Category Archives: Skeet

Introducing a New Shooter to Skeet

I’ve been a wing-hunter for decades, sporting clays shooter for years and a skeet shooter for months. Suddenly, my wife decided that she wanted to give skeet a try.

First off, she’s small.. scratch that .. tiny. 4’11” (4’11 and 1/2″ if you ask her) and about 115 pounds soaking wet.

If she was going to enjoy the experience, I had to think this through. I started by talking to the old salts at the range. Some offered the advice of a light 20 gauge auto-loader saying that it would kick less and others said a .410 o/u was the way to go for a small shooter due to it’s extremely light weight, easy operation and barely noticeable kick.

The argument against the .410 bore was that it might screw up her confidence if she misses a lot. Having to shoot .410 in competition, I know just how humbling it can be – especially in the wind.

The argument against the 20 gauge was mine. They weigh too much for a small shooter to handle effectively and the kick is still a little rough for someone that weighs so little and hasn’t been around shotguns before. She would never be back to try the sport again if I handed her a gun she could not handle or that beat her up. The auto-loaders also have a lot of moving parts, have more complicated loading/unloading processes and aren’t lighter.

Perhaps a 28 gauge lightweight is the perfect compromise, but I didn’t want to end up the proud owner of a 28ga. o/u if she hated it. I could always give the .410 to my youngest if the wife didn’t like the game.

wife-shooting-410.410 it was. I bought a Mossberg silver reserve .410 O/U and took her out to play with it.

I started her on stations 1 and 7 shooting the incoming birds and she did well. She broke about 50% of the targets on her first time out and was having a great time with the gun. She found it easy to  lift and had virtually no kick.

The second round we added in the incomers at 2 and 6, then 3 and 5. She did very well and became more excited as she started seeing the bird better and hitting more targets.

For the third round, I decided to go with the confidence booster. Back to 1 and 7 incomers so she could leave the field feeling like she’d learned something and would want to come back to do even better next time.

I didn’t try to make her a competitor. I gave her very little to think about each time. The very first round, everything was about safety and learning to operate the gun. Muzzle, action, safety. She learned where the business end of the gun could be pointed safely, when she could load and when the gun must be unloaded. That first round was all about familiarity.

The second round we worked on hold points and focusing on the target. The third was about smoothing out her gun swing. I am sure we’ll get to visit some of these things, but it sure was fun seeing her get better with each attempt.

She’s been back twice since then and is asking to go more often. There is nothing better than having a shooting partner in your own house.

It turns out that it isn’t always about hitting them all, but letting all, hit some. The fun is the important thing.

NSSA World Skeet Championship: Day Five

In yesterday’s shoot I had shot well. A 97/100 was a great score, but it wasn’t enough to earn a medal – fourth place by a slim margin.

On Day Five, I was shooting the 28 gauge event and needed to improve over my mini-world 28 gauge score of 90/100 as a matter of pride if nothing else.

The weather was another exact copy of the day before. Clear skies, windy and temperatures in the 80’s. While better than my mini-world showing in the 28gauge, it wasn’t as good as I should have shot and it was all because I lost focus on the last box.

The first box was a 24 – having dropped the incomer at station one on the double- yeah, the easy one. The sun was right over the low house and visibility was a major pain. I was able to pull it together and shoot straight for the rest of the box.

The second box was perfect – 25 – I was “in the zone”.

Third box was a 24 after having dropped low 7 when it dove under my barrel right as I pulled the trigger – things happen.

The fourth box was a mess. I dropped three birds on station five and six and missed low 8. The station 5/6 problem was shadows. I could not see the targets right out of the low house from that angle. I tried a few techniques to overcome the visibility issue, but was unable to correct for it. This is something I’ll be working on with my coach over the next few months. Fourth box – 21.

Total score for 28 gauge: 24-25-24-21 = 94. For the second day in a row, my score would leave me in fourth place – just one spot out of a medal.

NSSA World Skeet Championship: Day Four

Having shot a sub-par set of 12 gauge events yesterday, I was determined to shine in the 20gauge event on my fourth day of competition.  During the mini’s I had a not-so-great 20 gauge round and it’s the gauge I practice the most.

The weather was a carbon copy of yesterday and the day before – clear skies, wind, mid-to-upper 80’s. My squad was the same one from the 12 gauge event and will be the same until I finish on Thursday (day 6). Steve and Charlie from Arizona, Nole and Terry. I was shooting in the second position, right behind Steve, our squad leader.

The first box (25 targets) I shot a 23. Not terrible, but I needed to stop missing targets if I wanted to make a medal spot (top 3 shooters). The second box went much better – 25 out of 25. The third box was a 24 after I missed the first bird – high one single. And I finished with a 25.  23-25-24-25 = 97. I had thought for sure that my 97 would stand up for a second or third place finish – boy was I wrong. Three other shooters had better scores as can be seen in the concurrent score report below.  This wouldn’t be the last time that I finished fourth by such a slim margin.

NSSA World Skeet Championship: Day Three

Day one and day two both ended with a medal in my hands, but day three would be much different.

The weather wasn’t any different than the last 2 days. Sunny, clear skies, light breeze in the morning turning to spiraling somewhat windy conditions in the afternoon.

Today, I’d be shooting the two part 12 gauge event in the World Championship Main competition. The 12 gauge event is separated into two rounds each consisting of 75 targets for a total of 150.

The first event started out just fine. No misses – until station five. Missed all three targets – the high, the high-option and the low.  Started out the 3 box event with a 22.

The second box was a little better, but I missed the low bird on the station 6 double for a 24.

The last box was just.. average. I missed high one and low 4. Not terrible box by itself, but with the 22 hanging over my head, it wasn’t enough to make up for the first box blow-up. The round ended as a 23.

22-24-23 = 69 of 75 targets. Not aweful, but not good. A 71 should have been the low side for me, but things would be better in the second half .. right?

No. Too many mental lapses, not focusing, leaving early. Pretty much every one of my fundamentals was just not happening as automatically as I was used to, Very similar to the 28ga event in the minis, I was not in the zone – or anywhere near it. Without getting into exhausting detail, I shot a 67. Two birds worse than the morning and not near enough to place in the 12 gauge event.

Stay tuned for the Day Four update where I’ll be shooting the 100 target 20 gauge event.

NSSA World Skeet Championship: Day Two

Yesterday resulted in a championship medal in 12 gauge and a lesson in energy management. I took that lesson into the second day of shooting – Sunday, October 2nd – at the NSSA shooting complex in the mini-world skeet event.

First Event – 20 guage (4 boxes = 100 targets)

Saturday had gotten started just after noon with a final round going until 6pm. Sunday was entirely different. Starting at 9am the sun was a factor, but not directly. The sun was casting a long and dark shadow over the low house and about 10 feet along the flight of low birds when shot from the fifth and sixth stations – that would cost me dearly in the 20 gauge event.

The first box (25 targets) started out very well, I got all the way to station 5 before I realized just how bad that shadow was. I missed the low, then the low option from that station before moving on to station 6 and missing the low bird on the double from that station. That shadow was going to be a problem and I needed to figure out how to deal with it because I could not continue to shoot 22’s and expect to do well.

On the second box, I tried moving my hold point out a bit on low 5, but was still unable to hit it.. twice – for a 23.

On the third box I was able to limit my low 5 losses to 1 and finished the round with a 24.

On the final round, I ran into the shadow problem at 4 and 5 and missed on on each station for a 23. That 92 was not good enough to win anything. I am going to have to work on low house shadows when I get back to North Carolina.

Second Event – .410 bore (4 boxes = 100 targets)

The second event on Sunday was in good light. Shooting in the afternoon, the loathsome, evil, sadistic low-house shadow was gone and visibility was good. .410 is the smallest of the shotgun shells and with only 1/2 oz of shot, you’re either on the bird or you aren’t.

The first box went fairly well. I dropped my first target on high-3 but went straight for the rest of the round for a 24.

The second round I missed  3 for a 22. The high winds were moving the birds around a bit, and sometimes, things happen.

The third round, I lost two birds, but felt good with the way I was shooting.

The final round was light’s-out. I went straight until I got to the very last bird – low 8 option. Lost. A 24 where a 25 should have been.

That left me with a 93, which I consider a good .410 score. I knew it would be enough to get something for my work, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be another champion medal or second place.

The .410 event concluded the mini-world. That led to an interesting observation. If you were paying attention to the Day One recount, since I lost my very last target in the minis, and yesterday had missed the very first – I had missed the very first and very last target in my first registered NSSA competition.

Now, on to Day Three and the Main World Championship Event.

NSSA World Skeet Championship: Day One

Arriving at the NSSA shooting complex in San Antonio was a first in itself. But not only had I never been to the complex, I had yet to shoot my first NSSA registered skeet target. I was going to go through the World Skeet Championship as a rookie.

Being a rookie means all of the confusion of not really knowing what to do or where to go, but the NSSA staff were extremely helpful and completely understanding.

First stop was the registration building. A survey, a ticket, a form, another form, registration fees and I was all set to compete.

My first event was the 12 gauge mini-world.Once arriving at the field, I met the other shooters that the event organizers had squaded me with. The four of them were from Mississippi and were as nice as could be. They made me feel as if I were shooting back with the gang in North Carolina.

I was shooting in the fifth position in the squad (last). So I had plenty of looks at the targets as the first four shooters shot at station 1. I stepped up, got ready, called for the target and promptly missed my first ever registered target. Things happen.

What happened next, is where it gets interesting.

I then shot the remaining 24 targets in that box (25 targets in a box). Then went perfect in the next two boxes (74 targets straight at this point), then shot the first 20 targets in the fourth and final box without missing. That’s 94 straight targets without a miss.

During this most-interesting run, I did make a mistake that could have cost me,had it not been for the awareness of of Frank, from the Starkville Gun Club. I had mistakenly set up for low five when I should have set up for the high bird. I called pull. When nothing came from the right side of the field, I put my gun down and looked at the referee – that’s when I heard a booming voice say “high bird GET IT” – in a split second I realized my mistake, turned around, pulled the gun to my shoulder while sighting the bird, inserted into the lead point and pulled the trigger …  SMOKE. That was an adrenaline pump and a fine example of the camaraderie that I have witnessed in every skeet shooter I’ve ever met.

NSSA Mini world skeet championshipAll-in-all, I missed two targets out of 100 for a total score of 98 – which was good enough to the the Mini-World 12 gauge rookie champion. Second place shot a 96.

I had family at the event and we toured the grounds in the time between shoots, a mistake I learned from. All that walking around in the sun took a lot out of me and when I got to my second event that day, I was beat. I was struggling to focus, could not get “in-the-zone” that I had been in that morning. I shot a 90 – good enough only for 5th place.

The lights-out shooting in the 12gauge event still had me stoked despite the not as spectacular 28gauge follow-up. I did however learn that I needed to spend more time in the shade relaxing between events and will take that into day 2 where I will shoot the 20 gauge and .410 bore events.

Heading out to the NSSA World Skeet Championship

nssa logo

Nine months of preparation is about to be taken to the field. I started shooting skeet this year and in February decided that this was going to be the start of my run for the 2012 Rookie All-American honor.

I shared my early practice rounds and routines in “The Trail to San Antonio”. Lately, it’s been all business as I prepared to compete in my new-found sport.

My first shoot is Saturday, October 1st when I’ll be shooting the 12 and 28 gauge events in the mini-world competition – kind of a warm up to the world championship events. Sunday is 20 gauge and 410 bore. This is my first NSSA registered shoot and how I shoot in the mini’s will decide what class I shoot in for the World competition.

Then, starting on Monday, is the run for the roses. Monday I shoot the twin 75 target 12 gauge rounds. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is 100 targets in each of the 20 ga, 28ga, and 410 bore events. 6 days straight shooting no less than one hundred targets. I am both excited and ready.

I spent a few hours at my home field to lock-in the program I have been developing with my coach all this year. Now we find out how it will go.

San Antonio, here I come.

Claybuster 1034-20 3/4oz 20 gauge Wad [Recipe and Review]

Claybuster 1034-20 Wads

Left: CB 1078-20 Right: CB 1034-20

As lead prices rise, it’s always nice to find another way to reduce shooting costs. It is even nicer when that comes with the promise of even lighter kick out of my 20 gauge practice loads.

Last weekend I picked up a relatively new offering from Claybuster: their new 20 gauge 3/4oz wad designated CB-1034-20.  The “new” wad is really the old 1078-20, but with a small nub added to the shot cup which will allow the cup to fill to the same height with 1/8oz less shot, and they’re green (image left).

 

All of my online research says that you can use any recipe for the 7/8oz CB 1078-20 wads when using the 3/4 wads. The physics do make sense as even if you put the same powder, with less shot, in a similar wad – at worst, you have a bad pattern because the shot is spread to heck from a hot load. But there should be no risk for high pressures. If anything, barrel pressures should be lower with this load and should result in lower kick.

On the back of the bag insert were a selection of recipes and they seem to back up the assertion that CB 1078-20 recipes could be used wit the new wad. I currently

The way that Claybuster achieved it is by adding a small raised area in the shot cup. That way, the rest of the wad is identical to their standard 7/8 oz wad.

For a comparison, here’s my 20ga 7/8oz skeet recipe (1200fps, 10,900psi):

16.5 grains Alliant Unique

CB-1078-20 wad

Rem-209p STS primer

Remington STS hull

7/8oz lead (I use reclaimed for practice and #8 1/2 magnum/hard for competition)

The insert from the wad bag had a similar recipe (1250 fps @ 9000 psi):

16.2 grains Alliant Unique

CB 1034-20 wad

Rem 209p STS primer

Remmington STS Hull

3/4oz lead

So with roughly the same powder, the new wad and less shot, the theory holds: higher velocity with lower pressures.

I decided to make 6 of each of three of the four provided recipes to pattern and cronograph.

Velocity 1150 1200 1250
Pressure 7600 8100 8400
Powder (alliant unique) 14.3 15.4 16.2
Wad CB 1034-20 CB 1034-20 CB 1034-20
Hull Rem STS Rem STS Rem STS
lead ¾ oz reclaimed ¾ oz reclaimed ¾ oz reclaimed

The shells went together and crimped well. I’ll post a range report as soon as I get the tests done.

12 gauge Skeet Practice Load

*update* – I have switched to using 20 gauge for my skeet practice as I shoot 20 gauge even in the 12 gauge events. For that practice load recipe – go here: 20 gauge 3/4 ounce target load

Now that I’m shooting several hundred skeet targets per week, I need a load that doesn’t kick as much, doesn’t cost as much but still has a reliable pattern.

My current load has one ounce of lead at 1150 FPS. The ISSF (International Skeet) guys shoot competitions with 7/8oz of lead so I thought it might make a nice light load for practice. Off to the Alliant site to see what they had.  Sure enough, even still using E3 powder, the TGT12/DR-RT12 wads and Remmy 209p primers, they had a load.

I started making them, but the crimps were terrible, they were caved in quite a bit and I didn’t feel safe.  After toying with my crimp setup for 45 minutes, I gave up.  This load wasn’t going to work.

I suspected that a 1 ounce wad wasn’t optimal for a 7/8 load so I re-visited the Alliant site and found a load that uses the Claybuster CB-1078 7/8 ounce wads.  My gun club carries them, so $7 later and I was at home giving it another shot.

The recipe is:

Hull: Remmington STS, Nitro, Gun Club

Primer: Remmington 209p (STS)

Powder: 16 grains Alliant E3

Wad: CB-1078 (replacement) for Winchester WAA12L (grey) wad

Shot: 7/8oz reclaimed shot

I made 28 – 3 for patterning, the rest for a standard round of skeet. The pattern was even, no major holes, good spread at 20 yards and the kick was amazingly non-existent.  The difference between a 1 oz load and 7/8 is noticeable, it is cheaper and it patterns well.

I took my 25 light loads on to the skeet field and not once did I feel that I missed a bird because I had less shot.  Certainly, light hits were much more obvious, but that’s a helpful took in practice.

I now shoot the 7/8 loads with tighter chokes in practice.  I want to know when I’m dead on and when I’m slightly off.  Open chokes with an ounce or 1 1/8oz of shot will give me a dead bird on a slightly mis-pointed shot.  This load with tighter chokes .. won’t.  When I go to compete, sure, the 1 oz loads and skeet chokes will be back in the gun, but for practice, 7/8 rocks.

Converging Lead in Skeet

In a previous post, I shared some Vincent Hancock videos that demonstrate the three basic shotgun leads.  Swing-through, pull-ahead and sustained lead.  I had been a sustained lead fan for skeet for all of December, 2010 (when I started learning the game).  After my first lesson (with the guy that is now my coach), I learned there is a fourth lead type – converging lead. I need to find the time to setup my gun camera and take some footage of how that lead looks.

In a nutshell, instead of trying to quickly get the right lead and sustain it by exactly matching the birds speed, this is a lead where you move the gun at a speed slightly slower than the bird and shoot the bird when the correct site picture/lead is recognized.  I find this much easier to hit the bird faster and makes my break points much more consistent.

I used to have a break point that moved.  It had to.  With sustained lead, I’m having to move the gun quite a bit.  With converging lead, I can start the gun further from the house and slowly let the bird catch up to my gun.  With a rehearsed and consistent gun speed at each station, that always happens at my desired break point. Getting the slower, consistent gun speed is taking a lot of work and my coach is having to remind me to slow my gun on a regular occasion. I’ll get there or piss of my coach trying.

Once I pickup a new SDRAM card for the gun camera, I’ll get some footage and add it.

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