Sporting clays is often described as “golf with shotguns.” It’s an interesting change of pace for a guy whose target scattergunning has mostly been 16-yard trap.
This shotgun sport takes place on ten different firing points. Shooters proceed from station to station, firing ten shots at each; two shots each at two clay birds launched from two traps. There is a wide variety of shots offered; high, towering shots, ground-hugging, low fast shots, ground-bouncing “rabbit” targets, fast crossing shots, high arc, floating shots; the gamut from easy to almost impossible. I’m a fairly experienced wingshot, proficient with a shotgun for many, many years, and I managed to scratch out 55 hits out of 100 birds. The most experienced gun hand on our team was a 90-year old WW2 veteran, a man who has shot trap, skeet and sporting clays, and I recall he managed 60 out of 100. It’s some of the most challenging shotgun shooting I’ve ever
done; the fast-handling (although on the heavy side) Citori Hunter was right for the job, although loyal sidekick Rat turned a very credible performance with his Mossberg pump gun. A tip for aspiring sporting-clays shooters; take every choke tube you own, and be prepared for some quick choke tube changes between stations. Knurled, quick-change tubes are favored; I’m laying in a supply.
Can’t wait to do it again. After hearing a recap, Mrs. Animal is anxious to try it. Her shorter, lighter 16 gauge Citori White Lightning should be ideal for the job. I think I’ll practice a bit more at my more familiar 16-yard trap first, though.
Goal for the next time out: 100 hits out of 100 shots. That was the goal this time, but these things take time.
Shotgunning is different from riflery and handgun shooting in a way that is difficult to quantify. Rifle and handgun shooting is a precision sport, but mostly a more deliberate sort of shooting (although some rifle shooting, such as snap-shooting whitetails in heavy cover, is very fast-paced, intuitive shooting.) Rifle and pistol shooting is, for the most part, a science; shotgunning is an art. The mental calculations of wind, arc (no two birds fly the same) and lead take far more intuition than shooting a rifle at a stationary target.
Both are fine martial arts, but like blondes, brunettes and redheads, they are just… different.
The shooting was followed by a picnic-style lunch, adult beverages and cigars. Rat and I availed ourselves of some fine Glenfiddich single-malt and some equally fine Maduro stogies while listening to the speakers. Biggest thrill of the day: After the presentation I spent some time chatting with the keynote speaker, Daivd Martosko of the Daily Caller. Mr. Martosko mentioned the loons at PeTA several times in his speech, so I asked him if he had ever read Misplaced Compassion. “Yes,” he replied, “I have a copy. I’ve read almost everything on the topic of animal rights.”
“That’s me,” I said. “My book. It’s a little outdated now.”
“That’s it!” he replied. “I thought your name was familiar!”
So we gabbed on the subject of PeTA loons for a while. Rat and I also spent some time in conversation with Independence Institute President Jon Caldara, with whom I have spoken on his radio show a time or two. I also spoke briefly with the Institute’s Second Amendment maven Dave Kopel, and with former Congressman Tom Tancredo. An interesting day, all in all.
The main gist of the ATF party is this: Adults should be free to enjoy adult pleasures, such as shooting, booze and fine smokes (in the proper chronological order, of course.) And the secondary message was important as well, that being that adults can enjoy such things and, in the concomitant conversation, disagree on some issues as adults, without personal animus attached.
We’ll be attending again next year.