I had my first shotgun experience last month. A couple friends of ours took us out to their local gun club for a skeet shooting competition.
I really had my misgivings about this one. But I was going to give it an honest effort. I was pretty sure that this was one of those things I wasn’t going to be able to do, but I’d never used a shotgun before, let alone had a clay to shoot. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and a sport that is within my ability.
Our friends had two different shotguns. I tried them both out, but they were a little long for me. I was interested, but they were of an intimidating weight and I felt like the skinny kid on a seesaw. They arranged for me to borrow a gun at the club (it was sparkling blue).
The gun club had a very fun setup. They had multiple stations with different challenges. Most shot clays outward. One shot a clay outward, and then when the first shot is fired, another clay was launched inward. A last station had some “rabbits”. All of these clays had cute names based on wildlife. Hey, golf can’t have all the fun naming things.
Good thing it’s orange
When I watch soccer for example, I can only track the ball about 75% of the time. The rest of the time, I have no idea where it’s at. I describe watching a game in a stadium as akin to watching a small living room TV from the other end of the kitchen.
It really helped that these things were bright orange! Without this blatant coloration, I would be totally lost. It’s really hard for me to pick out any sort of creature, so I’m in favor of the orange. But even with the orange, I was surprised I was able to keep up. Maybe it was because I knew where they were coming from, and that they followed a single arc.
The first interesting thing I learned about this type of gun where you push the lever and you break it open is that the shell casings fly straight out. First one smacked me good on the lip. I was really surprised–it was shooting out the wrong end!
Now that we got that cleared up…
I often have trouble with sights. They have to be pretty crisp on a pistol, and the end of a shotgun is pretty far out there. Fortunately for me, the bead is pretty big, and I could follow it. One day, someone’s going to have to explain to me how exactly I should be using it.
Side note: the thought of a “cheek weld” is somehow a little disturbing to me. I lean in, I look down the gun, but I never remember to glue my head to the stock.
Side note 2: At some point one of the volunteers asked “Is she using one eye?” and the other dude confirmed it. Little do they know my right eye spends a lot of time closed all on its’ own. Yeah, I don’t know if that was good or bad.
I tried to keep on target. I tried to keep my muzzle one step ahead. I didn’t hit a single thing, but I was encouraged to hear I was getting close. It was a whole lot of fun.
Afterwards I learned that you were supposed to keep tracking the target after you pull the trigger, in order to shape the pattern of the shot as it scatters out. Huh, it would have never occurred to me. It makes a lot of sense though. I think I’ll do a lot better next time.
I also learned that a person with normal eyes generally doesn’t see where the shot is going unless the sky and the light are just right. It’s very interesting. There’s many situations with guns where you need to rely on someone else’s feedback to find your target, walk your shots in, figure out how to make it work. I just need a little more of that assistance than others.
I was pretty ambivalent to shotguns before, and I’d simply ruled out the idea of shooting flying targets. I thank my friends in PA for showing me otherwise.
May fluorescent orange birds beware: I will connect next time.