then why on earth would you go to a major shooting competition without doing the same thing?
Most shooters I know practice a few times prior to the big shoots then simply show up pay the money and "hope" to shoot well. If there is no plan to win, the results are fairly predictable, you won't win. Take the time to plan the events you will shoot and what options you will play. Make a checklist of all the equipment you need for the day or days of the shooting. Include things like rain gear and dry clothing. Then actually use the list! /Clearing your mind of worry about stuff you should have brought is a great stress reliever and will allow you to concentrate on the task at hand...breaking targets.
I also recommend a journal of your shooting. Keep accurate records of your practice sessions and competition targets in a notebook or on your computer. Note things like weather conditions, temperature, lighting conditions, shells used, background and how you shot. Note particularly good aspects of the session and also areas which you need to work on. Over time you can develop a great insight into your shooting and what conditions work best for you. Also patterns will develop and give you the information you need to practice and improve the areas where you need help.
Keep your game under control with "Targt Management"!
Shoot well, Bob
A lot of years ago I was studying some of the fundamental aspects of shotgun shooting. One of the observations I made, while watching numerous great shooters, was the relationship between their cheek and stock comb, their shoulder and the butt pad and their right hand and the pistol grip. (Left for left hand shooters...)
During the setup of the shot they all locked in these three points of reference and maintained them throughout the gun swing until after the shot was made. It seemed that regardless of personal style or the motion each of the individuals made, if they kept the three parts mentioned above in the same relationship motionless during the shot, they broke the target.
What I discovered when imitating them in my own shooting was the relationship my eyes had with the gun and subsequently with the target remained constant. I literally could just "watch the target" and break it with an ease I never thought possible. Leads became consistant and repeatable and "memorizing" a particular target seemed so much easier.
Of course it required some experimentation on my part to determine the amount of pressure I wanted on my cheek, shoulder and grip. In my case the cheek pressure was about enough to squash a grape. (Don't ask how I know this...) My shoulder pressure was moderately firm...if you put your fingers between the recoil pad and my shoulder it would not hurt but it would not be comfortable either, My grip pressure was similar to a good firm handshake, not enough to bother another person, but firm enough to keep their hand from breaking loose. I practiced mounting the gun and establishing these pressures and maintaining them throughout the shot, My scores rose and the consistency of my scores was impressive.
That's the "Magic Triangle" .... cheek, shoulder and hand pressure, practiced and maintained during your shot making move. Once you try it I'm sure it will help your clay target shooting. It's something you can practice at home while doing "dry fire" exercises. 10 - 15 minutes every other day and you will see results in a couple weeks!
Shoot well and often,
One of the basic tenets of good shooting is "If you can't see it you can't hit it.". A truer statement, although somewhat simplistic, has never been said. So many times I see new, and even some experienced shooters, having a hard time picking up clays early enough to break them effectively. Whether it's trap, skeet or sporting clays the sooner you accurately pick up the target the easier it is to make a smooth move with the shotgun.
How are we supposed to do this? Good news and bad news... the bad news is as we get older our ability to continually focus on a moving object diminishes. The cornea or lens of the eye gradually gets harder and less elastic so focusing quickly on a moving target becomes more difficult. Notice I said "more difficult" not impossible!
The good news is you can learn where to look on any target presentation to maximize your chances of seeing the target clearly and shooting it quickly.
How? (Sporting or 5 stand.) Study the target and pick a place along the flight path where you can easily see the target. If you like a swing through move, place your shotgun muzzle a short distance behind your look point and bring your eyes to the spot you chose to acquire the target and call for the target. When you see the target at your look point move the gun through the now clear and in focus target and shoot when you are in front keeping the gun moving. Sounds simple, but it works!
If you are a trap shooter, focus your eyes beyond the trap house so the target "flies into focus". This is very effective for shooters over the age of 50. Younger shooters can focus closer to the house but never let your eyes go into a "search" mode while calling for the target. Keep them very still and let the motion of the target engage your eye muscles!
Experiment and test. There is no absolute solution to target acquisition. Try the methods above and invent some of your own. If they work, see if they are reliable under pressure, if not discard and try something else! The fun is in the journey!
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Foot position can improve your scores!
Last time I talked a bit about gun fit and Length of Pull. We'll get back to some finer points of gun fit in future blogs however now I'm writing about the major flaws I see on the shooting line on a day to day basis...
So many times I see shooters set up facing the wrong direction! They manage to put themselves in a position where they are fighting their body in order to get to the target. This is where foot position comes into play.
There is a term called "natural point of aim" or NPA. This is where you would point the gun if you were totally relaxed. Now, using this information, set up your natural point of aim approximately where you are going to break the target, or, in the case of trapshooting, where the most difficult angle will present itself. By doing this you will predispose yourself to swing the gun naturally through the target and maintain gun speed throughout the shot! Make a note of where your feet are at each shooting station so you set up the same way each time you shoot.
Learning where your NPI is and where to position your feet will help you improve your shooting on every post in trap and skeet shooting. Using your NPI and foot position is really critical in sporting clays as well. Understanding where your most natural movement to the target begins and ends will help you break more targets and make your shooting easier and fun.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Length is important...!
One of the most glaring gun fit errors I see at the shooting range are stocks that are too long or too short. Length of Pull or LOP is critical for accurate shot placement and consistency in hitting angle targets. Let's start with the gun swing part.
I hear a lot of my customers and fellow shooters tell me they need a shorter barrel because they can't seem to catch hard angles. Whether it be Trap, Skeet or Sporting Clays most of the time, when we get down to the actual gun fit for the person, the stock is too long. Now I'm not talking inches here... 1/4 inch can make a huge difference in one's ability to move the barrel through and ahead of the angle targets. All American, Steve Carmichael and I did some experiments with shooters in New Zealand in 2003 showing that as little as 1/8" of incorrect length can make a difference on hard angles!
How do you determine what's best for you? You can start by accurately measuring your LOP on the gun in question. Write it down. If you feel you are behind the angle targets (particularly right to left for righties and left to right for lefties), reduce the length of your stock in1/8" increments until you start hitting the targets in the center. Now measure the stock and record your findings and shorten the stock to that length. If, however, you feel you are swinging in front of the targets and having to wait for them...do the reverse by adding 1/8 inch spacers under your recoil pad until you start hitting the centers and feel the gun is movng correctly.
Again, lady and junior shooters are really hampered with a stock that's too long. They look...and are uncomfortable with the gun. I know its painful to cut off a nice stock...but if you want them to shoot well getting the LOP correct is critical! Hope this helps...stay tuned for more tips and tricks on the blog.
A question that comes up often when I talk with customers is "How do I know this gun fits me?". I only wish I had a simple answer for everyone, unfortunately, depending on the age, gender and experience of the shooter, the answer will vary.
Young shooters bodies are growing up to the time they are 18 or so, this means that what fits today may not fit next month. The best you can hope for with a young shooter is get the basic measurements of LOP (length of pull), drop at the comb and drop at the heel correct. Then adjust the comb so they are looking down the middle of the rib. Most often by doing this you'll accomplish 90%+ of good gun fit. As their bodies change with growth the adjustments to the comb and LOP will change so keep an eye on them as they get bigger!
Lady shooters can be difficult to fit properly as well. Proportionally the distance from the top of their shoulder to the bottom of the cheek bone is about 20% greater than a man's. Men have squarer shoulders and shorter necks as a general rule, and shotguns were designed for men,(sorry ladies...), so some special considerations have to be made when setting up a gun for a lady shooter. An adjustable comb and adjustable butt pad can do wonders for fitting a lady. Also, more often than not, a lady shooter will need 4 -5 degrees of down-pitch put into the butt pad. This will keep the gun from hitting her in the face! (Very important!)
For the average guy who can buy his clothes off the middle of the rack, most modern shotguns will fit pretty close right out of the box! Generally speaking, making simple adjustments to length of pull, offset and drop of the comb and possibly down-pitch with a spacer under the recoil pad will get the job done for a newer shooter.
The long time competition shooter may best be served by either electing to get a custom stock made or using one of the Precision Fit Stocks. Theise can be adjusted to fit virtually anyone however at $1295.00 its as serious of an investment as a custom wood stock.
If you have fitting issues or questions please feel free to call or email. I'll be happy to assist you or make recommendations as to whom you should see.