Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shooting clay

So I've been playing a lot of "Red Dead Redemption" lately. It's an open world western (video game), and instead of following the story line I find myself wandering the desert shooting hawks and rabbits. So I decided it'd be fun to shoot a real moving target... or at least a clay one.

Holly and I went down to take a lesson. We were both at a slight disadvantage from the start. For Holly, the stock of the shotgun was a bit too long for her. This caused her to have to push the rifle slightly off of her shoulder to reach the trigger. The next day she had a giant bruise on her right bicep. She thought it pretty cool going into work wearing a t-shirt, and telling people that asked that it was from a 12 gauge. Everyone seemed to agree with her in her meetings that day.

For me it turns out I'm left eye dominant, who knew? This means that when both eyes are open, what I see through my left eye takes precedence. This is a bad thing for a righty, since I hold the gun with my right arm, causing my right eye to line up with the sight. The instructor asked me if I wanted to learn with both or one eye open. I asked him what he thought, and he told me since I was starting I should learn correctly, using both eyes. So he put a piece of scotch tape on my sunglasses, covering the spot on my left eye where I'd see the target.

When I shot my first clay pigeon, I did it like I was used to in video games. I usually fire a rifle in video games, and as such pinpoint accuracy is needed. The clay moved a lot faster than I thought it would, so in no time it was off in the distance. I lined myself up for a shot. As it got further away it moved slower, relative to my sight. On it's way down I took a shot, and amazingly it exploded. I say amazingly not only because it was one of my fist shots, but because I didn't think a shotgun could shoot accurately that far off.

After that I was told that it was not a rifle, and that I should react faster and shoot sooner. So I did. I was amazed that I was able to hit it as often as I did. Holly guessed that I hit over 3/4 of the clays. I'm interested to go with some friends soon to see if I'm naturally good at this or if it's just easier than I thought. I really have no gauge. Of course the instructor was telling me how far to lead the clay from each position. Holly also hit three in a row on what I felt was one of the hardest positions (withe the clays moving perpendicular to you, which required the most lead). Lets hope she doesn't get mad at me, because I certainly can't run as fast as that clay was moving.

So as for the tape. This was interesting. At each position (you fire at the clays from different angles to get a variety of shots in) I always started by firing with my left eye closed, and did well with that. Then I'd give it a try with both eyes. It's hard to explain, but something about it just turned my brain sideways. I felt much less confident and very much like I was just guessing. But when I pulled the trigger the clay would often explode. Very strange. When the clay was coming in from my left side I understood why the instructor wanted me to use both eyes. If I'd had the left closed, I wouldn't have been able to pick up the clay till it entered my right eye, which would've put me at a distinct disadvantage.

A final note is that every now and then I would simply loose the clay. I'd be off, or flinch causing me to miss. One time that I did this, I simply moved my aim to where I projected the clay to be in a moment. I then waited till it came close and pulled the trigger. This wasn't the way we were being taught. We were supposed to swing the gun in front of the clay, following it with a slight lead. But when I shot the clay exploded. The instructor told me he was tired of telling me which way was the right way to do it when I was hitting them, so he gave up ;)

Below, some videos of my gun slingin wife. The instructor noted that she stopped complaining about her arm hurting when she started hitting the clay. The second video is of her hitting one, (though it's hard to see the clay with the compression, but you can hear it shatter). What bruise?!