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Steel Shot Test #1


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Old Hulls And Chronos


Dear Technoid:

I would like to know what is happening as a hull is reloaded many times. Do you know of an article reporting the results of scientific tests, with reports on variance, etc?

Also, do you have suggestions on relatively inexpensive chronographs? I note that Chrony offers a basic unit for under $100. How do they work?

What is a “diffuser”?

Old Floyd

Dear Floyd,

Waddayamean “scientific tests”! Are you imputing that Technoidal tests are less than that? Well, if you are- you are right as rain of course. My testing procedures tend to be somewhat haphazard, but they may be helpful. I can’t put my hands on any exact article at the moment, but after reloading for 35 years I have a pretty good idea of what happens to shells as they become oft reloaded. My experience agrees with what the other writers say. Fortunate for them.

As a hull ages, two main things and a couple of minor things happen.

First of all, when the hull gets quite old, the body of the hull can split in two ways. AA 410s can separate completely just above the brass. The shell just shoots the front off and you get a “whistler”. 28 gauge Remingtons tend to split vertically just above the brass and vent the powder gas into the chamber. Other hulls of different gauges do the same thing, but these two seem to self destruct the same way each time so I use them as examples.

Secondly, badly used hulls degrade in the crimp area. This can take the form of softening of the crimp folds, splitting between the crimp folds or actually shooting off one or more of the crimp fold “ears”. Any way you look at it this weakens the crimp and affects ballistic performance. A nice tight crimp is required to hold the shotshell together for a moment after primer ignition to ensure that the powder ignition is properly begun. Weak crimps generally produce lower and more erratic velocities due to variations in powder burn. I have seen velocity drops in the 50 feet per second area for old hulls, but the main thing is that they are erratic.

As hulls age, the inside of the plastic gets rougher with each firing. This also affects wad seal, but I don’t really know to what extent. Additionally, some oft reloaded hulls start to stretch the primer pocket. This seems to be more of a problem when switching brands of primers from the original one, but it can lead to loose primers.

As to inexpensive chronographs, I have used a Chrony and it was OK, but I bought the ProChrono instead. They are both somewhere around $100. The only real testing that I have done on my ProChrono was to run Eley Match ammo over it as a benchmark. Eley match is extraordinarily reliable and uniform. The ProChrono was dead on. I also tested various lots of standard factory shotgun ammo and they were in the right ball park.

A diffuser is an translucent light screen placed over the light receptors of the chronograph in difficult light conditions. The chronographs need decent light to function correctly and the diffusers seem to help this if the light is strong but not exactly “aimed” right.

Because light conditions vary so much, I always “set” my chronograph using test loads of known velocity. When my chrono is up and running, I use a couple of these loads through it to “calibrate” and make sure that all is well- then I get into my testing. It isn’t very scientific, but it is practical. The ProChrono has indicators which tell you whether or not you are getting a “good” read.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Cross Dominant Skeet


Dear Readers,

Mark is a AAA class skeet shooter. He is also strongly cross dominant. Since cross dominance affects so many shooters, I thought you might be interested in what fixes worked for this top class shooter. Cross dominance fixes are very subjective and most of the shooters I know find the patch to be all they need. Mark finds that closing the off eye or “blinking down” works better for him.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

Bruce,

I’d be glad to list the corrective measures I’ve taken to overcome my eye dominance problem. It might save other shooters the grief of taking advice from experts that have never had the problem.

Here they are: As a right-handed shooter with an essentially blind right eye, I have to have one of the worst cases of left eye dominance imaginable. I grew up with guns, and as far back as I can remember I was shooting a pistol using my left eye, and tightly closing the left eye to shoot rifle and shotgun. I never thought much about it. As a career military member I have fired about every type of firearm in the US arsenal and again, the whole issue of eye dominance was never anything I gave any thought to.

That changed 4 years ago when I shot my first round of skeet. I was instantly hooked. But as I shot more, I seemed to be incapable of regularly hitting high 2,3 and 4. Note that I was still shooting my old way (closing my left eye tightly). I listened to all the local experts, held my gun where they said to, positioned my feet just so, but nothing seemed to work. I could never get far enough in front of high 2, and I seemed to have an unbreakable habit of raising my face off the wood on 3 and 4 high.

4 years and 100,00 targets later I believe I have it wired. When I miss a target now it’s because I forgot the basics, MY basics. I shot my first NSSA registered target this year and I’m currently classified AAA in 12 gauge and AA in the other gauges.

KEEP THE LEFT EYE CLOSED. I’ve tried the patch, I’ve tried left hand shooting, and I’ve tried shooting with both eyes open and lining up over the shadow barrel. It all works to some extent, but none work very well. If you are a 15-year-old just learning to shoot maybe these tricks will work for you, but us old dogs can’t learn tricks that negate a lifetimes experience and muscle memory. At least this old dog couldn’t. My rule of thumb is that when the recoil pad touches the shoulder, the left eye shuts and stays shut.

Understand that by keeping the left eye shut you are going to lose vital peripheral vision on the left side of the field. The trick is to find ways to compensate and overcome this liability. I believe the techniques I use not only overcome the handicap, but ultimately make me a stronger shooter. If I don’t get an inkball on high 2 halfway to the center pin I’m disappointed.

KEEP YOUR GLASSES SPOTLESS. The upper left corner of your right lens is critical. If it’s smudged or streaked you are literally blind and missing high 2, 3 and 4 is guaranteed. I carry two rags with me while shooting. One for my glasses and one for sweat. I spray de-fogger and cleaner on my glasses before every round of skeet, even during tournaments, and on humid days I’ll wipe the right lens after every station. My experience is that anything that degrades your vision (poor light, bad background, dirty glasses) is going to cause a natural reaction I call “up-periscope”. You raise your head to see better, causing you to miss the target.

MORE ON GLASSES. Wear your glasses snug against your face. Because your right eye must see as far to the left as possible, the higher up you wear your glasses, the wider your field of view. This will certainly cause smudging due to recoil; that’s why I carry two rags.

HOLD IN TIGHTER TO THE HIGH HOUSE. On station 2, 3 and 4 I set my break point in from the center pin about 5 feet, then twist my body left until I can clearly see the chute on the high house with my right eye. That’s my hold point. I don’t look for any set distance.

PULL THROUGH 2,3 AND 4 HIGH. Like it or not, with your barrel as far left as it must be to see the chute, you will never have enough time to get a sustained lead on these birds. Learn to come from behind and fire as the barrel passes the bird. With practice you will be amazed how fast you can break these targets. A side benefit is that the pull through method assures a smooth follow-through and better prepares you for other clay target sports. As unusual as it sounds, I shoot sustained lead on all the “slow” targets, and pull through on all the “fast” ones.

WAIT ON DOUBLES. Because you have a limited field of view, it’s essential to break the first bird on doubles from 3,4 and 5 over the center pin. If you rush the first bird, your gun barrel (and your line of sight) is in the wrong place and you will be delayed acquiring the second bird. A delay in doubles means a miss. By breaking the first bird over the pin, the second bird is in the middle of your limited field of view and therefor easier to acquire and swing on (and break).

MORE WEIGHT FORWARD. I believe that one-eyed shooters have a pronounced tendency to raise their head off the stock because of vision limitations. (Up-periscope again). In addition to doing everything possible to enhance vision, you can also make it physically more difficult to raise you head while swinging the gun by shifting more weight to the front foot, slightly bending the front knee and leaning forward. This action causes you to slightly “crouch” over the gun.

To demonstrate this, mount your gun while standing flatfooted with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. You can freely move your head up and down with no restrictions. Now shift much of your weight to the front foot, lean forward and bend your front knee. When you try to raise your head up now there’s physical resistance from your neck and shoulders. You can’t raise your head without standing fully upright.

When I’m shooting a tournament and I’m as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I tell myself before every station to get the weight forward.

NOT JUST FOR SKEET, BUT LOW GUN TOO. As I also shoot Sporting Clays, 5-Stand, and Modern Skeet every chance I get, I’ve had to learn to shoot one-eyed low gun. Here’s how I do it:

I stand with the gun in front of me, butt down, and barrel up with the bead just below my line of sight with both eyes open. I lock my head, shoulders and gun into one movable object. When one moves they all move. I call for the bird, acquire it and begin my swing as I mount the gun (both eyes still open). The instant the gun butt hits my shoulder I close my left eye, pull through the target and fire. It usually works.

Bruce, I hope I didn’t ‘go on’ too much. But shooting is my favorite subject and once I got started the words just kept coming. Hope this helps folks out there.

Mark

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Nested Pair


Dear Technoid,

I occasionally have read the term “nested pair” in reference to sporting clays, but have never seen it defined. Can you explain what a “nested pair” is.

Keep up the good work and thanks!

Kenneth

Dear Kenneth,

The neatest “nested pair” that I can remember seeing was at Addieville, RI. It was a 60 mm target tucked inside a 110. Sometimes they would separate when thrown, but usually the 60 would stay under the 110 for a bit. I remember whacking the 110 and confidently starting to dismount my gun. The little 60 kept going out of that pile of chips like an escape pod from the Enterprise.

Battues are often nested also as two battues placed together are close to the thickness of a standard 110, most machines can throw this stacked or nested pair off of a conventional arm.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Stiff Citori


Dear Master Technoid:

I have an older, fixed choke Browning Citori, 12 ga., 28″ barrels. Opening the action after shooting seems very stiff. I am no 98 lb weakling but I really have to work to open the action.

While tinkering around inside (in true Jr. Technoid fashion) I notice the two springs that activate the ejectors. I think these are the cause of the stiffness. The stiffness is in opening, not closing the action. Do you agree this could be the cause? Can anything be done to reduce the heaviness of these springs? Can I purchase less-stiff springs or cut these down?

Thanks for your help and the great site!

T

Dear T,

The only Citoris that I have noticed as being hard to open were ones that just needed a bit more lube here and there or ones that had bits of grit or perhaps bent metal causing the drag. I have never noticed that the ejector hammer springs made them very hard to open, so I would look elsewhere. It could be that your monobloc is just a tight fit in the receiver. In production guns that happens from time to time. Then again, binding metal or a tight monobloc would cause difficulty opening AND closing equally.

Why not try taking the springs out and then reassembling the gun. That will tell you for sure if the springs are the problem.

You can always cut a coil or two off of the ejector springs. It is very common to do that on the Belgian Brownings as it keeps the right hand ejector stud from cracking. Just make sure that you obey the Junior Technoid Rule #16: “When altering any gun part, have a fresh, new spare part at hand- or at least a pal who can loan you his gun for a month or two.” If you don’t, you just know what is going to happen, now don’t you.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Backboring A B-25


Technoid,

My question is regarding Belgian F.N. Browning Superposed shotguns. I am presently shooting a 28″ Browning GTI as well as a 30″ Browning Ultra for sporting clays and trap. After reading through the Technoid archives I discovered your concept of taking a 30″ F.N. Superposed with fixed chokes and having it fitted with thin walled screw chokes for versatility without added muzzle weight. I am assuming that your trap F.N. guns have 2 3/4″ chambers.

I would like to try it with a 1961 3″ chambered magnum F.N. superposed. I understand that overall it would weigh more than your F.N. trap. My question is are the barrels similar in wall thickness and weight or would mine be overweight in order to handle the 3″ magnum loads? It weighs 8 lbs. 2 oz.

Compared to the trap guns at 7 lbs. 12 oz. My barrel is 30″. The field stock fits me well.

Thank you,

Karl

Dear Karl,

Generally FN made their B-25 3″ field guns heavier. Most standard field style B-25s that I have fooled with have been somewhere in the 7 1/2# area. My FN Super Traps are right around 7 3/4#. The B-25 trap guns for the American market are sometimes a touch heavier than that. I can’t tell without seeing the gun, but my guess is that your 8lb. 2oz 3″ gun has especially heavy barrels. If you pull off the forend, you will find the barrel weight stamped near the breech ends. It will read 1kg560 (1.560 kg) or something like that.

If the gun has more weight up front than you would like, you can simply have it backbored before having it screw choked. Check with Briley on what they charge for this service at this time.

The nice thing about backboring is that you can make the barrels weigh just about anything that you want within reason. Those 3″ bbls will have plenty of extra steel. and still have enough room for thin wall screw choke threads. Briley will be quick to tell you if you are trying to back bore out too much to also accept screw chokes.

How much you want to back bore out is up to you. If your bores are .723″ and you wipe them both out to .733″ you will lose 2.75 oz from 30″ bbls factoring in the chambers and forcing cones. You are the best judge of how much you would want to take out, but a 3 oz weight reduction from the barrels will be quite noticeable.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Gun Balance


Bruce,

Yesterday I was in the local gun shop and picked up the beretta A400, Browning Gold Hunter and the Remington 11-87. Each was different, the Remington balance was heavy out front, the Browning more even front to back and the Beretta felt light out the front.

What should i look for in a balanced gun? Is it even weight distribution or what. I have been told that the heavier guns help keep you swinging, is the inertia, momentum thing happening?

You views would be appreciated.

Regards,

Nick
Oakville, ON Canada

Dear Nick,

I can no more tell you what kind of balance to like than I can tell you which is the most pleasing color. I can tell you what I like (for what ever that is worth in the real world) and I can tell you what others like. From there on, it is up to you. None of the three popular autos you mention is unsuitable, but they are different.

In ’94 and ’95 Andy Duffy won the Nationals a his Browning Gold. I have shot his gun a good bit. Like you, I find the over-the-counter Gold sporter to be extremely nose heavy for my tastes. Andy had his barrel backbored and probably took 1-2 oz out of it to give it a bit more life. Again, note that the advanced shooters are quick to alter their guns until they get them the way they want them.

Though I am not a big fan of the mechanical reliability of the current crop of 11-87s, the 30″ sporters that I have tried all seemed well balanced to me. I don’t know of any top ranked shooters who use them in competition, but if I had one (and I am not a top ranked shooter) I would probably leave the balance alone.

To some extent, the balance of any automatic is adjustable. If the gun is a touch heavy up front you can add a bit of weight to the stock (just a bit, this doesn’t work well when you add too much) or back bore the barrels to remove weight. A typical .010″ backbore removes about 1.7 oz from a 30″ barrel.

If your gun feels a bit light in the front, you can drill out a bit of wood from the stock or add a bit of weight inside the magazine tube or screwed onto the forend nut. It is much easier to alter the balance of an automatic than it is with an O/U.

What balance SHOULD you look for? What is best? Dunno. The paradigm of the English game gun was balanced between the hands to be very “fast”. All the modern skeet champions used tubed sets that are extremely weight forward and balance like a pig on a snow shovel. But that is what wins.

As to sporting, it really depends on how you like to shoot. I tend to “muscle” my guns and so like a heavy one with a bit of weight forward bias. Not too cumbersome though. The K-80s are just too “dead” for me. Others like a slightly faster gun because it permits more subtle gun movements and easier corrections. A simo pair off 30 yard looping battues can often require a rapid barrel movement between birds and the lighter barreled gun will excel here. The heavier gun might be an edge on big crossers.

Remember too, it may well be a bit easier to add weight than remove it (just like real life). Many shotguns have balancing weights that allow for placement in both the barrel area and the stock area to adjust a gun’s balance to better suit your preferences.

It is not that hard to alter the balance of your gun. We have enough “unbalanced” shooters as it is.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck

Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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The Mental Game


Bruce,

Please talk a bit about the mental aspects of shooting competition and what a regular type guy like me who’s obsessed with clay target shooting can do to get into and maintain that “zone” of focused competition.

I’ve been shooting clays for almost exactly two years now and have won a few events which feels great. I’ve tried to remember and recapture the same state of mind I had during a win but with only limited success.

I just returned from Nationals in San Antonio after several weeks of the best practice shooting of my career. I was unable to maintain that state and do well over the four days of the main event (50 easy targets a day), but surprised myself by shooting my high score ever and subsequently winning a shootoff in my class for first in the 20 gauge event! What gives here? All I can figure is that I had absolutely no expectations for the 20, so was relaxed and unworried.

Thanks,
Will

Dear Will,

One of the problems with the mental aspect of shooting is that it is so very different for each person. I always find it helpful to remind myself that I am bound to miss some birds during the match, but I am just not going to miss this next one right here. If I do miss it, I try to forget about it and never look back.

No matter how poorly I seem to be doing, I try never to give up. After shooting competitively for over 25 years, I can absolutely guarantee you that it isn’t over ’til it’s over. This is especially true in sporting where you really don’t know what the other guy is doing until it is up on the board.

Many people try to concentrate on their mental processes, but I concentrate on the technique and technical side- things that I can get my hands on. I find that if I get those ducks in a row, the other will follow. When I try to force myself into a certain state of mine, it is like trying to hold smoke in my hand. If I can say to my self “If I do step one, two and then three, I know that the bird will break.”, I can deal with that approach better than something more ephemeral. Works for me.

When I am in shoot offs, I try to enjoy watching the other guy sweat and like to think about how nervous he must be feeling. Just making it to the shoot-off is an honor and with only a few shots to go, you might as well pay attention and not give up.

One final thing for sporting clays: Never, ever take the “easy” ones for granted. You absolutely must put them in the bank.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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So I Bought A New Gun…


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Monte Carlo Stocks and Trigger Feel


Source: Clay Target Nation, October 2020, (20-21)

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