Clay Pigeons, Old Men, and Sunburn


May 15, 2005, 02:08 AM
As some of you know, I've been drafted by Dad to be on his three man team for the upcoming Sportsman's Team Challenge ( Now, to be completely honest, I'm at heart a pistol shooter; regular Bullseye practice at a local indoor range. After that, I'm all about rifle shooting. Well, not as much as I should be, but I've been to at least a few high-power competitions, and find shooting rifles to be much fun. In my world, the shotgun comes in a far, far distant third in the holy triumvirate. So long as the shotgun puts a lot of little holes in a target at across the room distances, I've always been happy.

Well, after taking a look at the events in the STC, I quickly concluded that the shotgun portion of this sport would actually require having some skill with a shotgun. As in hitting moving targets.


So I call Dad up and point out that I'm pretty good with a pistol, passably competent with a rifle, and completely clueless about these events called Flurry & Flush, which seem to involve using a shotgun to vaporize a lot of little targets zipping through the air.

"Don't worry" says the old man. I'll call up Bill, and see about setting up some shotgun lessons this weekend. Ok, cool. So the appointment is made, show up at the local shooting range at 9am on Saturday.

Saturday morning rolls around, and at twenty to nine I pull into the range.
Sitting at the line is a late model pickup, and sitting on a wire mesh bench attached to the pickup is an old man.

He taps a foot pedal and sends a clay bird into the air, and quickly vaporizes it. By the time I get parked and out of the vehicle he's done this a couple more times.

I walk up and introduce myself, and instantly pick up one thing:
Bill has probably been there, done that and keeps the t-shirt in the garage somewhere for wiping up oil stains.

We exchange a couple of pleasantries, and I mention that the shotgun I've brought probably isn't the right thing for the game. He takes a look at it, and agrees. So, on to plan B: He offers to let me use one of his 20 ga shotguns. We go over some basic instructions- stance, follow through, sight picture.

After the basic instruction in theory we move on to the real thing. Step up to the line, get down on the stock, and call "Pull!"

Bird flies out, and I bust it.

Hey, this is pretty easy!







Ok, time to go back for more theory. Bill gives me some pointers, tells me I've been behind the bird, need to lead it a bit, and don't stop.

Ok, step back up to the line.





This goes on for awhile, and I'm breaking more birds than not. By about this time, Dad and Al show up. The lessons begin again. Both of them have brought their 12 ga over-and-unders. I keep using the 20 ga, and doing much better than I would have thought. At one point, Bill looks me in the eye and says "Hey, you're pretty good, for a pistol shooter." :) By the end of the lesson the four of us have gone through about four cases of birds, and the ground is pretty much littered with shotgun hulls. Great, now I'm hooked, and trying to figure out how to justify the purchase of some sort of autoloading 20 Ga shotgun. It wasn't until about an hour later that I noticed the bright red sunburn on my arms and face. Oh well, it doesn't matter. :)

Lesson reinforced:

Whenever you meet some crotchety old guy who knows what he's doing, ST*U and listen. Then do what he tells you. (I've had similar experiences in competitive pistol and rifle shooting.)

lessons learned:

Shooting clay birds is fun!
My shoulder hurts.
Bring sunscreen.

I'd say that today was a good day for sure.

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May 15, 2005, 03:00 AM

I really appreciate you sharing this. I wish your team all the best at STC.

Oh about that 20 ga, just buy one and blame me - everyone else does. :p

Folks like Bill , these are the guys I always saddled up to, and was honored to have as mentors. There are some ladies like this too...keep your eyes peeled.

Flurries: don't think -shoot. Don't impede the natural.

Oh - have fun. Looking forward to progress reports, pics of new 20 ga, and how your team does the STC event.



May 15, 2005, 03:02 AM
Don't for doubletapping posts too. :p

Larry Ashcraft
May 15, 2005, 10:51 AM
So, Justin, does this mean you will be bringing a shotgun to the get together this year? I'll get the thrower out. I've got some shotguns you could try out before you buy that 20 ga. A 12 ga Citori, 12 ga Rem. 11-48, an old Wards 20 ga sxs, or my newest acquisition, a 28 ga Wingmaster (Steve's fault :p ).

There's a sporting clays range about 20 minutes from my house if you want to try that some weekend.

Brian Dale
May 15, 2005, 11:22 AM
Welcome to the Dark Side :evil: -- well, some of us see it as the Bright Side. :D

You're going to have a lot of fun. ;)

May 15, 2005, 02:33 PM
Don't think-shoot Heh. I heard that a lot yesterday. :)

Larry- Bill has a friend who works the sporting goods counter at a local dept. store/evil empire. Evidently he's ordered a couple of Beretta autoloaders that should be (hopefully) in sometime this week. In what can only be rampant disregard for my New Year's resolution* I'll probably pick one of them up. And yes, you can pretty much count on me showing up with it. I'd love to get together to shoot some clay birds. Unfortunately our range doesn't have throwers available, it's kind of a BYOB type situation. They just have the stands for them.

*No new guns, just accessories.

Larry Ashcraft
May 15, 2005, 04:19 PM

That was a dumb resolution anyway. :D I bet that Beretta is sweet.

The little hand throwers work really well, as long as you have a buddy with you. In fact, Jimmy and his friends prefer them because of the different presentations.

The sporting clays range is really fun, but kind of expensive. $30.00 per round + ammo if they haven't changed. But that's 100 rounds, so makes a fun afternoon. I've only shot it once, so I certainly wouldn't embarrass anyone, except maybe myself. :o

Or, we could just go down to the meadow by the river on my place and toss some clays.

May 15, 2005, 04:45 PM
Great story. For some reason I still can't hit clay to save my life. Doves and ducks and quail and pheasants I can hit, but those little orange birds have been making me miss for years. I guess I need to find an old guy at the range to adopt me for a while.

May 15, 2005, 05:32 PM

Larry really really needs a Trius target thrower like the one I sent him a link via email. Seems his "trap machine" ducking and running sometimes breaks down, has to hold a grandkid, fix supper...

Besides when he installs two shooting benchrests on the back deck - that empty space in the middle is for a target thrower...

Justin, my point is...poor Larry, he had coffee cans with " Relief Fund" all ready to set out in various stores...seems Sadie decided removing labels and playing drums was a better idea...

See my idea was to inform Larry's kids - not only is Dad's day coming up, but a B-day later on in Oct. So you need to "remind" his kids to pony up...they don't even have to wrap it. *smirk*

Why do I have a mind picture of Crystal trying to hit a clay with SRs BP cannon...Standing Wolf taking aim and busting the center out of flying clay, and the cops that appeared last year trying to break clays with Dept issued Shotguns ? :p

May 15, 2005, 05:49 PM
"Hey, you're pretty good, for a pistol shooter." Haha - heard that a few times! :D

Scatterguns are third on my list too Justin - but despite never really getting in the practice I should, they do remain a source of much fun when I do shoot em. Time I cranked out some more shells methinks too.

Dave McCracken
May 16, 2005, 06:26 AM
It's a slippery slope, Justin.....

I've shot quite a few handgun and rifle sports, including High Power and Benchrest rilfe, and a little LE 3 gun. Nothing has the fun factor that bustin' clays does.

It's Instant Gratification. Seeing those things explode is a rush. It's also Pavlovian Conditioning. When we do things right we get an immediate reward, so we're motivated to do it again.

Check the 101 threads for some ideas on technique and mindset...

Good luck on the Challenge....

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