Off season activities for shotgunners....


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Dave McCracken
January 29, 2003, 07:03 PM
Some of us may be feeling Cabin Fever setting in.

Many hunting seasons are now closed, well before we had enough fun. Clay gaming is nigh dead, wind chill factors in the negative numbers will turn the staunchest contestant into a no-show.

So, what can we do to fill up the hours until the spring thaw, the shad run, the perch run, or whatever we do in the spring?

Here's what I do, and some ideas....

First, this is the slowest time of the year for gunsmiths. Now might be the time to get that forcing cone lengthened, a trigger job(Best guess, 50% of the shotguns we own have triggers that are too heavy, rough, creepy, stagey, etc for best work), choke tubes installed, metal and wood refinished, and so on.

Second,do things yourselves. I do not advocate unskilled folks trying to tune triggers,but a lot of generalized tweaking can be done by all but the most funblefingered. Refinish that Express stock, install a new bead, even get that thing shooting where it's looking.It's a good time for project guns...

Third, catch up on your reloading. It's a good time to fill up all your empties, or R&D a new specialty load. I'm toying with the idea of a 5 stand load of 7/8 oz of 8 1/2s at 1100-1150 FPS. Cheap but it should still be quite effective at 20-25 yards.

Fourth, handle your shotgun at every opportunity. Keep those muscles toned. Keep your muscle memory current.

Fifth, a bit of reading may help. Gene Hill's Shotgunner's Notebook, Brister's Shotgunning, and the marvelous tales of Babcock,Spiller,Buckingham and others may help while away the time until turkey season. Your local library may have good stuff under Dewey Decimal System 799.

Hopre this helps, let's see what other folks do to ward off the "Shack Nasties"....

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HSMITH
January 29, 2003, 07:58 PM
The consistency with which you provide good advise is truly boring Dave:D :D :D

For your 7/8 oz load try 16.8 grains of clays under a WAA12SL in a AA hull. It is right at 1000 FPS in my guns. Wad pressure needs to be less than about 15 pounds to get a good crimp, and take the depth of the punch down to about .080" for a great looking crimp. No felt or carboard spacers or any of that pain in the kiester stuff is needed. This is an outstanding warm weather 5 stand or skeet load (several 75 straights and a couple 99's have been shot with this load by yours truly). In colder weather (under 50*, down to about 10*) I take it up to 17.4-17.6 and have good results with it. The guns I am shooting these loads through are backbored, so you may want to add .3-.5 grains or at least hit the pattern board to make sure they are fast enough to respond to choking. Any slower and they shoot like a turkey choke IME. Recoil is such that you need to listen closely to make sure it went off :D :D but the targets break extremely well. I build basically the same load for 20 ga in regards to speed and payload and am extremely happy with it in 20 too, go figure huh?

PJR
January 29, 2003, 08:18 PM
Clay gaming is nigh dead, wind chill factors in the negative numbers will turn the staunchest contestant into a no-show.

We're still shooting in Canada although the huddle around the woodstove between rounds is often more inviting.

Sporting Clays on a cold day isn't bad if you are dressed warmly and keep moving. It also helps that most fields are in wooded areas and out of the wind. Trap because it's more open can be very bitter due to the wind chill.

At least there aren' t any bugs. :D

Paul

RussB
January 29, 2003, 08:47 PM
Clay gaming is nigh dead, wind chill factors in the negative numbers will turn the staunchest contestant into a no-show.
Um, not up here in New England. Winter trap league every Sunday morning, and trap practice every Tuesday night. My ATA buddies went to a registered shoot the 18th of Jan, a co-worker shoots in a weekly skeet league...I suspect you mid-Atlantic folks are just a bit "soft" :) (j/k)

Stinger
January 29, 2003, 11:41 PM
We've had unseasonably warm weather here in West Texas. Sure, we've had some cold spells, but for the coldest month of the year (January) we are probably averaging a high in the upper 50's to lower 60's. Truly magnificent!

I've been able to sight in a few rifles and bust a few clays. Now if it wasn't for that darn job...:banghead: ...maybe I could do it a bit more often.


Stinger

Dave McCracken
January 30, 2003, 07:01 AM
Thanks for the input, guys. As for cold weather shooting, kudoes to those who stiff it out in year round shooting in Alberta,etc. But, you'll have to excuse me, cold feet to a diabetic can be a death sentence. I still get out and shoot a little, but the sessions have to be short. And my felt lined pacs get used more than in days of yore.

For those not so burdened, I bet the turnout is much lighter at those winter shoots, Even with no skeeters, greenheads and blackflies.

Howard, great minds do think alike(G). I'm using the CB clone of the WAA12SL, 16.5 gr of Clays, Win 209 primer, AA hull. Wad pressure is about 20 lbs, if I read that silly little scale right.

As for those in warmer climes, it's times like these I miss living in Tucson.....

Will Fennell
January 30, 2003, 09:59 AM
Dave,
Take advantage of the down time in your off season to MOVE SOUTH:rolleyes:

I've got 6 hours of instruction to give on the range Saturday, and Sunday is for my own practice:scrutiny:

Traveler
January 30, 2003, 11:37 AM
You know, people may complain about California, but I can't remember when there was a season when I couldn't shoot. The fog is burning off now, and it will be 75 will minimal breeze. I think I'll go shoot something.

Poodleshooter
January 30, 2003, 05:12 PM
The cold is even interfering with my reloading. I stuck a slug just out of the end of my barrel using a load of Blue Dot that didn't fully ignite due to the extreme cold and lack of a really hot primer.
I did prime every hull I own, however :)

Dave McCracken
January 30, 2003, 05:21 PM
Will, if I did that, Wife would want us to move in near her folks in Fort Lauderdale, and I'm not ready for that.

Traveler, I lived in the LA madness in the early 70s. I prefer breathing air I can't see.

South sounds good, but it'll be a while, with kids still at home.

And, losing the great deer hunting I'm privileged to have with Best Buddy is not something to give up lightly.

Back on topic...

Predator hunting is another winter activity. While super accurate rifles get the attention, a full choke and #2s are great critter converters.

And snow goose season is still in, I may risk my feet and try to wangle an invite with a guide I know.

Johnpl
February 1, 2003, 10:51 PM
I thought the offseason was for watching "American Shooter" and "Shotgun Journal" and "American Sportsman";)

Dave McCracken
February 2, 2003, 07:36 AM
That's for when it's raining, John...

romulus
February 2, 2003, 02:38 PM
The consistency with which you provide good advise is truly boring Dave:D :D :D
Haha, I would have to second that...thanks for the suggestions on muscle memory (I just cleared out the ole basement and it makes a fine gun-fitness room) as well as the DD#....

Dave McCracken
February 2, 2003, 05:12 PM
"Flattery will get you anyhting"- Mae West...

Hold on for the thread on tweaking shotgunners, it oughta be a good'un. Just not quite ready yet.

Correia
February 3, 2003, 12:24 AM
Cold weather shooting? We usually have 2 seasons in Utah. Hot and Snow. This year we just got cold and no snow though. Still good for shooting. :)

I'm not a clays or trap man myself. Not that it doesn't look really fun, I just haven't had the chance or time. Nor do I reload shotgun shells, (tons of .45 though) for the stuff I do I just buy in bulk.

But I'm with Dave, manipulate that shotgun! :) Every chance I get. My game of choice is 3 gun, and I'm always amazed at how unfamiliar people are with their shotguns.

Favorite cold day drill? I practice reloading drills while I watch TV. Use dummy shells. I will load up my carriers and then see how fast I can load 3 or 4 at a time. Do this several hundred times and you will be surprised how fast you can get at it.

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