This is going to be mostly pictures as I type enough during the week and I’ve got a few other posts to write. Tiff finally got to shoot the Savage MkII I bought for her. There’s a problem, though, she actually loves it! After I sighted in the scope and gave it to her, I almost had to pry it out of her hands to get a chance to shoot it again
Posts Tagged ‘shotgun’
As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently went to Chilhowee Sportsman’s Club for the second time. This trip was planned at the last minute after having a conversation with one of the member’s named Curly on the ShotgunWorld.com forums. He and I were discussing the components needed for reloading on Friday night and he invited me out to shoot with his group on Saturday. I went out there about 11 and we sat in the clubhouse drinking coffee and getting to know each other. I actually did not realize that we were going to be shooting Sporting Clays at first. I’ve been so caught up shooting skeet the past few weeks, I just assumed that’s what we were going to do. But after getting one of the carts, we headed on up the hill and started one of the most interesting afternoons of shooting I’ve had yet.
I learned today that Sporting Clays and “5-stand” are not the same game. They have similarities, but are vastly different in terms of scale. In 5-stand there is one shooting platform with 5 positions, and in the field there are 6 or 7 different clay presentations and you shoot a combination of those presentations at each station.
Sporting Clays has (at least at Chilhowee), 14 stands that are scattered around the woods above the club, and each station has it’s own two throwers. All stations are thrown as either report or true pairs, and can be very challenging. All of them are difficult to some degree, and learning how to lead a target that’s dropping down a hillside is quite a challenge, as well as a test of patience as some of the incoming birds come towards the stand from far away…much too far to try to hit with the imp. cyl. and mod chokes I was shooting today. I can see the advantage of extended, knurled chokes in this game….one stand might have two very close crossing targets similar to skeet where a cyl and imp. cyl choke would work perfectly, and then the next stand would have two LONG range targets launched as a true pair where I was wondering if even a full choke would put enough shot out there to hit them. One of the guys I was shooting with proved it was possible though It was astounding seeing him break both targets well past where I would have guessed the shotgun would be useful.
All in all though, I really enjoyed the 14 stand circuit at Chilhowee. The flight paths are extremely varied, and you have to take trees into account as some paths cross between groves of trees so you must time your shots well and do not always have continuous picture of the bird. Even without that fact, the staff at Chilhowee uses the mountainous terrain there to great effect, aiming some birds along ridges, or rising out of a gully. One of my favorite presentations was two birds launched as a true pair, coming up the valley from about 11 o’clock and behind trees almost the entire way. There was a very small window about 20 feet wide where you had to hit the targets between a few trees, otherwise they were in the ground just past the next tree.
If you are in the Knoxville, TN area and enjoy clay sports, you should definitely try out Chilhowee. They are a bit on the expensive side for non-members, but the experience is worth the slightly higher cost compared to most other fields I’ve been do. Check them out at http://www.chilhoweesportsmansclub.com
One of the main purposes of this trip as I mentioned before was to meet these guys who all reload their own shells and were willing to help me find some hulls that were good for reloading as well as showing me some of the benefits of doing so. The light 3/4 ounce loads that Curly uses were amazing. Very light recoil, almost no gun movement, and still capable of breaking every target out there. Even ignoring the cost effectiveness of reloading, merely the wonderfully light, shoulder-sensitive loads you can create makes it worth it. The 1-1/8oz factory loads I have been shooting feel like monsters in comparison. I am definitely looking into the equipment and components I need to start loading my own hulls as soon as reasonably possible. Problem is you kinda have to buy in bulk to make it cost effective….i.e. large chunks of money out the door at once rather than the current method of buying smaller amounts of ammo, but at a greater cost over time. So we’ll see. I’d like to get started soon, but I’m not sure it’s financially that wise/possible.
Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written much here. Been kinda busy I guess. And at the end of any given day, the last thing I really want to do is sit down and type a lot
I’ve been shooting a lot of skeet though recently. I’ve lost track of how many rounds I’ve done… maybe 15 or so. I started out horribly. My first round ever I hit 4. It was really disappointing, and the next couple rounds were about the same. A couple weekends ago I went Saturday and Sunday and something finally clicked. I told myself when I headed out Saturday, “I’ll be happy if I hit 10.” That’ll be 2 better than my previous best.
Unfortunately, when I got there, it seems a bunch of kids were shooting with their parents…and taking FOREVER about it. Also, one of the mothers should not have been holding a gun. She would consistently shoot, then swing the muzzle down, turn and face the group of people and start blabbing about how she missed/hit/chipped a target….all while pointing the gun at them…. Range Officer kept yelling at her about it, and she kept doing it. I’m quite glad I was not on the field with her. So while I waited for them to be finished, a couple other guys and I sat in the range officers office and chatted.
Finally it was our turn. We had a group of 6, but were all fairly efficient about getting through our stations. At the end, I totaled up my scores and had hit a 13! Whoa, maybe I’m starting to get the hang of this We went back inside to warm up (it was about 35 degrees out), and then went and shot one more round before it got dark. This one went even better with a personal score of 17! I started feeling a lot better about the game at this point, but it was dark and it was not one of the nights they turn on the field lights so we could shoot into the evening.
The next day (Sunday), one of the members of the gun club I am going to be joining invited me to go out shooting at that club. Drove up there and shot 3 rounds of skeet, all of them in the mid-teens. I think they were 14,17,16 if I recall correctly.
About a week and a half later I went back to the ORSA club again with Bob Hedrick from church and we shot 4 rounds and I didn’t really keep track of my scores, just focused on improving my form and learning what I could from the other much more experienced shooters.
Now we’re somewhere around Christmas… Jeanette wrote something about our days of shooting on her blog. Won’t touch on that too much right now. Maybe I’ll write another post.
Today (Jan 2nd), I was invited by yet another person I’ve met locally to go with him and a few of his friends to Chilhowee Sportsman’s Club to shoot Sporting Clays. That field has a large Sporting Clays field consisting of 14 stands, with various presentations and either report pairs, or true pairs. A single round is 100 shots, although there is some way to do a 50-shot round, though I’m not sure how. Anyhow, it was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. Downside is it’s fairly expensive. Average cost for 100 rounds of skeet or trap is about $20… member prices at ORSA are $2.50/25 for a cost of $10/100 which is as cheap as I’ve ever seen clay rounds. The 100 round Sporting Clays at Chilhowee are a steep $37 for non-members, and $27 for members. This is somewhat understandable given that Chilhowee is run as a business, whereas JSHEC is funded by the TN Wildlife Resources Agency, and ORSA is a non-profit organization. Regardless, it’s about the only field like that I know of in the area, so it’s worth the extra cash to shoot such a unique collection of targets once in a while. I can’t see myself going more than a few times a year though at that rate.
Anyhow, I think I’m done with this post. It may not read very linearly as I’ve written it over about 2 weeks, forgetting about it over most of the Christmas break, but I tried to fix the time-sensitive wording to make more sense.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written much about shooting, but it’s not for the lack of activity. With the holidays coming up, there’s been a lot more doing, and less writing and downtime. My RSS reader had 700+ unread entries the other day!
In the shotgun department though, I’ve shot a couple more rounds of skeet at John Sevier HEC since I went to Chilhowee and did my first round I wrote about previously. I’ve registered for the required Hunter Safety Course that is a prerequisite to getting a hunting license if you were born after 1969. That is 4 evenings in late December. I am not exactly sure what, or even IF, I really want to hunt, but I’d like to, at the very least, try. Be a good excuse to bolster the arsenal down the road
ANYHOW, now that you’re caught up, here’s what my wife’s cousin’s husband (is there a term for that relationship???) Kevin, and my father-in-law, Rich, did Saturday after Thanksgiving. Neither of them had ever tried clay games before and I brought my guns with me on our visit to Ohio in hopes that I could find some time to go shooting, so we loaded up the guns and manual trap launcher and a couple boxes of clays and went to Deer Creek.
Deer Creek has an outdoor rifle range and an “unsupervised” shotgun range. It really is little more than a big grass field with a bunch of warning signs that people use guns there This is the first time I’ve shot at such a location, every other time being at some kind of club that had range officers, waivers, and fees. I do have to say that it’s nice to just yell “pull” and see the bird go up, rather than having to load each clay manually into the launcher, though.
That said, it was a really enjoyable time. There was one other big “family” group there that had maybe 15 people and 3 guns, so they were all taking turns pulling for each other and shooting. We had 3 guns (CZ, Mossberg, and Winchester Model 1300) and 3 people, so one pulled, one shot, and one took pictures and watched. But all that to say, it really wasn’t crowded, and the informal “field” setting with all manual equipment was kinda nice.
Since Kevin and Rich had never used shotguns before, I gave them a brief overview on how the two pump guns operated, and the CZ’s over/under action. All 3 of us rotated through all the guns and it was actually a really enlightening time for me as well as I got to shoot 3 fairly different guns back to back and start to get a feel for the finer differences between how each of them handled. If you’re paying attention to the pictures though, my CZ got LOTS of use. I am pretty sure it got picked up more than either of the pumps, although I found myself picking up my Mossberg quite a bit as well. I love how light that gun is, and even with the more significant recoil, it just is a fun fun gun. The fixed cyl. bore choke definitely hurt though if i let the bird get too far out into the field.
Each of us would take between 5 and 10 shots and rotate to the next person. Kevin and I started getting creative and started playing a game where we would see who could break the bird first. Rich pulled singles for us and we tried to line up on the clay as fast as possible. I think we ended up tied, or at least very close. A few of them we fired exactly at the same time and it was really hard to say who got the score. But you know, it was more about the fun than the actual score
In the end I think we launched about 150-175 clays (we started with a partial box, so I’m not sure exactly how many we ended up with), and close to the same amount of ammo. I actually am kind of irritated as I keep a log of the shots I put through the CZ, but with each of us swapping guns all afternoon, I lost track of how much we shot through it. I’m going to log 100 I think, which is probably a little over, but “close enough”
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a great day here in Ohio.
Brendan spent the morning cleaning his guns with my dad’s gun-cleaning kit.
Rich spent the morning reading the paper.
Mom and Rich showed me some Heritage Love:
Brendan also played with an electric knife. He was in charge of carving the delicious turkey.
After dinner and dessert, we played Scrabble Slam (a Scrabble card game). We walked over to Tania and Kevin’s in the chilly air. It was nice seeing the Christmas lights on our walk (can’t wait for the Zoo lights on Saturday.
Tania and Kevin came over to our house and we had seconds on dessert!
Kevin and Brendan are bosom-friends:
Jeanette will probably have a better post. I’m still not very good about using my camera all the time. :}
Tomorrow, we get to see the Sullivan family! Both families in one weekend.
I’m thankful for my family.
Well I had my first experience shooting skeet yesterday. What a way to ruin any confidence I had in shooting!! Trap is nice and straightforward, and while I’m not /very/ good at 5 stand (sporting clays), I can usually still hit ~50%. Skeet? Yeah…. 3 / 25 I suck. Anyhow, I /did/ learn a few things.
1) I need to learn how to track targets RIGHT out of the trap house. Those doubles are impossible to hit if you sleep on the first one
2) I have strongly left-eye dominant vision. This is problematic as I have heard from a few people that I should be shooting “two-eye” to increase my depth perception. That might help except for the fact I completely lose my tracking of the end of the barrel with both eyes open. Need to find a way around this. Am going to try left hand shooting (dreading this), and taping a dot on my glasses to prevent my left eye from being able to focus on the barrel.
3) Force myself to become right-eye dominant. I’ve heard that this is possible, but I’ve heard from MORE people that it isn’t…so we’ll see.
Regardless, Tomorrow I think is going to be a day off from shooting clays. I might just not shoot at all, but I’ve been kinda wanting to shoot my SKS, so maybe I’ll do that.
I will post more of a review next time after I get more experience there, but I did the skeet shooting at Chilhowee Sportsman’s Club where they also have a massive FOURTEEN stand trap range. The people there were friendly as I’ve found most of the people I’ve met at shooting clubs to be. It really has been overall a great experience getting into shooting clay games. Chilhowee Sportsman’s Club is conveniently located a few miles south of Maryville, just off 129 heading towards the dragon. If you’re in the area, they’re definitely worth trying out. Just make sure you stop by the clubhouse first as they do make you sign a waiver…a first for me for a shotgun range.
Tiffany and I planned a relaxing outing Saturday. I wanted to take her to see the Elk at the south end of the GSMNP (Great Smoky Mountain National Park), and we had to drive through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to get there. So convenient that the Sportsman’s Club is on the way Picture below is the upper of the 3 ranges at the GSC range.
This isn’t really a formal review for a couple of reasons. 1) I’m new to shotguns in general and couldn’t express the intricacies of any particular gun like a seasoned sportsman could, and 2) I don’t feel like writing that much today . I just wanted to make sure my new gun shot well and the barrels were regulated correctly, and after firing a couple of rounds at the pattern target, I joined in with another bunch of guys who were shooting trap. Shot 30 rounds of double-trap and 20 rounds of handicap singles. It was amazingly fun. I definitely need to get used to this new gun as it shoots vastly different from my Mossberg, but it is much much better for shooting at clays as well. The extra barrel length and interchangeable chokes made it easier to hit the far clays. Scored 24/50… not great, but I don’t think too bad considering my inexperience both in the sport and the gun.
Mossberg will still definitely see use here and there, but for now it’s relegated to Home Defense use, which is what it was really built for anyhow I am quite happy to have two shotguns though as it will be more fun to go shooting with friends having the extra gun.
The CZ though…It’s a beautiful gun. I love the classic look of the double-barrel shotguns, and while side-by-sides are the “real” classic of double-barrel guns I guess, I think the Over/Under looks better. I feel like I should be walking out the door to go hunt some pheasant with it Even with only having 50 rounds in it so far, my initial impressions are that I am going to keep this gun around a LONG time. It fits me well and seems quite well made. The reported firing pin problems have been reported to be only on older runs of these guns, and the new ones are supposedly quite reliable.
All I can say for now is that I like the gun’s balance. It kicks WAY less than my Mossberg, and seems pretty accurate. Both barrels fire perfectly, no misfires yet, and I’ve hit clays from both barrels, so if it is off, it’s not noticeable to a novice shooter like myself. Also, considering the relatively small price difference between this and the Stoeger I was considering initially, this is the better gun by far. Selective trigger and beefy ejectors, plus a nicer finish and better wood. I think I still could deal with a slightly longer Length of Pull, but that is easily rectified with a Limbsaver, though I hate to cover up the wood. We’ll see.
Will post more as I get used to the gun.
Well let me just start off by saying I have the most awesome wife ever. The two of us certainly do not have a ton of money to spare every month and for the most part we’re just glad to be pulling in steady paychecks in a time when a lot of people are barely feeding themselves and keeping their bills paid. So when I recently traded some stuff on craigslist for a Mossberg 500 Persuader, I was feeling pretty good. New shotgun, great fun, fairly affordable to shoot.
Fast forward about a month and I’ve learned quite a bit, having gone shooting at least once a weekend since I got the Mossberg. One of the most obvious lessons was that a 20″ barrel with an open choke just does not have near enough range and pattern density to hit clays with any kind of predictability. So I started looking at Over/Under shotguns to use at the range, and keep my Mossberg for HD and “spare gun” use. Problem was nice Over/Unders (O/Us) can cost more than a brand new car. I’ve seen O/Us that list for $25,000!!! And there are a whole slew of people who say a good O/U can’t be had for under $1000.
Tiff and I had agreed we could afford to spend about $350 on a gun, and she wanted to buy it for me for Christmas. I at first was looking at longer pump guns, and a couple of auto-loaders. Then I found a couple O/Us that looked interesting, the Stoeger Condor (also sold under the Benelli name) and the Remington SPR310. Both can be found for ~$350 at stores like Bass Pro Shops or Dick’s Sporting Goods. I handled a couple of these in the stores and thought the Stoeger felt nicer than people were giving it credit for. For what it’s worth, the Remington SPR310 felt like junk. If that had been my only choice, I’d have walked out without a shotgun. Quality on it, especially the fit and finish on the wood stock, was downright horrible. Maybe I’d have taken it for $100. But it didn’t even remotely feel worth $350.
We ended up going to Gander Mountain and I was about to buy the Stoeger when I saw the CZ Canvasback in a 12g/28″ configuration with clearance tags on it. Jackpot It was a little more than we wanted to spend, but I’ve been selling some stuff on craigslist recently so we figured we could swing it. It was something of an impulse buy as I hadn’t done much research on CZ shotguns (actually made by Huglu). But when we got home I poked around and it seems that not only is it a pretty good little gun, but I got a smokin’ deal on it. Cheapest I can find online is $640, and I will be able to buy a few months worth of ammo with what I saved over that.
Did the paperwork, paid for it, and brought home my new target gun. I will post pictures tomorrow when we go to the range to test it’s pattern. I want to make sure the barrels are regulated well as can supposedly be a problem on “cheaper” double-barrel shotguns.
I really enjoy the tactical “can-survive-anything” feel of my Mossberg, but this CZ is such a joy to hold. It is a more refined gun, for a more refined purpose. It is far from the most beautiful and best machined gun available, but for the price, the aesthetics can’t be beat. Hopefully that will go for the shooting performance as well. Find out tomorrow
Thanks Tiff. Best Christmas present ever
So I have a really exciting life. I have expanded my activities from working, eating, and sleeping, to working, eating, sleeping, and scaring clay pigeons (occasionally hitting them!) So once again, just a short post about my weekend of shooting. Emmett and I went to the John Sevier Hunters Education Center. They are closed the first weekend of every month. That’s there as much to be a reminder for me as to anyone else who’s thinking of going there. This is at least the second time I’ve gone up there and been welcomed by a locked gate.
(I’m kind of writing this next part as an entry for “what I did today”, and partially as a “review” in case someone looking for a place to shoot around the Pigeon Forge area finds this and wants to know more)
Thankfully people in TN must like to shoot a lot because there are no less than 3 other ranges within a “convenient” driving distance of us. Emmett and I decided to try a new range we’d never been to before that is between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg Sportman’s Club is normally a members-only range, however, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons, the clay, trap, skeet, and sporting clay ranges are open to the public. No “range fee”, but their sporting clay prices are close to double the affordable $5/25 targets at JSHEC at $20/50 or $35/100 for sporting clays and just a dollar more for trap at $6/25 targets.
Getting to GSC is pretty straightforward. It is located on King Branch Road which is directly off of the Scenic Parkway (441) between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. King Branch is well marked, and following that road for about a mile, Gatlinburg Sportsman’s Club is well marked with a large green sign on the left.
Note: Do NOT take a lowered sports car or something with bald tires. The gravel drive is quite smooth and any sedan well make it up just fine, but the grade is very steep in some areas and my essentially brand new Goodyear Eagle GT’s on my Kia were having trouble getting up a few areas.
After going through the gate, there are a couple of splits, just follow the gravel drive up the hill watching for signs for the Clay/Shotgun range. There is somewhat limited parking, I am not sure if they have “overflow” somewhere or not.
GSC has a some really great features. They have 3 fields they can setup for trap or sporting clays, and their “main” field has two nice trap houses for skeet. There seemed to be some younger people doing some training on the skeet field when we got there, so Emmett and I went to the lower field where they were shooting sporting clays and we ran through a 50 round set followed by 25 traps.
The sporting clay trajectories are significantly more challenging than the sporting clay field at JSHEC, and I did quite poorly, but it was still lots of fun to practice. I think a longer gun with a modified or full choke would help a lot. My 20″ open choke barrel is just WAY too open to hit the clay pigeons at the GSC range. JSHEC’s is much closer in, and can be handled with a short gun like mine much more easily. Also practice. Even given a longer gun, I still think I would have been below 50% on the sporting clays. I’m used to a nice stationary circle target with my rifle. It’s hard to mentally put together a shot while having to compensate for a high speed moving target.
Lastly, but almost most important, the staff at the range is really great. They’re helpful, and willing to take as much time as you need to explain anything you’d want to know. I’ve never really seen an Over/Under up close so he picked up one of their rental guns and explained how they worked, what you could change on them for a better fit, etc. I think next time I’m there I might rent one of the O/U guns to see if I like it. The balance felt a lot better than my Mossberg for that kind of shooting. Felt steadier with the long barrel. *shrug*
Anyhow, once again, no really big lesson learned with today’s shooting. Just found another nice place to shoot, and got some more practice in. And still wanting another shotgun more than ever now.