Claybrakn... Lady Shooters (9/11)
By Frank Neumayer
Question: My husband introduced me to clay target shooting out at the club the other day. I had a great time… and I really think it’s something we can enjoy doing together! What advice can you give me to get started out correctly?
Answer: One thing I really like about clay target shooting is that it allows for the whole family to enjoy the sport! Over the years, it’s been my honor and
pleasure to have shot with some of the sports great lady champions. Registered Trap shooting has been around for well over 100 years, and the sport has seen many excellent lady champions all
along the way. First of all, for anyone just starting out in the sport, do your homework and educate yourself on all the aspects of the various clay target venues offered. This way you’ll
have a much better understanding and perspective of just how each game is played before you actually start shooting. I know it’s hard, but when you’re out on the field, don’t be intimidated by
those watching. In truth, most of them are envious or just plain happy to see new people, especially women and kids, learning and enjoying the sport. Shooters come in all shapes and
sizes, and it doesn’t matter who we’re talking about. With that in mind, there are several important factors that every new shooter needs to address. From my experience, here are the
three main points that you’ll need to consider in order to start out correctly at clay target shooting.
First Point: The most important factor is proper gun selection and proper gun fit. There are ladies who shoot very well using every model, style, and weight of shotguns available. However, for a lady just starting out, I would recommend a quality 12 gauge semi-automatic with a 28” to 30” barrel, with a vent rib, and adjustable choke inserts. This will allow you the comfort and versatility needed to shoot all day in the field, or any of the clay target games offered. Choosing a semi-automatic should dispel many of the concerns over the aspects of harsh recoil. Brands like Remington, Beretta, and Browning, just to name a few, offer excellent models to choose from. As always, your prime considerations in choosing a shotgun should be safety, reliability, comfort, and serviceability. New or used, more than likely you’ll need to shorten the stock to get the proper “length of pull” required. You’ll also need an adjustable comb or butt plate to allow for the proper “stock to shoulder fit”, which will also provide the correct “eye to bead to rib alignment”, and “pattern point of impact” required. Above all, you’ll definitely need a proper fitting gun to make certain that your clay target shooting is comfortable, fun, and successful.
Second Point: Just as important as having a properly fitted shotgun, choosing the correct load for the specific clay target game you’re shooting is critical to your comfort and success. You should always select the lightest possible load that produces the best possible results. Here are some basic loads I’ve used successfully. For Skeet; 7/8 to 1 oz of #9’s, traveling at 1145-1200 fps, is more than adequate. For Trap singles, doubles, and short yardage (plus most Sporting Clays shots); 1 oz of #8’s, at 1145-1200 fps, should do the job. There are times when you may need a heavier load for a few of the longer Sporting Clays shots (and/or some longer yardage Trap shots); in that case, 1 to 1-1/8 oz of #8’s, at 1200-1255 fps should be more than enough for those unique situations. You should plan on spending some quality time at the pattern board to make certain that your gun, chokes, loads, and pattern are all doing exactly what you need and expect. When you’re on the line or in the field, and you’re trying to focus on breaking targets or bagging birds, you don’t want to be questioning whether you have the right choke, load, or pattern for the situation at hand.
Third Point: Every shooter needs to work on improving or maintaining their physical and mental strength and stamina. Mounting, holding, and swinging an 8 to 9 pound shotgun can be a grueling task for any shooter, especially when you’re shooting a 100 target event, two or three times a day, for a week or two. I work on my arm strength most every day by doing several reps each with a 10 pound weight. I also do several daily exercises to help strengthen my eyes, neck, shoulders, and low back. As we all know, a proper diet plays an important role in developing and sustaining competitive strength and stamina. Every shooter should be mindful of what they eat and drink and how it can directly affect their shooting ability, especially when engaged in a lengthy hunting trip or grueling tournament. No matter what sport you choose, the last thing you want is to have a good day, or a good score suffer because of fatigue. To enjoy the sport and be successful, every clay target shooter needs to do whatever they possibly can to stay strong, sharp, and in focus for every single target or bird presented. Also, getting plenty of good rest is an obvious key factor to being successful.
I hope this helps shed some light on a few of the important things you’ll first need to consider in order to enjoy the fun and excitement of clay target shooting. Far too often I’ve seen ladies sent out to shoot targets using grandpa’s old goose gun. This is not good! Usually, the gun is way to heavy, it doesn’t come close to fitting them, and the duck loads they’re using is pounding them to death. It doesn’t matter who the shooter is, if shooting any gun “hurts” the first time you use it, it’s going to be a real hard sell to get that person to come back to the range. Again, I strongly advise you start out with the right gun, fitted properly, with the right loads, coupled with some experienced or professional coaching and instruction. That way you can actually focus on learning the game, breaking targets, and having fun… rather than being intimidated, frustrated, or discouraged before you even get started. Your husband obviously wants you to enjoy the sport like he does, so do your homework, learn the fundamentals, acquire the right equipment… and then let the fun begin!
If you have a specific question, send me an at firstname.lastname@example.org email and I’ll do my best to get it answered. Please keep your questions brief and to the point.
See you at the club… Frank
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