When the weather warms, it's sporting clays time

OUTDOORS

February 21, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Soon the weather will be moderating and many area sportsmen will be thinking about shooting a round or two of sporting clays.

Sporting clays is the fastest-growing target-shooting sport in the country, and a number of fine courses can be found close to this area.

A few that come to mind are Prince George's County Trap & Skeet Center (formerly known as the Beretta Course) in Glendale, The Isaac Walton course near Bethesda and Hopkins Game Farm in Kennedyville on the Eastern Shore.

I'm far from being an expert clays shooter, but I have managed to pick up a trick or two either on my own or by hanging around shot-gunners much more accomplished than myself.

Take the rabbit target that drives so many of us nuts. This target bounces along on the ground and encourages us to point down and straight at the clay target. This usually results in a clean miss due to angles and shot string length. Raise your head a little and you will shoot behind the target. But, by holding low and following through after the shot the maddening misses will disappear.

The spring teal is one of my Waterloo shots. This is because I want to let the target, which shoots nearly straight up in the air, to peak and pause before I slap the trigger. After that miss, I'll try to shoot tooquickly on the target's rise and miss it again.

The right way to break the spring teal is to hold the muzzles a little higher than normal, but on the known line of flight and wait to shoot until your eyes have sharply focused on the rising clay, but don't wait too long.

Overhead shots that come from behind often will drive a shooter to use bad language. This is because the target is falling, which is an unnatural shooting angle. Hold low and sort of roll into the shot.

On low incoming targets, the mistake is to let the bird get too close before shooting. Practice taking the shot a little sooner to take advantage of the shot spread, keep your head down and cut back a little on your lead.

But, on the high overhead in-comers you will break them consis tently by shooting when they are almost directly overhead after beginning your swing from behind the high in-comer.

Shotgunning authority Don Zutz said head lifting is the major cause of missed outgoing shots, and I agree. The risers, like the so-called pheasant flush, seldom give me much trouble, but the low or rather flat risers give me fits.

A friend goes to pieces on quartering angles. John Kostick, a good clays shooter, once told me that most people miss these because they tend to flash the muzzles by the target and over-lead. I think he's right.

I shot a round of doubles with Kostick last summer at the fine Foxy Pheasant course in West Virginia and that was a humbling experience. But, I did get one lesson -- on trailing doubles, always go for the trailing target first, then simply continue your swing onto the lead bird and break it.

Ernie Richards, a top shot from Pennsylvania, told me that on doubles thrown at me (a right-handed shooter), I should always take the right target first. Zutz agrees with this, "because pivoting to your left, after that right shot, will naturally keep the gun firmly against your cheek for good alignment."

On report doubles, which means that a second target is thrown (( at the sound of your first shot, the key to success is to get the gun back in the area of the trap and pick up the flight of the second target. The mistake made by some is to leave the muzzle in the area where you broke the first target and try to pick up the second in the same area.

Replace your fishing lures

Replace the treble hooks on your favorite rockfish or bluefish lure with a single hook this spring. A single hook causes less damage to the fish and eases hook removal.

The hooks on your bay lures generally withstand the punishment absorbed by 20-pound test tackle. Choose an equal replacement open-eye hook that attaches to the lure's eye ring and is closed with pliers. I've had good luck with the Eagle Claw style L308 with a barb-less hook.

Forum on deer scheduled

The Conservation Federation of Maryland will conduct a public meeting concerning the two-week deer firearm season on March 3 at Annapolis High School on Riva Road, beginning at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria.

Speakers will include Russ Nichols of the Maryland Bowhunters Society, outdoor writer Bill Burton, Hap Baker of the Western Maryland Sportsmens Federation, WCBM's Maryland Outdoors host Allan Ellis and representatives of the Department of Natural Resources.

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