Sportsman’s Corner: A Little Rusty 

Published: 8/22/2019 12:00:22 PM
Modified: 8/22/2019 12:00:10 PM

My plans for last week included a trip to the Petersham Gun Club to shoot sporting clays. It was my hope to shoot the club’s very challenging and varied clays course, but things got in the way. They shoot on Wednesdays at noon and Sunday mornings. Sunday shooting is at 10 a.m. with groups setting out at that time to shoot the different stations.

This writer really misses the Thursday evening Hunter’s Clays at the Orange Gun Club. That casual shooting game, where shooters rotate around the trap house at five different stations was excellent practice and fit my schedule well. The Orange club still shoots trap on Tuesdays every third Sunday.

This past Sunday, there was some time available for me after Mass and before a family gathering so I headed west to the Franklin County League in Montague where they shoot skeet Sunday mornings from 10 to 1. Arriving a bit after 10, a group was already about half-way through their round and I had a chance to watch from the parking lot.

For those of you not familiar with skeet, it is one of the popular clay target shooting games that include skeet shooting, trap shooting and sporting clays. Skeet and trap have been around for a long time. Clay target shooting, also known as Inanimate Bird Shooting, is a competitive sport that requires the shooting of a shotgun at special targets, called clay pigeons, which are sent flying in the air in an effort to simulate game birds in flight. Clay target shooting has been around for hundreds of years and has, in time, developed considerably. It is a common and widely practiced sport, especially in the U.S.A., New Zealand, Australia and England and is an Olympic sport.

Initially the sport was a method for hunters to keep active off season, but it has evolved into a popular competitive sport. Much of the terminology used in the sports refer to earlier times when live birds were the target. The practice of shooting living birds was replaced worldwide around 1920s. The original targets for clay shooting sport were live pigeons that were released from boxes or hats. Eventually glass balls were added in to supplement the animated targets. The target of choice eventually became a clay object, called a clay pigeon. George Ligowsk is credited with the invention of the clay pigeon in 1880 and his targets were much like the targets that are still used today. The main reason for Ligowsk’s invention seems to have been the difficulty of providing enough live pigeons.

Skeet is the shooting of targets launched from two positions. A skeet field has eight stations. A group of shooters move around a semi-circular field between the stations. Two machines release targets. The low house releases the targets from three feet off the ground while the high house releases the targets from 10 feet off the ground. The target moves at approximately 50 miles per hour and at a variety of angles, but they always pass the center of the field at the same point. Each participant first shoots at a target originating from the low house, then a target originating from the high house.

A common practice in skeet is double shooting. In this case, targets are released from both houses simultaneously and the shooter must fire two shots. The double release of the target is usually only done at four out of the five stations. A round of skeet includes 25 shots.

My time Sunday included two rounds of skeet. The shooters could not have been more supportive as I only shoot skeet about once a year. They all broke nearly all of their targets while this shooter missed a few each round but felt good about the chance to shoot at a variety of different angles and distances. They also shoot on Wednesday afternoons and you can visit them at the Franklin County League of Sportsman’s Club’s web page to get details.

Now I need to step up the shooting or maybe follow through with my desire to attend a shooting school. In the past, this writer, with his friend Al Mexcur, got shooting lessons from Neil Chadwick and famous English shooting coach Jack Mitchell. It really did help to have someone stand behind you and critique. Both L. L. Bean and Orvis have one-day and two-day classes. Why not? It would be a good getaway before hunting season.

The most important training is the two French Brittanies. They need conditioning and bird work to get them at the top of their games as well.



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