Shooting Articles


From 4 time Alabama State Shooting Champion Richard Patty

 Wouldn't  it be great to shoot consistent scores at the local gun club? Maybe I  can help. There are a few things you need to get right before your  scores can go up.  

You should first choose good ammo and check  the speed. Whatever the speed you're comfortable with, stay with that  speed. If you change from a shell that is 1200 FPS to a shell that is  1300 FPS or even 1100 FPS then your lead changes and then you will  either miss the target or find yourself second guessing the lead. 

Your  mind starts to ask is this right or not? And then you talk yourself out  of a target or two trying to figure it out. The result is scores go up  and down. Try to stay with the same speed shells whether you are  shooting a 1 oz. load or a 1-1/8 oz. load. Keep them the same and you  will see a big difference in your consistency.

Shooting method  has much to do with consistency. It doesn't matter how you get your gun  in front of the target as long as you stay in front and don't stop.  Learn to keep your gun going the same speed as the target, with the  proper lead your mind will tell you when to make the shot without  thinking about it at all. 

Out of all the shooting methods to  learn, the maintained lead it is by far the best. Recoil is part of  breaking targets consistently. I hear a lot of shooters say that recoil  doesn't bother them, but if you will look at their scores you will find  that they shoot an 85 one day and a 70 the next. 

The best way to  take out the recoil is to get your gun back bored as much as possible  and get the forcing cones lengthened and polished. You can also add a  mercury recoil reducer to your gun if you can handle the extra weight.

This  will remove lot of the felt recoil. Porting your gun will help take a  lot of the jump out of your gun and this will help you go to the second  target a lot smoother and be more consistent. If you get these things  right before shooting, then all you will need to think about when you  get to the course is where the target is coming from and where you need  to set up. 

If you need gun work contact Shotgun Sports &  Outdoors at (256) 235-2780 and they can get you breaking more targets.  For comments or shooting lessons contact me at or call the store at (256) 235-2780.  Next months article will be about course and target breakdown. 

More than just "Golf with a Gun"

Richard Patty


With  the decline in hunting land, wild quail and the longing for a good dove  hunt, sporting clays has become one of the fastest-growing sports in  America. With its fancy clubhouses and the shooting fields laid out like  golf courses, no wonder it is often referred to as "golf with a  shotgun." It lets everyone, young and old, go into the great outdoors  and enjoy hunting and shooting all year round. 

Safety is the No.  1 priority for shooting sports. Never load your gun until you are in  the shooting box, and the gun must be pointing down-range at all times.  Make sure your gun is unloaded and the action is open before turning  around and stepping out of the shooting box. The action must stay open  until you get to the next shooting box. Never load more than two shells  in the gun at one time for sporting clays. Never take safety lightly! 

Your  choice of a gun and ammunition are also very important factors in the  sporting clay shooting arena. I like to use a good quality 12- or  20-gauge gun with light recoil and a comfortable fit. A good ammunition  is a 3 1/4- gram, 1-oz. load in a No. 7 1/2 or 8 shot, with lots of  speed and light recoil. 

Another important factor in sporting  clays is choice of choke. A cylinder choke is great for targets less  than 20 yards. A skeet choke is used for targets 20 to 25 yards. An  improved cylinder is great for targets 25 to 35 yards. A modified choke  is used for targets 35 to 45 yards and a full choke is used for targets  beyond 50 yards. Because most U.S. targets are thrown inside 35 yards, I  like to shoot a skeet or improved cylinder. You should find that this  works very effectively for any target presentation. 

Targets come  in a variety of sizes and are thrown from many different angles and at  many speeds. You must first view the target and pick out the breakpoint.  Each target has a point where it is most vulnerable to be broken. You  must establish the breakpoint to start your set up chokes, shot size and  foot position. 

The correct foot position should be turned  toward the breakpoint. Never underestimate the importance of foot  position. Your front knee should be slightly bent and your weight  distributed 60/40, with the 60 on the front foot. You are then ready for  the muzzle-hold point. 

The muzzle of your gun should be halfway  back toward the trap, from the breakpoint and slightly below the flight  path, so you can see a clear view of the target and start your swing  accordingly. 
The most important part is the focus point, where you  see the target closest to the trap and stay focused on it. You should  stare directly at the target. If it looks like a comet then you are not  focusing hare enough on the target. You should see a clear target when  you make your shot.  With the correct breakpoint and your feet set up in  the right position, muzzle hold halfway back, eyes focused on the  target, you will start seeing most of your targets break. 

Most  shooters seem to miss behind the target. The best way to see the lead is  to think of a window between the target and the barrel. Small lead,  small window;  medium lead, medium window; large lead, large window and  so on. You should always miss the target in front. 

If you miss a  target one foot in front of you will still break the target, but if you  miss the target one inch behind, you will have a lost target. So always  make sure you miss in front. 
Next issue, I we will discuss the  different types of shooting methods, to include: the sustained lead, the  swing through, the pull away and the Churchill method, and when each  should be used and the ups and downs of each. 

If you have any  questions or comments please contact us at Shotgun Sports and Outdoors  (256) 235-2780, Anniston, AL or email us at 

Remember, sporting clay target are  not hard to hit, they are just very easy to miss. So get your safety  glasses, ear plugs and that old dog, and take a youngster out and enjoy  the camaraderie of this great sport!!


Richard Patty

 When  shooting sporting clay's you will need to learn all of the different  shooting methods as well as how and when they work the best. Every  shooter must have a base method to use, but you must also be able to use  all of the methods. 
Different people will find that they have a  method that is the best for them I like the sustained lead the best. It  works very effectively for me as a base method. To understand how to use  the different methods, I will refer to the gun pointing straight at the  target as the "insert point." For the sustained lead, basically when  the target appears, the muzzle is inserted in front of the bird and will  stay in front all the way through the shot. When the stock reaches your  cheek, you should have your gun in front of the target with the proper  lead built-in. To help you be able to see the lead, I like to refer to  the lead as being a "window." Small lead, small window; medium window,  medium lead; and so on. Do not get caught up in measuring the lead, this  will make you slow your swing and shoot behind the target so always  keep the window open. You should make your shot when the stock reaches  your face and with your muzzle remaining at the same speed as the  target, with the window staying the same. After practicing this you will  find this to be very effective. 
The swing-through method is where  your muzzle is inserted slightly behind the target. The muzzle is swept  through the target, and the gun is fired as you pass the target. This is  referred to as "sweeping" the target, like taking a paintbrush and  painting a line of shot in front of the target, a very effective way to  break targets and I like to use this method in hunting dove and quail.  The downside to this method is when a target is flying off-line; you  will tend to shoot over the target. So watch the target flight path  before shooting this method. 
The pull-away method is similar to the  swing through. The difference is where you insert your gun on the  target. You insert straight at the target and then pull away and make  your shot. You will find, with practice that this is one of the better  shooting methods. I like to use this method when shooting long targets,  outside 35 yards. Like the swing through, you will need to watch the  targets flight path and do not shoot over it. When the wind moves a  target or the target hits a limb or is just flying off line, it is very  easy to miss the target with this swing through or the pull away  method. 
The Churchill method is when you do not see any lead. You  bring your muzzle up from behind the target, with lots of gun speed and  shoot directly at the target. The Churchill method will appear to be  very fast, but when done correctly, it should seem very smooth,  comfortable and under control. I really like this method for targets  inside 20 yards. It is a good way to break a lot of targets. 

A  beautiful gun, new type of shell and new shooting shirt or wanting to  win first place will not break a target. You have to put the shot string  on the target. So the shooters job is not to break the target, but to  deliver the shot string on the target. Everything you do before you pull  the trigger has a direct effect on the outcome of the shot. Thinking of  being ahead of your friend, or beating your last score that you shot,  will only lead you to missing more targets. Breaking targets  consistently requires concentration on the breakpoint, foot position and  muzzle hold, focus point and the proper shooting method, but doing this  during your set up and when you call "pull" you should have a clear  mind. The next time you get out to enjoy a round of sporting clay's,  don't be afraid to shoot a lot of shells on any of these shooting  methods, as they will all work very well, but they all will take time to  perfect 

Richard Patty

 The  future of all sports relies on the involvement and participation of  juniors and ladies. When it comes to the ladies and juniors, there is a  misconception about what equipment they should use. 

Time after  time, I see a junior or lady sportsman try to shoot the wrong equipment  for them. The gun rocks back and knocks their arm off. The gun jumps up  and slaps them in the face. They start missing targets as a result or,  worse, they're afraid to try to shoot any more. Inevitably, they quit  shooting. The reason is the equipment they are using is not right for  them. You can spend thousands of dollars for a nice gun, which you  thought might be right for them, but if you didn't take the time to get  it fitted to them or if it's too heavy for them, it simply won't work.  The most common mistake I see with a lady or junior is when they try to  shoot a 20-gauge gun. Many are very light and too easy to poke around  with real control. The recoil is often way too much. Not all 20-gauge  guns are the same. Look around for a gun that is the right weight for  the person who will shoot it. Do they have a small or light frame? For a  small-frame person, they need a light gun. The best choice is a good  gas-operated automatic that has been fitted to them and on which barrel  work has been done to reduce recoil. For the 20-gauge gun, I don't  recommend getting the guns ported. On a small-frame person, they have a  tendency not to eject the shell and the action hangs open. I do  recommend getting the forcing cones lengthened and the gun back-bored  which will help take our much of the recoil. 

For the 20-gauge  over-and-under you need to get these guns ported. Also lengthen the  forcing cones and have it back-bored. Make sure you choose an O/U that  is not too light. Remember, the lighter the gun, the more recoil it will  have. 

A good gun to start with is the 20-gauge Browning Gold  Hunter automatic or the 20-gauge Beretta A-390 or the A-391. Have the  barrel work done. I really like the Browning 20-gauge O/U the best, but  the Beretta 20-gauge Silver Pigeon or the SKB 20-gauge with a good set  of Briley custom-fitted chokes, if they can handle the extra weight  comfortably, is by far the better choice. 

With the 28-gauge or  the 410, you will find them a little more expensive to shoot but the  rewards are worth it. The 28-gauge gun in an O/U is the king of the  mountain. This gun has very light recoil, the best pattern of all the  gauges and will break any target or take any game bird just as well as  any other gauge gun.

If the shooter has a larger frame and can  handle a little more weight, then I suggest you try a good quality,  gas-operated 12-gauge gun like the Beretta A-390, A-391 or the Browning  Gold Hunter. You will need to have these guns ported, back-bored and  forcing cones lengthened to take out most of the recoil. With the  Browning Gold Hunter 12-gauge gun, it comes from the factory back-bored,  ported or not ported, as you desire, and with the forcing cones  lengthened. It is a great off-the-shelf gun to start with. Either the  Beretta or the Browning will work great for a lot of years, but do  require cleaning more often the over-and-unders. When choosing the right  ammunition, choose a shell that has light recoil and a good pattern. A  7/8 oz low powder load works well for 20 gauge. In the 28 gauge, the 7/8  oz loads will work best. For 12 gauge a 1 oz light load or a 7/8 oz  load with high velocity is a favorite choice. The lighter load will  break any target with a quarter of the recoil and without a doubt is the  best choice for ladies and juniors. When trying to get a new shooter  started, don't choose targets that are too hard. Keep them easy and work  up from there. You must keep it fun. After all, it's for the enjoyment  that we shoot to start with.

If you have any questions or comments please contact us at Shotgun Sports and Outdoors "