Shotguns have always been a blind spot for me when it comes to shooting. I’d always felt that pistol and rifle had a great deal of practicality while shotgun was the pastime of bird hunters and clay shooters wielding $10,000 over-and-unders. Back in 2002, I tried trap shooting a few times, and while fun, it never held the allure of NRA Highpower, USPSA, or 3gun. As I got very serious about USPSA, I was warned that shotgun would ruin my pistol game, and vice versa, as the two have about as much common as billiards and tennis.
Bird hunting I never tried until 2011. After going bird hunting, here in Oregon and Russia, I realized that it was quite fun. I also realized that my ability to hit flying objects at short distances was pretty terrible compared to my ability to hit stationary objects at long distances. Clearly, more practice was needed. Three weeks ago, some friends and I went to the Orvis Game Fair and Country Sporting Weekend. There, I tried a Caesar Guerini 28 ga shotgun and a collection of 12 ga semi-autos. I was pretty bad.
A few weeks later, a friend of a friend organized another event up at Orvis. This time, an afternoon of professional sporting clays instruction, bourbon tasting, dinner, and cigars to round out the evening. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. I found three friends who were up for the 2 hr drive to Millbrook and we carpooled.
After a few minutes in the clubhouse meeting the other shooters in our party, we had some coffee and a late lunch. Clubhouse has a pretty nice collection of sporting shotguns:
Then, my three friends, our instructor, Frank, and I went out to the “practice area” with two 20 ga Caesar Guerini over-and-unders. We warmed up on a modified skeet course with Frank giving giving each shooter personalized lessons. Although my first shot broke the clay, I missed the next five. With some instruction, I bumped up my hit rate to maybe 20-25%, not great. My friends, each with zero shotgun experience, did very well for first timers.
After about 1 hour, we went back to the club house to retrieve more shells and then walked up the hill to one of Orvis’ more popular stages, the “Wobbler.”
The two active shooters stand on top of shed with a wobbling trap thrower. After a few minutes, all four of us started to break a pretty high percentage of the clays and the day started becoming quite fun.
We soon got into a groove shooting doubles, and we quite rapidly burned through 14 boxes of shells. Breaking clays required throwing out all the standard principals of rifle marksmanship. Focusing on the clay rather than the front sight. Swinging the shotgun rather than pointing the rifle.
After we ran out of ammo, we returned to the clubhouse, ate some hors d’oeuvres, and tasted some local wines, beers, and a local bourbon. Then we sat down for a nice dinner prepared by one of Orvis’ chefs. Afterwards, we smoked cigars around an open fire, and then headed home.
All four of us agreed that we need to spend more time shooting clays.