If you were to figure up all of the different kinds of missed targets you have ever fired on, which kind of shot would it be? Would it be the first shot of a skeet round? The first shot on a single Rabbit target? Maybe it is the first target of a pair or the second target of a pair. Aha! I thought so! All of my friends and acquaintances have far and away (myself included) missed more second shots on most kinds of doubles in all the years we have been shooting clay birds and live birds, too.
If you have read many gun reviews on any firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, I am sure you have read the standard factory stock that comes with a shotgun or rifle is designed with dimensions intended to fit “Joe Average”. Well, you probably have also learned that Joe Average doesn’t exist and just about everyone gets a gun that does not fit them. Subsequently, the newbie shooters with new guns are always taking shots with little chance of success.
This year is my 30th year of competitive skeet shooting.
When I first started skeet shooting, not only did I not have a regular squad, I was so new to the game I did not know any of the regular competitors. Naturally, the longer I shot, the more competitive shooters I became acquainted with.
Every month from April to October, I hold an introductory shotgun clinic for individuals new to the clay target disciplines. A large majority of the individuals taking this clinic are people who do not own, and have never shot, a shotgun. Therefore, in order to take the clinic they rent a shotgun from the range. The shotguns the range rents are standard off-the-shelf field over/under shotguns. These shotguns come with industry standard stock dimensions which are meant to fit all shooters.
“In my opinion the only way to conquer stage fright is to get up on the stage and play.” —Taylor Swift
Recently I asked a friend of mine, a well-known bluegrass musician, if he ever suffered from stage fright. His answer surprised me when he told me early in his career he was unable to get on stage without having a near panic attack. Eventually, he overcame this problem and what helped him most was the advice of a mentor. He has stuck to it ever since.
Let me start this article off by describing a situation I recently encountered which was the catalyst behind this topic. I arrived at the shotgun range on a day which was extremely windy. Like most shotgun ranges, there were the “regulars” there shooting trap, skeet and sporting clays. However, they were not shooting, they were sitting in the clubhouse complaining about the rounds they shot earlier that day and the low scores they posted as a result of the wind.
For someone interested in starting out in clay target shooting, there are a lot of wrong and a few correct paths to follow. Over my early years, I strolled down both kinds, and perhaps some advice based upon that experience will be helpful.
David Radulovich is clearly at the top of his game. The 25-year-old from Ohio has won top honors in both sporting clays and FITASC. In August, 2018, he was inducted into the Ohio Sporting Clays Association Hall of Fame.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I would spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
—Attributed to A. Lincoln
Part Two: Skill Building
This month’s article is dedicated to the very first thing you are required to do when attending a major ATA-registered tournament: classification. While this may not seem like the most interesting topic for discussion, I assure you it is one of the most important. As a 26-year member of the ATA Central Handicap Committee and a six-year member of the ATA Rules Committee, the past few years I have witnessed a disturbing trend in the increase of handicap score disqualifications.