New Shooter


DEAR TECHNOID,

ALL OF MY NEW FRIENDS AT MY JOB SHOOT SPORTING CLAYS.SO I WENT ONE DAY TO SHOOT WITH THEM,THEY LET ME USE THEIR GUNS.I HAD NOT SHOT A SHOTGUN IN 25 YEARS,AND HAD NEVER SHOT A CLAY THING. I ENDED UP “KILLING” 35 OF 100.

I REALLY LIKED THE GAME AND SOON FOUND AN OLDER BROWNING CITORI 1976 SKEET GUN AT A GUN SHOP. IT LOOKED FAIR ,BUT,SOMEONE SHOT A SLUG THROUGH IT AND SPLIT THE BARREL.THE ORIGINAL 26″ BARREL IS NOW 23.5 “.AS SOON AS I GOT THE GUN I HAD THE OLD PAD REMOVED ,AND A HAD IT FITTED WITH A NEW PACHMYER PAD.

WITHIN A WEEK AN EVENT COME UP AND ALL MY 60-85% FRIENDS HAD ME ENTER.WE ONLY HIT 18 OF 100.DISMAYED,WE HAD THE GUN FIXED,NEW COLONIAL ARMS 2″ EXTENDED,PORTED CHOKES,LENGHTING THE FORCING CONES.THEN A MONTH LATER WE ENTERED ANOTHER EVENT AND THE GUN ONLY HIT 17 OF 100.

I BEGAN TO WORRY WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THIS THING, IT TOOK ME AN HOUR TO CLEAN IT UP,ALL THAT PLASTIC AND ALL.SO I GOT A WEEK VACATION,AND WENT TO A PUBLIC RANGE AND SHOT 100 ON THEIR COURSE, HIT 36. YEAH,THIS THING WAS EARNING.BRUISED SLIGHTLY,BUT FEELING BETTER,I SOON READ ABOUT BURNISHING.I BOUGHT DOWELING,0000 STEEL WOOL, AND BEGAN BURNISHING,4 HOURS FOR BOTH BARRELS.

WELL ,LET ME TELL YOU WE WENT BACK THE NEXT WEEK AND HIT 42 OF 100.I’VE GOT TO TELL YOU,THIS POLISHING MAKES THESE OLD CODGERS SHOOT MUCH BETTER,NOT TO MENTION SOFTER ,AND MUCH EASIER TO CLEAN.IT STILL HAS A HARD TIME WITH FAST CROSSERS,I GUESS BEING THIS OLD,IT’S A LITTLE SLOW.WE CAN REALLY HIT THOSE SLOW INCOMING .

BUT I THINK WITH SOME TRAINING,I CAN GET THING INTO THE 60’S.I AM USING 23/4 31/4 DRAM 11/8 71/2 SHELLS. I’VE ONLY SHOT ABOUT 400 ROUNDS THROUGH IT,IT STILL SHOOTS A LITTLE LOW AND BEHIND,SHOULD WEE GO GET TRAINING NOW, OR JUST SHOOT A FEW HUNDRED MORE ROUNDS?

DAVID

Dear David,

The fact that you can shoot decent sporting with a 23” gun and 3-1/4 dram loads is a tribute to the indomnibility of the human spirit. Atta boy! Hang in there. I love the way you’ve anthropomorphized that gun. I feel that way about some of my own guns. It’s like the steel and wood take on a life of their own and I’m only a participant.

It’s an interesting thing about gun modifications and newer shooters. A new shooter buys a gun and can’t hit much with it the first day. That’s because he’s sort of new at the game, but he thinks it’s because the gun isn’t “right” or “good enough”. It’s natural to blame the equipment and not yourself. So he goes out and does stuff to the gun and shoots more. And he gets better! Yup, those modifications must really be working. He never thinks about the fact that he’s been shooting more and is learning how to do it. So more modifications are done and the scores go up yet again.

Give yourself the credit! Don’t give it all to the gun. You’ve earned those extra targets because you’ve become a better shot due to practicing. It’s not the gun so much. It’s you! I don’t know what kind of shape your barrels were in when you polished them out with steel wool, but I’d be surprised if the shiniest barrels in the world will help you point the gun any better.

Is it time for lessons yet? Positively. Now that you have an idea of how the game of sporting clays works, you will want to start off with a good foundation of basic techniques before you ingrain any bad habits. I’m always amazed that a shooter will spend $100 to enter a match and buy ammo, but he won’t spend $100 for an hour’s coaching. In the long run the coaching will save you money. You won’t have to try every wrong way before finding out the right way the way I did. You are very wise to consider lessons.

You are going to get some comments about your gun’s barrel length and also the type of shells you are using. I’d recommend dropping your loads down to modest velocity one ounce loads while you practice. That will permit you to pay more attention to how you move the gun and less attention to managing recoil. When you are hitting 50% of the targets, look to improve your technique. When you are hitting 85% of the targets, look to improve ballistics or to get any other little edge you can. Ditto barrel length. Technique is more important than equipment at this stage. As long as your gun fits you pretty well and doesn’t whack you in the chops when you shoot, it’s just fine for now.

You say that your gun shoots a “little low and behind”. You can put some tape on the top of the stock comb to raise the point of impact. As to shooting behind- ahem, how should I say this- I don’t think it’s a stock dimension problem. I shoot behind more birds than most people and I’ve yet to find a way to bend my stock to cure it. If you discover some magic adjustment that cures shooting behind, please let me know. We’ll get rich together. In the meantime, I suggest shooting a bit further in front.

Get the lessons. Practice a bunch. Have fun. Welcome aboard.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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