by Patricia McLelland-Merydith
Trapshooting: is it on your bucket list, or included in your new year’s resolution? If so here are some tips to remember. Make sure you buy the right shotgun shells and take along ear and eye protection, wear a hat and buy a lesson with a coach. You might be able to try out different shotguns provided by the coach; you will learn the correct way to shoot, and avoid developing bad habits.
• Check in with the manager of the gun club when you arrive. This may seem unnecessary if you have to buy tokens before you shoot, but there are clubs that operate on the honor system and will let you shoot and pay later. Either way, it is courteous to let the manager know you are there. • Keep your gun unloaded and your action open so others can see your gun is unloaded. • Only load one shell at a time unless you are shooting doubles. Nothing is more distracting or dangerous than watching a new shooter load more than one shell, shoot at a target then stand with a loaded shotgun waiting again for his/her turn. • Wear a shell bag or at least a vest or some means to hold a box of shells.
• Keep your gun unloaded and your action open so others can see your gun is unloaded.
• Only load one shell at a time unless you are shooting doubles. Nothing is more distracting or dangerous than watching a new shooter load
more than one shell, shoot at a target then stand with a loaded shotgun waiting again for his/her turn.
• Wear a shell bag or at least a vest or some means to hold a box of shells. Don’t place the box on the ground and bend down every time to retrieve a shell. You run the risk of hitting your barrel on the ground, or swinging your barrel away from the trap house and breaking the routine of those with whom you are shooting.
• Be aware of and courteous to other shooters; for example, turn off your cell phone.
• Be prepared to shoot. Don’t show up with game loads. Use 2 ¾ dram powder base loads, with 1-ounce of number 8 shot. You may choose to use a little heavier load once you’ve been shooting for a while, but low powder base 1-ounce number 8 shot loads are a good place to start, as they are effective and produce the least recoil. The largest size shot shell allowed when trapshooting is a 3-dram load, with 1 1/8-ounce of number
7 ½ shot size.
• Wear ear and eye protection, and a hat. The hat will keep the sun out of your eyes and rain off your glasses.
• Keep the barrel of your shotgun pointed in the direction of the trap house, and unloaded until it is your turn to shoot.
• If you are relying on voice calls rather than manual pulling, make sure you and your friends are not speaking when not shooting or the speakers that pick up your voice will be triggering the machine to throw targets. You will be very disappointed when you see your targets randomly leave the trap house, because your token is only good for 25 targets.
• Clean up any coffee cups, soda cans and water bottles found at your shooting site. Pick up your empty shot shell hulls when you are done shooting; some clubs require this, but it is also a nice gesture to do at clubs where this is not required.
Here’s hoping you make good memories with your family and friends, just like the family in this photograph who bought a group lesson with me recently. Happy shooting!