Ed and I, and our wives, went to the Rural Life exhibits at the  Methodist Church in Newburg Saturday, and while walking around the field looking at old equipment, eating doughnuts and ice cream, we thought we should probably begin shooting at some clay targets before the fall bird seasons arrive.

He suggested we shoot as his place the following day, and I agreed. He has a battery-powered clay target thrower that can be adjusted for height and distance. We filled it up and I loaded my pockets of my shooting vest with shotshells.

Shooting shotguns is the same as any other sport. If you practice, you improve, and if you don’t practice for a few months, you tend to miss more. When I grew up, it was almost understood that boys were born capable of shooting rifles and shotguns, just like girls simply knew how to sew.

Well sewing isn’t taught anymore to girls, but a lot more girls are learning to shoot shotguns. In August, Orvis is offering shooting classes for women at their new shooting grounds in Blue Ridge Summit with several expert women shooters.

Many shotgun makers are offering shotguns designed with women in mind and more and more women are taking up the sports of trap, skeet and sporting clays.

It’s not hard to learn to break clay targets as they fly through the air. What’s hard is learning to consistently hit them every time. There’s about a zillion different methods of shooting clays, and just about as many shotgun people who want to teach, but don’t know how.

It’s easy to stand behind someone ready to shoot at a clay target as it leaves the trap. You can actually see the shot pattern and tell the shooter where they were aiming either behind, too high, too low or improbably ahead of the bird. But knowing that doesn’t really teach someone to shoot.

Quarterbacks step toward where they think the receiver will be and then throw the football. Baseball players are taught to step and throw, not just stand there flat footed.

If a shotgun fits a shooter fairly well, a shooter taught to step toward where they expect the clay bird will be can hit it with a little practice. It’s the same motion as a ball thrower or tennis player.

Look where you think the bird will be, smoothly lift the shotgun to your cheek, follow the bird with both eyes and squeeze the trigger.

Muscle memory and the smooth movement of the shooter will instinctively find the target. Of course, in the case of Ed and I, we’ll need a bit more practice to develop the muscle memory we lost over the winter. But, with practice, we should be able to hit a few doves, geese, ducks, pheasants and grouse.


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