I have resolved to do more shotgun shooting in 1995. The past few years have seen me shoot my scatterguns a little less during the off-season, and my wing shooting showed signs of inactivity last fall.
Trap, skeet, sporting clays and crazy quail are a few great shotgun target games that, if enjoyed with some regularity, are guaranteed to improve your wing shooting.
Within Carroll County, trap is the most popular. Every area club that comes to mind has at least one trap layout and regular shoots open to the public. Most clubs charge members $2 and nonmembers $2.50 for a single round consisting of 25 targets.
There are lots of trap variations, but the three you most likely will run into are American Trap, Handicap Trap and Doubles Trap.
American Trap is the basic game enjoyed throughout the world. All clay bird targets are thrown as singles, but in somewhat of a random horizontal direction away from the shooter. The maximum height of the thrown target is always the same and so is the maximum 50-yard distance.
A squad of five shooters shoot in rotation from an equal number of positions arranged in an arc located 16 yards behind the ground-level trap house. Five targets are thrown for each shooter at each station (position), then everyone moves one station to the right. The gunner completing his shots at the fifth, and final station, moves to Station 1 and so on until every shooter completes the rotation.
At the shooter's command, "pull," a single target is thrown and a single shot is allowed.
Handicap Trap is identical to standard ATA singles trap except that the shooter stands farther back from the trap house than 16 yards, depending upon his established skill or "handicap." The farthest distance imposed is 27 yards.
Doubles Trap involves two targets launched simultaneously from one machine. Squads of five shooters rotate the five positions on the 16-yard line. This is a difficult variation for casual shooters to choose.
Any 20- or 12-gauge shotgun with a modified or full choke will serve the casual trap shooter nicely.
Serious trap shooters will lean toward 12-gauge trap models wearing at least a 30-inch barrel and a butt stock designed to place the center of the shot pattern a little high.
This high-shooting marvel provides built-in lead to aid the shooter in catching up with targets that always are rising away from the shooter, but make the gun a bit of a handicap for hunting purposes.
The standard trap load consists of 1 1/8 ounces of either #7 1/2 or #8 shot in 12 gauge. These days, though, informal matches are commonly shot with light recoiling 1-ounce target loads.
HTC The next public local trap shoot I am aware of takes place next Sunday, beginning at noon at the Dug Hill Rod & Gun Club.
The Patapsco Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Bear Branch Nature Center. The guest speaker will be Pennsylvania trout fishing guide Tom Baltz, who will discuss fishing the famed Letort and Yellow Breeches.
At the Feb. 9 meeting, Chesapeake Bay guide Norm Barlett will speak on fly-fishing local saltwaters.
* Friday marks the opening of the BASS EXPO at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. The show continues daily through next Sunday and is a "don't miss" anglers event.
* Jan. 27-29 are the dates of this year's Mid-Atlantic Hunting and Fishing Show at the State Fairgrounds.