By Keith Hollar – Guest Contributor
I wanted to chronicle some of the things that I have been learning as I start my journey into the world of clay shooting and bird hunting.
Even though I’ve been shooting for over 20 years I’ve only shot at flying targets a couple of times before. I had some friends that enjoyed clay shooting that took me along a few times and gave me some basic instructions, but it didn’t really help me understand what I was doing, wrong and right. I wasn’t very successful at breaking the clays those times. Recently I’ve been able to go with someone who has been shooting at clays for a while and was able to explain things to me that made a light bulb go off in my head.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned while shooting trap and skeet; when shooting a field gun in trap you need to cover the clay with the barrel to get a hit, also in trap you want to hit the target while it is still rising, in skeet the leads are for station 1 = 1 foot, 2 = 2 feet, 3 = 3feet, 4 = 4 feet, 5 = 3 feet, 6 = 2 feet, 7 = 1 foot, and of course with both keep the barrel going. Now these may not be huge revelations to most of you but I’ve never had anyone explain these things to me in such clear terms.
The next lessons have to do with the shotgun itself. Since I’m used to shooting rifles I got into the habit of bringing the weapon to my shoulder and then bringing my head down to the sights. That works fine for a rifle, but not a shotgun. What you want to do is bring the shotgun up to the eye, then mount it to the shoulder. I’ve found this works lots better getting the sighting rib aligned correctly. Also you need to make sure the shotgun fits you. I purchased a nice used side by side shotgun and took it to a local guy who was recommended to me to have the butt stock shortened to fit my arms. Now that I’ve had it cut to a length of pull of 14 1/8” (including the new recoil pad) it now mounts quicker and feels more natural.
Now I’m not ready to be taking on a competition but I have noticed my scores improving each time I go. I hope to be able to get more proficient and consistent and also try sporting clays and other more difficult clay sports.
One last piece of advice, don’t worry too much about not breaking all of the targets at first, even if you’re shooting with guys that complain about shooting a 24. Everyone started at the beginning. I know that is something that was difficult for me to do at first. I know I need to concentrate of making sure I’m doing things right in order to hit the target.