Sporting clays more than shot in dark


October 25, 1992|By LONNY WEAVER

Five years ago, I sat in on a sales pitch by the then-fledgling National Sporting Clays Association while attending that year's Outdoor Writers Association of America Conference in Harrisburg, Pa.

As I recall, the only courses in the country were found in Texas at the time, though sporting clays had been established as a popular sport throughout Great Britain and Europe since the turn of the century.

Anyway, I listened to the pitch, then joined a couple dozen writers in shooting a rough introductory course set up jointly by the NSCA, Winchester and Remington. A couple of days later, a group of us were bused over to a newly completed course sponsored by Beretta at what is now the Prince George's County Skeet and Trap Center.

If we weren't hooked the first time on that makeshift Harrisburg course, then the Beretta setup sure put the lid on things.

Sporting clays is growing in popularity at an amazing rate. The game is fast, challenging, different and flat-out fun. It is best described as the shotgun version of golf, in that no two courses are the same and in many instances course operators regularly change their layouts.

It is also about as close to experiencing quality bird hunting as a person can without actually killing anything, which is only adding to its appeal for a growing group of people who enjoy shooting, but do not wish to participate in a blood sport.

Usually a full round of sporting clays consists of a total of 50 targets. These clay birds are thrown from typical bird-type covers and angles. At a typical station you may expect a couple of targets thrown singly, a trailing pair (a lead and following pair of clays thrown at the same time) and perhaps an on-report double where a second target is thrown the instant your shotgun is fired.

To participate, you need a shotgun capable of firing two fast shots and equipped with a choke no tighter than modified.

I use a popular over-under 12 gauge with screw-in choke tubes and 30-inch barrels, though it often crosses my mind that I don't PTC really see any improvement over my scores shot with one of my favorite skeet or improved cylinder field guns. Use light recoiling loads (1 to 1 1/8 ounce in 12 gauge) carrying No. 8 shot. And yes, it is perfectly OK to use your little 20, 28 or .410 rather than the big boomer.

Scholarship shoot scheduled

The Mayberry Game Protective Association has scheduled a black-powder target shoot for Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m., to assist the club in financing a scholarship given each year to a Carroll or Frederick County student.

The event is co-sponsored by Budweiser, and all money collected goes into the Mayberry Scholarship.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be enrolled in college and pursuing a degree in forestry, ecology, wildlife management or some related conservation field.

Fall trout stockings

The Department of Natural Resources' Freshwater Fisheries Division has completed this year's fall trout stocking schedule.

In Carroll County, Piney Run Reservoir received 1,000 trout, and the Westminster Farm Museum Pond received 300.

Neighboring Baltimore County's Gunpowder Falls (downstream of Blue Mount Road) got 1,000 trout. Stocked Frederick County waters include Cunningham Falls Lake, Frank Bentz Pond, Hamburg Pond, Whiskey Springs Pond, Urbana Lake, Rainbow Lake and the Carroll Creek Special Area.

DNR officials say nearly half of the 17,000 adult trout stocked statewide "will weigh in at about a half-pound each." These fish are the result of increased hatchery production and will not affect spring stocking numbers.

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