Miss Manners

Dear Readers:

Well, I have definitely opened up the flood gates when I asked for suggestions for my Miss Manners. It seems as though everyone has seen something during a shooting session that he would like addressed by our Mistress of Moral Means, the General of Gentility and Colonel of Courteous Conduct. Many of these pecadillos have been covered already. However, some of the etiquette breaches are new and thoroughly inventive. Miss Manners has her ruler ready to slap the grubby little hands of those transgressors when the time comes.

Here follow just the first batch of responses containing pet peeves that could use a little (or a lot of) correcting.

Best regards,

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

1. “Cheering for your favorite Trap shooter.” It was a little disconcerting when an overzealous wife whooped and yelped when her man broke his targets (I think she had a few cold ones beforehand). This was a fairly low-rent ATA shoot, but I still thought it was out of line. It seemed to affect the rhythm of the squad. The scorer asked the man about it and the response was something like “Hey, it’s a game requiring concentration. If you’re doing it right, no one else should hear her.” Maybe this is common. I had never seen it before.

2. “Adjusting Polychokes with a chambered round.” I’ve seen this a few times at our 5-stand layout. Perhaps it’s not poor etiquette to shoot some of your own fingers off, but it is infringing on my time when I have to perform first aid.

3. “Teaching gun-handling basics during a round of Trap or Skeet.” I’m all for teaching kids/newcomers to shoot. The more the better. But the range is not the place to show a youngster how to hold/handle a shotgun. That’s what the backyard is for. After learning the basics at home, newcomers should watch a few rounds to see what it’s all about. Then let’s try to break a few. Giving a gun to a clueless person can make for a scary experience.


One of my pet peeves are the guys with the autos that won’t eject the shells and wanting to take each pair as singles. Then, having huge cohones, they start telling everyone all the top courses they have shot.

First, if they don’t know ahead of time that particular loads won’t work, then a clays course is a poor place to find out.

Second, for those of us with less money than brains, we don’t necessarily view their prior conquests as sufficient excuse for holding us up. Usually, most people don’t want to offend, so they won’t say anything. My usual comment is, “I think if that were my gun, I’d be wrapping it around that tree over there”. Usually this happens in a non-refereed shoot, so everyone has to kind of put up with it. There are just some people who think that they are “important”.


I would like Miss Manners to address the proper procedures and/or etiquette for picking up empty hulls from the ground. Some gun clubs post signs stating that when the hulls hit the ground they belong to the gun club. Is it okay to pick up my own hulls? When shooting sporting clays when is it okay to pick up my hulls? After I shoot or after the entire squad has shot? Perhaps not at all.

I think many of us have walked into the shooting stand and had a previous shooter come around the side of the stand picking up hulls. It was probably me, so thanks for waiting.


Saw your request for suggestions for Miss Manners. Don’t have any real suggestions for annoyances, except maybe range owners/managers who put 6 or 7 people in a squad to squeeze out a few more $$$$ for the round.

Another…. I know we all start out as beginners, but, maybe there are times when I’d rather not shoot on a squad where one or more of the shooters is a “first time shooting a shotgun” situation. It’s especially frustrating when you KNOW the new shooter’s companion or mentor is giving the wrong advice, and you want to put in your 2 cents, but don’t want to add to the new shooter’s confusion, etc. Once at Thunder Mtn., a good shooter was trying to teach his wife to shoot skeet (not all good shooters are good teachers). I was embarrassed at how belittling and impatient he was with her. The poor lady was almost in tears. I wish I could have taken her to a field alone and just have her shoot incomers at stations 1,2,6,7….. just to get a feel for lead and swing, and build a little confidence. When the opportunity presented itself, I discreetly suggested that she take a lesson from a pro, without her husband present. Unfortunately, I think she was so upset at the whole experience, that she’ll not pursue shooting as a sport….. too bad.


Not trying to sound like a whiner, I feel that the subject of golf cart manners must be addressed. At shoots in Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware the seems to be the mindset that the trails on each course is a substitute for Dover Downs. Some shooters forget that when they are scooting around in their gas powered carts that they should respect the fact that other shooters are trying to call for targets over the loudness of the engines. This really upsets the old concentration. I don’t know if this is a problem in other sections of the country but it sure bugs me.


Here’s something that comes to mind (if you haven’t already done it of course)… A discussion of when is the proper time to unload and reload for trap, skeet, and sporting clays from both a safety and etiquette perspective. I mainly go to a local trap and skeet club with public access (I’m the public, not a member yet) to keep sharp for upland game and waterfowl hunting, and to teach my son. The club has trap, skeet, and 5 stand sporting clays. Since I shoot a Browning Gold Hunter and he a Remington 870, the unloading part is not an issue. I always wait until it is my turn again before reloading, and told my son to do this. This would seem to be the safest and most courteous approach. However, while watching my son reload I sometimes get the feeling that some the other folks on the line get impatient because he is not ready to go and thus is holding up their next turn. I watched how others handled this and saw no consensus

especially with those shooting OUs. Some folks were fumbling with their guns while the next shooter was shooting, some waited for the transition period to the next shooter, some waited for their turn. So when is the proper time to break the gun open, remove the spent shells, and load the new rounds?


one of the things i see most often that is ill mannered is to point your firearm at anyone. we see this most often with auto loaders {i shoot one}.what usually happens is shooters treat them as if they are a break open model they walk with the gun at their waist with muzzle pointing forward and flopping up and down.as you approached you can not tell if the action is open or not.


As a potential column for Miss Manners, please consider the following … hot reloads and warning shooting “partners” about their use. Let me elaborate. We have some “games” shooters who do not reload to ATA maximum standards (I must explain we shoot mainly ATA style trap and game variations of the same … Annie Oaklies, ambush, 5 from the porch, pieces and protection, and etc.). In fact, some of them do not reload to any known standards or even published recipes.

I do not care if they want to blow up their gun or themselves, just don’t take me along. It should be made clear to anyone standing around, or shooting along side, that the next round is not a “standard” and well, maybe hiding behind the nearest blast shield would be appropriate.

I have first hand reports from trusted shooting buddies who have been standing next to some “blowups”. It seems this one shooter prefers Activ hulls because it has the largest internal volume, and he stuffs it full of Blue Dot and at least 1-1/2 oz of #6’s. So far, nobody has been hurt, but one such incident will be too many.


While I am a Skeeter and not Sporting Clays shooter, the following probably still apply.

I hate it when people shooting autoloaders pick up shells while the round is still in progress.

I hate it when the next shooter is not at the station ready for his turn, but rather is off someplace and has to be told he is up, wasting time.


Some of my own pet peeves include:

Shooters who take practice swings with a closed o/u while waiting their turn.

Shooters who still don’t know what their choke markings mean even after years of shooting – “Does three notches mean it’s a skeet choke?”

Guys who bring everything they own to a shoot and then spend twenty minutes sorting through it to pick out what they need for that day – while everybody else waits to get started.

Squad mates who can’t add or don’t check their math.

Shooters who assume that if you’re quiet it means you’re upset rather than just concentrating.

Shooters who refuse to take a lesson, read a magazine or buy a video but who don’t hesitate to pick your brain every time you shoot together.


My pet peeve is the competitor who carries his shot gun over his shoulder, barrels to the rear. Most of these individuals prefer to use the “Intercept” method for establishing lead when attempting to take out an eye ball or two.

This entry was posted in Shotgun related. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Miss Manners

  1. Bob Shemeld says:

    I was shooting five stand. It was the first round; I was at number five. It was obvious to me the kid (he was about 20) at number 4 had never seen a shotgun much less fired one, and I so told the trapper who apparently was oblivious to the gun being pointed everywhere but down range, mostly at my head. The trapper admonished me to mind my own business, it was her responsibility. I said fine, please attend to your responsibility before number 4 kills someone. She took a firm grasp of the situation and asked number 4 if he had ever shot a gun before. He said nothing, but nodded in the affirmative, so she said well go ahead and shoot. He then attempted to load the gun brass first. I kid you not, he tried to load the gun with a 12-gage cartridge brass end first. I left the stand immediately, but not before telling the trapper how much I appreciated her keen perception.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.