October 10th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

CZ-USA’s new All-American Trap Combo was designed specifically to help you shatter more clays.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY LARRY CASE

“Pull!”

A bright orange disc flies out of the trap house at a pace only slightly slower than the speed of light. You were hoping for a lob, a gimme, or a straightaway that you could transform into orange powder and boost your confidence a little. But you don’t get any of those, and instead the demonic chunk of clay goes hard left – your worst angle – and you struggle to catch up with the meteor. Finally, you stop the gun and slowly lift your cheek off the comb in defeat as the intact disc spins away to safety.

From somewhere nearby, you swear you hear a snicker.

This nightmare scenario is played out time and again on trap shooting ranges all over the country, and sometimes we reluctantly find ourselves in the starring role. But maybe, like me, you have a desire to break out of your present skill level for busting clays. Perhaps this will be the year you do what it takes to improve those scores.

I don’t suggest that I’m a rocket scientist in these matters, but in all honesty, it isn’t rocket science. We all know what the experts tell us. If you want to improve, you’ll have to take action to come up in the world on the trap, skeet or sporting clays range. You have to get serious and burn more powder. You have to find some good, qualified instruction, because just listening to the buddy you shoot with every other Saturday ain’t gonna cut it.

Oh, and one more thing – one really important thing. You have to get a good shotgun, one that is built for the task; a shotgun designed to make it easier for you turn those elusive little clays into powder.

Now, I admire the man or woman who shoots trap, ducks and turkeys all with the same shotgun. But if you are going to get serious in this game, you need to start thinking about a shotgun built for the job, and CZ-USA has something new that may be just what you are looking for.

CZ-USA HAS TURNED OUT impressive shotguns for several years, but the brand-new player in their lineup is the All-American Trap Combo. David Miller – CZ’s shotgun guru and the current Guinness Book of World Record holder for the most clay targets broken in one hour – travels all over the country shooting shotguns. He knows a thing or three about them, and between trigger pulls, he told me all about the company’s new smoothbore.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” he said, “I remember talking to Alice Poluchova [president of CZ-USA] on how important it was for us to tap into the American trap market
way back in 2010, but to do so would take a special product.”

Miller finally began working with CZ-USA’s partners at AKKAR, the shotgun makers in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2014. In those early talks, he stressed how durable the gun had to be, and what sort of features a shooter would want in a high-quality shotgun specifically designed for American trap shooting. That list of features soon made their way to Semih Polat, the product manager at the AKKAR factory. It was a pretty impressive list (see sidebar), so I’ll discuss the main features one group at a time.

The All-American Trap Combo in the standard over/under configuration ... (CZ-USA)

The All-American Trap Combo in the standard over/under configuration … (CZ-USA)

THE FIRST GROUP OF FEATURES consists of drop-in replaceable action components, three sizes of replaceable locking lugs, and easy-to-replace firing pins and bushings. The drop-in parts feature is huge. A well-used trap gun will fire thousands of rounds a year, and no matter how well made it is, some parts will wear out faster than others. The ability to quickly replace things like bushings, hinge pins and firing pins will be greatly appreciated by the avid shooter.

Neale Flynn, gunsmith at CZ-USA, provided even more detail on the replaceable locking lugs. “The locking block engages the bites of the barrel underneath the bottom of the chamber,” he said, “and the locking block wears over time. Slowly, the top snap lever will go from the right, when the gun is shut, to center.”

“Once at center,” he continued, “the locking block needs to be replaced. On other over/under shotguns, you have to weld and machine the locking block that was in that gun to begin with. It’s more time consuming, and we have to do it in-house to ensure it’s correct. With these drop-in locking blocks of different sizes, it allows us to send the next size of locking block to a customer for their local gunsmith to replace, no major special surgery required.”

Next on Miller’s list were an unsingle singles trap barrel with full floating rib, and a matching set of midheight rib over/under barrels. “Unsingle” refers to a single-barreled option on this gun to shoot singles, with the barrel being
“under” on the bottom. Opinions vary, but many shooters prefer the barrel to be on the bottom in a single barrel configuration, compared to a “top single” model such as one made by Krieghoff.

... and in the unsingle configuration. (CZ-USA)

… and in the unsingle configuration. (CZ-USA)

HOW THE RIB IS ATTACHED is important, and Flynn advised me that the rib on the All-American Trap Combo is silver-soldered to the barrel. The solder used is 45 percent silver, and is done in an oven at 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to lead- and tin-based solders, or tin and antimony solder, which is more common on less expensive guns, this method is significantly stronger.

And a matching set of over-and-under barrels allows the All-American Trap Combo shooter to compete in all phases of American Trap shooting – singles, doubles and handicap.

Finally, we come to a fully adjustable butt pad plate (also adjustable for length of pull), a four-way adjustable parallel comb, adjustable trigger shoe positing, and select wood grain. Just as Miller requested, everything that can be adjusted on this gun is adjustable. The comb adjusts, but it is also parallel. When your cheek is against the comb, your head will not raise or lower if you move back and forth on the stock.

The butt pad adjusts for length of pull, toe in and toe out (slant of the pad from top to bottom), and even for cast on and off. The trigger is adjustable up to   inch, and the wood in the stock is listed as “select” – it is drop-dead gorgeous.

Byers made the most of his CZ-USA All-American Trap Combo test, scoring a 23 on his first round with the new gun.

Byers made the most of his CZ-USA All-American Trap Combo test, scoring a 23 on his first round with the new gun.

I PUT SEVERAL BOXES of Browning’s new BPT shotgun ammo through the All-American Trap Combo and watched others do the same. The gun seemed lively and naturally pointed, yet was still heavy enough that I saw no problems with recoil.

After putting it through its paces, I offered a few other shooters the opportunity for a test drive. Austyn Byers, a high school 4H shooter from Auto, W.Va., picked it up out of case, walked onto the trap range and shot a 23 on his first round.

The Trap Combo consistently turned heads when the author opened up the gun case.

The Trap Combo consistently turned heads when the author opened up the gun case.

I also trolled the All-American Trap Combo past some of the instructors at the Greenbrier Resort Gun Club in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The gun was very well received there and turned heads everywhere I took it.

“Now that CZ-USA is stepping into the realm of trap shooting,” Miller said, “we will be automatically compared to the shotguns that are already proven to work in such games. For example, Caesar Guerini’s base model is called a Summit Combo and it’s a fantastic gun, but it costs $7,995. There are other great trap guns available, but none will give you more for your money than the AllAmerican Trap Combo.”

MSRP is $3,399. If you can find another shotgun that is as well made and has as many features as this, I suggest you buy it. ASJ

West Virginia high school student Austyn Byers (left foreground) and his fellow 4H shooters liked what they saw of CZ-USA’s new All-American Trap Combo shotgun.

West Virginia high school student Austyn Byers (left foreground) and his fellow 4H shooters liked what they saw of CZ-USA’s new All-American Trap Combo shotgun.

Posted in Shotgun Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

September 16th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

Gettin’ Ready For Shotgun Season

STORY AND PHOTOS BY LARRY CASE

Like many of you, I am much better at just doing stuff than getting ready for it. I guess it’s all about being prepared, and I was never the sharpest Boy Scout in the troop, or something like that.

But some things are too important to not prepare for. Depending on what and where you hunt with your scattergun, your season is either coming up fast, or is already here. September is often the last call for getting shotguns and other paraphernalia ready, so let’s talk about what you need to do to get out there and sling some lead or steel.

First, pull those scatterguns out of the gun safe and look ’em over. I’m sure that you would never put a shotgun away at the end of the season without a thorough cleaning, but if somehow this did happen, now is the time to rectify it.

Open the action and make sure everything seems to function properly – action, trigger, safety, etc. If there are any problems, you may (yes, I wrote “may”) have time to get it to your gunsmith for repair. But if there are any questions with functioning or the safety, do not take
the shotgun to the field.

Most of the time, the only prep our guns need is some old-fashioned cleaning. Pump guns and semiautos need a little more TLC when it comes to this, but don’t neglect the actions on your side-by-side and over-and-under shotguns just because they’re easier to clean. It is, however, easy to be intimidated when it comes taking pump and semiauto guns apart, so if you feel as if you are getting in over your head, don’t do it.

Not that long ago, I needed to disassemble a Browning BPS, and when it came to taking the bolt assembly apart I was unsure about getting it back together. Fortunately, there are multiple internet videos about putting this gun – and many others – back together.

While you are making sure that your guns are ready to roll, here are a few items that will help improve your experience in the field.

ONE GUN PROTECTION PRODUCT I’ve recently come to use is Hopper Spit by Birchwood Casey. The name is derived from – and I am not making this up – the product’s dark brownish-green color. If you caught grasshoppers for fish bait as a kid (as I did), you know what color their spit is.

Hopper Spit from Birchwood Casey is a fine gun protection product

Hopper Spit from Birchwood Casey is a fine gun protection product

Hopper Spit is an extreme rust and corrosion preventative for the metal on firearms. It will protect ferrous and nonferrous metals, and withstand the harshest conditions, including salt spray. This is a good protective spray for long-term storage of your guns (so you’ll be all ready for next season), or before a hard day in the field or the range. The suggested retail price is under $15, so you really can’t afford to not test it out.

For more, see birchwoodcasey.com.

ANOTHER TYPE OF protection that we often neglect in the field is for our hearing. For some reason, we wear it religiously when we go to the trap, skeet or sporting clay range, but we think that banging away in the dove field all day is somehow different. Some of us (like me) have already experienced some hearing loss from years of unprotected shooting, but it’s never too soon, or too late, to protect the hearing you have left.

Any hearing protection, including the simple “jam it in your ear” soft foam type, is better than nothing, but I think the in-ear electronic models work best. They effectively reduce shotgun blast noise while letting us hear what is going around us, and this increased awareness can be very important while on the range or in the field.

Etymotic Research’s Gunsport PRO electronic ear plugs provide excellent hearing protection on the range or afield.

Etymotic Research’s Gunsport PRO electronic ear plugs provide excellent hearing protection on the range or afield.

Etymotic Research’s Gunsport PRO electronic ear plugs are an excellent option for this need. GSP 15 electronic earplugs allow natural hearing when no background noise is present, and gradually protect from loud continuous noise from vehicles, machinery or gunfire from nearby shooters. At the flip of a switch, sound is amplified, improving distance detection up to five times for enhanced awareness.

I’ve used the GunSport 15 model ear plugs in the field and in a shotgun class at Gunsite Academy, and found them to be comfortable, effective and easy to use. The suggested retail for these ear plugs is $299.00, but if you do much shooting (or go to NASCAR races, etc.), they are worth every penny.

For more, go to etymotic.com.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING as too much ammo. Can I get an “amen?” We shotgunners tend to go through a lot of ammunition, and that is a good thing. No matter how many shotgun shells you may have stored at your ranch, you are probably always in the market for more. I know I am.

Before you head off to the dove field for your first hunting expedition, you should put in at least a couple sessions shooting trap, skeet or sporting clays – anything to get you out there shooting.

Browning BPT Shotgun ammo with a CZ-USA All American Trap Combo Shotgun.

Browning BPT Shotgun ammo with a CZ-USA All American Trap Combo Shotgun.

Maybe you’ve heard that Browning has entered the ammunition world, and here are a couple offerings for you to consider.

For the range, Browning offers Browning Performance Target (BPT) Shotshells. A combination of hard shot and a smooth hull make this an excellent choice. Most of you know that round shot will fly truer and hold a better pattern, and the harder or denser the shot, the more it holds its shape and doesn’t become deformed during flight. Harder shot also breaks targets better.

Before you hit the fields, woods or marshes, tune up your aim with some clay targets.

Before you hit the fields, woods or marshes, tune up your aim with some clay targets.

Browning wanted to come in somewhere in the middle on the price point on this ammo, and accomplished this on their BPT line with a brass-plated steel shell head. The brass plating allows for smooth feeding, but the steel head makes it difficult to reload, so Browning does not recommend it. MSRP for a box of 25 is $9.99, but you may see them on shelves anywhere from $7.99 up.

Browning has also introduced the BXD line of hunting shotshells. Along with nickel-plated shot for tighter downrange patterns, the main feature of these shells is speed. The 12-gauge 2¾-inch shell with a 13/8-ounce shot load delivers a muzzle velocity of 1,485 feet per second, and that, my friends, is a screamer. This type of speed should allow for less lead when drawing on that rooster pheasant that flushed a bit too far out.

For more, see browningammo.com.

Browning’s new BXD line of hunting shotshells feature nickel-plated shot.

Browning’s new BXD line of hunting shotshells feature nickel-plated shot.

THIS ONLY SCRATCHES the surface of all the things you need to attend to before you hit the woods or the dove field, but the editors would not give me the 20 pages I asked for to cover this topic adequately. Go figure.

As always, my advice to you is to just go. There will never be a perfect or even a good time to do it. Go to the range, go to where the doves are flying, or go see if the teal are in yet. No matter what you want to go after, just go! ASJ

September means that it’s time to bring your scatterguns out of the safe and into the field. Here are a few of the author’s favorites, including (left to right) his Remington 870 Wingmaster, Browning Superposed, Winchester Model 12, Browning A-5, Browning Model 32, and Remington Model 31.

September means that it’s time to bring your scatterguns out of the safe and into the field. Here are a few of the author’s favorites, including (left to right) his Remington 870 Wingmaster, Browning Superposed, Winchester Model 12, Browning A-5, Browning Model 32, and Remington Model 31.

Posted in Hunting Tagged with: , ,

July 11th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

Hunting Missouri Turkeys With Shotgun World-Record Holder Dave Miller And CZ-USA’s 612 Magnum

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY LARRY CASE

OK, I confess: I may not be the best traveler in the world. To be honest, I’ve never traveled much until recently when I started down the outdoorwriting trail. What I find now is that while I may enjoy the destination once I get there, usually for hunting or a gun-related activity, getting there is not my cup of tea. Airports and flying don’t seem to be on my list of favorite things, but it is all part of traveling and what we have to endure. Sometimes I just want to stay home, work at being my usual grouchy self and hunt on my home turf in West Virginia. When I get home from a trip, I usually vow that it will be a long time before I leave again. But before I know it, I am looking at the horizon and dreaming.

 A chance to hunt with world-record holder and CZ USA product manager Dave Miller was too much to say no to for author Larry Case, here inspecting their decoy set in Missouri’s spring woods.

A chance to hunt with world-record holder and CZ USA product manager Dave Miller was too much to say no to for author Larry Case, here inspecting their decoy set in Missouri’s spring woods.

This is what happened a few months ago when I ventured west to the Show Me State for some turkey hunting. I had been discussing this for a while with Dave Miller, the shotgun product manager at CZ-USA, a firearm manufacturer headquartered next door to Missouri in Kansas City, Kan. CZ-USA is the US-based subsidiary of the Czech Republic company that makes a long list of firearms, including rifles, pistols, submachine guns and some very fine shotguns. Many of their scatterguns are made in Turkey, which, if you didn’t know, has a long history of making firearms. CZ-USA also owns Dan Wesson Firearms, which has produced excellent revolvers and pistols for years, including some very nice 1911s.

I have talked to you about Miller in these pages before. Last year I reported on a feat he accomplished that I do not expect to be equaled anytime soon. Miller broke no less than 3,653 clay targets in one hour, squarely putting him in the Guinness Book of World Records. I was there, I saw it and, to say the least, it was impressive.

Miller is what I would call a rabid shotgun shooter. He lives and breathes it. Besides handling the shotgun product line for CZ-USA, he is also their demonstration and exhibition shooter. I don’t know how many days a year he spends on the road shooting shotguns, but it is way more than I want to be away from home. Saying that Dave Miller shoots a shotgun is like saying Michelangelo painted a few pictures.

So, when Miller called me last spring and invited me to go hunt some Missouri turkeys, I was all for it. But secretly I was a little nervous. If this guy went after turkeys the way he does clay targets, I wasn’t sure I could keep up with him, but there was only one way to find out.

When it comes to hospitality, Miller takes the cake, or in this case, the turkey. He secured an absolutely beautiful piece of property for us to hunt – many thanks to J.W. Page, the owner – not far from Kansas City. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Miller found a stunning bed and breakfast a mile from there: the Laurel Brooke Farm B&B. We were set!

The combination of a CZ USA 612 shotgun, a Trijicon MRO optic and Winchester Longbeard XR loads set up Larry Case and Dave Miller for a successful hunt.

The combination of a CZ USA 612 shotgun, a Trijicon MRO optic and Winchester Longbeard XR loads set up Larry Case and Dave Miller for a successful hunt.

THE DAY I ARRIVED Miller drove me out to the hunting area to check it out and unlimber the shotguns we would be using. We elected to use the CZ 612 Magnum Turkey Shotgun, and by the end of our shooting session I was glad we did. Any shotgunner needs at least one good pump gun and the CZ 612 may be perfect. This shotgun only weighs an amazing 6.8 pounds – that’s light. It has a 3½-inch chamber for those who want to shoot the big shells, and it also takes 3- and 2¾-inch shells. What I appreciated was an action that is not equaled by any shotgun in the same price range.

“This is the smoothest, most reliable action on a pump shotgun since the Model 12,” Miller told me. “It is very durable and easy to operate.”

After carrying and hunting with it for five days, I had to agree. The shotgun is hydro-dipped in Realtree Xtra Green camo and comes with an extra-full choke just for turkey hunting. I would have no problem taking this shotgun upland-bird hunting or waterfowl hunting, for that matter.

When you take all of this into consideration, as well as the retail price of $429, this shotgun is hard to beat. If you can find a better made pump shotgun at this price – you won’t – you should buy it!

I DECIDED TO PUT AN OPTIC on one of the shotguns we carried and chose the Trijicon MRO red-dot sight. You have heard me talk about the MRO before, and I believe this is an excellent optic for a turkey gun. This sight allows for lightning-fast target acquisition, has a five-year battery life and is extremely rugged, as Trijicon optics are built to military specs. Miller and I did not baby the shotguns or the optic on this trip, and they came through it just fine.

While the hospitality of all the people in Missouri I met was wonderful, the Missouri turkeys I came across were not as friendly. They were acting a bit snobbish and did not want to just walk in and be shot like a respectable bird. On the first morning, after a very long ordeal with a particularly uppity gobbler, Miller pulled a rabbit out of his hat. We spent over an hour crawling on our bellies like reptiles, watching a typical field turkey march around out of range. With a strategic decoy placement Miller coaxed the old reprobate gobbler to come right in.

I would be lying if I said that I was not afraid I might miss in front of a shotgunner like Miller, but the Trijicon MRO really helped on a shot that was closer to 50 than 40 yards. I was also glad to have a Winchester Longbeard XR load in the chamber, as I have seen these shells excel when a hunter stretches the yardage. The CZ 612 spoke and the turkey went down as if struck by lightning (whew!). I think Miller was as happy as I was.

The CZ 612 Magnum Turkey Shotgun is an excellent all-around fowl-hunting shotgun.

The CZ 612 Magnum Turkey Shotgun is an excellent all-around fowl-hunting shotgun.

Good friends, beautiful country, a good shotgun and some turkeys to talk to – it doesn’t get much better. Think about Missouri if you are considering a road trip for turkeys. I think the annual harvest is something like 45,000 per year.

Me? I’m glad to be home, but you know, I have been thinking about a little trip somewhere. ASJ 

Editor’s note: For more on the products mentioned in this story, see cz-usa.com, trijicon.com and winchester.com.

Posted in Hunting Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

May 4th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

History, Tradition And Heritage At The New Musket Range

Story by Larry Case

Although not a soldier himself, Rudyard Kipling was familiar with the British army, their weapons and methods of fighting. No doubt he had soldier chums who were happy to tell him about the best girl they had, the Brown Bess musket.

From about 1722 to 1838 the Long Land Pattern musket (Bess’s official name) was the standard-issue long arm for all land forces in the British military. This weapon fired a .75- to .78-caliber ball. As this was the era of British expansion, Brown Bess saw duty around the world. From India to Waterloo all the way over to those pesky American colonies, this was the gun that did most of the fighting, and when mounted with the standard 17-inch bayonet it was deadly indeed! Think of an M1 Garand that stayed in service for over 100 years!

THE ORIGIN OF THE NICKNAME Brown Bess for this pattern musket seems to be uncertain. Some say it was an affectionate reference by the British soldiers to Queen Elizabeth I. King George I was, in fact, German and did not speak English (go figure), and others think it could have been an interpretation for the German braun Buss or brawn Buss, meaning strong gun or brown gun. (Büchse is an old German word for rifle, in the sense of a hunting weapon.)

Situated on 301 acres, Colonial Williamsburg allows visitors to be completely immersed in the time period. All the people who work and live here are well versed in the history and wear period attire. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

Situated on 301 acres, Colonial Williamsburg allows visitors to be completely immersed in the time period. All the people who work and live here are well versed in the history and wear period attire. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

Most experts on this musket, however, seem to think it is more likely the overall appearance of the weapon: dark brown wood on the stock and a barrel that often had a brownish tint due to the method of “bluing” the metal at this time known as russeting.

History is wonderful and if you are as crazy about guns as I am, you could get lost in the details and minutiae of any firearm. I will admit, however, that there is something better than just reading about it – hands-on shooting. The feel of the gun, the burning powder in your nose and getting your hands dirty – there is no substitute for this.

So, where can you actually learn to load and fire a Brown Bess musket? Glad you asked! Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, of course!

This 301-acre historic site features hundreds of restored, reconstructed and historically furnished buildings. Costumed interpreters tell the stories of the men and women in this 18th-Century city – black, white and Native Americans were all here. Some were slaves, some were indentured and some were free. When you come here, you will learn the challenges these people faced and you can also learn to fire the Brown Bess!

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

BRAND NEW THIS YEAR, Colonial Williamsburg has opened a firing range where guests can learn to load and fire this treasured musket. If you enjoy history (which you probably do if you are visiting Colonial Williamsburg), take the time to feel history in your hands by shooting these historical treasures.

Even though we were visiting the colonies and not Her Majesty’s home in England, the day my wife Helen and I visited Colonial Williamsburg, we were treated like royalty. Joe Straw, public relations manager for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and all of the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

Brown Bess

OUR FIRST STOP was the gunsmith shop. To be honest, I could have spent the entire day in there. As with much of Colonial Williamsburg most of this sweeping landscape is just like stepping back in time. Try to imagine walking into an 18th-century gunsmith shop. It’s all here! The guns, the powder horns, the tools and every accoutrement that you can think of and some you might never have realized existed, all with the absolute authenticity and attention to detail that Colonial Williamsburg is known for.

The gunsmith shop is like stepping back in time. All of the muskets and tools, including barrel rifling, engraving and carpentry tools, are handmade in the same tradition and manner that they were created in the 18th century. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

The gunsmith shop is like stepping back in time. All of the muskets and tools, including barrel rifling, engraving and carpentry tools, are handmade in the same tradition and manner that they were created in the 18th century. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

I stood in awe of the blacksmith’s shop next door as a flat piece of metal was repeatedly heated, hammered and forged around an iron rod, transforming it into a rifle barrel. I had always been curious about this process and wondered how it was even possible. There I stood as sparks danced with each blow of the hammer and black smoke rolled.

I was very fortunate to spend some time with George Suiter, the master gunsmith here. Suiter has been working in this gunsmith shop for over 30 years and after about 10 minutes of speaking with him I had already forgotten more about making these rifles than I would ever know. Suiter makes these Colonial-era “rifle guns” right in this shop and people can order their very own. The waiting list is quite lengthy, currently eight to nine years, and on average a rifle will fetch about $20,000.

“The best way to preserve a trade is to practice it,” Suiter told me, “ … and that is what we do here at Colonial Williamsburg.” He assured me that one would never find tools in this shop which were not true to the time period.

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

I also spent some time talking to Erik Goldstein, curator of mechanical arts and numismatics. Goldstein is the coauthor of The Brown Bess: An Identification Guide And Illustrated Study Of Britain’s Most Famous Musket. This is, at the very least, an exhaustive study of the British Land Pattern musket. I do not believe you could be a serious student nor a proper collector without owning this book.

JOE STRAW WAS ULTIMATELY ABLE to hustle me out of the gunsmith shop and took Helen and I to the musket range. A highly capable group and just as knowledgeable in their craft awaited us. You will find this level of commitment and passion all over Colonial Williamsburg, and this is also depicted in the clothing and demeanor.

Portraying a Colonial-era militia man, armorer Justin Chapman met us at the range with a host of well-trained helpers. Chapman gave us an extensive safety and background briefing on the Brown Bess, as well as a period “fowling piece.” The “fowler,” we were told, would be a muzzleloader that would have likely been used by colonists at the time. A predecessor to the modern shotgun, it could be loaded with bird shot or ball load, making it very versatile for the hunting colonist.

This Brown Bess’s loaded pan is primed to fire. Notice the 18th century version of a safety – a leather cover on the frizzen. (Inset) Williamsburg’s blacksmith shop is perpetually in motion as they create the barrels, among many other items, from bare metal by repetitively heat treating and hammering the soon-to-be musket barrel. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

This Brown Bess’s loaded pan is primed to fire. Notice the 18th century version of a safety – a leather cover on the frizzen. (Inset) Williamsburg’s blacksmith shop is perpetually in motion as they create the barrels, among many other items, from bare metal by repetitively heat treating and hammering the soon-to-be musket barrel. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

Both the Brown Bess and the fowler are smoothbores (no rifling in the barrel). They could be loaded quickly, but are not especially accurate over 50 yards. For the European style of combat used at the time, where armies marched in formation to within range of their foes and then sent volleys of lead chunks at them, the Brown Bess was a deadly weapon; for the long-range shooter, not so much. A British soldier was expected to be capable of firing four shots in one minute. After a few volleys of fire, a charge was ordered using those wicked triangular 17-inch bayonets. The line that could stand against such a charge was stalwart indeed!

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

MY WIFE HELEN HAD the privilege of being the first visitor to fire a round on the brand new musket range here. I enjoyed watching her do that as much as anything on this trip. There is something about watching a new shooter that warms the heart. The look on her face after the smoke and boom of her first shot was priceless. When she was asked if she wanted to shoot again, she immediately replied, “Of course!”

When it was my turn to shoot, I found that it was not difficult to hit the NRA target, as the musket was more accurate than I had expected. The Brown Bess has no front sight, but the small lug where the bayonet attaches serves as one. Again, this was not meant to be a sniper rifle. Quick and easy to load, I could see how shooting this type of muzzleloader could be addicting. Straw had to drag me off of the range before we all froze
to death – it was a cold March day – and I shot up all the powder and ball in the county.

The latest at Colonial Williamsburg is the musket range – now open to the public. (LARRY CASE)

The latest at Colonial Williamsburg is the musket range – now open to the public. (LARRY CASE)

The author’s wife Helen Case (right) stands with a Colonial Williamsburg guard and demonstrates the length of the Brown Bess complete with bayonet. (LARRY CASE)

The author’s wife Helen Case (right) stands with a Colonial Williamsburg guard and demonstrates the length of the Brown Bess complete with bayonet. (LARRY CASE)

AT THE END OF THE LONG DAY, Helen and I would not be denied another stroll down Colonial Williamsburg’s streets. It was a blustery evening with not many visitors around. I stood and peered down Duke of Gloucester Street; nobody was in sight outside of those in period attire. Far down the street I could see a soldier in uniform hastening into the evening gloom. Trouble was coming, but in the end came freedom and the rise of the greatest country the world had ever seen. Just for a minute I imagined it was 1774, and I was there. ASJ

Posted in Black Powder Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

April 27th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

ONE ON ONE WITH EVA SHOCKEY

Story By Larry Case • Photographs Courtesy Of Outdoor Channel

The 2016 Archery Trade Association (ATA) show was in full swing at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, and it was packed to the gills. I stood amongst a throng in a long line that did not seem to be moving.  A guy next to me was telling no one in particular how beautiful Ms. Eva  Shockey was – for the fifth time! Another Eva admirer standing in front of me was giving a running commentary of her career in the outdoor and hunting industry– he seemed to be well informed.
As I have never been good at waiting for anything, I considered bolting from the line before someone could say “Hey! Don’t you want to see Eva Shockey?”
Well, of course I wanted to see her, but like a cottontail rabbit kicked out of brush pile, I jumped out of line and sprang full speed down a crowded aisle. I guess I am a bit of a coward. I was supposed to procure an interview with Eva, but chickened out again.

Eva wanted to spend more time with her father, so she took steps to learn about his biggest passion –hunting – and immediately became a fan herself.

Eva wanted to spend more time with her father, so she took steps to learn about his biggest passion –hunting – and immediately became a fan herself.

EVA SHOCKEY HAS BECOME the face of women in the hunting movement, and that is a big deal. There have been exactly two women to grace the cover of Field & Stream magazine in the last 100 years: the first lady was Queen Elizabeth; the second Eva Shockey.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported that the increase in hunting participation from 2008 to 2012 among males was only 1.9 percent; among women it was 10. In those four short years, the number of female hunters jumped from 3.04 million to 3.35 million. Did Eva have anything to do with that? Many would say yes!
Being the daughter of Outdoor Channel-icon Jim Shockey and often appearing with him on his programs did not hurt her start in the industry. But even in the limelight of her father, Eva is developing and blazing her own niche in the hunting world.
These days, Eva is considered a women’s hunting advocate superstar, not just Jim’s daughter. I saw this time and again as I walked the aisles of the ATA show. Passing by a booth where she was signing autographs and taking pictures with adoring fans, many of them young girls and ladies, it seemed clear she had a special bond with them.
I didn’t think I had much hope of landing an interview with her on my trip, but I made a call to a lady who knows everybody. “Be over here at our booth at 4:30,” she said nonchalantly. “You’ve got fifteen minutes for an interview.” I showed up early, still not believing it, and within few minutes, here came Eva and her manager –pretty as you please.
They are both polite and gracious as can be. To be honest, that was not what I expected. There are celebrities in the outdoor world who act like rock stars. This is not the case here, and soon Eva and I were sitting at a table talking as if we were on the front porch having sweet tea.

Eva spent a lot of her formative years tagging along with her father while he filmed TV hunting shows, but did not start hunting herself until she was 21 years old.

Eva spent a lot of her formative years tagging along with her father while he filmed TV hunting shows, but did not start hunting herself until she was 21 years old.

AMERICAN SHOOTING JOURNAL What is your life like right now?

EVA SHOCKEY Very busy and exciting because every day I learn new things, talk to new people and try new products. I just got married in June (2015), and have a wonderful husband named Tim Brent who is also a hunter and a professional hockey player. So, between his hockey schedule and mine, it is pretty hectic!

ASJ Did you grow up hunting?

ES I grew up around hunting. My dad has been a hunter for my entire life, and we’ve had TV hunting programs for 15 years (currently Uncharted and Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures – all on Outdoor Channel), so I was always on his trips. I didn’t actually start hunting seriously until after college when I traveled for my first big-game hunt in South Africa. Since then, I have not stopped.

ASJ Did you enjoy hunting from the beginning?PHOTO 2a IMG_5328

ES I loved it. I was always curious about it, and wanted to do something to spend time with my dad. He was obviously very passionate, and I wanted to see what it was he loved so much. The first animal I hunted was a warthog [laughs], because I was not sure I would like it, so I wanted to hunt something that was kind of ugly [laughs again]. After that I was hooked and jumped into all of this rather quickly. I didn’t intend for this to become my career.

Larry Case sat down with Eva at the Archery Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., and she couldn’t help but goof off – funny girl. (LARRY CASE)

Larry Case sat down with Eva at the Archery Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., and she couldn’t help but goof off – funny girl. (LARRY CASE)

ASJ Do you enjoy archery and bowhunting?

ES Yes, I love archery! I have been shooting a bow for a while now, but in the past three years I’ve become more serious about it. People who bowhunt know that it takes more time to hunt this way than it does to hunt with a gun. I split my time 50-50 between bow and gun hunting, but I am growing more and more in love with my bow.

ASJ There are more and more young women who seek you out and follow you as an inspiration. What do they tell you and what do you share with them?

 

ES The number of girls involved in hunting has really increased from just seven years ago when I started. I often hear that they appreciate me because I am a lady who hunts, and I don’t go into the woods pretending to be a guy. I don’t start swearing and spitting as soon as the hunt starts. I don’t want to be a guy. I stay true to myself – as ladylike as I can [laughs a little], classy as I can. I’m still me just wearing camo. That’s my biggest thing! You don’t have to be masculine to hunt, and you can just be yourself and love the outdoors.

We may not know what is around the next corner for Eva, but you can be sure she will stay true to herself and make her next chapter epic.

We may not know what is around the next corner for Eva, but you can be sure she will stay true to herself and make her next chapter epic.

ASJ That really hits home with the ladies, I bet.

ES I think so. There are different kinds of girls who hunt, but for me, this is just who I am. I don’t think anyone should have to apologize for being a woman who loves being in the woods while wearing camo and doing the same things that any guy out there does.

EVA DOESN’T HAVE to apologize, indeed! She is the face and the voice of the greatest force to reach the outdoor and hunting arena in the past century – women hunters.
The industry is lucky to have her. ASJ

Eva Shockey is the modern image of women who hunt. Having grown up immersed in the hunting industry and around her Outdoor Channel, TV-celebrity and wildlife-icon father, Jim Shockey, has not kept Eva from blazing her own path.

Eva Shockey is the modern image of women who hunt. Having grown up immersed in the hunting industry and around her Outdoor Channel, TV-celebrity and wildlife-icon father, Jim Shockey, has not kept Eva from blazing her own path.

 

Posted in Hunting Tagged with: , , , , ,

January 8th, 2016 by Danielle Breteau

The Metro Gun – For The Quiet Shooter

This Ain’t Your Father’s Double Barrel

Story and photographs by Larry Case

Few would argue that John Moses Browning was not an inventor of firearms par excellence. Just trying to list Mr. Browning’s accomplishmentsw in the gun world can leave the garden-variety gun writer, like me, feeling a bit queasy. You just know that you are going to forget something. From .50-caliber machine guns to the legendary 1911 pistol, Browning’s list is long and varied. You may suspect that I favor some of his shotgun wizardry, and you would be right. The 1897 Winchester pump shotgun is one of my favorites, and it paved the way for the iconic Winchester Model 12.

Even though this gun is very long, the barrel hides behind the bead, so from the shooter’s point of view, it’s an easy transition.

I believe that Browning had the traits of all great inventors. First, they are brilliant in that they can conceive an idea, then picture it and finally have the tenacity to stay with the concept until the job is done. Whether it’s Eli Whitney working on the cotton gin – was also involved in mass producing firearms for the government, by the way – or Thomas Edison, who fooled around with that lightbulb thing until he got it right, great ideas often come from the most unexpected places.

Let’s talk about L.P. Brezny. Brezny is one of those guys who is hard to put a handle on. He hails from the windswept plains of South Dakota and is a former policeman – think old cowboy and sheriff with some trapper and mountain man thrown in. But what Brezny is first and foremost is a shooter. Everything from shotgun to long-range-rifle shooting is in his bailiwick, so much so that his books Modern Shotgunning and The Gun Digest Book of Long Range Shooting are widely read. He has helped more than one shotgun ammunition manufacturer develop shot loads over the years, and has created his own shotgun-choke system aptly named the Dead Ringer. Most recently, Brezny has invented the Metro Gun system. “Metro Gun?” you say! “What is that?” I am so glad you asked.

PHOTO 3Several years ago, like all great inventors ahead of their time, Brezny saw the need for a shotgun that would go easy on the ears. Urban sprawl causes tighter constrictions on where shotgunners can shoot. Often, there might be a location where one can shoot, but it would really help to keep the noise down – keeping peace with the neighbors, and all of that. Also, reducing the decibel level can increase one’s success rate when hunting certain animals and birds, particularly crows. Remember the old adage that necessity is the mother of all invention? Well, Brezny needed to shoot more crows. In order to do that he needed to have a shotgun that made very little noise, so he created the Metro Gun.

The Metro Gun – essentially, an extra barrel attached to a shotgun – is a clever combination of silencer, suppressor, choke and recoil-management system.

Brezny does a lot of shooting and hunting, which includes animal-control jobs. The common crow can be a real pest in agricultural areas; ditto for feral pigeons. Shotgunning for these birds is often done in close proximity to barns, buildings, humans and livestock. One can easily see how a low-decibel shotgun would come in handy for these situations.

The system is very easy to install. Just remove your screw-in choke and replace it with the screw-in Metro barrel.

After a lot of testing, blood, sweat, tears and a bunch of ammunition sent down range, Brezny delivered. Essentially, the Metro Gun is a 32-inch barrel extension that simply screws onto the end of your existing shotgun barrel. Just remove your screw-in choke and insert the Metro barrel. Voilà! You are ready to shoot quietly. The Metro barrel is ported along its entire length, which allows gas to bleed off a little at a time. The Metro is so long that most of the gases are gone by the time they get to the muzzle. Very little gas equals very little noise!

With an average of 72 decibels using subsonic shotgun ammunition, Larry Nibert doesn’t even need to put ear protection on little Gwen Nibert.

How little noise? Most tests show that with subsonic shotgun ammo, the report will create only 72 decibels of sound and just 82 decibels with supersonic. Some compare it to closing a car door. Winchester, Remington and Federal all make shotgun ammunition in the subsonic line.

Mr. Brezny noticed other benefits too. Not only was there much less noise, there was much less recoil – it will make your shotgun a soft shooter – and delivered a better pattern. Essentially, the Metro acts as one long choke tube. Brezny routinely gets reports from Metro customers on how effective his barrel is for game. Ducks don’t flare after the first shot, and with no blast to drive them away, crows continue to come to the calling,

Would some consider the 32-inch Metro Gun a bit long and wieldy? Probably, but Brezny insists that while shooting, the barrel “disappears behind the bead.” Also, at only 1.1 pounds (the 25-inch Raven model weighs less), not much weight is added.

If you have a situation where you want to shoot a shotgun but would like a lot less noise, you need to check out the Metro Gun.

Eli Whitney, John Moses Browning, Thomas Edison and L. P. Brezny all had the vision and made inventions happen, but only one of them made the quietest shotgun you will ever see. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more on the Metro Gun, visit metrogun.com.

Porting along the entire length (main image) of the barrel allows gases to escape gradually from the Metro Gun. Less gas equals less noise. Among the benefits of this system, the decibel level is so low that crows (center inset) are not startled by shots. While the Metro Gun seems long with its 32-inch barrel extension, the shooter doesn’t realize the difference when the bead is lined up with the barrel. The extension weighs only 1.1 pounds, and even lighter on a shorter model.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

August 6th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Shotgun Nirvana

The Gun Club At The Greenbrier Resort

Story by Larry Case

 

PHOTO 3 Greenbrier-012-8b

(GREENBRIER RESORT)

Maybe, just maybe, you are ready for a little help with your shotgun shooting. Like a lot of us, you have been banging around for years, and you are just OK. To be perfectly honest, maybe you seem to leave each session, whether in the field for birds or on the range for clays, with a feeling somewhere between disappointment and desperation. You know you can do better, you want to do better, but you just don’t know how.

If you have the collective eyesight, reflexes, strength and coordination of an eagle, a bull elk and a young mongoose all rolled into one critter, you won’t need to hear any of this. Just take up your old shotgun, however ugly and ill-fitting it may be, and go out and shoot stuff. If you are not exactly in that category, maybe you want to read on.

Here is the deal: Not only am I going to talk to you about the benefits of taking up some shotgun instruction, I am going to suggest a place for you to go, and I think that you are going to like it.

PHOTO 1 BERETTA 686 WITH RIO SHOTGUN SHELLIf you are a serious shotgunner and you haven’t heard about the gun club at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., well, you should have. It is considered one of the top-tier, premier resorts in the world, and more locally it’s a National Historic Landmark.

Since 1778 guests have been visiting this beautiful area, and the Greenbrier, for the healing mineral springs found on the property. Today, The Greenbrier boasts over 55 activities on its 10,000-acre estate, and if I tried to tell you everything the resort had to offer, I would be in more trouble with the editor than usual. What we can talk at length about is their gun club.

Like the resort itself, their gun club has a long and fertile history. Since 1913, 26 presidents, royalty, captains of industry and celebrities have shot here – and you can too. If you are thinking, as I did, that you might be a little intimidated taking shotgun lessons at a world-class resort, don’t give it another thought. I had a sneaking suspicion I might be told to hold up my pinky finger while shooting; it wasn’t like that at all.

PHOTO 4 L-R, JIMMY, HOMER, CURTIS, GREENBRIER INSTRUCTORS

The cadre of instructors are ready to take on all levels of shooters, and will make any experience on the field a success. (LARRY CASE)

PHOTO 5 JIMMY, CURTIS, HOMER, GREENBRIER GUN CLUB

The Greenbrier instructors are highly trained yet maintain a warm Appalachian charm. (LARRY CASE)

The staff and instructors at The Greenbrier gun club were wonderful, and made me feel at home right away. I was pleased to see that the instructors were from the area (they were all old grouse hunters), and I was impressed to learn that all of them had been trained by John Higgins and Justin Jones, world-renowned trap, skeet and sporting clay professionals, from the British School of Shooting. So, what you have are instructors steeped in deep southern Appalachian hospitality, but trained as instructors in one of the premier shotgun schools in the world. What a mix!

PHOTO 8 GREENBRIER, BERETTA 686'S IN GUN RACK

The Greenbrier’s gun club offers house Beretta 686s for sporting clays and Browning Models BT99 or BT100 for trap and skeet. (LARRY CASE)

If you don’t want to travel with your own firearms, they have house guns ready to use. For sporting clay enthusiasts they offer Beretta 686s, both the Sporting and Onyx models, and for the trap folks, visitors can use the Browning over-and-under Model BT99 and BT100.

Curtis Kincaid, Homer Bryant, Mike Adkins and Jimmy Fraley, the instructors I worked with the day I was there, were seasoned and clearly capable of instantly spotting a shooter’s mistakes; it was uncanny to work with them. More importantly, while I was on the range with these guys, I had a great time. Teaching without preaching, learning while enjoying – this is the environment great instructors create.

PHOTO 6 GREENBRIER GUN CLUB BEAUTIFUL SCENERY

(LARRY CASE)

 

PHOTO 7 GREENBRIER GUN CLUB RANGE

The shooting fields at the Greenbrier Resort are surrounded by hot springs. (LARRY CASE)

On the sporting clays course with Kincaid, he, of course, picked up on some of my shotgun faults, which are legend. Kincaid addressed each problem patiently and systematically, explaining every step. More of the details from this formal lesson will have to wait for another time, but we can go over some of the basics.

Safety, safety, safety. I was happy to see that they stressed gun safety from the very beginning – muzzle control, fingers off triggers, making sure of targets, the whole nine and a half yards.

Stance and mounting the gun. Some of the information Kincaid provided, I had heard before, but not delivered in such a simple, step-by-step manner, which is aimed at doing one thing: making the student a better shooter. We all know that if our stance is off, we will miss. Kincaid took the time to explain why, and demonstrated how to teach a beginner the proper method for mounting the gun and bringing it to bear on the target. Kincaid has the shooter do what he calls “mount and bow.” The student mounts the shotgun on their shoulder and aims upward approximately 45 degrees. Once in this position, he has the shooter bow or lean forward, putting about 70 percent of their weight on the front foot. This is one of the very first things they teach to new shooters. It is the basis for everything that comes next.

Your eye is the rear sight. Big, bright front sights on your gun are counterproductive, according to Kincaid. You don’t look at your sights; rather, you look at the bird.

These are just small examples of the many topics we covered during my time there, and frankly, they can explain their techniques better than I can. There is so much more Kincaid and the boys have to share. Whatever your level, you will walk away a more proficient shooter without a doubt.

Greenbrier Resort

The Greenbrier Resort is a National Historic Landmark located in white Springs, W.Va., and boasts one of the finest trap and skeet fields in the nation. (GREENBRIER RESORT)

If you want to take your shotgun shooting to another level, be pampered at a world-class resort, and visit amazing countryside, check out the gun club at The Greenbrier. Tell the guys I sent you, but don’t believe half of the stories they tell  about my shooting! ASJ

Author’s note: You can visit the world-class Greenbrier resort’s website at greenbrier.com, and getting there is easy via Amtrak or flights directly into the Greenbrier Valley Airport. There is no excuse not to indulge. 

 

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

June 24th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

David Miller Busts 3,653 Clays In An Hour To Set Guinness World Record!

Story and photographs by Larry Case

PHOTO 9 DAVE MILLER Shooting

If Dave Miller was a hunting dog, I would want one of his pups. He is that good. Miller has what my hunting buddy, when he rates a pack of new bird dogs, would call “fire in the belly.” I think when Miller wakes up in the morning he leaps out of bed and is immediately turning and burning, whatever his mission. You may shoot a shotgun, I do shoot a shotgun, but nobody shoots a shotgun like David Miller.

PHOTO 4

The final confirmed tally. After one hour, Dave miller had successfully shot 3,653 clays. This required four clays to be airborne during any given second for the entire hour. Impressive!

On May 16, 2015, the western Missouri man set the Guinness Book of World Records for the most clay targets shot in one hour. When the final horn blew and the smoke cleared Miller had done it: 3,653 clays broken while shooting a shotgun from the hip, and at night!

When the shooting had started an hour before, the actual world record attempt seemed almost surreal. I stood behind the platform and listened to his shotgun firing, but the rate at which the shots were going off seemed impossible. How could anyone hit anything firing this fast? The crowd watched as the targets streamed into the air and exploded with an almost machine-like consistency. That’s Miller, a shootin’ piece of machinery.

PHOTO 1

Miller had to engineer 16 Mayville Engineering Company target throwers to eject the clays at a precise rate to ensure that they weren’t being thrown so fast he couldn’t focus on them, but also that they didn’t operate too slowly and prevent making his goal.

During that hour targets were thrown continuously with absolutely no pauses. In order to achieve this, Miller had to have 30 CZ-USA shotguns fitted with two Nordic Component magazine extensions that held 16 shells total. Each shotgunPHOTO 8 was set up exactly the same way, including Miller’s special leather strap to hold his hand in place. Several gun bearers and loaders stood by with ready-to-shoot shotguns so Miller could just grab and go as the clock ticked down. Miller would blast through all the ammo in one gun, then he would throw it down and reach for the next one that was handed to him. He had to do this throughout the entire hour without ever slowing down, stopping or taking a break. Even with all of the gun-change interruptions, he still shot 83 percent of the total clays thrown. I was there. I saw it and let me tell you, boys and girls, it was a sight to behold. I would be happy with that on any day at the neighborhood skeet range [grin].

PHOTO 6 Mike Hyde (4)

The final numbers from the epic day showed that 5,265 clays were released, Miller fired 4,402 rounds of Federal 2¾-inch Gold Medal Handicap Trap Load with 11/8 ounces of shot – not a light load – and hit 3,653 targets to make the world record. (MIKE HYDE)

How did all this come to pass?

Glad you asked. As it turns out, and somewhat oddly enough, one does not simply call up Guinness and say, “Hey guys, I shot a couple thousand clay targets the other day, put me down for that record, if you would!”

What had to happen was this: Miller and attorneys from CZ-USA (where Miller is the shotgun product manager and exhibition shooter) worked with representatives from Guinness and the National Sporting Clays Association. During the event, Guinness had to have a representative there to confirm the count and actually present Miller with the official award.

But even before that, Miller got the idea by watching a TV show with his girlfriend Kelly Lindley and her two children, Will and Sydney. The program featured people attempting to break world records. Will told Miller that he should attempt a world record with his shotgun. Miller says he didn’t think much about it at the time, but the idea stuck. This was the beginning of months of planning, testing and building to make the idea and the new dream come true.

It wasn’t easy: Miller soon became the lead engineer for what would become a PHOTO 10completely new idea in clay throwers and synchronization.

The target throwers and the rate at which they launched the clays were a major concern. Too fast and Miller could not focus on the flying target; too slow and there would not be enough time to get all of them broken in an hour. It had to be just right. The rate of fire during the attempt was about four- to six-tenths of a second; about every half of a second a target was being thrown for Miller to shoot. This sequence required 16 Mayville Engineering Company target-throwing machines to work in unison. That is putting some serious lead down range.

When the big day came, the atmosphere of the expectant crowd was
similar to a state fair, except with lots of shotguns. It was almost as if they were waiting for Evel Knievel to jump the Grand Canyon. I thought this was better.

PHOTO 3


The amount of equipment and personnel needed to complete this monumental task included:

PHOTO 2

Thirty CZ shotguns were used to accomplish the world record. They were a mix of CZ 712s and 912s and fitted with two Nordic Component 16-round magazine extensions.

• 30 CZ Model 712 or 912 shotguns;

• 16 MEC target-throwing machines, designed to hold and systematically throw clay targets into the air;

(All of them performed flawlessly during this event.)

• 6,400 clay targets;

• 5,000 shotgun shells;

• 25 to 30 gun bearers and loaders;

• A plethora of volunteers, helpers, friends, family and supporters.


Miller, a more humble guy you may never meet, thanked supporters, friends and family continually during this event.

If I know Miller, he is already working on a new project, and you can bet it involves a shotgun. When you have fire in the belly, you don’t stop when you set a little thing like a world record. ASJ

PHOTO 11 Dave Miller and folks WR

When Miller decided to attempt the world record, he took his idea to Pheasants Forever because he wanted the attempt to be connected to this conservation-based group to help them raise money for their youth shooting programs.

PHOTO 5

Author Larry Case with Dave Miller, clay killer.

 

Author’s note: The Heartland Trap and Wobble Skeet Range near Harrisonville, Mo., hosted this epic event and you couldn’t have found a better or friendlier setting than this neighborhood gun-club atmosphere. Owner Steve Sheerer personally made sure the event was a success for everyone. You can visit them at heartlandtrapandskeet.com.

Posted in Shooters Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

June 15th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau
Story by Larry Case • Photograph courtesy of Weatherby

I know that when you hear the word “Weatherby,” shotguns are not the first thing that springs to mind – more like a line of fine, high-end rifles. Well, I think that is going to change. I want you to consider the Weatherby SA459 Turkey model. This is a very nice lightweight  (6¾ pounds) semiauto shotgun tricked out with a pistol grip, Real Tree Xtra green camo and a Picatinny rail. You will hear more from me about this shotgun, but for now I would rather you hear it from Haley Heath of The Women of Weatherby team, who has some experience with this hunting firearm.  “Since I started shooting the Weatherby SA-459 Turkey Shotgun, I gained a great deal of respect for this gun. It’s a shotgun like no other, with qualities that you don’t find on any other brands, such as the larger pistol  grip. This feature is a great for turkey hunting since staying still and quiet while in a comfortable holding position  is so important,” Haley said. “This turkey season everyone in my family hunted turkey using the Weatherby SA-459 Turkey Shotgun. My 10-year-old son, Gunner, waited over 30 minutes for the perfect shot, and when he finally took the long shot, he dropped the large tom. Even at his young age, he completely gave credit to the Weatherby shotgun for helping him stay steady and comfortable. As a wife and mother of two, I am always looking for a gun that will work for my
whole family, and the Weatherby SA-459 Turkey is that gun for me!” ASJ

SIDEBAR Haley Heath SA-459_Turkey_XtraGreen

The WEATHERBY SA459 Turkey Shotgun

Posted in Shotgun Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

June 15th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Clear Skies Ahead

Story by Larry Case
Photographs courtesy of The Women Of Weatherby

All right, it may be true confession time, but for quite a while the whole concept of the female hunter may have been a little lost on me. Outdoor TV, the source of much good and much bad, is to blame. Something about young women who look like models shooting whitetail bucks in a class that the average hunter will never see – much less get the chance to hunt – is somehow perplexing to me. Now, before you get out the tar and feathers, just remember that maybe I come from a time when this was not the norm.

“I am a serious hunter and all I’ve ever wanted was a gun truly made for me.

Try not to be too hard on an old ex-game warden shotgunner who might not be used to this. Hope springs eternal, however, and recently I came upon a bright spot in this journey. I met Haley Heath in the Weatherby booth at the NRA convention in Nashville this year. Heath has been a veteran of the outdoor and shooting industry for many years, and through her I saw things in a new light. Heath is the real deal: a hunter and a shooter. She was kind enough to talk to me for a bit and tell me her story.

PHOTO 2 HALEY HEATH FAMILY PIC

Haley Heath – Here with daughter Dakota, husband Kemp and son Gunner Heath – believes women can feel confident and comfortable as hunters or shooters, thanks to the support of companies like Weatherby.

“Since I was a little girl, sharing the outdoors with more females and children has been my mission. As a wife and mother of two, I have loved working in an industry that not only supports and encourages families in the outdoors, but now more than ever supports me as a woman,” she said.

Heath told me that when she started in the outdoor industry, over nine years ago, she owned two restaurants and worked a full time job at Bass Pro Shops. The problem was that she still had a desire for a career that provided more time doing what she loved, as well as time to be with her children. After almost a decade of doing just that, she is very proud to pass on her passion to her 10-year-old son Gunner, and daughter Dakota, who is 8. She was quick to say that she had the support of her husband Kemp, who also works with Weatherby.

“The girls found our fort, guys…

“At the beginning of my outdoor career there were a few female hunters and shooters, but the numbers have skyrocketed over the past few years. Trade shows rarely had well-known female hunters and shooters signing autographs at their booths like we have today. Instead, the only women you’d see were paid models to help attract visitors to company booths.”

Heath noted that as the number of females getting into hunting and shooting started to grow, companies thought shrinking their products and coloring it pink was the way to go, or simply trying to place a youth firearm in our hands. Fast forward to the present and she thinks women can feel confident and comfortable being a hunter or shooter, thanks to the support of companies like Weatherby and programs like The Women Of Weatherby.

The Women of Weatherby is a platform where novice to expert female hunters and shooters can seek and share information, tips and product recommendations. Weatherby is also seeking input to design a rifle made for women, by women.

“Being part of the Women Of Weatherby is what I have spent my whole career trying to achieve for women like myself,” Heath said. “I am a serious hunter and all I’ve ever wanted was a gun truly made for me. I don’t want a pink gun or a youth model. I am a woman and I am a hunter!”

PHOTO 1 HALEY HEATH WITH WEATHERBY RIFLE

Heath holds her Weatherby Vanguard chambered in .257 Weatherby Magnum. A wife, mother, huntress and TV host, she says she’s proud to call herself one of the Women Of Weatherby.

As I said, a rifle made for women by women. The women of Weatherby are: Rachel Ahtila, a Canadian hunting guide; Karissa Pfantz, a college student and outdoorswoman who is new to the outdoor industry; Jessie Duff, who is a world champion shooter on Team Weatherby; and Heath, wife, mother, huntress and TV host. All of these ladies will be doing weekly blogs and responding to women’s questions, thoughts and opinions.

The girls found our fort, guys, we may as well get used to it. Heath and The Women of Weatherby are one of the groups that will blaze the trail for all women in shooting. ASJ

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March 12th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

The Scattergun Trail
Story and photos by Larry Case

“It takes hundreds of decoys and a thousand is even better”


I used to get tired hearing about the good old days. Older hunters and fishermen are the world’s worst when it comes to relating how great it was in the “good old days.” I don’t hear this so much anymore; maybe because I have become one of the old guys that talk about how great it used to be.
As far as wildlife and game populations go, in many respects we are better off now than 50 years ago. With deer and turkey there is no question but our smaller game, that is a story for another time.
In one area of waterfowl hunting however, we are completely off the charts and that is with snow geese. Known as “light geese” in the waterfowl identification world, this group includes the greater and lesser snow goose, Ross’s goose and some variations including hybrids of these.

Josh Dahlke with a Mossberg 935 shotgun

Snow geese, especially the greater snow goose, can cause great damage to the habitat they feed in. Geese are grazers and pull different grasses and plants out of the ground while feeding; they will also dig into the soil with their powerful beaks to extract more of the roots. This may not sound like a big deal until you think about oh let’s say, 10 thousand geese descending onto one field. Those are the kinds of numbers these geese may travel in.The arctic tundra, where these birds nest,is very fragile with a short growing season. The snow goose was literally eating himself, as well as other birds and wildlife, out of house and home – something had to give.

Long story short, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was able to change some rules to allow for a much greater harvest of light geese. This meant longer seasons (107 days in some states) extending into March and restrictions on things like plugged shotguns and electronic callers were removed. They clearly wanted hunters to knock down some geese!

 

“the damage they can do to crops, well, you just have to see it to believe it”


What has emerged in the past 15 years or so is a new genre of waterfowl hunting. Even though this is February, it is considered spring hunting as the season often runs into March and April depending on what state you are in. Hunters who are obsessed with this (believe me, these guys are out there) basically start in the south around Texas to Arkansas and follow the white geese on their northern migration.
I wanted to talk to someone on the snow goose trail and I found Josh Dahlke lying in a muddy field in Arkansas. Josh runs the popular website ScoutLook.com. This site is the cat’s meow for keeping hunters and fisherman updated on the latest weather and conditions for your area. There is a ton of information and articles on whatever kind of hook and bullet arena you play in.
Josh was hunting for snow geese with Eaglehead Outdoors outfitters; these guys are the real deal and chase them as they move north from February to April. “I know these geese cause damage to the tundra when they get to their breeding grounds,” Josh told me “but here in the states, the damage they can do to crops, … well, you just have to see it to believe it. We found a huge flock of snows staged next to a 40-acre winter wheat field, here in Arkansas, and by the next day, that field was totally obliterated – nothing left but mud.”

13 year old Kyle Gambil with his first snow goose.

Even though the snow geese flocks can number in the thousands, Josh Dahlke was quick to point out that this is not always an easy game. “These birds get shot at all the way to Canada,” he said, “They have seen decoy spreads all along the route and can be “dang” smart. To be successful at this it takes a lot of work, driving (hundreds of miles) and scouting, finding the geese and then setting up massive decoy spreads. A few dozen decoys just won’t do it. It takes hundreds of decoys and a thousand is even better. The average hunter can’t do it,” Josh explained, “that’s why if you want to try this, you may want to give an outfitter a call.”
Even though we are talking millions of geese here, there are no guarantees. When conditions are right however, you can stack up a lot of snow geese. Josh told me about a time when his party took 64 geese and sometimes the numbers can go much higher than that. The daily limit in some states is as high as 25 with an unlimited possession rate.
I may not make it on a snow goose hunt this year – but then again I might. I still have some squirrel hunting to do and then spring turkey to think about. If you want to go, you might give the guys at Eaglehead Outdoors a call, 320-224-3614, www.eagleheadoutdoors.com. I hope you get to shoot so much that you burn the barrel off that shotgun.

Josh Dahlke used the Winchester Blindside ammo on this snow goose hunt. If you are a waterfowler and have not tried it, you need to check it out.
The basic premise for why these shotgun shells are so deadly lies in Winchesters revolutionary HEX™ shot technology. The shot is shaped like a hexagon – they look like tiny dice. When fired from a shotgun shell, this shape is devastating to anything it hits; Imagine hundreds of miniature tumbling bricks. This means bigger wound channels than with a conventional round shot. Also, because of the hex shape, the shot is actually stacked neatly within the shell casing. More shot can be placed into the shell, up to 15% more. Is this going to help you take more ducks and geese? You can bet your sweet Benelli it is.
Winchester Blindside Shotgun Ammunition

Winchesters revolutionary HEX™ shot technology.

Blindside ammo also has a really wicked diamond cut wad that delivers a beautiful pattern and what is really interesting, Winchester introduced a high velocity version of Blindside last year. These shells offer 12-gauge loads of #5’s and BB’s moving at 1675-fps. That is screamin’ my friend.
Josh Dahlke told me the consensus on his hunt was that those using the Blindside ammo experienced less cripples and the high velocity loads helped with snow geese as you often have long shots. If you are a duck and goose hunter you just might want to take a look.

Scattergun Sidebar 2

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March 6th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Story and photos by Larry Case

My brothers in camo, maybe you know by now, that I always try to be honest with you. I say this, because I was just a little nervous to start this month’s offering. One reason being, I think I have probably talked to you before about the importance of being prepared, knowing where your shotgun hits and having it sighted in (yes, I said “sighted in” for a shotgun).

The second reason is we have a new editor at Western Shooting Journal and after hearing about her background and experience I thought if I didn’t get this right, well, she might just whip my butt. Oh well, it has been whipped before, so here it goes.

As we are speeding into the month of March, many of us “shot-gunners” are thinking about (or should be) preparing for the spring turkey season. I want to caution you about merely grabbing the shotgun off the wall, and heading off to the woods. Success comes from having confidence in your weapon, and we achieve this by doing some shooting and knowing what the gun will do.

First, remember that this turkey shooting deal, in the spring, has evolved into something more like rifle shooting than “shot-gunning.” Ideally we are aiming, not pointing the gun, at a small, stationary target (the turkeys head and neck). Almost any kind of sights we put on the shotgun, more than just a standard bead, will help us.SHOTGUN PHOTO 2

The first level of improvement is installing an additional bead, about halfway down the rib. This gives you a “rear sight.” The shooter puts the rear bead on the front bead, front bead on the target and squeezes the trigger. A bead or rear sight, is meant to keep us from making the big mistake, the blunder, that saves more turkeys lives, than any other factor in our shooting. Ready? Here it is.

When we do not put our head on the gun and look squarely down a level rib, we shoot high and miss. I know, I’ve done it more than once. The front bead, is in fact, on the target, but your cheek is not fully down on the stock. The gun is tilted up and you sit there with your teeth in your mouth watching your turkey fly away. No amount of cursing and/or praying will bring him back.

Next level of improvement is rifle sights (check out what HizViz or Dead Ringer have to offer). An open, rear sight gives you a more precise way to aim the shotgun. Red Dot style scopes and other optics are an even more sophisticated way to aim. Even an inexpensive Red Dot scope can make a shotgun very deadly and the reason is simple. If the Red Dot style optic is properly sighted in, and the dot is on the target when the shooter pulls the trigger, you will hit the target. This takes the cardinal sin, of not keeping our head down, out of the picture. Now remember, we are talking about aiming the shotgun at a mostly stationary target. Any wing or clay shooting instructor will have a stroke, if you ask him about putting these sights on your gun.

Male Wild Turkey Portrait

 

Alright, now that we have an accurate way to aim, let’s talk about point of impact. One of the hardest things for some people to learn, is that all shotguns, do not shoot-where-they-look. If we fire the shotgun from a bench rest, the target may tell us the gun is shooting right, left, high, low, or whatever. Let me make it even clearer. Many shotguns will shoot differently with different loads or chokes. You have to put them on paper, folks!

Basically, what we are talking about here, is sighting in your shotgun, and you knew I would have some pointers on this. First, do this on a day when you are not in a hurry. If you are pressed for time, go home, and watch “swamp folks” or something else on television. To do this right, you need a large target holder (30 inches or better), a bench rest, sandbags or comparable, ammo, targets, and a stapler.

Have the loads, you are going to hunt with, on hand, but we are not going to start with them. To begin, let’s shoot any low brass, target loads that you have. Your first shot will be from 10 yard line (that’s right, 10 yards). You don’t need a turkey head target for this. A large piece of blank paper is better. Darken in a 4 inch circle, in the middle, to give you an aiming point and mark a straight line, vertical and horizontal, through your aiming point. All we are doing, is seeing where the pattern is going. Is the pattern evenly placed on either side of the lines? Is there about 50 percent of the pattern above the horizontal line and 50 percent below? Now, do this at the 20, 30 and 40 yard lines. Use a new piece of paper every time and if it looks like you are Ok and the gun is shooting-where-it-looks, you should then try your hunting loads at the same intervals. Now, you know where your gun is shooting, no question.

If the pattern is significantly off and you cannot adjust it with your sights, you are getting into an area where you need to speak to a qualified gunsmith. We are talking about straightening or bending a barrel here. Don’t let that scare you; a good gunsmith can do this in his sleep.
Well that’s about it till next time folks. Hope this is OK with the new editor. Man! That woman scares me!

 

Side note:

Linda Powell – Mossberg Director of Media Relations, with a Mossberg 535 at SHOT.

Mossberg 535 Shotgun
You know my theory, about how many shotguns one needs? My answer is all you can get! So, I wanted to give you a peek, at a shotgun, that you can lust after.

Mossberg came out with something new, for 2015, on their 835 Ulti Mag and 535 ATS pump shotguns. The Marble Arms Bullseye sight system. If you don’t know about these sights, they have been around since Davy Crockett tracked his first bear.

I looked at these guns at SHOT Show; the shotgunis the same, functional, dependable, Mossberg pump gun with dual extractors, twin action bars, an anti-jam elevator, and that great ambidextrous top mounted safety. The Marble Bullseye, is a double ring design on the rear sight, and a light gathering fiber optic on the front. It allows the shooter to get on target quickly, and stay on target. The instant the front sight drifts out of the center ring, the shooter can see they are not on target. This sight is ideal for a turkey hunter.

The minute I picked this shotgun up and looked through the Marble sight, I liked it, and you will too. I have always thought that Mossberg shotguns are tough as a pine knot, and from what I can see the Marble Bullseye sight is as well. – Larry Case

(Photo: Linda Powell – Mossberg Director of Media Relations, with a Mossberg 535 at SHOT 2015)

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