Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sporting Clays at Black Wing

I haven't been down to visit Big Mike lately, so when he proposed a weekend of shooting, drinking and other enjoyable pursuits I accepted his offer with enthusiasm.  As usual, Big Mike's hospitality is first rate.

The drive South to Columbus, Ohio was nothing if not boring for most of the trip, then exciting as soon as I hit I-270 and the Columbus traffic.  Let me be perfectly clear about this.  Any Columbus police officer who feels like writing a few traffic citations for such minor infractions as speeding, failure to maintain a safe distance (tailgating) and driving without due regard for safety need only spend five minutes patrolling I-270.  I don't know how long it takes to write a traffic citation, but I'm certain that an entire eight hour shift could be dedicated to pulling over the cretinous, inconsiderate, maladriot drivers that are making I-270 hazardous to everyone's health, including their own.

By Divine grace I arrived without incident Friday afternoon, and we took off for Black Wing intent on breaking a few clays.  I haven't been to Black Wing in a while, and they've changed their sporting clays course around a little. 

Big Mike and I played 50 birds, and I finally discovered just what was wrong with my game.

I suck.

My sporting clays game sucks pond scum, and there's no getting around it.

If you decide to shoot at Black Wing (if you haven't you should give it a try) here's a little of what to expect on their sporting clays course.

My Ithaca M37 12 Gauge
I took my Ithaca pump shotgun.  It's light and I've never found anything that works any better.  I'm shooting 12 gauge, one and an eighth ounces of number 8 shot at 1100 fps through a modified choke.  Big Mike took along his semi-auto which he complains kicks like a mule.  It's built on the Browning A5 model and so is recoil operated.  I think it probably kicks less than my shotgun, but I didn't test it.

Station 10
 There are eleven stations which hold fifty birds.  We decided to begin at station 11 and walk back to station 1, which as it turns out is the way to do it.  Note that there aren't any obstructions in front of the station, which is typical of Black Wing.  This isn't a novelty course; these are shots you'll likely see in the field.

Station 8
Here is station 8, which is my least favorite station.  Note the bird description below.

Station 8 Birds - Two Springing Teal
I'd rather be shooting at the bunny than the teal.  I managed to break three out of six, which is three more than I usually break.  The stupid clay goes straight up at about 5000 feet per second, and experienced sporting clay shooters tell me that you're supposed to shoot the clay on its way up.  Fat chance.  I tried taking it at the apex of its flight, which is roughly in low orbit over the Earth.

I think it was right after this station that Big Mike accused me of cheating.  I loaded an extra shell into my shotgun and broke a clay on the second shot.  I maintain that my gun holds 5 shots, not two.  And, since this is a hunting simulation, I should be allowed as many shots as I can fire off in order to break the clay.  I don't know if Mike gave me credit for that bird or not, but he might not have and it makes a difference.

Final Score - I'm on the Left
I broke 23 out of 50.  Big Mike beat me by one bird.  Which, now that I'm thinking about it, is very likely the bird he wrongfully accused me of cheating on.

If you have the personal yen for public humiliation or know someone, like a trap shooter for instance, who needs a lesson or two in graceful human behavior then this is the place to go.  I can about guarantee you that any devoted trap shooter won't hit a thing on the sporting clays course, mainly because there aren't any trap shots and there isn't any shooting rhythm to the game - two things trap shooters must have or their day turns to swamp scum.

The things you'll need to bring to the Black Wing course are:
  1. Hard soled walking shoes.  The area is covered in broken stone and walking the course is very hard on the feet if you're wearing tennis shoes.
  2. Sun protection.  Wear your hat, as you'll be out in the sunshine a good bit of the time.
  3. Layered clothing.  It was windy the day we shot, but the real problem was that the wind was cold and the sun was hot.  So you'd sweat, than get hit with a cold breeze.
  4. Extra shells.  If you're shooting 50, take along a few extra shells just in case you have to run down a wounded bird and dispatch it.  They don't allow dogs on the course, so you're kind of on your own here.

That's it.  Given the scarcity of pistol ammunition lately, I may take up shotgunning as a serious hobby.

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