Monday, November 15, 2004

Range Report: Shooting Clays

I got together on a Boys Night Out (day out?) with my brother and some of his friends. We went up to the State Game Lands by French Creek State Park and shot there. That is why I didn't do any posting on saturday, I was either driving or away from civilization in the back woods of Pennsylvania.

My brother and one of his friends both brought mechanical clay throwers which gave us the needed consistency for starting shooters. We set the throwers up on the firing line (and marked where you were supposed to stand with one of the bright orange clays). Shooters had two shots at each "bird". This is something like trap shooting, only the ranges are all wrong.

My 590 worked ok and I was happy. My mossberg has a fairly short barrel at only 20 inches. It also has a cylinder bore choke, the most open choke. This means that my long range accuracy suffers (because of the short barrel) and my gun doesn't hit as hard out there either (because of the choke). My shotgun is a short range anti-personnel riot gun, not a long range sporting arm.

My brother was shooting his Saiga and wasn't doing well. His gun is even less "sporting" than mine in every respect. It is semi-automatic which is nice, but it jammed on him a couple of times which made his day even less fun.

I countered the weaknesses of my gun by trying to hit my birds early. Once they got far enough out a hit would be sheer luck. When I started shooting, I was guestimating where I thought the clay would go. So I mounted and aimed my gun at that patch of sky and yelled pull. The problem was I'd still have to move it over to the clay, then change direction, and then shoot it. It took too much time and frankly involved a lot of fine motor skills.

So instead I just aimed the gun at the ground about ten yards in front of me and yelled pull. I brought the gun up to the clay and fired as things lined up. Turns out that even though my gun started farther away, this technique worked a lot better. I was hitting earlier and better (clays shattering into powder instead of chipping bits off). By the end of the day, one of the other shooters was admiring my technique so I was happy. Unfortunately I didn't figure all this out until halfway through the competition section of the day so I finished in the middle of the pack. Oh well, I learned something and that is what matters to me.

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