Sporting Clays: How to get started

I shoulder my shotgun and yell “pull”!

20150502_111010_2

I take my aim and miss the first two clays. I’m at my very first sporting clay competition and to say that I’m nervous is an understatement. I hear encouraging words from the other competitors behind me as I shoulder my gun again and prepare for the next two clays. Again, I yell “pull”, but this time I bust both clays! The other competitors in my group start cheering for me and giving me high fives, easing my nerves as we walk to the second station.

I recently shot at the 16th Annual Women’s Charity Shotgun Event hosted by the Ozark Shooters Sports Complex in Branson, MO. The proceeds from this shoot went to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, a hospital that provides high quality care to children in need, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

Before now my only experience in this area was shooting trap in my backyard a few times, as well as hunting doves, pheasants and crows. One thing that I truly believe is that you learn the most by forcing yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Going into this sporting clay competition by myself, not knowing what to expect was definitely a little uncomfortable for me, but I am so glad that I did it!

20150502_110422__2

The women competing in this event were not only very friendly and encouraging, they were excellent shooters and I was happy that they were willing to give me some pointers. One tip was to lift my right elbow up just a little higher & keep it parallel to the ground. This creates a “pocket” in your shoulder that the shotgun fits into better which helps with recoil, especially after shooting 50 shells. I learned that other shooters really want to help you and want to see you succeed. Sure, it’s a competition, but it’s all in good fun and for a great cause.

For those like me that are new to sporting clay shooting, here’s a basic run down on what to expect:

How It Works

AndiEvo4_copyOut of all the shotgun sports, sporting clays is the closest thing to actual field hunting. With skeet and trap you have clays thrown at generalized distances and angles each time. Sporting clays are designed to simulate actual wing shooting of ducks, pheasants and other upland birds. The clays can be thrown from any direction, at any speed and any angle. Some clays even vary in size, giving you the next best thing to real world hunting conditions.

Sporting clays are usually shot in squads of 2-6 people and is played over a course of about 10 different shooting stations throughout fields and the natural features of the land. Being from the Ozark Mountains, our stations overlooked some beautiful scenery and was naturally, very hilly. Each person in a squad shoots a determined number of clays, usually around 4-6, before moving on to the next station.

Safety

Like all shooting sports, safety comes first in sporting clays. As soon as you remove your gun from the vehicle, make sure the breech is open and the gun is not loaded. If you shoot an over/under shotgun, make sure you break it open and the barrel is pointed down or up towards the sky. Even if you know the shotgun is not loaded, always treat it as if it is.

Ear and eye protection are also a must any time you are on a sporting clay course.DSC_0071_copy3

Shooting a Round

Once each squad is at their designated first station, hand the score cards to the referee. Before anyone shoots, the referee will show you the targets so you can see how they are being thrown.

Step up to the station when it’s your turn to shoot and load your shotgun. Point it safely towards the firing area and yell “pull” once you are ready. The target is considered a “dead bird” if any part of it is broken. When you are done shooting, make sure the breech is open and exit the station. Remain behind the station until everyone in your squad has finished shooting and is ready to move on.

DSC_0019_copy

Shooting sporting clays is a great way to sharpen your shooting skills and “extend” your hunting season. If you feel sporting clays is something you would like to get involved in, here are a few ways to get started!

Join a Local Club. Check out the National Sporting Clay Association (NSCA) website to search for clubs in your area.

Link: http://www.nssa-nsca.org/index.php/nsca-sporting-clays-shooting/clubs-associations/club-search/

Once a member, you can use your clubs facility on a regular basis and meet other shooters. Like I mentioned above, my experience with meeting other shooters was a positive one. They were very helpful, encouraging, and these ladies could shoot very well!

Join the NSCA. The NSCA is the ultimate resource for all things sporting clays. They are dedicated to getting more people involved in shotgun sports, no matter what level they are at, and promoting healthy competition within its membership.

Shoot In a Competition. I think one of the best ways to improve your shooting skills is to actually shoot in a competition, like I did. You can watch other great shooters and learn from them. Don’t worry about “not being good enough”. You only compete within your own class, so you’re only competing against others that are at the same level as you.

Keep Practicing! Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more! Experience really is the best teacher. Also, if any upland seasons are open, get yourself a tag. I ended up getting 1st place in my class and I feel that my experience with hunting live birds prepared me the most for sporting clays.

-Andrea Haas, Huntress View

DSC_0045_copy2

Dedication, Passion & Understanding: Passing on the outdoor tradition

11164156_10204022900597409_752139943_nOne of the greatest feelings in the world is to give back. To teach someone something that puts a smile on their face. Throughout my life I’ve been lucky enough to have a dad who has spent every waking second with me trying to better me not only in the woods but as an all around person.  That is why I am where I am today. With all the knowledge my dad has given me I have been able to give back to many people.

11212340_10204110082936913_610187723_n

Ryan and his father

11121269_10204022899957393_536069988_nGrowing up I was given my first bow at age 4. Since then a bow has never left my hand- day in and day out I shoot. It’s part of who I am. Many joke around saying I came out of the womb with one. Through my years with a bow I have been able to meet some of the best coaches around and they spent a lot of time with me.  These coaches took me to tournaments to see how far I could go. I took the opportunity and ran with it. First starting off in paper tournaments and winning them, then stepping it up to 3D competitions. I even won my division.

At age 14 I was able to hunt for the first time. My dad would put up a stand for me and one for him 50 yards away so he could watch me and make sure everything was ok. My first year hunting I shot my first buck. I was on cloud 9. Three years later I asked my dad why he had not shot a deer since I started hunting. He told me he enjoyed sitting in the stand and watching me, teaching me things as I grew up in the woods. From that moment I realized it’s better to give back in the outdoors rather than to keep all the knowledge you have to yourself.

Since then I have been a coach for the Junior Olympic Archery Development league through the West Falls Conservation Society, coaching kids from age 6-18 every Tuesday. At the league we have a wide variety of youth- from kids who have never seen a bow before to kids who are getting invitations from the Junior Olympic Dream team. Every single kid leaves that night with a smile, and that’s what keeps me coming back every Tuesday. Getting kids involved not only in hunting but in shooting is important. Just because you shoot doesn’t mean you have to kill something.  The trick with teaching anyone, in particular children, is to be patient and to remember each kid is different- attention span, drive and discipline. You can’t force a kid to shoot. If he/she doesn’t want to, don’t make them. Let the child choose how much they want to shoot and when they want to shoot. Tuesday nights are one of my favorite nights because it feels great to give back and install the lessons my dad taught in me.

11180028_10204022897957343_1526074093_n

When it comes to hunting this is where my passion really stands out. Any chance I can to introduce someone into the outdoors and hunting I do. I am prideful that everyone calls to ask if I can take them or a child out and introduce them into the outdoors. I feel I have a way with understanding people and being able to introduce them into what I love doing. I have been lucky over the years to be able to be very successful on hunts for someone’s first time deer, turkey or waterfowl.  One of the main reasons I have been successful is because I spend every second I can to scout. I want to make sure that we at least see something during the hunt. To get others involved in hunting, you have to make the hunt exciting in order to keep their attention span focused. My main goal is to keep them interested in wanting to go back into the outdoors. The reactions are priceless and that is what makes the sleepless nights and the long hours scouting all worth it.

When you get a chance to introduce someone into hunting, fishing or shooting make sure you do it no matter the gender or age. They are going to be the reason these traditions live on.

-Ryan Van Lew, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

11041206_10204086245620995_6846403877079607204_n

The Quest for the Ultimate Jerky – By Ryan Degethoff

If most hunters are anything like me, they are constantly on the look out for the ultimate jerky, or jerky recipes. I have been a huge jerky fan from a very early age and over the years have tried my hand at making a few batches but have always went back to buying the pre made or store bought jerky.
IMG_2517
^A finished batch of homemade Jerky
For Christmas this year I received an incredible gift: the gift of being able to make my own jerky. My sister in law bought me a dehydrator, so for the last three month I have been searching the internet and trying to master the ultimate jerky recipe. Now, I know everyone’s tastes are different, but this one is a winner and I thought I would share it with the readers. By no means did I think this recipe up all on my own, but I have blended a few I have found online to make what I think is really good, well rounded jerky.
I have used this recipe on beef, deer and elk and have had great success. For best results, slice the selected meat into large thin slices.
Ingredients:
  • 2-3 lbs of desired meat sliced (deer,Elk Moose,Beef)
  • mix following ingredients in a large bowl
  • 1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of Honey (sweeter 1/3 cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons red pepper flake (To desired heat)
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of jerky dust (Not Needed) But Awesome
image2 (1) IMG_2509
Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well until all ingredients are well blended. Place the sliced meat in the bowl and mix to ensure all meat has been thoroughly coated with jerky mix and then cover. Place the bowl in the fridge and let stand over night or 10 -12 hours.
Take the sliced meat out of the fridge and place meat flat, in a single layer, on the dehydrator racks. Once the meat has all been laid out, turn the dehydrator to 170 degree F. Let the meat dehydrate for 8-10 hours Check frequently for desired dryness, as the thinner pieces will finish first. Once the jerky is to your desired dryness remove from the rack and enjoy.
What is your favourite jerky recipe? We would love for you to share it with us! Post it in the comments or send it to us via email.