2015-03-21 Sporting Clays Lesson at Mid Hudson Sporting Clays

Posted on April 5, 2015


For all of my adult life I have focused on rifles and pistols as I think they are the all-around most useful and practical firearms. I’ve always viewed shotguns with a bit of skepticism. I bought a used Remington 870 about a decade ago so I’d have a pump gun with which to shoot 3gun, but I still didn’t use it that much.

I’ve recently fallen in with a bunch of serious bird hunters. Ducks, Upland, Goose, you name it.

So, I bought a Beretta A400 and signed up for a private lesson up at Mid Hudson Sporting Clays.

It was a fairly wet and brisk day, perfect for breaking some clays.

Our instructor for the day was one of the co-owners of MHSC, an individual very serious about busting clays.

After warming up on some simple birds, the days targets got progressively more challenging. Sporting Clays shooters are truly a different breed.

Many of my stumbles result from the fact that I’m first and foremost a rifle shooter, everything in rifle shooting is static and co-linear. My mantra for many years was:
“Put the circle, inside the circle, inside the circle, while staring at the front circle, and pull the trigger without disturbing this arrangement.”

Shotgun is 100% completely backwards. “Focus on the clay, swing the gun, fire!”

When the clay breaks, it’s like black magic. When the clay doesn’t, you have to debug, with even less feedback than a bad rifle shot.

Those observations aside, it was very fun, and I completely get why shotgun shooters are so passionate about their sport.

I’m taking another group (this time of 12!) up to Orvis Sandanona next weekend, so that should be a hoot.

Our chariot for the afternoon:

Our Chariot

Our instructor was kind enough to lend my friend his fancy O/U. Truly a different class of gun than my A400.

Getting tips from Steve

Shooting the 870 with Magpul furniture was pretty trick, especially when you consider that be broke way more clays than me:

Borrowing my 870

This stage had some “big birds.” I was pretty proud when I got my hit rate over 50%.

These were "big birds"

The gun ran pretty well, but I got some wicked cheek slap. Two different more experienced shooters have told me that the gun 100% fits me, but the cheek slap is due to my stance and mount. So next time I go out I will need to play with how my cheek and comb are working together.

Hopefully, this shotgun will see some ducks next season.


Posted in: Training