Thursday, December 24, 2015

Dec 24, 2015 @ Sportsman's Club of Franklin County

Temperatures in the 60's was the forecast for Christmas Eve.  Too nice a day not to shoot so we headed over to the Sportsman's Club of Franklin County (Vermont).

This time of the year usually around 35 degrees with snow on the ground.

Except for the comings and goings of those using the rifle range we had the club to ourselves.  We each shot four rounds of skeet.  Windy, but field #2 and #3 have enough trees to block prevailing winds that winds wasn't a factor. 

The bathrooms were being rehabbed during the last couple of visits to the club and the end product gets three thumbs up.  Nice job!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Beretta A400 Xcel Sporting Shotgun 5 Month Review

Purchased the firearm in early August. 

Fit me right out of the box.  30' barrel.  I didn't purchase the model with the KO recoil reduction pad.

Note: If you have the KO system you can't cut the stock, as the KO system will no longer fit.  If you think your going to have the need to cut the stock down, purchase without the KO. You always have the option of going after market for a recoil reduction system if you shorten the stock, just not the KO system.

Barrel replacement runs in the neighborhood of $750.  Make sure you pick the length that suits your needs. 

Be careful with the forearm when removing or installing. Very light weight.  A lady contacted me after I first posted about my purchase and said her son cracked one.

I shoot skeet, sporting and trap.  Skeet station #8 high with a 30" barrel took a bit of getting use, but after several rounds I don't even think about it.  We usually skip station #7 when working on a problem station and I did just that, shooting the shells on station #8 until I got comfortable.  

Beretta recommends you break in the firearm shooting 1 1/8  loads.  Shot two boxes before I switched to my normal 1oz. loads.

I've had a couple of light loads (various companies).  A light shell (not enough powder) will cycle and feed the second shell into the chamber, but won't set the firing pin. You can hear it when it happens.

I also had a problem with  re-loads that didn't resize properly. I did fix the re-loader that was causing the issue. A pain to remove the shell with oversized brass in the A400 barrel.  The shell won't extract when you pull back on the handle as the extractor is in the way. 
You have to move the bolt back far enough to see and then move the extractor with a small knife blade or whatever you have on hand just to remove the barrel. Then the shell has to be removed from the barrel with a cleaning rod once the barrel has been removed. Anyway, if at a shoot and you need to borrow a shell or two, make sure there factory. The 1100 is more forgiven.

As a long time Remington 1100 shooter I can't get over the simplicity of the firearm compared to the 1100.  Tear down is a breeze. A few dabs of oil when cleaning and your done.  I've been wiping down the barrel/chamber and putting it away when just a one day visit to the range.

The company advertises a couple of thousand rounds between cleaning.  I've gone at least three cases of shells before I removed the bolt. A person at Rochester Brooks recommended to keep a small bottle of oil in your shoot bag. He says if the gun starts hanging up just put a few drops in the chamber and then work the bolt a few times. Solves the problem unit you have time to do a proper cleaning.

I lost a bolt handle in the first month.  I suspect I didn't seat it properly.  I purchased a replacement (2) and haven't had a repeat.  I did note the bolt handle was a pain to remove, but someone on a talk board was recommending too oil the end you insert. The suggestion was right on the money.

I lost a mid bead.  Ordered two (2) replacements.  I secured with blue Loctite.

I replaced the blue end cap with a 3.9 oz. black cap.  I was swinging over targets in trap. My initial solution was to move my hand forward a few inches on the forearm.  The couple ounces of added weight allowed me too no longer have the need to move my hand forward.  A little oil on the threads made for a smooth install.

If you shoot sporting clays I recommend you upgrade the choke wrench to a speed wrench. 

If your new to trap shooting a shell catcher on a semi-auto is a must!

T&S Industries Shell Catcher makes a shell catcher for the A400 or you can use the Birchwood Casey Save-It Shell Catcher.  I choose the T&S.  Either way you can't shoot doubles with a shell catcher installed. You can't use the after market Briley Bolt Handle with the T&S.  I did try a Birchwood on a 1100 and had issues. Either having to re-bend the wire time after time or the adhesive failed.

I'm thinking of installing the Briley A400 bolt release ($65).  That would mean modifying the T&S shell catcher.  Looks feasible, but if I do this it will be in the spring after shooting through the winter and seeing if I change my mind, but leaning heavily in that direction, 

I've heard reports of A400's not cycling light loads (under 1200 fps) but haven't experienced that myself.  Someone was just telling me this past weekend about a friend that was having the problem.  I asked if the gun was broke in with 1 1/8 shells, but he didn't know.  I suggested the owner contact Cole Gunsmithing and see if a solution was available.

So far, I'm a happy camper....

Monday, December 21, 2015

Seen on Facebook

Ararat & Stawell Field and Game is a branch of Field And Game Australia Inc.

Visiting Canada (a few suggestions)

1. You pay $1 dollar (minimum) or more for gas in Canada.  Top off your vehicle prior to crossing the border.  They don't sell it in gallons.  Posted rate is in liters.  1 gallon = 3.78 liters.

2. Only a few credit card issuers no longer charge a conversion fee.  Twenty-five years ago you could use your card in Canada and the bank didn't charge for the currency exchange.  Now, most cards have a built in charge if you use the card in Canada. Check with your issuing company before you travel.  I've found the fee not punitive, but a fee nevertheless and you need to be aware, especially on small purchases.  As a side note.  If bringing a long gun into Canada.  You can process the application on the same day of travel at the border. The 60 day permit fee is $25 Canadian.  They will accept your credit card.

3. Spend your Canadian dollars in Canada.  At today's bank rate you receive $1.39 Canadian for each U.S. dollar converted.  You convert $100 (US) and receive $139 (Canadian).  If you return to the states and convert Canadian money to U.S. currency you will receive $.72 (US) per Canadian dollar converted. At some locations the conversion back to U.S. dollars can be considered punitive in what they charge (if you live away from the border it may be hard to find someone that will accept them).

* Conversion rate charges vary.  You normally can deduct $.03 off posted rates you see on the internet when checking currency values. Some money exchanges/banks have a walk in fee of $10 or higher before they apply the $.03 cut per dollar. In my region the local bank recommended I use the exchange at the mall if I wanted best value.

4. Does your health care policy cover you in Canada? Contact your insurance provider. Medicare only under very strict conditions will pay any cost associated with heath care in Canada. 

5.  Is your automobile insurance valid in Canada?  Contact your insurance provider.

6.  Do you have a Passport (flying or driving) or Enhanced Drivers License (driving only)?  The old days of returning to the USA and flashing your drivers license is no longer.  Many border states can issue you an Enhanced Drivers License.

7.  Be aware of the value of goods you can purchase in Canada and return to the U.S. duty free.  $200 exemption per visitor just for a day trip.  This will help you spend those unwanted Canadian dollars.

8.  kilometers to miles.  Just multiply kilometers by 6 and round off the result.  100 km/h X 6 = 60mph.  I've used this basic formula in my travels in Europe and Canada.

9.  Canada did away with the penny.

10. Does you GPS cover Canada? 

11.  Does your cell phone provide coverage in Canada?  I have a Verizon pre-paid plan and I have to activate additional roaming (*228) before entering Canada.

12.  As in the states some regions outlaw the use of a radar detector.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dec 20 Visit @ La Roue du Roy (with photos)

La Roue du Roy, Hemmingford Quebec

 Rear View

The newly built 5-Stand is in operation.  Heated shooting stations on the first floor.  A beautiful looking building.

When in use all doors would be open

Door open (note rail barrier)

Preparing to close the door (rail up)

Door secured (from the inside)

Upper floor

 Heaters above each door way

The Tower is in the process of being re-configured (5 machines) from the present two (2).  
Two stations will be tower shots (two machines each) and a third station will be a combination of a tower target and a target from the water tower near the entrance.  What the tower has going for it is that the club has the ability to easily set the height of the various machines.

The back sporting clays course has been converted for winter usage. 

Station #1 is a single stand with four machines. 

Two eight (8) Machine Stations.  A small enclosed shooting stand (building) has been built (not heated) and situated on each course.  The small building looks to be able to hold three or four people comfortable.  One shooter at a time. A gun rack inside each building

 Except for the opening for the shooter, completely protected from the winds

For the trap shooting Enthusiasts.

Check the clubs website, as winter hours in effect.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Regional clubs that caught my eye this year

Waterbury Stowe Fish and Game Club
Waterbury Center, VT

Hats off to the volunteers who run the clay target program.

Not too many years back you knew it was a club that had skeet, but never gave it a second thought when thinking of a place to shoot clay targets, as just some good old boys getting together.

No longer the case.  Tuesday skeet shooting saw a total of 45 shooters at various times throughout this year.
A nice touch is they submit a Tuesday shoot report to the local newspaper several times a year. Individual shooters getting recognized for their efforts via the local paper.

Two skeet fields and one trap.  I’ve not seen anything on trap shooting at the club so I’m not sure how active it is.  I would contact the club prior to travel if you plan on shooting trap.

Golden Triangle Trap and Skeet Club
Brockville, ON

For years I drove down the 401 and had no idea I was driving by a club offering not only skeet and trap, but also 5-stand.  The club has an international release (built in delay) available for International Skeet.
They usually have a few fun shoots each year and everyone is more than welcoming.

The shoots have an ample number of prizes and always a buffet. 
The volunteers are something else.  An hour after a shoot you would never knew a shoot took place.  Clean as a whistle.

Two highly successful shoots this year that I'm aware.

North County Sportsman's Club
Williston, VT

After years of being in court, a lost trap field, and a relocated 5-stand it seemed all the clubs problems were in the rear view mirror.
Not so, as the town started to harass the club over hours (days) of operation, to include having the police issuing noise ordinance violation tickets over an expired agreement between the town and the club.

The club is in the courts.  Winning the first round.
The club's legal defense fund in early December stood at a little over $20,000.  Funds contributed by members and non-members.

After cutting back on shoots offered, as it was getting its ducks lined up, the club plans on offering a number of shoots in 2016.

La Roue du Roy
Hemmingford, QC

A new eight machine 5-stand, two story building, built from scratch recently opened.
  Heated shooting positions on the first floor.

The famous Roue tower is being reconfigured from two machines too five.  The tower will accommodate three shooting stands.  Two machines per stand and the fifth machine used in conjunction with a machine in the old water tower near the club entrance.  The platforms the machines sit on can be raised or lowered to whatever the target setter desires.  Think geese!


Club de Tir de Valleyfield
St-Stanislas-de-Kostka, QC

I thought the club was finished with improvements, but on my last visit I see a new elevated stand built on the 5-stand field and told the field was going wireless via the purchase of a wireless release system.

In recent years (weather permitting) the club has stayed open 12 months of the year.  Not too long ago the club closed for the winter, maybe opening informally when the weather was mild.

Underhill Rod & Gun Club
Westford, VT

Recognized for years as a major force in Vermont NSSA skeet shooting the club has been becoming renowned for its two annual sporting clays tournaments.
The course is temporarily setup for the shoots.  At first, the vast majority of machines hand traps and old Winchester single stack machines.  This year hand traps were no longer.  The result of the club investing wisely over the years to transition away for the need for trappers.

A FITASC tournament may be offered in 2016 and the club might see a permanent sporting clays course used for mid week shooting.
Nothing in writing as of yet, but strong rumors.


Northeast Kingdom Skeet & Sporting Clays Club
Burke, VT

The first year that no hand traps were used on the course at the state shoot.  Good job!

The club is well know for its sporting clays course but also offers skeet, trap (wobble trap) and 5-stand.

Quebec Provincial Trapshooting Association

An organization that has matured in approximately the last ten years.
  Major dissenters no longer (thank goodness).  Those who don’t contribute, but an arm chair quarterback, can be detrimental to any organization and not needed.

A handoff of the organizations presidency (Marcel Leblond highly regarded, who retired) went off without a hitch and high standards maintained via the current presidents leadership.
The QPTA not only supporting numerous shoots each year but always looking to add a club to its membership. 

Club Huntingdon after not holding registered shooting in recent memory, this year returned to the fold and held its first registered trap shoot.


Sportsman's Club of Franklin County
St. Albans Bay, VT

A new fence constructed between skeet field #2 and #3 and a new rack fabricated for the voice release trap stands.  No, not done by magic in the middle of the night.

Not gone unnoticed is the work being done in the bathrooms.

A nice touch is the option to purchase a membership via the website using PayPal. 2016 memberships available.

Worthy of a mention but sad to say, nothing positive to report on the state of NSSA skeet shooting in either Vermont or Quebec.  Outside of state/provincial championships not even a target only shoot held.  Just the opportunity to get targets.  2016 will be the first year I didn’t renew my membership via the NSSA, but renewed via the NSCA.  I sold my .410 re-loader on EBay.

Maybe 2016 will see a rebirth.

Also, on the down side a noticeable lack of old fashioned fun shoots.  More then a few clubs have dropped off the map in regard to fun shoots.  Derby Fish and Game Club has been maintaining the number of fun trap shoots it offers each year, but if it's sporting clays in Vermont, they are NSCA oriented and NSCA target presentations our not everyone's cup of tea.   Can't remember when I last attended a fun skeet shoot, just skeet and no other disciplines. Their has been no sporting clays shoots in Quebec in the past few years.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

December 2015 @ Club Valleyfield

I shot practice at the Valleyfield Gun Club in St-Stanislas-de-Kostka, Québec.  The club use to close for the winter, with maybe opening unofficially if the weather turned nice.  This year as last, they plan on being open every Saturday (weather permitting).

I wanted to shoot trap and maybe a round of skeet later in the day, but ended up shooting skeet first.

Figured out real fast they were shooting skeet doubles.  I'm sure they mentioned it, but all French to me : )    Dropped three.  Wireless release.

Four of us shooting trap.  Shot two rounds.  A lady shooting an 870 was hitting targets hard. Gun looked like it fit her like a glove. Wireless speakers.

The club is doing a major upgrade to it's 5-stand.  Most importantly an eight machine wireless controller has been ordered.  If you've ever helped at a club you learn really fast that cords a pain for the person opening and closing a field.  An expensive upgrade, but makes it more likely the 5-stand will see serious use as easy setup.

New shooting station for the 5-stand.  Just built in the last week.  Next step is to install the stand barrel stops. The building just left of the stand holds two (2) single stack Winchester machines.

 5-Stand machine storage.  If I remember correctly they have three machines that can be moved about, to include a rabbit machine.

Geese were flying all day.  For whatever reason they were heading Northwest!

My Beretta A400 doing nicely. Shot Federal pink and RIO shells today.  Third outing without a cleaning other then wiping down the barrel.

No problems or traffic at the border crossings.  An all women crew working the U.S. crossing (and gun friendly).