Friday, September 18, 2009

Sporting Clays Last Week

Last weekend instead of fishing I shot sporting clays at the annual Kramer Open, a charity event held at the Wild Marsh Gun Club, Santiago, MN. Our organizer Dave Kramer does this every year on the Saturday after Labor Day. Sporting clays is sort of like golf with guns. We shoot 100 birds (clay targets) in two groups of 50 on a 9 station course winding through the woods. Hitting all of the targets can be extremely difficult. The targets and shooting positions vary with each location with targets flying high, low, fast, slow, coming, going, and the occasional rabbit target where the clay is rolled on the ground. The intent is to try and duplicate actual shooting situations one would occur while hunting. I normally shoot with my good friend Tom Emmons however this year I assembled a team from work consisting of 2 engineers Welly and Al along with our manufacturing engineer Andy. It had been a while since Al and Andy had shot with Welly never having fired a shotgun before. Lucky this wasn't a team event!

My introduction to sporting clays was through Dave Kramer a number of years ago. Many of my customers were participating in this event and I thought it would be fun. I have been hooked ever since. My original shotgun is the Browning A5 Belgium model 12 ga (Top picture). I traded a snowmobile, recurve bow, and a bolt action 22 for it. Beautiful gun but I never could hit anything with it. I still have it as a collectors piece. When I decided to shoot the Kramer I also decided to get a new shotgun. Any excuse is good right! Having always wanted an over/under I picked up a Browning Citori 12 ga, O/U with a 26 inch barrel (middle picture). I figured that I could also use the gun for upland game such as pheasants and grouse, so I opted for the shorter barrel. Browning makes a very nice gun and I especially liked this. Prior to the meet Tom and I went out to practice with the new firearm. He shot skeet at the time and we decided to try it first. I shot a remarkable 23 birds the first time, which was pretty incredible, especially for me. Unfortunately the good shooting did not carry over to the sporting clays event. No problem, I was hooked. Eventually I joined a league with my Team Walleye friends and we have shot for many years. With my Citori I settled at about 35/50 (70/100) and stayed there. My best score with the Citori is about 40.
I was determined to look for other way to improve my score and what would any red blooded American do but blame the gun! I ran across a great deal on a Browning 525 Sporting Clays O/U with a 30 inch barrel, loaded with all those extras to improve your score. Maybe it is just in my head but it really worked. Tom claims all the improvement is because I am 4 inches closer to the target with a 30 inch barrel vs the 26 inch. The next year at league I improved by over 5 birds/50, consistently scoring 40 - 42. My first year shooting the Kramer Open with the gun saw me win the most improved shooter award. In a war of nerves with Mr. Emmons, whom I have never beaten, I lead the score all the way to the very last station. With 94 birds shot, I lead by 1 with 6 left. I shot first and hit the 4 in a row, with 2 left. These were easy targets however I think Tom was kicking his voodoo doll likeness of me and I missed the last 2. He was up next and hit the same 4, demolished number 5 to tie and nailed the 6th one to beat. He still thinks I lost intentionally to make him feel good as I had him sweating all day. I guess he will never know.
As far as Saturday results, it was pretty interesting. I shot an 88/100, good enough for 3rd place, right behind Tom's 92. Welly had never shot a gun before and his score was an amazing 48. Al had brought his new side by side 12 ga and shot over 55, which was fabulous for having not shot for over 20 years. Andy did well with a 57. I tried to spend a lot of time coaching these guys as it is pretty easy to see why they were missing them. Keep the gun moving, get out in front of it, your shooting way below it. They took it in stride and I felt did really well. One thing I did forget is to pay more attention to how they were holding their guns. Both Al and Welly were pretty bruised up for the next week as there was a price for their fun. Oh well, next year. Off to Mille Lacs this weekend, I can't wait!
Here is an on-line shooting game you might enjoy: /

1 comment:

Dewey said...

Hey Dave... So what do sporting clays taste like??? I kinda prefer grouse, cuz no one hollers "pull" when they get up.
I'd comment further but I've got a highball and a cigar waiting for me on the porch.
Just moved in Sunday and got my computer up and running today.
Guess I'm gonna have to get a workin' on my blog here pretty soon. I've actually had people bugging me about that. Go figure.....