Winter skeet shooting always a challenge

Posted on February 6, 2012

The wind was blowing out of the southwest 25 to 35 miles per hour and the outside temperature - without wind chill - hovered around the 30-degree mark. There was a threat of snow in the air and being outside was the last place I wanted to be. One problem: This was going to be the only day that I would be able to fulfill my shooting commitment for this week at the 3-F Club in Lewiston.

It started about 10 years ago when a bunch of us got together to come up with an excuse to meet in the winter at least one day a week to shoot some bull ... and a few clay birds. We joined the Fin-Feather-Fur (3F) Conservation Society (club) for its annual Winter Skeet League. Many of us were still novices when it came to the sport of skeet shooting, but it was a perfect remedy for cabin fever. It helped to fuel our competitive juices and create quite a few laughs in the process. It also added a bit of frustration to our lives - missing a bird that seemed as big as a pie plate as it comes soaring in at Station 7 from the high house ... or the low house as it sails straight away at the same station.

When you factor in all the different weather conditions you can encounter, from high winds and cold to bright sunlight and rain or snow, this sport can be a very humbling experience. The swing of my Browning Citori over-and-under skeet gun can be compared with a golf swing. It's a motion that requires a series of precise actions and an intense element of concentration. Mess up on one thing - timing, aim, follow-through, lead - and there's a good chance your clay target will continue flying untouched. The same thing could be said of my Callaway Big Bertha driver and the swing associated with that sporting tool. Mess up one thing and the ball takes off in a direction that will lead to an extensive search and could put people at risk.

If you've never tried skeet shooting, you owe it to yourself to give it a go - at least a few times. The sport involves eight stations around a half-moon field that utilizes a low house and a high house to fire out clay targets in a very similar motion to participants - unless you have strong winds to contend with. Then it's anyone's guess what those birds are going to do and when the wind will blow to create some uncertainty.

For me, that's part of the fun. Our team will never win the league (even with a fairly relaxed handicap system), but the competition will help to keep those inner fires burning throughout the winter. I also believe the winter shooting in extreme conditions helps to make you a better upland game hunter, because you really don't know what those birds are going to do. A quick flush of a grouse; an explosion of a ringneck pheasant from a hedgerow - those kind of unexpected field experiences can be simulated on a winter skeet field ... almost every week. The wind and weather are also great excuses for when you miss - whether beginner or avid shooter. Give it a try!

 

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