We’ve all been there – you see the guys walking around with guns by Kreighoff, Kolar, or Perazzi. Beautiful guns that look and shoot great. You aren’t sure whether you should even be allowed to pull the trigger on your shotgun next to these fellas – let me tell you, yes you should, and it is possible that you just might beat them.
Some of these guys might have inherited their high-end blasters and those gentlemen will probably out-shoot you. Others will have worked their way up to these trophy guns and will be hard to beat. They won’t bust ’em better than you because their excellently-scrolled weapon points better, they’ll beat you because they’ve been doing it since they were kids – or forever in some sense.
Others bought their high-end gun just because they could – they saw Vincent Hancock busting clays on the internet and bought $15,000 gun because they were sure it would make them into an elite skeet shooter. The thing might not even fit them that well. Combine poor fit with lack of experience and these guys are just plain fun to out-shoot when your holding something you might have bought used for well under $1000.00.
Getting into the clay sports for many of us meant buying an inexpensive auto-loader like a Remington model 1100 or a reasonably-priced over-and-under like the Stoeger Condor I started with and still shoot.
If you are just starting or getting back into it, it is not likely that you will best someone that has been shooting skeet for 30 years whether you have a $600.00 gun or a $16,000.00 gun. When starting up, buy what you can afford, learn the weapon and the sport. Have fun, then worry about upgrades.
Recently having got back into Skeet and Sporting Clays, I purchased that Stoeger Conder O/U with 12 and 20ga barrels for about $600. I bought some briley chokes to replace the flush chokes that came with the gun and went out for fun.
My first skeet shoot was disappointing, but I got bested by a guy carrying a camo-colored Franchi auto – not a trophy gun, but definitely a very practiced skeet shooter and a very capable gun. My very first sporting clay round was not much better, although the guys I ran with were shooting some 3-12 thousand dollar guns (a decked-0ut Citori and a mid-level Rizini. At first, I blamed my heavy, inexpensive gun, but really, it was the rust in my technique.
One more round of skeet later and I started to feel my confidence building. I went out with a buddy a few weeks later for some sporting clays and shot 24 of 50 in round one and 28 of 50 in round two. Same gun, new confidence, more practice.
I’ve been many.. many times since then and still shoot the Stoeger. 2500 rounds later and it still mounts the way I expect, locks-up tight and shoots where I point. It’s just nice to come out of the round top shot without having spent top money.
I’ve been through rounds with guys shooting side-by-sides (coach guns), pumps and autos. I enjoy shooting with every one of them. What I have learned is that while tools are important, even the most-expensive gun will not turn a toddler into a clay-buster. We have to practice, learn, refine (yeah, and eventually upgrade). If I finally get to a point where my scores stagnate and an instructor can’t help me .. then, and only then, will I consider that perhaps the $600 gun is to blame. In the case where even my under-priced prize is the better tool, I never expect that I will out-shoot anyone – even that guy with the little black 20″ mossberg pistol-grip pump. He just might be better than his gun.