Holy Shotguns, Batman

This weekend my wife and I went out to the family farm to celebrate my father-in-law and my birthday (we do joint celebrations, it’s a long drive).  I also brought a pile of guns with me, since having access to 500 acres and a perfect backstop (giant pile of dirt) was too much to pass up.

For targets, I brought a bunch of the Shoot-‘n-See targets – the kind where the round hits and the target “explodes with color” or somesuch, making it easy to see where your round hit.  However, my best idea was snagging a bunch of clays to use, because nothing is better for newbies than reactive targets.  Soda cans, steel ringers, or clay birds, my new theory of teaching is based around the fact that if the shooter can see or hear their hit immediately and get that feedback right away, they’re going to enjoy the sport a lot more.

The shooting was a big hit, my father in law, sister in law, her fiance, and my wife all had a pretty good time.  After my sister-in-law and her fiance went back inside, the three of us had a little fun throwing the clays by hand and trying to nail them with the .410 shotgun I had brought along.  While doing this, I discovered that Mrs. Ahab appears to have a natural gift for the shotgun.  Now, again this was with hand thrown clays, but once she got dialed in (it took 2 shots) she broke 10 straight clays without a miss, using 2 1/2 inch .410 rounds with like half an ounce of shot.

The best part of it is that once she starting breaking clays, she loved it.  The good hits where the bird would just blow apart under the shot would elicit a giggle from her, which resulted in me not shooting my shotgun very much.  I’m not complaining, even a little bit, since she now wants to get a good 20 gauge with a nice recoil pad and start shooting trap.  You should have seen the big old grin on my face when she said she’d be interested in continuing with the sport.

So, I’m putting an erstwhile training program in place.  We’ll start with hand thrown clays, then move up to ones thrown with the sling-thing that I have, and after she feels comfortable with those, we’ll move it up to actually shooting trap from the booths.  From there, who knows?  Maybe she’ll starting shooting IPSC matches or something crazy like that.


  1. I’m glad I’m not the only girl who giggles when she shoots big guns. =)

    Yay for Mrs. Ahab!

  2. Hooray! A shotgun training program for Mrs. Ahab! I need this, too. Trap shooting is on my to do list. I love watching the clays explode, but have not tried it yet. I want some of the Shoot ‘n See targets, too.

  3. Shooting reactive targets is the fastest and most effective way to attract and keep new shooters. Keep up the shooting recruiting, our lifestyles depend on it.

  4. I remember well the extreme pleasure when a clay target just powders in puff of smoke. Smoking targets are a lot of fun.

  5. You might want to think about finding a sporting clays range. Trap may get boring very quickly, as there is very little variation in the target presentation, speed, angle, etc. To be competitive in trap, you have to be able to shoot perfect rounds (25/25) more often than not. Anybody shooting under a 97 or 98 out of 100 won’t be competitive at most trap shoots. Trap requires a huge degree of concentration and dedication. Sure, go to the trap club a few times and shoot a couple rounds for familiarization, but don’t get too disappointed if it gets boring.

    Sporting clays, on the other hand, is a completely different kettle of fish. Targets fly fast and slow, far and near. Targets can be coming and crossing and going away and springing straight up or falling straight down OR THROWN SO THEY SKIP AND ROLL ALONG THE GROUND! Some targets are normal trap and skeet size, some are smaller, some are so little we call them “aspirin from hell”, some have no dome and therefore don’t fly straight or predictably, and some are reinforced to be thrown sideways into the dirt. Heck, you don’t even shoot from one kind of place: You can shoot from a stand, a pit, a high-stand, or even from a moving boat.

    I’ve never seen a perfect score in a full round of Sporting Clays. A beginning shooter will shoot in the 30-50% range, an experienced shooter may shoot in the 50-65% range, and an expert might shoot from the 60’s to low 90’s. The wide variation is because every clays range is DIFFERENT. No two are ever the same. Exploring the clays ranges in your area is one of the most enjoyable pastimes you can engage in while shooting. Some ranges are kinda utilitarian, but many look and feel like parks. My favorite (now closed I understand) was the range on the old Wayne Newton ranch between Prescott and Phoenix, and it was gorgeous. Built along a creek bottom, full of cottonwood and oak trees, it was a beautiful place for a walk in the woods, and what better way to take a walk in the woods than to blast a hundred rounds from your favorite shotgun along the way? I introduced my better half to sporting clays years ago, and now when I mention going to a new range, she’s as excited as a 4 year old on Christmas Eve. Time, money and effort well spent, trust me.

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