Jan 13, 2013
By: Rich Nemitz
As I begin to write this first installment about shotgunning for Badger Sportsman, it strikes me that I have seen hunters spend thousands of dollars on the latest and greatest shotguns, assorted equipment, dogs, training and hunting trips, etc., but only a fraction of time or money on improving their actual shotgun shooting skills. This has always struck me as sort of odd, since it is the hunters skill and proficiency with the shotgun itself that will ultimately be the determining factor of gunning success. Now I understand that everyone has a different measure of what constitutes a “successful hunt”, but let’s face it, hitting what you’re shooting at certainly adds to the satisfaction of any wingshooting trip. Give most male hunters a gun and immediately his sub-consciousness conjures up his “inner” Davey Crocket/Daniel Boone/John Wayne shooting clone. In more cases than not, it’s just not so. And yet, one of the easiest things to do, and best investments to gunning success, is spending some time and effort in improving your actual shotgun shooting skills. We are fortunate in Wisconsin to have many shooting venues/gun clubs that will allow us to work on this skill improvement while having some fun at the same time. Trap, Skeet, Sporting Clays and 5 Stand are the main types of recognized clay target shooting sports available. Anyone of these sports will help shooters improve and don’t worry about shooting them competitively, just get out and shoot them recreationally for fun. Don’t be intimidated by other shooters skill levels, focus on what you’re doing and what your goals are: general improvement. Most clubs will have someone to help you get started and give you some initial pointers, just call ahead and ask. Many also offer complete instruction. Trap is the oldest of the clay target sports and both Trap and Skeet offer targets in a more “fixed layout” format. (By “fixed format” I mean that wherever you go Trap & Skeet targets and layouts will be standardized and essentially the same) Sporting Clays, one of the newer clay target games, offers a wide variety of target presentations, more closely emulating actual field game shots and every course is different, presenting it’s own unique targets. 5 stand is a “compact version” of sporting clays offering a similar target variety without having to walk a lengthy outdoor course. As an added benefit, some clubs in Wisconsin now offer, “enclosed, heated trailers” to shoot 5 stand out of during the winter months (under the lights), so there’s no excuse not to get out and work on your shooting during this off season. (We’ve got one at Boxhorn!) Moving forward, we’ll get into more detail on shotgunning and how to improve, but in this first column, I’m going to encourage you to simply get out and begin work on improving those basic shotgunning skills!