You would think, considering all the little balls of lead that come out the end of a shotgun when it’s fired, and how quickly they spread out, that hitting a five-inch disk floating by twenty yards away would be pretty easy. You’d think, if you’d never tried it, that you’d have to make an effort to miss the little blighter. You’d think a guy who’s been shooting a shotgun for over 40 years would hardly ever miss a clay bird.
You would be wrong.
At least, you’d be wrong in my case, but it would be a tragic error to mistake me for a capable shotgunner. There must be some secret to hitting those little things that no one will let me in on. I was hoping Luke Sammons would enlighten me last Friday. He did not, despite ample opportunity.
Luke, a fantastic shooter and a really nice young man from Brady, and I both participated in the Operation Game Thief Claystoppers Sporting Clays Extravaganza and Fish Fry and Elbow Rub held at the outstanding facilities at Texas Disposal Systems in Buda. Luke shot on the team in front of mine. Maybe that’s why he chose to ignore the pleading wavelengths of despair I telepathically shot his way all morning. Or maybe, like everyone who’s ever tried to teach me to shoot a shotgun, he just figured it would be a waste of time.
My team consisted of Shane Townsend, a blogger (batcityoutdoors.com) from Austin who picks a pretty mean guitar, Ron Henry Strait of San Antonio Express News fame who, ever since his hunting trip to Africa, prefers to be addressed as ‘Bwana,’ and James Stewart, an unrepentant Aggie who happens to be my editor at the Brady Standard Herald Courier Times Picayune Post-Dispatch. And me, of course, although my teammates might have considered me more of a saboteur than benefactor.
Joe McBride, one of the best-known gun store owners in our solar system (McBride’s Guns, on Lamar in Austin) has been an active supporter of Texas Parks & Wildlife for many years. He’s been sponsoring the Austin OGT sporting clays shoot for a good while, and I guess I should have asked someone exactly how long the shoot has been going on, but that seemed like trouble.
The OGT shoot on Friday was exactly my fourth time to shoot sporting clays, ever, and every time has been at a similar benefit. At this shoot, instead of shooting two to four shots at each of a dozen stations, we shot ten shots at each of five stations. Right off that was bad news for me, because the way the birds were thrown at the five stations our group happened to shoot at were all thrown in a way that made them really hard for me to hit. Namely, they weren’t laid on the ground ten feet away.
I got a little lucky at the last station, where the pairs of birds were thrown toward the shooter, and sometimes crossed in the air about thirty feet away. Out of five pairs of those, I managed to hit both birds with one shot two different times. That made me feel pretty good, until everyone else did the same thing, like it was expected or something. Still, they were all pretty surprised I did it at all, but then, so was I.
The world famous Texas Game Warden cooking team always puts on a big feed at noon for the OGT shooters, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. They fried fish for us and, as usual, the food was outstanding.
While we were eating our fish, James, who was wearing an Aggie shirt, told me he had just been asked to shoot on the A&M team that afternoon. One of their team members had not been able to make it, so James filled in for him. The no-show turned out to be Rick Perry.
I admit James is a much better shotgunner than me, but I honestly don’t know if it was a good idea to ask him to fill in for the governor. He’s liable to be insufferable for several months, so I recommend you avoid him, if possible. If you do run into him, you don’t have to bow or anything. A simple salute will suffice.
The Tracking Point folks came to the shoot and demonstrated their latest sighting system, a high tech scope that beats all you ever saw. It’s a scope that is adjustable up to 35 power, which is stronger than many spotting scopes. Plus it won’t shoot until it knows it’s aimed right. You pull the trigger and hold it, and it shoots when you get it lined up on your target. I know, that sounds totally unbelievable, and I wouldn’t believe me, either, but that’s what it does. I’ll need a whole column just to explain how the Tracking Point thing works, so you’ll have to wait until next week for that, since I’m out of space here.
The OGT shoot was a lot of fun for a good cause, and if you’ve never been to one, I highly recommend it. Check out their website for dates and venues.
And if you need a shooter for your team, I’m available. I have a perfect record at sporting clays, so far. I’ve shot at every clay bird I was supposed to shoot at . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who has a great recipe for clay birds, if you’re interested. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org