Monday, March 26, 2007

Chokes and sporting clays

What choke to use in Sporting Clays, especially for the first time shooter of the discipline?

I suggest Improved Cylinder, but LM may be more in line for some. It depends on skill level going in. I tend to think the more open choke is the way to go.

It may look cool smoking the close in targets with modified choke, but if you miss, you miss. Open the choke!

For the bigger shoots, or a zone or state shoot you will see the need for tighter chokes. In my travels just messing around, I find that IC is normally the choke of choice, maybe a station or two might need LM. I rarely come across a club that has the sporting course set for long shots, it’s just not the norm.

In any case, the new shooter to the sport does not need modified choke on "skeet in the woods" presentations.

I think we’ve all seen the shooter with a bag full of chokes and changing them at each station, whether they needed changing or not. They don't have a clue on what choke to use and any target that looks like it has any distance has them reaching for a tight choke.

Do you know what your chokes are capable of?

I suggest a visit to the local trap club and give the chokes a workout to see what ranges the chokes are most effective. You could also try something like this on a skeet field.

Lock the trap down so it does not move and start at 16 yards, station #3.

Start with your most open choke.

Keep moving back a yard until your not satisfied with your hits.

Repeat this sequence with each choke in your bag.

While you’re at it you may want to try out various loads.

You may be pleasantly surpassed with the use of #9’s inside the 20 yard line. In any case, different brands of shells may give different results.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mickey Mouse...

A visit to the Magic Kingdom and a get together with the main mouse.

On just a handshake we reached agreement to end some of the Mickey Mouse regulations found in shooting sports.

My brother hooked up with us this week and we were able to fit in a day of shooting.

We took him and his better half to WW Sporting.

Neither had shot sporting before. The learning curve was fast as my brother is an NRA certified handgun instructor and comfortable with firearms.

We started off with a round of skeet and familiarization. Than we hit the sporting course.

We had a good time and my brother held his own. He blasted the rabbit station and had a number of good hits throughout the course.

My brother and Lori were impressed on how friendly everyone was, the variety of target presentations, and how nice the grounds were kept.

Thanks to Ken and his crew at WW Sporting. Always first class people!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Palatka Skeet

If a bird lands at your club and it's sporting a spot or two of green paint, it most likely passed through Palatka (Florida) when the club was repainting the buildings.

A seven field club, no small task!

If stationary, it was painted.

They also redid the white paint scheme around the windows and it really makes the targets pop.

In addition they installed a used soda machine in the outside covered patio area. If they can keep it running it should prove a money maker.

The club is know for it's 4-gun shoots, but it does hold a number of one day shoots and all are welcomed.

If your only interest is skeet and you wish to shoot at reasonable price, look no further...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sparta and the ATA

A Sparta company has signed an agreement with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to host the upcoming U.S. Open and other events at the World Shooting & Recreational Complex (WSRC).

Southern Promotions, Inc., will host the U.S. Open May 10-13 in conjunction with the IDNR. White Flyer, Winchester and Browning are major sponsors of the event.

The IDNR staff will act as shoot managers.

In addition to collecting fees and paying out prize money, Stork said Southern Promotions will also hire scorekeepers and other temporary personnel needed to put on shoots.

"We will handle the cashier duties. We will handle the money and collect the checks, both for the help and to see that winners are paid in a timely fashion," Stork said.

He said Southern Promotions is working with Bob Stewart, who provided computer services at all three events the ATA held at the shooting complex in 2006.

Stork said the involvement of Southern Promotions will also provide another agent to book events at the WSRC.


This is a fact...

Without White Flyer stepping in and lining up sponsors, the US Open would not be taking place. The ATA was not supporting the shoot and had walked away from any commitment, real or imagined.


The ATA reaped 100% of monies when they hosted the GRAND on there own property, no longer...

Unlike the NRA and NSSA/NSCA, the ATA does not own it's own shooting complex. You can debate the merits of this, but that's the way it will be for the next nine years and maybe forever.

I have not seen any move by the ATA to start searching for land or placing money in the bank, so I assume I'm correct. Some want them to move to Vegas or other locations, but talk does not cost any money and puts nothing in the bank.

The ATA owns the trap machines used at the Sparta complex. The machines used for skeet and sporting clays were purchased by the state of Illinois.

The ATA has a ten year lease agreement with the state of Illinois to use the facilities to host the GRAND. The ATA also agreed to host other ATA shoots for a certain time period to help get the complex off the ground. I don't remember if it was just for the first year or for several years.

After the first year it seems the ATA lost it's enthusiasm for using the facility except for the GRAND. Money is probable the main reason, but also because the ATA staff has to travel to Sparta when they are directly involved in a shoot.

With the ruling that reloads can be now used at the GRAND, a drop in ammunition profits from what was seen from past GRAND events was keenly felt by the ATA.

I don't think the ATA gets a cut in monies from vendors or RV/Camping sites. Please feel to correct me.

The point of this posting...

Now that a private company has come in to run shoots and much of the complex and major sponsors supporting there efforts, what future roll will the ATA play, especially when it comes time to renew the lease agreement and monies have to be agreed upon?

Other than the ATA providing GRAND trophies and it being an ATA sanctioned shoot, will the ATA staff be needed at a GRAND in ten years or just collecting there share of shoot fees and cut from ammunition sales?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Broken record

It's hard to believe but some clubs are not taking care of business in there primary business, throwing targets.

Sporting clubs get lazy and never move machines. This is the biggest sin a club can make. What is the clubs policy on moving machines or stations? Once a month, every three months, never. It's bad enough the 5-stand never changes, but when that spills over to the sporting clays course...

Skeet & trap clubs not updating equipment. Maybe it's time to retire the old machines to the 5-stand.

Shooting events held at the club always seem to have one problem or another, always revolving around equipment.

I've run into a few club managers who have no business running a club, and I knew that after only one visit. They either have no management skills, have there own agenda, or not a people person.

Being a people person will get the club a few second chances, but if the manager can't manage or has his own agenda and is not taking care of business, visiting shooters will not return. It may take a year or two, but eventually a club will see a drop off in shooters and wonder why.

I could go on but you've heard it all before.

As I said in the past, word of mouth can kill a club.

Just this week...

A club takes a hit on a talk board because of the condition of the grounds and machines. I'm familiar with the club and it seemed the manager had other priorities.

He recently departed and hopefully the club has a sunny future.


A shooter tells me he received a shoot flyer in the mail and will be attending. He then informs me of another club whose shoots he used to attend, but no longer because of the poor condition of the machines.

Not the first time this particular club took a hit on this. I doubt they will ever attract a large number of shooters from outside the region until they make the dollar investment in machines. How many broken targets is exceptable per 25?


A shooter informs me he did not attend the shoot at XYZ club because of what they were charging per target.

Everyone has to make there own decision on this one.

A club has fixed cost going in and has to recover there investment.

A NSCA shoot with referees on each station and nice prizes is going to cost more than a no frills shoot. A 16 station shoot is going to cost more than a 12 station shoot.

In skeet and sometimes trap, I sometimes have no idea where a club is coming up with the dollar amount they are charging, unless it's to maximize the profit for the club.

I don't care what shoot discipline it is. If your going to charge Holiday Inn prices then give me a Holiday Inn experience.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Great skeet concept, $10,000 winner

I received an interesting flyer from the Ludlow Fish & Game Club (Massachusetts).

400 - 12 Gauge Skeet Targets (If you Survive)

You put up $500 and see if you can survive, to the end...

No classes, you shoot heads up against anyone who shows.

75 Entries Minimum, 100 Entries Maximum.

August 18-19, 2007

Event 1 begins Saturday morning with all contestant shooting 100 - 12 gauge targets, however only half will survive.

It's highly likely less than perfect scores will survive.

If you start with 80 shooters, this is how it would play out.

Remember, you always have to place in the top 50% or you do not advance.

Shoot-offs determine ties.


Event 1. Eighty shooters – 100 targets

Half eliminated. 40 top shooters survive.

Event 2. Forty shooters – 100 targets

Half eliminated. 20 top shooters survive.

Event 3. Twenty Shooters – 100 Targets

Half eliminated. Ten shooters survive.

Event 4. Ten shooters – 100 targets

First Place - $10,000
2nd Place - $5000
3rd Place – 3,500
Tenth Place - $750


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Attend the shoot or not?

A number of clubs have problems not under control of the club.

Skeet & trap field’s partially facing into the sun, or the club had its hours restricted by local government.

Some clubs are located near an airport. Shooters have to contend with landings and takeoffs, or put up with the local parachute club.

The skeet & trap fields are set to the rear of a stand of trees or a small mountain.

A few clubs are recovering from years of neglect and maybe near bankruptcy. New blood is tying to change things around, but it may take a while.

Most of us have decided that's just the way it is and decided to either support the club by attending shoots, or not.

Reasons not to attend a shoot.

For the most part under control of shoot management and something most can agree on.

1. Shoots not starting on time.

2. It's felt the club is just going through the motions and not really into the shoot.

3. Excessive shoot fees for what's being offered.

4. Machines constantly running out of targets.

5. Excessive broken targets (every shoot).

6. Poor repair of fields/course.

7. Skeet & trap clubs not consistent with target settings over all fields.

8. Payouts not made in a timely manner (you have to ask after three weeks).

9. No registration cutoff time (fun shoots). Will shooters still be signing up at 2PM?

10. No one seems to be in charge.

Sporting clays and FITASC have there own special set of issues and most revolve around target settings and the shooters they hope to attract.

Just to name a few; hard or soft course, fair shoot windows, quick repairs or spare machines on hand.

For many, just the fact the club has a history of not starting a shoot on time or excessive breakage of targets is experienced, will not detour them from attending a shoot, but at some point every shooter reaches the tipping point and decides maybe it's better to pass.

Most of us want to attend a clubs shoot.

Don't give us a reason that's under your control, to decide not....

Saturday, March 10, 2007

D.C. Gun Ban

Appeals Court Overturns D.C. Gun Ban

"The district's definition of the militia is just too narrow," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for the majority Friday. "There are too many instances of 'bear arms' indicating private use to conclude that the drafters intended only a military sense."

Silberman wrote that the Second Amendment is still "subject to the same sort of reasonable restrictions that have been recognized as limiting, for instance, the First Amendment."

Such restrictions might include gun registration, firearms testing to promote public safety or restrictions on gun ownership for criminals or those deemed mentally ill.


Before everyone starts throwing there hats in the air and shout we won, we won...

All the court is saying is D.C. went to far.

Many may not be aware, but the states always had the right to regulate firearms.

Many cites have regulations more severe then anything ever passed by the federal government.
Look at New York City. You need a permit for long guns and handguns. Certain firearms may not be possessed and ammunition sales are regulated. Getting a permit for a handgun is almost impossible, but it's possible, thus they have no conflict with the courts.

In many cites and states, firearms that look dangerous (assault weapons), have been outlawed and the courts see no conflict with the 2nd amendment.

The U.S. appeals court ruling will bring the Supreme Court into the picture, but to what end?

Just too rule that gun registration, firearms testing to promote public safety or restrictions on gun ownership for criminals or those deemed mentally ill is a state right, but the way, citizens do have the right to own a firearm may not be enough.

The Supreme Court will need to be 100% clear on whatever it rules.

If they rule for individual gun rights, than states will have to allow all to be armed, except for specific restrictions.

If they rule the amendment is all about state militias, than all bets are off...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Get the lead out

Outdoor writer Jim Matthews.

QUOTE. A prediction: Lead ammunition will be banned for hunting within the next decade. Not just in condor range, not just in California, but nationwide.

It won't be banned for plinking or target shooting, but it won't be allowed in our hunting fields. It will be banned on solid scientific evidence that birds and animals pick up the spent lead in a variety of ways, and when it enters their diet, they can become sick and die. END QUOTE.

Does anyone not think an anti-lead effort will take place in every state, with the end purpose to outlaw the use of lead in ALL shooting, to include the target shooting sports?

A number of states have range protection bills, but a lot good they will do if the use of lead is outlawed.

A number of states are being asked to outlaw the use of lead on state lands.

Private corporations with vast land holdings are asked to outlaw the use of lead on there properties.

John Smith, assistant director for the Missouri Conservation Department, referring to game birds said; Even one (pellet) would probably result in incapacitation and death.

You just know the anti-gun crowd is going to jump on this bandwagon!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

NRA membership

"All politics is local."

The same can be said for shooting sports.

With the exception of the small number that shoot registered events or make the occasional visit to a neighboring club to take part in a fun shoot, most shooters never venture far from the home club.

The same can be said for the number of shooters involved in the NRA or any other pro-gun organization that fights the battles in the trenches.

The vast majority of shooters are not involved in the pro-gun movement.

A good number consider the NRA a far right organization that only protects the rights of gun nuts.

A shooter may have a lot to say locally at the home club about the anti-gun movement and the effort to limit gun rights, or to do away with firearms all together, but outside of talking, they do not actively participate in the war being waged against firearm owners.

Wake up…

If you own a firearm you’re considered a “gun nut” and the left wants your firearms.

They would close your club if given the opportunity!

I quote New York shooter John E. Darney, an Endowment member of the NRA, a life member of NYSRPA, and a member of SCOPE. Web master for the Wallkill Rod & Gun Club and is the Legislative director of the club, in addition he is president of Walden Sportsmen's Club.

In a reply to an email, he wrote;

QUOTE: Uniting the sportsmen is exactly what many of us have been trying to do for years. Even our own organizations can't unite against a common enemy. As for our efforts with sportsmen, we have failed, or should I say, they have failed to respond. Many, if not most are apathetic and unfortunately the vast majority do not join or support in any way the pro-gun, pro-sportsman groups we should all be members of. They just aren't that serious about their sport or our basic freedoms for that matter. If they were, we wouldn't be having this discourse. Some are just plain cheap but most are too busy working to pay their bills and taxes. END QUOTE.

What’s the point of this posting?

A small number of clubs in the country require membership in the NRA.

I’ve heard many derogatory remarks on this policy in past years and for myself I’ve had mixed feelings on mandatory membership.

No longer.

All clubs should require membership in the NRA by at least one adult in the family unit.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The weekend

St. Augustine.

The NSSA Seniors Invitational at St. Augustine’s on Friday was a bit of a downer, as it rained most of day. It might have stopped for maybe an hour, but resumed. Every now and then the sound of thunder could be heard.

It may have been better on Thursday. The first day saw the shoot start in a pouring rain. After the early morning rain stopped the winds took up for a few hours. The afternoon squads seemed to have pretty decent weather, but the AM squads really had a rough go of it.

The targets on Friday looked pretty good, with an occasional broken target that may have been due to the dampness in the air. For many, the damp and rainy conditions required donning of extra clothing and for some that was just enough to throw them off there game.

The club has five fields. For the Seniors Invitational they shoot only one gun a day. The shoot usually has a waiting list.

Those who attend eat very well, as the club puts on quite a spread throughout the shoot.

If thinking of dropping in, the club is private and you should visit the club accompanied by a member.


Bradford Farm.

Saturday we shot a sporting clays fun shoot at Bradford Farm.

An early morning discussion took place on if we should attend or not, as it was raining and the weather radar did not look promising. The forecast called for clearing in the afternoon, but the shoot was scheduled for 9am and we had a 1½ hour drive ahead of us.

As the norm we jumped in the vehicle and headed for the shoot. We made sure we had an umbrella and I threw a few extra towels in the vehicle.

We had a few sprinkles at the first two stations and then it stopped. A bit on the cool side with the tempature never seeing 60, but comfortable.

After shooting station #6 off a raised platform, the referee said, you were the first one to go straight on this station, hitting 8x8.

He was talking to my wife…

It was a fun shoot and a number of first time shooters were in attendance, to include more than a few young people. It was nice to see as it seemed the whole family for each came out to root for them.

A very outgoing crew runs the club and they make everyone feel welcomed. I could easily make this my home club if I lived nearby.

As mentioned previously the club is putting in place a second 14 station course.

This should give the club much latitude in target setting, with a somewhat soft course for once in a while shooters and a tougher course for the more serious shooters. That’s just my thinking, not the clubs, but that’s what I would do.

I shot the Nobel Sporting shot shells I talked about previously. The jury is still out on shot size. I think 8½ may not have had the striking power on the longer range targets with IC, as the breaks were not clean. Maybe I should have tried LM. A clean shooting shell and felt recoil was not noticeable.


Gator Skeet & Trap.

Sunday I spent the morning at Gator Skeet & Trap checking out the last day of the Southeastern Regional Bunker Trap Championship.

Sunny skies but the wind was kicking up. The games hard enough without the wind!

I talked to one young person from Georgia who told me he does the majority of his practice on a wobble trap, as he rarely gets a chance to shoot on a bunker during the school year.

A young lady from Tennessee was really whacking them when I was watching. We talked a bit and she told me she shot American trap at Sparta last year and really enjoyed the experience.

I saw a number of second shot chances scored hits. It’s really something to see, those second shot hits. I see that a lot in FITASC shooting.

I don't know enough about the game to comment on target flight, but I did not see any no bird calls due to broken targets,

I overheard a very interesting conversation on lens color. Whoever the gentlemen was doing the talking, he really knew his stuff. I would have loved to have had the chance to take notes.

A small world as I knew several shooters.

The mounting for the voice release was rather clever. A shooter told me they use the same system at Colorado Springs.

The club has a second bunker under construction. It had been hoped it would be ready for this shoot, but that was not the case. One shooter told me they were waiting on machine delivery.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Withdrawing from shoots

I saw a posting about shooters supposedly withdrawing from shoots because of windy conditons.

Were they protecting averages or did not want to chase targets all day, or did not wish to waste hard earned dollars at a shoot in such weather, or they just said, this is not fun and the heck with it?

When is it OK to withdraw from a shoot, other than ill health and not take flack from shooters?

You’re at the shoot, paid your money, but decide not to shoot because of deteriorating weather conditions.

Does shoot management give the money back or not?

Is 30 mile an hour winds or sub freezing temperatures a reason that most would find acceptable for withdrawal? What about driving rains?

Don’t give me that bit that we always have 30 mile an hour winds, and if you did not shoot in those conditions you would never shoot at are club.

In skeet, if the club can’t get the target through the hoop, they are not legal. How high do you set a trap target because the wind is driving the target down?

It’s also lame when you hear, all our shooting under the same conditions.

At what point does it get ridiculous to shoot, other than doing that "guy thing", that says you must shoot, no matter what?

Twice last year at a skeet shoot we had no business being on the field. Pouring rain and fogging glasses. More monsoon than a passing shower.

Shooting gloves were useless and towels were soaked within minutes. A number of times glasses needed to be cleared. A firm grip on the shotgun was tenuous at times.

We foolishly toughed it out, but thinking back it was not an enjoyable experience and at times, dangerous.

We did know prior too both shoots the weather forecast was 100% rain. One shoot was a five hour drive!

If I did not attend shoots due to weather forecast, I would have missed out on some great shoots, as the weather forecast is off the mark on most occasions.

Does the club penalize me and not return my money for showing up, taking the gamble the weather will be acceptable, or do they cheerfully return the money and say, see you at the next shoot?