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Almost a 1st time shotgun owner...

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Ed Ames, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Well-Known Member

    ...Some of you may remember that about a month ago (give or take) I asked some newb questions about getting my first shotgun. Well, based on that advice I went and talked to people, handled the guns I could handle, talked to more people, handled more guns, and just about talked myself from an 870 to an 1100 and was well on my way to talking myself into a $2000 shotgun even though I'd still never fired a shotgun. Then a local sporting goods chain advertized the mossberg 500 (w/ 18.5" and 28" barrels) for $230 after tax/fees. In a momentary lapse of insanity I bought the cheap gun and my first 500 shells.

    So now, well, I guess I already own it in the legal sense but practically I'll have a shotgun this Saturday. My plan is to head to my favorite shooting area and try it out. I'm trying to gather up everything I'll want to take with me. I have a few shells and I have all the normal care, cleaning and storage products... but that's about all I have for shotgun*. The shooting area is just an open patch of desert with a convenient backstop, not a range or shotgun club. On weekends I typically go out there at 6AM or maybe 7AM, shoot for an hour or two, and then go have breakfast.

    I'll be bringing two people with me, one of whom has fired a shotgun before and the other may try it (she has old injuries in her shoulder and kneck that make long guns, even .22s, a real pain for her, though she always brings a pistol or two) but probably will stick to her own thing.

    So, what should I bring? What should I get? A box of clays and one of the cheap hand clay throwers? Stick to terrestrial targets for the first session and get a fancier clay thrower later on? An intermediate clay thrower thingie? The local shotgun shooting park does sporting clays and charges $25 for 100 targets... which sounds like a good deal to me but I can't help thinking that it would make more sense to buy a $150ish thrower since it'll be used by 1-2 people every week or two for at least a few months. The only place I know to get $150ish throwers is mailorder.

    This is more familiarization than anything else, but eventually I'd like to be able to upgrade to a nicer shotgun and be able to use it properly.

    * I have a collection of targets, spinners, stands, bullet traps, etc for rifle and pistol I usually bring but most of those don't really apply to shotguns AFAIK.
  2. theCZ

    theCZ Well-Known Member

    Ok, here's my advice:

    -Skip the fancy clay thrower. A $5 (or however much they are now) hand thrower is better in a lot of ways. Most imporantly it allows you to really vary the type of target presentations.

    -Definately shoot thrown targets your first time out, I'd stick to nice easy straightaways to get used to the idea of hitting a moving target.

    -Hold off on shooting sporting clays until you feel a bit more comfortable with your gun. In my opinion it's the most challenging of three most common American clay games (Trap, Skeet, and Sporting Clays), but my favorite. $25 for 100 targets is CHEAP when you consider the number of stations you'll be going to and the amount of different target presentations you'll see.

    -Get your butt right over to the nearest trap or skeet range and do some shooting. You'll get some great help and advice (and occasionally some rotten advice) and meet some folks that can really help get you hooked for life on shotgunnin'.

    -There's nothing at all wrong with your Mossberg and you'll do fine with it. Someday you may wish to upgrade to an auto or Over/Under, or you might decide that shotgun sports aren't really for you, and in that case you have a perfect hunting gun/home defense gun.

    Good luck!
  3. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Well-Known Member

    I like cheap throwers. :) I take it we're talking about one of those stick-like clay throwers you could easily toss in a range box? I just wasn't sure how well they work.

    I checked out all the sporting clays stations and it was really impressive to watch. Problem was, people who seemed to know what they were doing were hitting about 1 target in 4 and I don't think I'd hit one in 50... those suckers are FAST... the price seems good compared to miniature golf. ;) That place is about 10 minutes from where I work... it would be easy for me to go over there for a shotgun lunch... but not until I can do more than frustrate myself.

    There aren't any convenient trap/skeet ranges... at least not compared to the sporting clays outfit and the BLM land where I usually shoot.

    I don't mean to sound down about the Mossberg. Part of the reason I went with it is that none of the common shotguns seem to fit me all that well. I figured I could apply the savings (about $50 vs the 870) to an adjustable butt plate to add a bit of drop and lengthen the pull. I usually have the same problem with rifles but it usually doesn't seem so critical. Usually -- I eventually sold one of my favorite rifles after I realized how poorly it fit me and I didn't want to hack up the nice stock. :( Eventually (assuming I stick with shotgunning) I'll want something that fits better.
  4. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Your 500 is a darn good shotgun, enjoy. A couple things...

    The Archives contain the 101 threads, a compendium of knowledge about things shotgun. Hit Search, then advanced search, use my name as author and 101 as subject.

    Read the floater at the top here about Proper Mounting Techniques.

    Get some really light loads, 7/8 oz 12 gauge loads if you can find them. Walk before runnng.
  5. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    For decades now, Eurotrash snobs have dismissed American pump action repeating shotguns as 'shooting machines' that are beneath contempt.

    Well, let 'em.

    Don't put down your Mossberg. It's a functional firearm, if inexpensive compared to a handmade'best' gun of aristocratic pretensions and a 5 or 6-figure price tag, or even a handfitted machine made sample of the industrial world's current production priced at a mere few thousand dollars. But it will go BOOM every time you pull the trigger, and it WILL hit what you shoot at if you do your part, and given proper care it will likely outlast you. It can be altered as necessary to fit you. Mossberg offers spacers both to lengthen the LOP and to change the drop in the stock both up and down- see http://www.mossberg.com/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=102 .

    Familiarize yourself with the gun thoroughly, clean at least the chamber and barrel well before you go shooting, and above all be safe. And have fun!

  6. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Well-Known Member

    Maybe I'm showing my lack of enthusiasm for plastic... I'm not sure what $188 will buy in most of the country, but here in California it buys function (I hope) and no form... but, since this is primarily a learning tool that should be a good match. I'm excited about what I'll be able to learn with it, not what it is.

    I've read most...well actually all at this point... of the 101 threads... a bunch of great info there. I had been thinking of using one of my normal target stands for patterning but I'll probably rig up a support for sheets of butcher paper instead. I have all the material for that so it should be easy.

    7/8oz shot may or may not be an easy find. I'm sure it is available, but I'm not sure where. What I have is 1-1/8th bulk pack which from what I understand recoils in the high 30-06 range...at least if it has a full powder charge... not uncomfortable off hand in a rifle but then I can shoot a rifle all morning and not fire 50 rounds.

    I know that the biggest issue with me is going to be keeping everything moving... that's a big part of what I'm hoping will be fun about it but I know I'll be starting with bad habits in that area.

    Thanks for the encouragement everyone. :)
  7. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Well-Known Member

    What a blast! :D

    First thing this morning I got up and headed out to the local shooting area. I brought two boxes of fiocchi ultra-low recoil 7/8th oz shells, plus 100 or so 1-1/8th oz wal-mart specials, a box of clays, and a $5 clay flinger... after a bit of patterning that really translated to verifying that the bulk of the shot was hitting where I thought it should, we started throwing clays... I actually hit some even! :D Mostly played with the long barrel but also tried a few with the short cylinder-bore barrel just for kicks. Even powdered a few clays with what looked to me like very solid hits... not just "fringe of the pattern" breaks. I was pretty pumped, so to speak. :)

    The 7/8ths oz loads were definitely softer in the recoil department but neither load was exactly punishing. The price difference isn't that great though so I'll probably get more just to mix things up. It was definitely harder to break clays with the 7/8ths loads...which means they are good skill-development loads if nothing else.

    BTW: The gun fit me better than I thought it would... it did wind up slightly thumping my right cheek with the 1-18th oz loads... not bruising but my face is more sensitive than my shoulder. I was mounting the gun for every shot and it mostly lined up correctly (except when I snagged it on my tee-shirt or the like)... correctly enough that I could hit the clays at least part of the time anyway.

    My opinion of the plastic, though... well, it didn't improve any. About half-way through the morning the forend split! I was pushing the forend forward to chamber a round and it seemed like it took a lot of travel to chamber... I looked more closely and the forend was 2-3 inches forward of where it should have been... about then I saw the 2" crack right down the middle of the front part of the forend. :( The forend was jumping up over the "nut" every time I fired and had to be pulled back into place. Plus the crack had to be squeezed shut while chambering a round. Eh... these things happen.....

    So... hogue, pachymar, choate, Falcon Industries, or _____? Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. And should I get just the forend or replace the whole stock? I'm sure mossberg would replace the forend under waranty but unreenforced plastic ain't my thang. Of course, I'll probably end up with plastic anyway... but at least it'll be better-reenforced plastic.

    I did some looking around the web and the only parts that really stuck out at me (so to speak) were the blaze orange stocks/forends...I like blaze orange... not sure if that'd be considered false colors though since they seem to be marketed as "less than lethal orange". The sort-of-good part is that I'm leaving on a business trip tomorrow so I can take my time picking out the replacement part(s) (I won't be able to use them for 2 weeks anyway). Bad part is that I won't be able to go back out for two weeks either... that was fun! :)

    Thanks for the advice so far! :)
  8. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    Glad you had a good time, too bad about the forearm. Likely it split along the mold line.

    Look on eBay, lots of shotgun furniture for sale there. Note there are a couple of lengths of fore-end tubes for Mossbergs IIRC, be sure you get a replacement that'll fit the gun you have. I'd be taking the gun back for warranty attention, myself...


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