I shot clay pigeons for the first time

Lyle (at UltiMAK) and many others have been wanting me to shoot clay pigeons with them for a long time.  I can only think of one time, probably 12 years ago, when I have even seen people do it live rather than in some video.  Lots of friends shoot sporting clays and trap, but I’ve never been to the range with them despite lots of invitations.  It just wasn’t that interesting to me.  I’m not interested in shooting birds for food.  And my shooting activities are not intended to be entirely recreational.  But Lyle got me out to the range yesterday.  I brought my SAIGA-12, ammo, and some clay pigeons Ry gave me along with another pile that Lyle had.  It sometimes took three shots but I got the first ten or so.  As I got tired it got more difficult and I started missing.  And when I tried doubles I couldn’t even hit one of them.  But I went through probably 100 rounds and 50 targets.  It was fun.

Now tell me what the practical aspect of it is for me.


11 thoughts on “I shot clay pigeons for the first time

  1. Wingshooting connects you with the purpose of the shotgun. ( Well, maybe not the purpose of _your_ shotgun, but given the gun in question, I can see how you tired after 50 targets.) If you’re not interested in bird hunting, think of it as an exercise in acquiring and engaging a rapidly moving target. Shooting an IPSC target will tell you about how your shotgun patterns. Shooting at clays teaches you how to put a pattern on a moving target. With enough practice, you can solve the complex differential equations that describe the target’s path without ‘thinking’. The rabbit targets in sporting clays add to the challenge by skipping and hopping along the ground.

    Shotgunning is a different gestalt than rifle or pistol shooting. It is ‘instinctive’ in that you must react to the target quickly and not overthink the shot. Let go, Luke. Use the Force. Rifle and pistol shooters frequently have trouble with shotgunning because they are focusing on a sight picture and not the target. Seeing the target is key. The target must be sharp. The barrel is blurred. Without understanding these differences, your shotgun is only a sloppy, entertainly destructive alternative to a rifle.

    A skeet field is one of the best places to learn this stuff. The targets follow fixed paths and the shooter engages them from different angles. Outgoing. Crossing. Incoming. Master skeet shooters can do it with timing and muscle memory. The rest of us get to see a variety of targets that challenge us to recognize the differences in each presentation. Trap shooting demands that the shooter respond to a target of unknown trajectory (within a defined envelope) quickly, before the target moves out of range. Like rifle and pistol shooting, competition in these sports has evolved away from the practical towards stylized techniques and guns, but both have important lessons to teach the shotgunner.

    Doubles are another challenge. An important part of doubles is to visually commit to one target at a time. If your eyes bounce between the two targets, or fall into the space between them, then you miss both. See one. Break one. See the other. Break the other.

    Two of my shotgunning instuctors have offered the following words of wisdom.

    “The hungry eye and the quiet mind.”

    “I bet you can’t miss in front of it.”

    Once again, I need to enter the code at least twice. No, there was no rum and Coke involved with the first attempt.

  2. Thanks Sean. That helps. But keep in mind that I got ten for ten ‘birds’ (yeah, it took multiple shots on many of them). I’m questioning the “shotgun” aspect. We’re going to do it again with a rifle soon (yes, we have a safe place to do that). Now THAT I can see practical applications for.

    I don’t know what to say about your problem with the codes except sorry. I don’t have the source code (although I could get it) and it’s just not that important to me to get it fixed. Could it be that it happens when you take a long time from the start of the comment to when you submit it?

  3. Joe, you’re right about the time spent on a comment. Apparently the code resets at a predetermined interval, so if you take a while, the code has changed by the time you post your message.

    I agree completely with Sean, but that possibly has something to do with the fact that I very much enjoy shooting the clays and I want to rationalize it.

    We were probably both using a very open choke. Mine was an “inproved cylinder” and yours didn’t feel much different in terms of ease of hitting the ‘birds’. It gets more challenging if you use a full choke– it’s one step closer to the ultimate challenge of using a rifle.

  4. I suspect that a few of your questions about the “shotgun aspect” will be answered by your rifle experiment.:-}) Henry Bowman started working on this problem with the aid of tracers. If the clays prove evasive, position your trapper behind cover downrange and have him throw Frisbees. Larger, slower and reusable.

    SVRC used to have the pullies and such to operate a running boar target. That would be a fun rifle target. Ditto a “charging lion” series of pop-up targets.

    Not knowing what sort of targets you were shooting at, I can’t comment about your ten out of ten. Two or three shots on most handthrown targets verges on spraying and praying. Of course shotguns lend themselves to a sort of spraying, but a skilled shotgunner usually only has to pray once. :-}) Continental trap allows two shots. The target is rather fast coming out of the trap house and that second shot, if needed, is taken a ways out.

    Code reset makes sense. Can’t give the bot unlimited time to do image processing/OCR on the image.

  5. Oh, reviewing your post, I see that you were shooting machine-thrown targets.

    Cranking the contrast up on the code image gets you close to something OCR-able. Filtering out the single pixel noise would yield a eminently machine-readble image.

  6. As others have said, it does help teach you to hit moving targets. I have shot thrown clays with a .30-06 (and have witnesses), but I don’t think I’d have been able to do that if I hadn’t done it before with a 12 gauge.

    Besides, it’s shooting, and it’s fun.

  7. Lyle has done a fair amount of rifle clays so I know it can be done by other than fictional characters. I’m pretty sure my shotgun has a full choke and I didn’t really think it was all that hard shooting the machine thrown clay–except the doubles. And I knew it was a problem with focus on my part, plus I was getting tired by that time. The more I relaxed and just “let it happen” the easier it was to “dust” the clays on the first shot. I felt it was just a variation of pistol IPSC. Trigger prep, sight alignment, squeeze. I didn’t really take into account movement. When the sights were properly aligned the gun would just sort of “go off by itself.” It sort of boiled down to, “Okay. I see how this is done. I could probably do this fairly well if I practiced. But to what end?” See… other than small game what really can a shotgun do that a rifle or pistol can’t? Slugs? Okay. Sure. Launching an ounce of lead is pretty cool. That’s what the .50 BMG is for–over an ounce and a half of lead at 3X the velocity plus I can launch AP, tracers, and incendiaries. Yeah, the 12 gauge is cheaper and lighter. But I just don’t see it filling any gaps in my “repertoire”.

    Now with the rifle on moving targets… that has potential. Not only the obvious but Lyle, Ry, and I (plus LOTS of others) have long wanted to do “aerial boomers.” Think about some of those with a tablespoon of titanium flakes in it. That will be awesome.

    The three of us actually went out to do them once and launched boomers probably a dozen times or more. Lyle was unable to hit it in the failing light and the snow coming down. We’ll get there eventually and have the video to go with it.

  8. The reference to UC wasn’t to suggest that only fictional characters can hit clays with a rifle (well, maybe a bit) but to point out that getting to where you’re good at it takes a lengthy and methodological process. Starting from ground zero, you found that the same task wasn’t all that hard with a shotgun.

    **That’s because the shotgun is well-designed for the task.**

    That makes it the more practical weapon for hitting moving targets. Select-fire rifles may offer the best of both worlds: single well chosen shots or patterns of projectiles increasing your chances of hitting a target who’s position is not locked.

    With practice, technology and cunning, the rifle and pistol can be brought up to speed. With practice, technology and cunning, you might well hit something at Boomershoot with a shotgun slug. That doesn’t make it a practical solution, but you’ll develop interesting skills and knowledge along the way.

    But I argue here against my own interests. I’ve been curious about the SAIGA for some time. Since you have determined that it is superfluous, would you sell it to me cheap?

  9. I haven’t determined that it is superfluous, but I suspect it is. It’s not for sale at this time. I’ll bring it the next time we get together and you would be welcome to “spend some quality time” with it.

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